অন্য পুরী

গত বছর এমনই এক বর্ষাঘন অগাষ্টে চারজন বন্ধু মিলে চলে গেছিলাম পুরীতে। ইচ্ছে হয়েছিল বর্ষায় পুরীর সমুদ্রের রূপ দেখব, বৃষ্টিস্নাত পারাবার, স্যাঁতস্যাঁতে আবহাওয়া ও পাগলা হাওয়ায় ভাসিয়ে দিতে ইচ্ছে হয়েছিল শহুরে দিনযাপনের ক্লান্তিকে।

কিন্তু পুরী পৌঁছনোর পর, সমুদ্রসৈকতে থিকথিকে ভীড় দেখে মনে হচ্ছিল পালিয়ে যাই। যদিও আমরা ভালভাবেই জানতাম যে ঐ সপ্তাহান্তের ছুটিতে আমাদের মত আরও উৎসাহী মানুষজন পুরীতে ভীড় করবেনই, কিন্তু সেটা যে এইরকম অশান্ত রূপ ধারন করবে, সেটা আগে থেকে বুঝতে পারিনি আমরা কেউই। সুবিশাল ঢেউগুলো যখন পাড়ে আছড়ে পড়ছিল, অত্যুৎসাহীরা সেলফি ষ্টিকে ফোন গুঁজে ছবি তোলায় মনোনিবেশ করছিলেন। যেন, সেলফি না তুললে সমুদ্রবিহার যথার্থভাবে সম্পন্ন হবে না। পাঠকের উদ্দেশ্যে বলি, সেলফি তোলায় আমার কোন আপত্তি নেই, কিন্তু, প্রকৃতির প্রকৃত সান্নিধ্য লাভ করতে হলে, আমাদের দুটো চোখ ও মন খোলা থাকলেই যথেষ্ট বলে আমি মনে করি। চোখ, প্রাকৃতিক রূপ আহরণ করার জন্য, মন, অনুভব করার জন্য, সেখানে, মোবাইলে নিজের আমিত্ব প্রমাণ করাটা আমি বাহুল্য বলেই মনে করি। যাইহোক, লেখায় ফিরি। সেলফি চিত্রগ্রাহকদের পিছনে ফেলে, আমরা বালুতট ধরে বেশ খানিকটা এগিয়ে গেলাম। যাওয়ার পথে কিছু নাছোরবান্দা ঢেউ এসে আমাদের পা ভিজিয়ে আবার ফিরে যাচ্ছিল, সাথে ছিল এলোমেলো হাওয়া। এগিয়ে গিয়ে একটা জনবিরল অঞ্চলে এসে চটি পেতে বসলাম। আনমনে ঢেউ গুনছিলাম, এমন সময় দেখলাম একটা উটকে বেশ সাজিয়ে গুজিয়ে নিয়ে যাওয়া হচ্ছে। সাগরপাড়ে উট? এ যেন সোনার পাথরবাটি। তবে যে বইতে পড়েছিলাম, উটেরা মরুভূমিতে থাকে? ভাবতে ভাবতে খানিক দূর চোখ গেল, দেখলাম, সেই উটের মালিক, সওয়ারি নিচ্ছে, যত্ন করে বসিয়ে দিচ্ছে উটের পিঠে। তবে কি মরুভূমি থেকে পেটের দায়ে চলে আসতে বাধ্য হয়েছে উট ও তার মালিক? না কি এও আরেকটা চমক, ভ্রমণপিপাসুদের টানার?

চিন্তাস্রোতে বাধ সাধল প্রচণ্ড খিদে ও তেষ্টা। ডাবের জলে তৃষ্ণা সাময়িকভাবে মিটলেও, খিদে যেন আরও বেড়ে গেল, ‘Bengali Food Available’ রেষ্টুরেন্টদের পাশ কাটিয়ে, একটা টোটো ধরে চলে এলাম ‘Wild Grass’ এ। এই রেষ্টুরেন্টটি পুরী শহরে অবস্থিত ও এর বিশেষত্ব হচ্ছে যে এখানে ওড়িশার স্থানীয় খাবার পাওয়া যায়। ঘুরতে এসে যদি স্থানীয় খাবারই না খেলাম তাহলে আর কি করলাম। বাঙ্গালী খাবার তো বাড়িতেই খাই বছরের বাকি দিনগুলোয়। খাবার অর্ডার করে অপেক্ষা করার সময়তে মেনু বুক মুখস্থ করা আমার চিরকালের অভ্যেস। ভোজনরসিক তো, তাই! পাতা উল্টোতে উল্টোতে চোখ পড়ল একটি বিজ্ঞাপনে। পুরীর সাইকেল ক্লাব ও হেরিটেজ ওড়িশার তরফ থেকে সাইকেল ট্যুরের বিজ্ঞাপন ও যোগাযোগ করার দুরভাষ নম্বর। বাকিদেরকে দেখাতেই তারাও সঙ্গে সঙ্গে রাজি হল। কাঁকরা ঝালের তুল্যমুল্য বিচার করতে করতে ফোন করে ফেলা হল সেই নম্বরে। ব্যাস, পরদিনই আমাদের সাইকেল ট্যুরের ব্যবস্থা হয়ে গেল।

ব্যবস্থা তো হল। কিন্তু আমার মনে দুরুদুরু শুরু হয়ে গেল। সেই কবে, পনেরো বছর আগে শেষ সাইকেল চালিয়াছিলাম। পারব তো চালাতে? ‘Nature Trail’ এ চালাব স্থির করেছি আমরা, কিন্তু, কতক্ষণ বা কতটা পথ চালাতে পারব, কিছুই তো জানিনা। পূর্বাভাসে আবার ভারী থেকে মাঝারি বৃষ্টির কথা বলা আছে, কি যে হবে?… উৎকন্ঠার মাঝে একটা চাপা উত্তেজনাও কাজ করছিল। মন চাইছিল আবহাওয়া ভাল থাকুক।

পরের দিন, যথাসময়ে, কথামত, চার বন্ধু পৌঁছে গেলাম, ‘Wild Grass’ এ। গাইড ভদ্রলোকের জন্য অপেক্ষা করতে বলে রেষ্টুরেণ্টের ম্যানেজার আমাদের জন্য সাইকেলের ব্যবস্থা করার নির্দেশ দিলেন কোন কর্মচারীকে। সাইকেল চলে আসার পর আমার বাকি তিনজন বন্ধু সেগুলিতে চড়ে প্র্যাক্টিস করতে শুরু করে দিল। আমি স্থাণুর মত কিছুক্ষণ দাঁড়িয়ে থেকে আমার জন্য বরাদ্দ সাইকেলে উঠে চালানোর চেষ্টা করলাম। প্রথম দুবার উঠতেই পারলাম না। তৃতীয়বারে ব্যালেন্স পেয়ে গেলাম ও খানিকদূর চালিয়ে বেশ মনের জোর পেলাম। সাইকেল চালিয়ে স্টার্টিং পয়েণ্ট ফেরার সময় দেখলাম গাইড ভদ্রলোক অপেক্ষা করছেন। সবার সাথে করমর্দন করে উনি নিজের পরিচয় দিলেন ও যেই রাস্তায় আমরা যাব সেটার একটি সংক্ষিপ্ত পরিচয় দিলেন। শুরুর পথের অংশটুকু হাইওয়ের ওপর দিয়ে ছিল। ইচ্ছে মত স্পিড ও গিয়ার পরিবর্তন করতে করতে শিক্ত সবুজ বনানী পাশ কাটিয়ে মসৃণ পিচকালো রাস্তার ওপর দিয়ে সাঁ সাঁ করে এগিয়ে যাচ্ছিলাম আমরা। তিন বন্ধুর একজন, আমার স্বামী, কিছুটা পিছিয়ে ছিল, আমার কাছাকাছি দুরত্বে এসে বলল যে ওর নিজের কলেজের সময়ের কথা মনে পড়ে যাচ্ছে। কিন্তু, আমার নিজের স্কুলবেলার কথা মনে পড়ে যাচ্ছিল। ছোট্ট শহর দূর্গাপুরের আরও ছোট্ট একটা টাউনশিপ, এম এ এম সি তে কোয়ার্টারের সামনের মাঠের কথা, যেখানে বিকেলগুলো সাইকেল চালিয়েই কাটত। স্মৃতির ভেলায় চেপে সেইসময়ের কথা রোমন্থন করতে করতে একটা জঙ্গলের কাছে এসে আমরা থামতে বাধ্য হলাম। সাইকেলের চাকা বালিতে গেঁথে গেল, আমরা নেমে পড়লাম সাইকেল থেকে। গাইড ভদ্রলোক নিজের সাইকেল থেকে নেমে এসে বললেন যে আমরা বালুখণ্ড সংরক্ষিত বনাঞ্চল বা বালুখণ্ড স্যাংচুয়ারির কাছে এসে পৌঁছেছি। যেখানে আমরা থামতে বাধ্য হয়েছিলাম, সেই যায়গা থেকে ভেতরের দিকে যাবার কিছুটা পথ বালিপথ, সাইকেল চালানো কষ্টসাধ্য, এইটুকু পথ হেঁটে পেরোলেই আবার সাইকেলে উঠতে পারব।

বালিতে পা ডুবিয়ে সাইকেল হাতে টানতে টানতে পেরোলাম সেই পথ। পথের শেষে আরেকটা লাল মোরাম বিছোনো পথ অপেক্ষা করছিল আমাদের জন্য। মোরাম পথের একধারে অগোছালো কাজুবাদামের গাছ, আরেক ধারে সারিবদ্ধ ঝাউগাছ। আমরা গাইডের কাছে জানতে পারলাম যে বালুখণ্ডের সংরক্ষিত বনাঞ্চলে ওড়িশা সরকার সামাজিক বনসৃজনের পরিকল্পনা করেছে। এই পরিকল্পনায় এই অঞ্চলের আদিবাসীদের বনরক্ষা করার দায়িত্ব দেওয়া হয়েছে। বনাঞ্চলটির অদূরে একটি ছোট্ট সৈকত আছে, সেই অঞ্চলটি দেখাশোনা করার দায়িত্বও দেওয়া হয়েছে আদিবাসীদের।

এই মোরামপথটিকে যদি আমি ‘সবুজ মাইল’ বলে আখ্যা দিই, তাহলে অত্যুক্তি করা হবে না। পথের দুধারে যেন সবুজ চাদর বিছোনো ছিল। সেই চাদর ছিল সবুজ ঘাস, আগাছা, ঝোপঝার, ও গাছপালা দিয়ে সযত্নে বোনা। অগাষ্ট মাসে সেই সবুজ রঙ আরও বেশি উজ্জ্বলতা লাভ করেছিল বৃষ্টির দাক্ষিণ্যে। কিছু কিছু অংশে, পথটা বেশ চড়াই ছিল। সেই চড়াইতে আমার সাইকেল চালাতে ভালই কষ্ট হচ্ছিল। পায়ে ব্যথা করছিল। মুহুর্মুহু ব্যালেন্স হারাচ্ছিলাম আমি। সাতপাঁচ ভাবতে ভাবতেই অনুভব করলাম আমি সাইকেল থেকে পড়ে গেছি। হাতে পায়ে লাল ধুলো, পাশে পড়ে আছে সাইকেলটা। কি করে পড়লাম, বুঝতেই পারিনি। এক লাফে উঠে পড়লাম, হাত পা ঝেড়ে, সাইকেলকে উঠিয়ে তাতে চড়ে বসে প্যাডেলে পা দিলাম। মন কে বললাম, পারতেই হবে। জোর সঙ্কল্পে প্যাডেলে ধাক্কা দিতে দিতে পৌঁছলাম সেই অনাঘ্রাত বালুখণ্ড বালুকাবেলায়।

সাইকেল থেকে নেমে এগিয়ে গেলাম সামনে। সূর্য তখন সবে অস্তাচলে যাবার সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছে। আকাশ মেঘে মলিন তার সাথে গোধুলির ম্যাটম্যাটে সোনালি আলো। সেই আলোয় অনুচ্চ বালিয়ারিগুলো দেখে মনে হচ্ছিল পুরোনো হয়ে যাওয়া মলিন সোনার অলঙ্কারে বালুতটটিকে সাজানো হয়েছিল বোধহয় বহু বহু বছর আগে।

জনহীন এই সৈকতটিকে দেখে মনটা কেন জানিনা বেশ ভারাক্রান্ত হয়ে গেছিল। অথচ, কালই তো পুরীর সৈকত থেকে পালাই পালাই করছিলাম। বেশ খানিকক্ষণ ম্লান আলোয় সমুদ্রের তরঙ্গরাজি দেখলাম। আচ্ছা, আমাদের জীবনতরঙ্গও কি এমন নয়? যতই দুঃখ আসুক, যতই মলিন করে দিক আমাদের হৃদয়, আমাদের তো ঢেউগুলোর মতনই চলতে হয়, থামলে চলে না, তাই না?

ম্লান আলো, আরও মলিন হতে হতে মিলিয়ে গেল। অন্ধকারটা হুশ করে নামল যখন, তখন আমরা ফেরার পথ ধরেছি। পিছনে ফিরলাম একবার, একরাশ ঢেউ তীরে ভেঙ্গে আমাদের হাত নাড়িয়ে বিদায় জানিয়ে গেল। সাইকেলে যখন আবার হাইওয়েতে উঠেছি, গাইড বললেন খানিকটা দূরে একটা ছোট চায়ের দোকানের সামনে থামতে। দোকানের সামনে থেমে আমরা জল খেলাম, একটু জিরিয়ে নিলাম। গাইড আমাদের অতি সমাদরে দোকানের ভেতরে দিয়ে পেছনদিকের একটি বসার যায়গায় নিয়ে গিয়ে বসালেন। গরম গরম ডাল পকৌড়ি আর চা এল আমাদের জন্য। খানিক পরে দেখলাম সদ্য কাটা ছানা আসছে। দোকানী পরম সঙ্কোচে বললেন যে ছানাপোড়া শেষ হয়ে গেছে তাই ছানা নিয়ে এসেছেন আমাদের জন্য। ভিনরাজ্যের সাধারণ মানুষের সাথে কথা বললেই বোধহয় প্রকৃত ভারতাত্মার স্বরূপ বোঝা যায়। কে আমরা? উনি তো আমাদের প্রথমবার দেখলেন। আমাদের খাওয়াতে পারেননি বলে ওঁর তো সঙ্কোচ করার কোন দরকার ছিল না। মনে পড়ল, কোথাও পড়েছিলাম, অচেনা, অনাত্মীয়কে আপন করে নিতে যে ভারতীয়দের জুড়ি নেই, তা তুমি যতই তাদের মধ্যে বিভেদ করার চেষ্টা কর না কেন। আমাদের যে পকৌড়ি আর ছানা খেয়ে খুব ভাল লেগেছে, সেটা শুনে গাইড ও দোকানীর মুখে হাসির রেখা দেখা দিল। ওঁরা বারবার বললেন, পরেরবার ছানাপোড়া খাইয়ে তবে ছাড়বেন।

আবার সাইকেলে চড়লাম। এবার শুরু যেখান থেকে করেছিলাম, সেই ‘Wild Grass’ এ ফেরার কথা। পা আস্তে আস্তে জবাব দিচ্ছিল, হাত আর স্টেডি থাকছিল না, মনে হচ্ছিল পড়ে যাব আবার। সামনের দিকে তাকালাম। ‘Wild Grass’ এর বিল্ডিংটা যেন হাতছানি দিয়ে ডাকছিল, জোড়ে প্যাডেল চালাতে চালাতে অবশেষে পৌঁছলাম লক্ষ্যে, সাইকেল অভিযান সাঙ্গ হল।

সাইকেল রেখে একটু জিরোতে বসলাম। কথায় কথায় গাইড জানালেন যে আমরা ৩০ কিলমিটার সাইকেল চালিয়েছি আজ। সবাই ৩০ কিমি শুনে ভয় পেয়ে যাব ভেবে উনি আগের থেকে কিছু বলেন নি। পরেরবার আবার ওঁর সাথে সাইকেল অভিযানে বেরোব, কথা দিলাম আমরা সবাই। উনি করমর্দন করে চলে গেলেন।

সপ্তাহান্তের ভ্রমণে সাগরসঙ্গমের উদ্দেশ্যে বেড়িয়ে যে একটা অন্যরকম অভিজ্ঞতার সাক্ষী হলাম আমরা, সেটা আমাদের ভাবনাতীত ছিল। পুরীর সাগর তো সবাই দেখে, পুরীর যেই রূপ আমরা দেখলাম, সেটা আর দেখতে পারে ক’জন? পরেরবার পুরী এলে আবার অন্য কোন পথে সাইকেল নিয়ে বেড়িয়ে পড়ার সঙ্কল্প করে, ভারাক্রান্ত মনে কলকাতা ফিরে এলাম।

পুনশ্চঃ

১) আমাদের গাইডের নামঃ শ্রী যুগব্রত কর। উনি পুরী সাইকেল ক্লাবের সদস্য। উনি প্রধানতঃ তিনটি ট্রেলে সাইকেল ভ্রমণ করান, সেগুলো হল, – নেচার ট্রেল, ভিলেজ ট্রেল আর পুরী হেরিটেজ ট্রেল। আমরা নেচার ট্রেলে অংশ নিয়েছিলাম।

২) যুগব্রত করকে যোগাযোগ করার মাধ্যমঃ

দুরভাষঃ +৯১ ৯৪৩৭০২৩৬৫৬

ইমেলঃ bubu@heritagetoursorissa.com

অথবা,

Wild Grass এ যোগাযোগ করলে ওঁরা যোগাযোগ করিয়ে দেবেন।

৩) ব্যবহৃত সব ফটো তুলেছেন অভীক দাস, সুদীপ বসাক।

৪) অনুমতি না নিয়ে ছবি বা ব্লগের ভ্রমণ বিবরণ ব্যবহার করবেন না।

 

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Trekking – A Love Story

When I was about 8 years old, my mother persuaded me to join a mountaineering and adventure camp annually organised during winter vacations by a local mountaineering club – The Himalayan Hikers, Durgapur. She got to know about the club from one of  her colleagues, a fellow teacher in the school she worked in. The colleague, whom I fondly call Rita Mashi had been a constant source of inspiration for all the extra curricular activities, we, her colleague-kids participated in. In this piece of remembrance article, I cannot thank her enough for convincing my mother to send me to the camp I am talking about.

The sole reason behind sending me packing to camp in Purulia’s Mathaburu Hills was my weight which happily grew because of the lack in the options of physical activities back then. I was an obedient child and the excitement of going somewhere alone without the family members shrouded over the reluctance of participating in any physical exercise regimes.

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Incidentally, my first tryst with the beautiful hilly terrain of Mathaburu played a catalyst to make me fall in love with the hills and mountains which is to continue for my entire lifespan. I had to participate in a lot of gruelling activities in the camp, – cross country running, learning to trek along the hilly trails (a few basics of trekking so that you do not harm the nature), learning to climb stand-alone rocks, learning to tie different knots, crossing a river by crawling along a rope like a monkey and also learning to gulp down hot, tasteless lentil soups.

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Our instructors taught us how to watch night skies, how to spend the night inside a natural cave which had the scare of being attacked by the elephants of the Dalma range. I continued to go for these annual camps for the next 2 following years and enjoy the unadulterated nature. I cannot list down here about the impacts the camp sessions had in me but I can say that the awareness for conserving nature got permeated in me with these camping days.

I got busy in other activities, – studies, jobs, searching for a marriage material, eventually and I completely forgot about my camping days. 18 Years passed after my last camp and I was yet to participate in my first high altitude trek. I was drawn into trekking again the year I got married. Little did I knew before marrying my husband that he would also turn out to be a trek lover. He had heard stories about trekking tours but never got the chance to participate himself. Our first tour together was participating in a week long trek to Dzongri in Sikkim along with our 2 close friends.

I cannot claim that I was excited because the 18 long busy years had slowly weaned off the love for hills which grew during the camping years. The guided trek started from Yuksom and we were told that when we would reach Dzongri, the Kanchenjunga massif would be so near to us that we can attempt to grasp it, albeit aerially, with our two eyes. As I hit the trail, I could realise the lost love seeping back in me, slowly, gradually. The feeling was like the one you get when you see the first love of your life after years. The rivers, the Himalayan vegetation, the occasional glimpse of the projected Himalayan ranges along with our goal, the Kanchenjunga, the free flowing clouds, the warm sunshine on our backs, and the ups and downs along the hilly terrains made me overwhelmed. I, helplessly, fell back in love. I realised that I am born for this sport which helps your soul heal with melancholic doses of the Himalayan panorama. I also realised that the rare view which you get to see after the long, hard negotiations with the hilly terrains won’t come to you if you roam around the hills in land rovers or jeeps on motorable roads.

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Sadly, the trek was not successful. We could not reach Dzongri due to bad weather, cyclonic rainfalls and the news of a family emergency. I got the news that my very mother who persuaded me to join the mountaineering camps in my childhood was then hospitalized, battling with her life. Irony, isn’t it?

Our next trek was to Har ki Dun, Uttarakhand, after 1 and a half years of the Dzongri failure. The entire trail was laden beside the Tons River followed by the Supin River through the Himalayan woods. While on our way to the valley of Har Ki Dun, once, we confronted a hailstorm which failed to deter us from continuing our walk and reach the warmth of the trekker’s hut. As I braved through the hailstorm, my mind was full of the memories of my then deceased parents and their struggles to see us achieve our educational degrees. Somehow, the thought of their struggles consistently gave me the strength to complete the trek this time. My joy knew no bounds when one of the fellow trekkers from another trekking team handed me a candy and exclaimed,”100 metres more to go, you have done it.” I haven’t met him again. I won’t meet him again, ever, but the friendly gesture of an experienced trekker to a considerably fresher in the same sport won’t be forgotten ever in her life.

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The mighty Swargarohini Peak overlooked the green valley of Har-Ki-Dun. The herbivorous animals roamed freely along the moors or ‘bugyals’. The boisterous Supin River sang gleefully as it flowed across.  The unknown birds and flowers bloomed all over the ‘God’s Valley’. I don’t believe in a God who made the nature but the walks along the valley and the bugyals made me one with the beautiful nature.

Since then, I had regularly participated in different high altitude and mid altitude treks – some hard, some easy, some moderate. The urge to be one with the nature makes me go back and hit the trekking trails again and again. I love the lonely walks towards the destinations, lonely, because ideal trekking do not involve group walks, you are with your group yet you need to walk alone to feel the omnipresence of the nature. I love the gushes of cool winds blowing past my ears as I gradually negotiate the steep trails. And, I love the sunsets and sunrises after the steep climbs. You may observe a hundreds and thousands of beautiful sunrises and sunsets around the world but the ones you get to see after you complete a steep climb are always different, special and very very precious.

 

The Village of the Scroll Painters of Bengal

The age-old myths and their manifestations do exist in this era of rationality and technical gluttony. Some months ago, I got a chance to walk on the soil where the painters of a forgotten genre are still fighting for their due recognition. They are the humble painters of the myths and folklores popularly narrated in the Hindu scriptures or by the clan of storytellers known as ‘Kathaks’.

Armed with the natural dyes, they are painting colourful stories told by the folks of the yesteryears. Their bold fingers are incessantly creating finer details on the canvas of their choice – a simple cloth bound “sheets of paper sewn together and sometimes stuck on canvas. Their widths can go from 4 to 14 inches and their length; often 3 feet can exceed 15 feet.” (https://www.deccanfootprints.com/collections/patua-scroll-paintings) are simply going on creating under the sun for the love of the art without knowing their goals. Well, that’s not true. They know their goal which is to earn a handful at the end of the day so that they can buy food to fill their stomachs and a bottle of local liquor to fill their hearts.

When I visited their village nested in a corner of West Medinipur district of West Bengal, India, a feeling of awe shrouded me all over. People do sketch and paint in their childhood, draw two triangular mountain peaks and a semi-circular rising sun or maybe a rose with a long stem and leaves, but who would have ever thought about revere an art form and make it a religion? I wouldn’t have known about this form of veneration if I didn’t make a visit there. The majority being Muslim by faith, they decided to shun the compartmentalization by taking up stories of hindu mythology and paint them accurately. They have also dropped their ancestral surnames and picked up the surname of ‘Chitrakar’ meaning painter in Bengali, their mother tongue.

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They start their days with decorating the walls of their humble mud houses. When enquired, they put the brightest of their smiles and said that when there are left-over colours, we use them to paint on the walls. While strolling through the kuccha lanes and observing their exhibits, I looked above. The azure sky, green trees, red gravelly soil and the colourful paintings all seemed to be smiling in unison as they were victorious to incite a peaceful riot of colours.

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The day melted away to evening. A black drape was put over on all their exhibits by the tip-toing night. We were called for dinner in Bahadur Chitrakar’s house. The house which we saw in the day time was no less than an established, famed art museum. Bahadur himself had painstakingly collected the souvenirs on display in his house by bartering away his own scroll paintings (known as Patachitra in Bengali) to those painters. His semi-permanent house proudly displayed the papyrus paintings, Egyptian artefacts, palm leaf scrolls known as “tala pattachitra” (http://gaatha.com/palm-leaf-pattachitra/) from the neighbouring painters of Odisha, mirror works from Rajasthan and many more such jewels lost in the sands of time.

The Government wants to buy his collections, repair his house and make a museum near the village to display those collections. This offer has put Bahadur in a fix. He cannot decide what to do. He asked our opinion saying that he was illiterate; he did not know what would be good for him. His intoxicated voice had such a pain that we could not share our opinion with him. Now, when I think about that day, I can still feel the pained voice. This was the pain of illiteracy, indecisiveness, poverty and the pain of the father who did not wanted to bid farewell to his married daughter but had to do so under social compulsion.

Another incident happened in Bahadur’s house after we had our dinner. I want to include that incident as a concluding note. After we were done with our dinner, the painter wanted to gift us a ‘patachitra’ each. He asked our names one by one and went on creating beautiful paintings with them. He was being verbally assisted by his daughter, so that he ensured that the spellings of our names went right. His daughter faltered while spelling out my name in Bengali. The brush which he held on so firmly even in his inebriated condition got twitched. He looked up and mildly rebuked his daughter by saying that he had done everything to educate her and she failed in this minor test. His daughter went visibly embarrassed. Not embarrassed for her father’s scolding in front of the outsiders but because of her failure. Her and her father’s defeated faces continued to haunt me for a long time.

How to go?

  • If you go by a car, you need to drive on NH6, reach Debra and take a left turn towards Balichak Station. Continue to drive on the same road till Mundumari. From Mundumari crossing take left towards Tamluk and halt at the second petrol pump on the way, that’s where the Naya village starts.
  • If you take a train to Midnapore from Howrah, get off at Balichak station and hire a cab till the village.

Where to Stay?

If you want to stay at the newly established Government building for the development of the artist village, you need to contact Manu Chitrakar (9732731776/8101169643) or Bahadur Chitrakar (9734536388) to book your stay. The resting spaces at the building is quaint yet comfortable. The per head per day expense of staying here with three meals is about Rs. 750/-.

Photography Courtesy: Avik Das.

For additional information, please follow the given link: http://snfictionality.blogspot.in/2016/12/blog-post_26.html

 

 

 

 

 

WALKING THROUGH THE TRAILS OF SLEEPING BUDDHA

The desire to walk on the snowy trails motivated us to do this trek in winter. Even though there was hardly any snow along the trails, we enjoyed the clear weather, beauty of the pristine Kanchenjunga and her family, and some breathtaking views.

Often dubbed as “One of the most amazing treks of the Eastern Himalayas”, Sandakphu and Phalut trekking trails, do not fail to offer bewilderment to the trekkers, – be it the weather, the marvellous views or the picturesque valleys along the coniferous and mixed temperate forests of these areas, and most importantly the beckoning of the “Sleeping Buddha”.

Sandakphu (3636 m, 11941 ft) is the highest point of the Singalila ridge situated in the Darjeeling district on West Bengal – Nepal Border. The peak is located at the edge of the Singalila National Park. About 4 of the highest peaks of the world, namely Mt. Everest, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Lhotse and Mt. Kanchenjunga can be clearly viewed from this point. At this very point, one can also view the entire Kanchenjunga range in the form of “the Sleeping Buddha”.

We started our trek from Dhotrey, a village nested amidst the pine trees and situated at the height of 8,500 ft. We ascended towards Tonglu where we saw the first glimpse of “the sleeping buddha” and traversed through Tumling, Jaubari and reached Gairibas on the end of the first day.

The night was quite cold with temperatures racing down towards negative centigrades. The next morning when we started out for Sandakphu, the entire area was covered with frost. The frost started melting away as the Sun went up with the day.

The trail from Jaubari to Sandakphu is a bit difficult one if one decides to abandon the boulder laden trail and take up the shortcuts. Some turns are quite steep. As we breathed out heavily with crossing each of the steep turns, we yearned more to view the sunset from Sandakphu top. Aah! What a molten gold the Sun was when it went down that day!

Most of the trekkers end up walking upto Sandakphu and back. But we, driven by the sheer desire of viewing the mighty peaks of the Himalayas more closely walked 21 kms of a barren, and arid patch to reach Phalut. These 21 kms of barren patch was an eye-opener in a literal sense, as it tested our endurance levels. The endurance to go on in our lives even if the things don’t appear lively or promising. As we started our walk towards Phalut after breakfast from Sandakphu, our spirits enlivened as we saw the first clear glimpse of Mt. Everest, Mt.Makalu and Mt. Lhotse. “The Sleeping Buddha” formed by Mt. Kumbhakarna (the head of the Buddha), Mt. Kanchenjungha (the body) and Mt. Pandim (the feet) appeared closer. Our guide, Subash, jokingly remarked, “Abhi i itna kareeb hai, Phalut mein pahounch ne ke baad kya karoge? godi mein utha lo ge?”

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The Golden Moment
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Sleeping Buddha as seen from Phalut
As we laughed on our way, the rocky trail gave way to a muddly one with patches of snow here and there. Some of the rapids have entirely transformed into hard ice and we even played with the icicles. I started to feel out of energy after 4 hours of continuous walking. I sat down and wanted to have some sleep. I met Subash when he approached towards me from behind and told him to move forward and convey my condition to my fellow trekkers. He asked him whether he will arrange for a landrover, to which I opposed. I wanted so much to walk to Phalut and complete the ascent. I went slower and slower. Towards Sabargram, our trek captain asked me about my condition and suggested me to get into a landrover as the time’s passing out fast and we might get stranded in the middle of our journey if the daylight fades out. I assured him that I will move and we have headlamps to assist us.

After reaching Sabargram, we had lunch. After lunch, I felt better and started to pick up the pace again. The surrounding was so barren without any variation in the landscape that we started to feel demotivated. But life’s all about carrying on, isn’t it? The sun started to set and we still had 2.5 kilometres of ascent to cover up. We could see the Phalut Trekker’s hut. It seemed to beckon us but more we treaded on it appeared to be far and far. Our headlamps went on and our feet grew tired. Suddenly Subash paced ahead through a shortcut. We were quite surprised in this sudden behaviour as this was not his nature. He would not leave us in this darkness. We were shocked, surprised and dumbfounded. However, after 15 minutes, we saw him coming back to us with a powerful torch. We now understood that he went ahead to bring the torch from the trekker’s hut to make our journey easier. He constantly encouraged us to stride on through the steep shortcut slopes to reach the hut early and saw us through. We decided to rest for the day after a refreshing dinner.

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The next day, we took out a leisurely stroll towards the Phalut Top to see the great peaks under the clear blue sky. The sky was the clearest of the blue and the peaks were spotlessly white. As the sun decided to set for the day, it luxuriously draped the sky into all the hues it wanted.

The Kanchenjunga family went yellow, golden, orange, red and blue with absolute merriment. The scene left us visually awestruck. As we descended towards the hut, the stars came out to greet us. Yes, indeed, they looked like “diamonds in the jet-black sky”.
The most beautiful part of our walk was undoubtedly the trail via Samanden from Phalut to Rammam, a village 19 kms down the hill. A small village, where we took an hour’s rest and had lunch, known as Samanden offered a very rewarding and soothing view to our weary eyes. A mat green carpet of grass was spread all across the valley and there were wood houses with colourful sloping roofs. The soft sun baked us. We washed our bare feet and lazed about without our rucksacks. The entire stretch is laid amidst the pine forests, and the breeze which pleasantly whizzed out from the trees calmed us throughout our tiresome journey. We reached Rammam in the evening and rested for the day in a homestay. The best part of our stay in the homestay was the indigenous chulha with regular refill of charcoal to warm us up and a dinner of humbly cooked chicken and rice. We were having a non-vegetarian meal after 6 days, so we were quite elated.

 

Next day, we started early. Our destination was Rimbik through Srikhola. We walked fast as we had to board a cab to Darjiling and the cab was due to leave just before noon time. As we reached Srikhola, our state of trance and a natural mesmerism was stopped harshly by the mechanical sound of a land-dumping crane. The soft noise of the water flowing underneath the Srikhola bridge was subdued by the loud cheers of a travelling group. Alas! Most of us do not want the nature to remain in the state of tranquility. We want to capture each and every finer aspect of nature in the proud cameras we carry. With heavy hearts, we treaded on to the townscape of Rimbik.
The trail we followed: Dhotrey – Tonglu – Tumbling – Gairibas – Jaubari – Kalipokhri – Sandakphu – Sabargram – Phalut – Samanden – Rammam – Srikhola – Rimbik.

 

Our Trek Itinerary in brief:

20/01/2017 – Boarding Train @ 11:45 PM (Padatik Express)

21/01/2017 – Reaching NJP @ 10:00 AM, have breakfast

Darjeeling More/ Take a cab to Dhotrey.

Reach Dhotrey @ 4PM. Overnight Stay at Dhotrey and arrange guides and porters from the local office.

22/01/2017 – Start trek after breakfast @ 8 AM.

Tonglu-Tumbling-Gairibas. Overnight Stay @Gairibas Trekker’s Hut.

23/01/2017 – Start from Gairibas after breakfast. Trek towards Sandakphu. View Sun Set and Overnight Stay at Sandakphu Trekker’s Hut.

24/01/2017 –  View Sun rise. Start from Sandakphu trek towards Phalut. View Sunset. Overnight stay @Phalut.

25/01/2017 – Halt in Phalut for Acclimatization. View Sunrise and Sunset.

26/01/2017 – View Sun rise. Start from Phalut towards Rammam.

27/01/2017 – Start from Rammam and reach Rimbik. Take a cab to Darjeeling.

 

Useful Information:

  • We decided to unwind for a day after the trek in Darjeeling. One can directly reach New Jalpaiguri from Rimbik if he/she wants to take a train on the same day or day after.
  • We booked the beds in Trekkers’ huts in Gairibas, Sandakphu and Phalut from the Gorkha Bhavan near City Centre-1, Salt Lake, Kolkata. One can book a 6-bed Dormitory. The rates can be anything in between Rs. 600 to Rs. 1000. The rates keep changing, so it’s better to contact the office directly.
  • We took one porter and one guide from Dhotrey Guides’ Office. We were charged Rs 700 per day per guide. The entire amount had to be paid on the day we started our trek from Dhotrey according to the rules. It was quite convenient and the guide and porter service was unquestionably good.
  • The charge of food increases as one goes up to Sandakphu or Phalut. We took some dry and easy to prepare food with us like ready-to-eat Khakhra, Puffed Rice, Chanachur, Sattu, Cup Noodles and Sandwich Spreads. This helped us in cutting down our food cost.
  • One can also contact Land rover vehicles from Maney Bhanjang or Dhotrey if they cannot walk. But, I would definitely suggest to walk through this trail. It’s quite a rewarding experience as a traveller.

 

 

The Haven of Rhododendrons

Early in the morning, as we were about to start the drive for Hilley from Rinchenpong, the rains started. As the mountain slopes slowly changed their attires to participate in the rain dance, I was overwhelmed with joy. Our cab driver steered ahead. His vehicle swished ahead through the mists and the clouds swimming close to the vehicle glasses. It seemed like an heavenly ambience – the perfect setting for our rhododendron adventure.

                                Photography Courtesy: Avik Das

By the time we reached the starting point of our short trek, Hilley, the rains stopped briefly only to change its form to drizzles. We got our permits to enter the rhododendron sanctuary and geared up ourselves with trekking poles, waterproof ponchos, water bottle and dry food. Our trek was to last only for a few hours as we had to cover only about 8-9 Kilometres up to Varsey and down to Hilley again.

                                Photography Courtesy: Avik Das

As we started and reached barely a distance of 150-200 metres, the icy cold hailstones started to hit us like shards of glass. The bare hands got numbed for some time. The easy trail turned a bit tricky in some patches due to the incessant drizzles. The weather setting couldn’t dampen our uplifted moods which released the sighs of appreciation while viewing the blooms of rhododendrons – the bright red, pink, white and fuchsia clusters interspersed with the broad green leaves. Even though the yield suffered this year due to the untimely snowfall, the mere presence of the flowers mesmerized us.

                               Photography Courtesy: Avik Das

The corridor was well guarded by chinese bamboo plants from one side, and Rhododendron trees on the other. The variant shades of green were well interrupted by the variant shades of the quaint blossoms.

It was quite difficult for us to choose which way to observe, – the moist, puddled trail with the gingerly sights or up above and around the pretty and decked up flowers.

  Photography Courtesy: Avik Das

We gave ouselves away to the flowery temptations as soon as we reached the last point, an uplandish mound in Varsey. The cool mists and winds shrouded us with ecstasy and we couldn’t turn down the welcoming glances of the pretty red, pink, fuchsia, magenta rhododendrons and raised the toast to the success of our Hilley – Varsey trek with the bites of ‘Balaram Mullick’s Korapaker Jolbhora Sandesh’ – for no other way of       ending would have been sweeter.

Important Details of this trek:

i) We stayed in Rinchenpong (West Sikkim) and drove for about 2.5 – 3 hours to Hilley.

ii) The entire trek took about 4 – 4.5 hours to complete. (Walking up to Varsey and coming back to Hilley.) We drove back to Rinchenpong on the same day.

iii) If you want to stay inside the sanctuary or nearby Varsey, you would need to book rooms in Guras Kunj or carry your own tents. No other accomodation is available except Guras Kunj.

iv) Another alternative is to stay in Okhrey or Hilley and do the trek.

v) Best time to experience the Rhododendron extravaganza is from the last week of March to mid May.

Trudging along the God’s Valley (Har-Ki-Dun Trek, June 2016)

The Har-Ki-Dun Valley is a cradle shaped hanging valley in the Garhwal part of the Himalayas. This picturesque valley is surrounded by snow-covered peaks and alpine vegetation. This region finds mention in the Indian epic Mahabharata as the trail traversed by the five Pandavas and Draupadi on their way to the heaven. However, only Yudhisthira could successfully climb the Swargarohini peak and the rest of them succumbed to death as they attempted to climb the peak to heaven.

This valley is situated at an altitude of about 3500 m (about 11,500 ft) above the mean sea level. It remains snow covered from the months of October to first week of April. The lush green moors, alpine trees, and flowers becomes alive during the summer months after the long sleep under the sheet of snow. Some trekkers head for this mythologically famous valley during the winter months to appreciate its snowy beauty, but there are many like us who could not afford to miss its verdancy which the valley unleashes only during the summers.

We started from Kolkata on 3rd June, 2016 and reached Dehradun the next day after a short detour to the ‘Parathewala Gali’ and ‘Karim’s in Delhi. So the readers can well gauge how greedy the entire group is!  We halted the night in Dehradun and started for our motorable destination Sankri, early in the morning of the 5th June. 6 of us comprised our small trekking group, all of us pretty overweight and with absolutely unseasoned bodies for trekking. We didn’t even care to do a few stretches back at home before embarking on this trekking trail. However, what we were armed with was the indomitable will power and the bubbling hope to experience the beauty of the valley at its best.

On our way to Sankri, we had to stop at Purola to arrange for our accomodation at the Forest Rest Houses in Seema and Har-Ki-Dun. The Purola Forest Division Office had to issue a permit for this. Three of the more energetic people of us strode towards the office. About 2 hours passed. We, who waited in the car, grew impatient and attempted to call them. Their cell phones notified us that they were unreachable. As, we were thinking about making a visit to that office ourselves, they came back running and with a brightened up smiles on their faces. We knew instantly that they were triumphant in their mission. As they narrated their short adventure, we could not help ourselves rolling on with laughter. What they had to do is to write an application in Hindi and they had forgotten the ‘devnagari script’ a long long time ago! Our jugular veins were tickled when they narrated how poorly they could manage to write the letter in Hindi and managed to get through the acceptance and permission. Laughing along the entire remaining stretch, we reached Sankri in the evening. The sun was preparing to set, the brown hills grew more dark and desolate when they bade adieu to the Sun for the day.

Next morning, we hired a cab (the avatar of the suave city cabs which are fit for the mountainous roads) to a place called Taluka. Our trek was to start from this place. The part of the Himalayan undulations which surrounded the place was brown, rough and quite barren. Very much different from the hills of the Eastern Himalayas. The reason for this might be the topography itself or the recent forest fires which engulfed a huge part of Uttarakhand Montane Forests.

As we started walking towards our destination Seema, the river Supin decided to accompany us. Supin was chirpy and vibrant as it flowed and it cheered us all along in our sojourn. The 12 Km stretch to Seema was an uneventful one. As we were unprepared and had to carry our own backpacks, we had to take brief rests to charge us up. The journey seemed never ending. After lunch, when we decided to pick up our pace of walking, we heard a grumbling sound coming from above. Looking up, we saw that the clear, blue sky was beginning to darken up. No sooner did we prepare ourselves to bravely face the rainfall, the hailstones started to fall. The icy, cold hailstones were hitting us hard. Our group got a bit disarranged as all of us were walking in our own paces. So, when the calamity struck us, we were left to fend ourselves alone without any encouragement from the fellow trekkers. I don’t know about others in the group. I can talk about how I felt in that moment. I was determined to reach the destination as soon as possible, but the heavy rainfall and the relentless hitting of hailstones was pushing me back. I had to keep on going as that was the only thing which was to be done to dispel out the fear of attack from a wild monkey or a bear. We were amidst Govind National Park and we didn’t know whether the wild animals will choose to attack us for their safety or not. Suddenly, I grew angry because I could find no one from my group as I advanced. My anger was particularly directed towards Avik, my husband, as I expected him to walk with me or wait for me somewhere on the trail in this situation. My anger changed to despair, disappointment and fear. I vented out my feelings by crying out. I felt desolate. I felt hopelessly alone.

The rains washed my teary face and I went on. The faces of my late parents appeared in front of me and they gave me strength to carry on. As I advanced, I met three of my trek mates including my husband. The rain was fiercely lashing out. They told me to wait but I did not. My untimely and foolish anger didn’t even allowed me to speak with Avik. However, he could feel my mental weather and silently carried on walking behind me. He was a carrying a huge load on his back. It was the rucksack which increased its weight due to the rain. I was so foolish to vent my anger on him. Slowly, the rain faded out and the Forest Rest House came to our vicinity. We were completely drenched and shivering. The eatery near the Rest House provided us a hope of comfort. The chulha was burning and the fire welcomed us to sit near it. Oh! How welcoming the fire was! All our angers, despairs, disappointments were baked, burnt and purefied.

The next day, we started early. We had to reach Har ki Doon before sunset and also before rainfall started. There was a forecast of rainfall in the evening. We had a distance of 14 kms ahead of us. The entire trail was laid amidst the pine forests intervened by mixed deciduous ones. Our knees hurted as they were exposed to continuous ups and downs and our toes wore blisters. The only scare we had was the impending pocket pinch. The food rates soared high as we went up and we were carrying only a handful of cash with us. We could now very well understand the huge impact of a minor miscalculation. We were tight on cash, and it was foolish to expect the presence of ATMs to bail us out of this monetary crisis.

But, the scenic beauty of the interlocking spurs, the youthful banter of the Supin river and the shades of green all over made us forget of this impending danger. We cast aside the fear of what-to-eat-if we-finish up-the cash started to fade out as we started to immerse ourselves more and more in the marvels of the nature. As we crossed the rapid streams on indigenously made bridges, we silently thanked the reason of our existence. We exist in this beautiful world just to appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature and her different manifestations. We caught hold of a variety of unknown birds and flowers. The birds which decided to not show themselves to us, sang out from the depths of the green forests. The lush green bugiyals or moors waved their heads as we treaded along them to reach the valley at the feet of the Swargarohini Peaks. The Swargarohini peak was mythologically famous as it served as the way for the Pandavas to reach heaven. The peak is so very beautiful that it does not get difficult for us to imagine its mythological significance. The entrance way to the heaven should also be beautiful, n’est ce pas? That’s the reason the myths are built around it.

Our weariness got dissolved with seeing the magnificient Swargarohini for the first time. The sun was diffusing out its slanting rays. When it went down for the day, the void got filled up by the stars. The spotlessly white stars pierced out the black sky like crystals. We stayed in Har-Ki-Dun for two and a half days. Resting, acclimatizing and leisurely strolling out in the lush green valley.

One can spend hours by reclining on the large rock outside the trekkers’ hut and staring at the snowy Swargarohini, for once you look towards it, you simply cannot move your eyes away.

Why do we trek? This is the question asked by many of our friends. We trek because we want to experience such marvellous sights of nature, we trek because we want to surrender ourselves to where we came from and we trek because we want to feel and strengthen the bond established by the mother nature and our physical selves.

Rustic Rinchenpong

I tend to seek refuge in the Himalayas. The lofty ranges, the green trees, the valleys and the moors of the Himalayas helps me to rediscover myself again and again.

 Running away to the mighty mountains gives me solace everytime the hard routines of life rebukes me and intimidates me with its fiery red eyes.

A few months ago, along with my family members, I went to the sleepy Himalayan settlement of Rinchenpong in the western part of Sikkim. The entire region seemed to be well-adorned with flowers to celebrate the spring carnival, – the small, simple and pretty forget-me-nots, the Red Lillies, the Arum Lillies, the Bleeding Hearts,

the Poppies, the Foxgloves, the Salvias, the Pansies, the Daisies, the Poinsettias, the spiny Rhododendrons, the Orchids and many unknowns added dashes of colours and made the region more verdant and vibrant.

Photography Courtesy: Avik Das.

 After a 5 hour-long journey from New Jalpaiguri, all of us were quite tired. The limbs wanted to recline in the comforts of the hotel we were staying in but the heart wanted to wander around.

 As a sincere listener of heart on all occasions, I went out for a stroll. The road headed towards the unknown. I took short strides ahead. The Buddhist prayer flags greeted me and fluttered in the cool breeze with absolute glee. Some unknown birds chirped about their daily chores.

As I moved ahead, I heard the crickets singing an unknown song. Perhaps, a song of melancholy, or, perhaps a welcome song for a two-legged animal who calls herself civilized. The Pine trees stood tall and protected the flower shrubs, creepers, grassy and mossy green carpets like the responsible elders. I stopped and took in deep breaths – the abundant and unleashed pure air to help me go on for a few more months until the schedule of my next refuge. The air which I took in had a sweet, slightly pungent, intoxicating and wild fragrance. Was it of the Pines? I really don’t know. The fragrance had the quality or vice to turn anyone to a life-long wanderer. The fragrance mocked the civilization and its advancements and laughed devilishly at the attempts to harness its source. I started climbing up a flight of mossy stairs. They led me to a place where slightly crowded settlement of Kaluk waved and beckoned from a distance.

I quietly told myself, “maybe next day” and headed back to the Hotel.

Next day, we went to our Rhododendron adventure and came back to Rinchenpong late in the evening. We couldn’t explore much of Rinchenpong on that day. The Kanchenjungha, too, did not smile at us at all.

The next morning we woke up to a bright, warm, sunny weather. As we peeped outside of our glassy window, the Kanchenjungha smiled warmly. She stood tall with all her pristine and spotlessly white mighty peaks, flanked by the Mt. Kumbhakarna from the left, the Simvo twins and Siniolchu, guarded her from the right. We couldn’t hold ourselves back and went out for a hike down the slopes towards Tato Pani.

The entire region seemed to be having a gala time, with the tree tops lightly swaying their heads, the flowers dotting the green slopes and the children playing in the football ground basking in the warm sun.Our sojourn could not be carried on further as our tummies growled with hunger. We headed back for lunch. The lunch platter was an amazing one. The ‘gundruk’ soup made with locally available ingredients and the dried shrimp curry were absolutely delicious.

After lunch, we, the younger turks of the group, instantly made a plan to hike up 3 Kilometers to Kaluk.The road was a smooth, pitched one with the Pine guardians strictly guarding each of its curvaceous turns. The walk was a pleasant one. We took relaxed strides ahead. The intoxicating fragrance went along with us. The quaint mountain scenes elevated us to speechless appreciators. But, frankly speaking, Kaluk failed to live up to our expectations.

What more can a crowded settlement, crowded shops and crowded luxurious resorts with people hankering over Kanchenjungha’s sight from the rooftops offer to the ones who were smitten by the simplicity of Rinchenpong? With a deep despise we turned down on the left side of the unkempt road towards a village called Boom. The pathfinding plackard showed that it was just 1.75 Kilometers down Kaluk. Whether we really wanted to explore the place or not, I don’t know. In a state of trance, we moved ahead. A loud rumble in the clouds above us pushed us back to our senses. We had to return because we were not equipped for the sudden rainfall. A friendly cab driver favoured us by transporting us back to our Rinchenpong hotel.

The conventions of the civic life we are used to, threw us back to the din of the city. Our workplaces waited for our attendance. Honestly, I did not wanted to come back so early. I just wanted to stay back and seep in the flavour of the place slowly just like a wine enthusiast seeps in some exotic old wine. I really long to go back to the pitch dark nights illuminated by the humble lights of the mountain hamlets. I long to go back and spend a night under the stars and several known and unknown constellations. I long to go back to the life of a rambler roaming around the mountains and going on a high after inhaling the intoxicating fragrance of the wild forests. Yes, there’s no escape from the mountains, Mr. Ruskin Bond. I can’t but totally agree to the words you spoke with such a conviction,

“It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.” – Ruskin Bond, Rain in the Mountains: Notes from the Himalayas

Photography Courtesy: Avik Das

How to reach Rinchenpong and where to stay: 

i) Reach New Jalpaiguri Jn on any NJP bound train. 

ii) Take a cab directly to Rinchenpong. It would take about 5 or 5.5 hours to reach the place.

iii) We booked Royal Dewachen Hotel for our stay. Owned by Mr. Debanu Basu Mallick. Professionally best of the services with a humane touch.

    Contact Details: