Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Central Bengal Trip..

Like every year this year December came and I along with my family, which consists of my dad and mom, decided to head towards some new destination for a vacation..But we had an unforeseen problem staring at our faces..The problem was of getting the train tickets..Far off distances were difficult to get tickets for..So dad came out with a brilliant idea as to go to West Bengal, the state next to ours but very rarely explored..We would travel mostly by bus and at times when required we would board the trains that too short distances..People all over the country don’t know much about this state other than the capital city Kolkata..Thus we decided to give a skip to the capital city and move ahead to the less explored townships..
Dad chalked out a plan to go to KHARAGPUR first and then from there, travel to the other towns..The towns that we decided to go were very less but the towns that we finally went to were:
*    Bishnupur
*    Joyrambatti
*    Kamarpukhur
*    Nabodwip
*    Mayapur
*    Krishnanagar
*    Bahrampur
*    Murshidabad
*    Tarapit

This was the whole journey..My God, this was one of the best journeys that I have ever been on..

The town of Bishnupur is a historical place..We stayed in front of a lake called Poka Baandh in a lodge called the Mukherjee lodge..We saw some of the most beautiful artifacts made during the era before the Britishers attacked our nation..These were previously in a very dilapidated condition..They were all in ruins when finally the government undertook them and now they have been restored well and taken care of..Rasmancha, Chinna-mastan mandir (Kaali temple), Dalmadal canon, Temple of Shyam Rai, Jor Bangla temple, Radha-Shyam temple,Temple of Madan Mohan and some beautiful dams..
The town of Joyrambatti is the birth place of Maa Sharada Devi..It’s an hour’s bus journey from Bishnupur..This place is so very well maintained by the trust that runs it..They offer lunch to everyone who comes along there at the stipulated time of the Bhog..The food is awesome and the best part is that you don’t have tp pay anything for it..They will ask you how many people are there with you and then they will ask you to pay any amount of donation that you want to pay..They won’t force you to pay anything..
Rakesh Mall
From there we went to Kamparpukhur on a very unique vehicle..The vehicle was driven like a motorbike but it had a rickshaw feeling on the back..People would hop onto it and sit with their legs hanging down..These could accommodate as many as 12 passengers..Coming back to the main journey, Kamarpukhur is the birth place of Ramkrishna Paramhansa..This place is as well run by the same trust and they ever accept any amount of donation and offer you free food..This place we took a guide to show us through..The Guide’s name was Rakesh Mall..He did not have a father and he had to help his mom to run the family..His mom used to work at other people’s house as maid servant and he used to give tours to the people there..There were innumerous kids like him who have to (mark my words, “have to”) work day in and day out to earn out their living..They have to set aside their childhood dreams and work at such an early age..They have to face the hardships of life at such an early age..But one thing that I liked in our guide was his enthusiasm to study and his eagerness toward the whole process of studies..He kept asking me all the while where and what I used to study and then he asked me as to how he himself could also reach at that level..I told him all that I could to help him..He studies in the fourth grade and his only dreams is to become a great man and earn a lot so that his future generations and his mom don’t have to live life in such dire conditions..I wish my best to him..!!
From there bidding him good bye, we moved on..We came back to Bishnupur..Spent the night again at the same Mukherjee lodge and then the next morning carried on with our journey..We had to reach Mayapur..But there was no direct bus available from Bishnupur..So we took a bus to Bardhaman..Bardhaman is the district head town..From there we boarded another bus to Nabodwip which was on this side of the Ganges..We reached Nabodwip at around 9 in the nit an searched for a lodge..We asked the rickshaw pullers to take us to a lodge which would be situated right in from of the huge Ganges..They took us exactly to the kind of hotel that we had asked for..The hotel was on the bank of the Ganges and the look was the best..The hotel had Ganges on three sides and the fourth side was the road via which we reached the hotel..This was the same road which people used to take in order to hop onto the launches, ferries and jetties in order to cross the river..The river itself was a massive one..There were two opposite banks, the first took us to Krishnanagar and the other bank took us to Mayapur.. The lodge was called Nabodwip lodge..

Coming to the city of Nabodwip, it is the birth place of Gouranga..More commonly known as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu..We travelled all the places in Nabodwip and mostly all of them were related to Mahaprabhu only..There was a beautiful temple called ‘Sonar Gourango’..This consists of a Mahaprabhu statue that is fully made of Gold..After that our rickshaw pullers took us back to the bank of the Ganges and dropped us there itself..We took a ferry from there to Mayapur..Crossing the Ganges was a onetime experience..The river was massive and the travelling on the ferry was awesome..I love it to the core..

Reaching Mayapur we headed directly toward the main spot..Mayapur is the international head quarters for the ISKCON..ISKCON is International Sri Krishna CONsiousness..This place has a temple of lord Krishna dancing with the gopiyas which is made fully of gold and atemple fully dedicated to the founder of the ISKCON, Srilaprabhpada..His temple was the biggest and they are erecting a new one which would be bigger and grander than the previous one..This place was swarming with foreigners..It was a delight to see the foreigners dance to the tune of ‘Hare Krishna Hare Rama’..There was a set up made there where they were singing the ‘Hare Krishna Hare Rama’ tune non-stop from 1978(I may be a bit wrong with the date)..We even stayed in a ‘Kutir’..It was called the ‘Gouranga kutir’..It’s a formation made which helps you stay in actual hut formation and even allows you to feel that you are staying in the village..There was also an ox driven carrier (ox-cart) which was giving rides to the people who were unable to walk around on their own..The place was huge and the atmosphere awesome..!!
From there we decided to go Krishnanager..In Krishnanagar my mom’s mama and mausi stay..Even does my dad’s mausi stay there..Coming so close to their town we decided not to leave them unseen and move ahead..So giving them a visit was compulsory..So we went ahead to their town..It’s an hour’s journey from Mayapur..We stayed at mom’s mama-mausi’s place..In the after dad and I decided to go and see the river that was nearby to mom’s mama-mausi’s place..The name of the river was Jalangi..The river was a short one but there was something unique in that river..There was a big tight rope that was tightened across the two banks..This was used by the boatman to cling onto and ferry the boat across the river..The boats had all three facilities; motor driven, oars driven, rope pulled..From there we went in the evening to give a visit to dad’s mausi’s place..They told us that there was a new church that had been built there at Krishnanagar and it was referred to as the second biggest church in West Bengal, just after the Bandel church..We even saw Kaali pooja being performed all over the town..This Kaali pooja is not very common to the other parts and this is a specific festival of this town and is known as ‘Poush Kaali’..
We had to leave for Bahrampur the next morning..So dad planned once again..He asked the rickshaw pullers to take us to the church first along with our luggage and then drop us to the bus stand..We reached the church on the bright Sunday morning and saw the church..There was the church which was the old one which was huge..But a new church had been erected just next to it and it was christened, “CHRISTO MANDIR”..The Christo Mandir was not just huge, it was massive and too well built to be believed on just saying..You personally need to go visit it to see how magnificent it is..My mom had just one word to say seeing it, “WOW!!”...Not just she, we all were spellbound, dumbstruck and dumb founded at the supremely aesthetic structure..It was the best thing I had ever seen and clearly I would rate it in one of the wonders of recent India!!

Finally we went to the bus stand and boarded a bus to Bahrampur and reached the place after a couple of hours..This place was a big town..We took a lodge called the Bahrampur lodge..It was situated next to the Lal Dighi..This was a tourist destination..This was a lake which had a park situated around the lake..There was a toy train to take you around the lake and there were big fishes in that lake..In the evening people used to come and sit and feed those fishes..They were huge in numbers and some of them were even of the size of one and a half feet..We asked the people taking care of the lake and they informed us that every two days these fishes were fished out and then they were sold to the local market..All the money would go the municipal corporation there and most of the amount would be spent to the betterment of the park and the lake and the quality of fishes..
We spent that day in the Bahrampur going around the place..We went to a Kaali mandir on the banks of the Padma river..This too was huge..Considering my passion for huge rivers we even saw boats ferrying across the river and seeing sunset over this river was awesome..There was even a huge Shiva statue in front of this temple..Then we went to the ‘Raj Baadi’(King’s palace) there..The king of Bahrampur used to stay there long back and now the place, which was a dilapidated one before the government took over it, is still under renovation work..We were asked not to enter in but we still took a glimpse of the structure from inside and clicked a couple of pictures..Then we went to see the ‘Pataleshwari Mandir’(Kaali Mandir) and saw that the Banyan tree there was full of Hanuman’s(Langur)..

Next morning we left for Murshidabad..Murshidabad used to be capital city of the kingdom defeating which Robert Clive entered India..Yeah, you are right it used to be the city of Siraj-ud-Daulah..The town was very beautiful..The best attraction was the ‘Hazar Duari’(Thousand doors)..This building was massive and it had a thousand doors..A hundred doors were correct and the rest 900 doors were fake and were meant to deceive soldiers attacking the palace..It also had a massive ‘Imam-bada’ in its campus which opens up for public only on the day of Muharram every year..There were other places for tourist attraction in this town..Some of which are Jahan Kosha Gun, Katra Mosque, Phuto Mosque, Avery big and ancient rose garden which also had a very ancient Jain Temple, Jagat Seth’s house, an ancient Radha-Krishna Temple, a place where people found guilty by the king were put to death and finally the Tomb of Azimunnisa Begum..We travelled all these places in Murshidabad on a tonga(horse cart)..The horse was called ‘Raju’..We even saw farming fields full of Turmeric powder being planted all over them.. At day end we again returned back to Bahrampur.. In the evening while taking a post-dinner stroll I stumbled upon a college friend who has got placed in the same company as mine..He is from a different department but we have been friends since the time we joined college..
Next morning we left for the holy city of Tarapit..Tarapit is one of the three most famous cities for Kaali Maa..The other two being Dakshineshwar and Kalighat..This place was swarming with pilgrims..We went to the temple in the evening and did our pooja and said our prayers and all..We were done and in the evening we kept to just buying small items for giving gifts..
Next morning we left very early for Asansol..We left by bus..A very tragic incident occurred to me in this bus travel..I just got down the bus for a minute for peeing and the bus left behind me..I ran behind the bus for about 5 minutes when the bus finally stopped, thanks to my mom-dad inside the bus who asked them to stop..This was the most horrifying incident that had ever happened to me..I did not have even a single penny in my pocket, my luggage was in the bus itself, my cell phone did not have a single rupee balance..If the bus had not stopped I would have been in the most difficult situation ever in my life..Thankfully this, although being a nightmare for several days, did teach me a lesson that I should always keep some amount of money in my pocket and should never allow my cell phone balance to die out to zero..
This journey had some unique aspects to it..Firstly, wherever we went there was undoubtedly a water body next to our place of residence..We were traumatized by the chilliness of the hotels next to water bodies due to the severe cold, but unfortunately we always got those hotels only and fortunately enough these hotels proved to be the ones with the best sightseeing..Secondly, don’t travel on a state owned long route bus unless you have a major urgency and need to reach any appointed place at a stipulated time..These state buses don’t bother about the number of passengers plying..They just bother about their timing and for that they travel at a very fast speed which at times scares the shit out of you..Thirdly, whichever route we travelled on, the thing that was mostly growing in the roadside farming fields were either Mustard or Potato..Believe me the mustard fields looked awesome and at places the full length till the horizon seemed to be painted in yellow color of the mustard..Fourthly, the rickshaws in all different places were so very different from each other..Some places had bells on the rickshaw handle for ringing whereas some places had horns which made the pom-pom sound..Bishnupur rickshaws had a uniqueness..They were made of two small iron umbrella kind of structures fixed on the front handle and they were hit by an iron rod and made the sound so that the people walking in the streets get to know that a rickshaw is coming behind..Even the seats in the rickshaws used to be different in every place..Some would be slanting towards the front whereas some would be straight..Some would be big enough to accommodate 3 people whereas some would be not sufficient for even two..
Finally, from Asansol, we caught a train in the afternoon and reached back home safely and soundly..This journey was over, but its memories have etched deep into my mind and thus I will always remember this as my best vacation till date..!!

Jaishree Ram,


  1. One word...WOW :) great work Prats. I liked the way you described things in detail and why where and how to... of each city. Excellent travelogue.
    I'll definitely VOTE for you.
    Keep writing
    best wishes

  2. What an amazing travelogue... The pics, the narration all makes me want to go to these places... I have had boat rides on the Ganges in Rishikesh, Varanasi, Allahabad, etc... And I loved them...
    This will be very useful when I travel to West Bengal, hopefully soon:)