Category Archives: Travel

Raigarh Tour – exploring cultural city of Chhattisgarh

Raigarh, the cultural capital of Chattisgarh, is also known as a famous tourists destination for exploring culture, mythology, the natural environment at the same place.

My travel blog related to Raigarh is linked to my service posting in Riagahr. I have joined a few months back in O. P. Jindal University as an Assistant Professor (marketing). I always love to explore nature in my own ways. As usual, I did an online research to find top tourists places in Raighar.

My family also joined me after Diwali vacation. We booked an AC cab (Maruti Artica) for the whole day trip for visiting famous tourists’ destinations in Raigarh. Online details were not enough to select the right tourists’ places for a day-long sightseeing and nature exploration in Raigarh. However, based on the recommendations from my colleagues, I have selected the following tourist’s spots:

  1. Banjari Mata Mandir
  2. Kelo Dam
  3. Gaja Mar Pahari Mandir
  4. Suraj Garh bridge
  5. Chandrahasini Devi Temple, Janjgir
  6. Ram Jharna
  7. Rabo Dam

Frankly speaking, if you like to cover all these places in a single day, you need to keep 8-10 hours’ time and have to travel over 200 km in your car. This is November month, hence we started our journey at 7:30 AM in the morning, and plan to complete the journey by 5:30PM.

Let us move to narrate my journey experience.

1) Banjari Mata Mandir: This is one of the famous temples in Raigarh, located along the Raigarh- Ambikapur road via state highway 1. Since I am staying at Punjipatra Jindal Officer Colony, it is hardly 3 km from my housing. This is our first tourist spot. However, if you come from Raigarh city, you have to drive 20 km towards Ghargoda. While driving towards Ghargoda, after Grewani, you will find Banjali Mata Mandir on the right side.

Banjari Mata Mandir - main gate

Banjari Mata - main temple

Banjari Mata Mandir- sorrounding temples

Banjari Mata Mandir- surrounding temples

We reached mandir about 7:45 AM. Being it a morning time, there was no rush. We immediately reached the main Mandir. Local pujari informed it is a very old temple, new temple premises was built in 2003. The present structure you see now, become ready for darshan, was built in 2011. Inside the temple. We have seen the various avatar of Maa Durga. I feel that Banjari Mata is also an avatar of Maa Durga. In every Navaratri, there used a big celebration in this area.

We have found many small temples inside the temple ground. We have spent about 20 minutes in the temple. Purari Ji also offered Prasad. With the blessing of Banjari Mata, we started our day-long site seeing tour in Raigarh.

2) Kelo Dam

After Banjari Mata darshan, our next destination is Kelo dam, this man-made dam was built over the rivel Kelo. If you come from Raighar City, Kelo dam comes first, afterward Banjari Mata Mandir. Since we are moving towards Raighar City to cover the other spots, hence Kelo Dam came after Banjari Mata Mandir.

Driving on the Kelo Dam

Driving on the Kelo Dam

After 10 Km drive from the Mandir, we spotted the big barrage of Kelo dam.

The Kelo dam was set up as a part of irrigation project covering areas like Kharisia, Pussore and Raigarh blocks of Raigarh district and Dabhara block of Janjgir-Champa district. Kelo dam in Chhattisgarh built on Kelo River — a tributary of Mahanadi River main basin is targeted to be completed by the year 2018.

Nice view of reserviour, lock gate and sorrounding hilltops

Nice view of reservoir, lock gate and surrounding hilltops

Kelo Dam -lock gate

Kelo Dam -lock gate

We drove on the dam till the lock gate. It looks that the driving pathway on the dam is not well supported by the concrete road. When we reach the lock gate area, we found it entry path was closed for the visitor. We walked down to the side of the lock gate and took some snaps. The whole area is covered with small hillocks. Before Durga Puja festival (Navaratri), the whole dam and nearby by hillocks used to be covered with Kash flowers. The Kash flowers declare the advent of Durga puja. While going from Punjipatra towards Raigarh town, I used to enjoy the envelope of flowers covered the hill and surrounding area.

What to see here? Dam and natural surrounding; if you enter the small village down the bank of the dam, you can find a small garden for visitors.

How much time to spend at this place: 20 minutes; maybe the whole day for picnic goers.

3) Gaja Mar Pahari Mandir

Our next destination is Sankat Mochon Bajranboli Mandir near Gaj Mar Pahar, popularly known as the “Pahari Mondir”. This is located right inside the Raigarh City. Hence, our car crossed the Kelo river bridge inside the Raigarh City. I feel that this place is 4 km from the Raigarh Railway station.

Way to Gaj Mar Pahari Mandir

Way to Gaj Mar Pahari Mandir

In my opinion, this is one of the best places to spend quality time during your day-long tour in Raigarh. Our car stopped right outside the entrance to Sankat Mochon Bajranboli Mondir. The long gateway welcomes us to visit Bajranboli over the hilltop.

Ariel View of Raigarh city from Pahari Mandir

Ariel View of Raigarh city from Pahari Mandir

Pathway towards Pahari Mandir

The pathway towards Pahari Mandir

Sankat Mochon Bajranboli Mandir

Finally, we reached the Sankat Mochon Bajranboli Mandir on the hill top

Sankat Mochon Bajranboli Mandir and Shiv Mandir on the hill top -side view

Sankat Mochon Bajranboli Mandir and Shiv Mandir on the hill top -side view

I found nicely build stair steps welcoming us to the hilltop. The whole path has good stairs and covered with sunshade all the way to the hilltop. After riding up about 400 steps, finally, we reached the Sankat Mochon Bajranboli Mondir at the hilltop. We took Prasad and set there about 30 minutes.

Shiva Temple on the hilltop

Shiva Mandir on the hilltop

Hilltop view of Raigarh City from Pahari Mandir

Hilltop view of Raigarh City from Pahari Mandir

What to see there?

  • You can see the nice aerial view of the Raigarh City
  • I observed the rail tracks and the views of 2-3 trains running on the track (entering and leaving Raigarh Railway station)
  • Very nicely build Shiv temple on the hilltop

How much time to spend at this place: 30 minutes; very quiet and calm place.

4) Suraj Garh bridge

This is an offbeat location outside Raigarh city. If you love nature and like to enjoy the vastness of Mahanadi (where you can see how island inside the river is the major source of cultivation), then you go for a drive to reach Suraj Garh Bridge and local people fondly called as Nodigaon.

Suraj Garh bridge on Mahanadi

Suraj Garh bridge on Mahanadi

After visiting Pahar mandir, we took the state high – Sarangar road towards Raipur. The is the main road connecting Raigarh with Saraipali. After 10 km drive from the city, we took left From Koratarai chowk to reach Suraj Garh. If you go straight instead of taking the left side, then you would reach Chandrahasani Mandir. But, we take left turn to see the beauty of Suraj Garh Bridge which is about 2 km long, the longest bridge in Chattisgarh.

Awesome view of Mahanadi and island

From koratarai chowk, it was another 15 km journey we reached the foot of the bridge. We paid Rs. 20 as a toll. On the bride, we stopped our car near an island inside the Mahanadi. We see a big island and many farmers are engaged in cultivation. There are no huts on the island. I feel local farmers use boats to reach the island from the mainland. We spent 10 minutes on the bride.

What to see there?

  • The cool drive on the bridge.
  • Spend times on the bride and look panoramic view of the river and small series of islands.
  • Vast nature around filled with fresh air and water body
  • If possible talk to river waves and surrounding

Note: It is good for the nature lover. Other passengers can skip this place

How much time to spend at this place: 10-15 minutes

5) Maa Nathaldai temple at Timralgaon

Instead of coming directly from Raigarh, we are heading towards Chandrahasani Mondir via Suraj Garh. Before crossing the Mahanadi, we took a left for car parking and heading towards Maa Nathaldai temple at Timralgaon. The temple is looked like a chariot on the riverbank. We visited the temple for Devi Darshan.

Maa Nathaldai temple at Timralgaon

On the river bank, there are nice sitting places under the tree. You can see the distant view of Maa Chandrahasani Mandir located on the other side of Mahanadi.

In fact, Chandrahasani mondir and Maa Nathaldai temple are just opposite of Mahanadi.

What to see there: Maa Nathaldai darshan and the nice view of Mahanadi

Distant view of Maa Chandrahasani Mandir located on the other side of Mahanadi

Distant view of Maa Chandrahasani Mandir located on the other side of Mahanadi.

How much time for being there: 20 minutes.

Our Family at Maa Nathaldai temple at Timralgaon

Our Family at Maa Nathaldai temple at Timralgaon

6) Maa Chandrahasini Devi temple

This is the most famous tourist spot in Raigarh. This is located in Chhattisgarh ‘s Janjgir-district and 30 km off the Raigarh City. The location is known as Chandrapur, surrounded by Mahanadi and Mand River.

Maa Chandrahasini Devi temple

Maa Chandrahasini Devi temple-main gate

After paying the visit to Maa Nathaldai temple, we crossed the Mahanadi River to enter the market adjacent to Maa Chandrahasini temple. We parked our car at flowers stall and purchased flowers and coconut for offering puja to temple.

It was 12:30 pm, we just crossed the temple gate to reach the main temple area. There was a jam-packed pathway with devotees standing before the entrance to the main temple. We stood for 30 minutes in the queue. Finally, we got darshan of Maa Chandrahasini. Maa idol almost resemble the idol of Maa Nathaldai. Some reference quoted that Maa Chandrahasini is an avatar of Maa Durga.

History of Chandrahasini Devi temple

Chandrahasini Devi temple is one of the 52 Shaktipeeths and here Durga Mother is immortalized as a moonhasini (smiling moon). Due to the face of the Moon, its fame is known by the name of Chandrahasini and Chandrasini mother.

Hindus have great faith and deep reverence on Mother Moon. Devotees are worshiping maa with coconut and agarbatti. By worshiping maa with the flowers, Mother fulfills all the wishes of her children with selflessness. All devotees who come here to fulfill their desired wish. There is no limit to the faith of the devotees on the mother, as it is no limit on the compassionate devotees of the mother.

Ashwani Navratri and Chaitra Navratri are worth seeing to see on the holy feet of the mother. People turn on the occasion of Jyotikshal Navaratri for the fulfillment of their desires. Many devotees sacrifice sacrificial goats and poultry here to fulfill their wish. Here are mystical and religious tales of lakes, sea churning, Mahabharata’s gambling, etc.

Inside the temple premises, we have found many rides of the amusement park for children. I could not understand why so many rides (from haunting house to other children rides) are located close to the main temple.

We have found the famous landmark of Chandrahasini Devi temple near the main temple. It was a big statue: half Lord Shiva and half body are Maa Parboti. You can see this statue even from the other side of the Mahanadi River.

Half Lord Shiva and half body are Maa Parboti

The famous landmark of Chandrahasini Devi templeHalf Lord Shiva and half body are Maa Parboti

You will find a few good restaurants here. You can finish your lunch here. However, we started for Raighar City for Lunch at Restaurant ChappanaBhog near Raigarh Station.

What to see here: Chandrahasini Devi temple, nearby temples, children rides, boating in Mahanadi

How much time: 60-90 minutes

7) Ram Jharna

It was noon when we completed our puja at Chadrahasani Temple. We decided to return Raigarh city for lunch. As for the next tourist destination Ram Jharna, you need to cross the city to reach the spot. Hence, we started for Raigarh, 30 km ride from the temple.

Ram Jharna Entrance

Ram Jharna Entrance

We finished our lunch at the famous family restaurant Chappana Bhog, located near the Raigarh Railway station. Our next destination Ram Jharna is about 20 km from the Railway station. On the way to Ram Jharna, we see the main entrance cum campus of Jindal power and steel factory. On the right, we see the biggest and famous Jindal School in Raigarh. After a few km drive, we found the hilly trail on the right side.

Path in Eco park at Ram Jharna

Path in Eco park at Ram Jharna

I was early waiting for a splendid view of Jharna (fall) at the next destination. In Google search, we found it a Niagra type fall. I thought there must a big jharna at the spot. After few km drives, we reached the main gate of Jharna. We paid Rs 40 as entry fees with the car.

My expectation reached a high level. I tried to listen to the sound of the waterfall behind the woods. Inside the park, I found many picnic parties are doing the picnic. But, with the utter surprise, I could not find any so-called jharna in the spot. Ram and Sita Mata statues are there. There was artificially made Kumbha. Yes, we found a small pond like Kumbha and water is flowing out a pipe and dancing down on a hilly track. I tried hard to match this tiny trace of water track with Jhrana. Again, I could not found imagine any Jhrana. I do not why people are calling it Ram Jhrana. Maybe in another era, there was Jhrana here.

Eco trail and park at Ram Jharna

Eco trail and park at Ram Jharna

However, I found that the area abounded with monkeys who are chasing picnic goers for food. I am very disappointed with the mismatch between the name of this place and actual reality. I feel this could be a good place for picnic parties.

Artificially made Kumbha

Artificially made Kumbha- water is flowing out a pipe and dancing down on a hilly track-what we call as Jharna

8)Rabo Dam

To meet the consumptive water requirement for the 1000 MW thermal Jindal power plant, this Rabo dam has been constructed about 25 km away on the River Kurket.

Rabo Dam

It was 4 p.m. in the evening. It is a winter season, the sun is on way for the day’s off. The driver told us we can have the nice sunset view behind the hilly range in Rabo dam. From Ram Jharna, it is about 20 km journey and normally take 30-40 minutes time. We promptly agreed. Our driver took a narrow road through the jungle. He informed it is the shortest route to Dam. Road condition was excellent, however, there are many twists and turn through the jungle. Hence, we could not drive fast. But, the journey experience through the jungle road was awesome. On the right side, we see the lush green hilly range and left side we see the valley covered with deep jungle. It was a 30 minutes ride. We came out of the jungle and took the village road and meet a river that goes to the river. It was about 5 p.m., we reached the bank and saw sun is already hiding his face behind the hill.

Finally, we reached the Rabo dam. It is just like the other dam. It was not vast like Maithan or Panchet dam in West Bengal. The water catchment area is not big. However, we find the scenic beauty awesome. Sun already set behind the hill. Still retreating sunlight make the whole area more mystic. The left side we see the hilly range and right side over the dam catchment area we see the landscape vanishing into villages.

Awesome view of Reservior at Rabo Dam

It was almost evening, we started returning to my Jindal colony at Punjipatra. This time we made a round of the water reservoir and went to the village side. We saw the Jindal bus was standing there. Actually, this dam is maintained by Jindal Power. I find this dam more clean and beautiful than Kelo dam. Near the lock gate of the dam, you can locate a temple on the hilltop just opposite the lock gate area. It was closed when we arrived there. But, the good place to spend quality time in this place

Few important facts about Rabo Dam:

  • Catchment area: 783 sq km
  • Submergence area: 681 ha
  • The top level of dam: RL 261.50 m

(Source: Jindal Power)

After Rabo dam visit, we returned Punjipatra about 6 p.m. The road condition from Rabo dam to Punjipatra was not good, as took the shortcut road.

Some factors about Raigarh tour

Best Time to visit: I find that Raigarh is full of industrial activities, hence lots of pollution through our the year. In that sense, the rainy season is good for fresh air and weather. However, winter is the best time for a sightseeing tour in Raigarh.

How to travel during a sightseeing tour in Raigarh? I strongly advise taking AC car even in winter. Because of mining activity, you would find dusty air all over the Raigarh. Hence, for dust-free travel, take AC car.

How much it cost for one-day car rental? I have paid Rs. 2700 for the whole day tour in Maruti Artica AC car. We are four members. Hence, it was quite spacious for the whole day travel and sightseeing. Car charges are like this

Swift desire: Base fare (only car with our fuel): 800/- + 10/- per km

Scorpion: Base fare (only car with our fuel): 1200/- + 10/- per km

Maruti Artica: Base fare (only car with our fuel): 1200/- + 10/- per km

Innova: Base fare (only car with our fuel): 1400/- + 10/- per km

All car are for 12 hours tour in a day.

How to book a car? I have booked my car from a Start-up Company Chalbo in Raigarh. I have spoken to CEO Amit Patel. They provided me with excellent support.

I Hope you find this blog post useful. Please let me know your view.

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Santiniketan tour – a journey to feel the blessing of Kobi Guru Rabindra Nath Thakur

I have written the blog post of about “Santiniketan tour”  after 9 years of our family tour to Santiniketan in the Month of September 2009. If you plan for 2-3 days week end tour from Kolkata, Santiniketan icould be a top choice for travel lovers.

Our journey to Santiniketan – long drive experience 

We took road journey to reach Santiniketan. It was a nice driving experience in rainy morning in September. We started from Kolkata in the morning around 6 pm. Though it was September month, one round of morning rain made the journey cool.

We took National Highway 2 (NH2) to reach  Panagarh, after Panagarh we took right turn from the Darjeeling more towards Illambazaar. On the way, after crossing Illambazaar, we drove through a Sal jungles. It was 9 am. We are listening the famous song of Rabindra Sangeet. Melody of Sangeet mixed with the beauty of nature, made my car driving memorable.

After few minutes of drive, we reached Sir niketatan. We booked our stay at Poushali lodge inside the Santiniketan campus. Our lodge was located next to Prof. Amarta Sen’s house. In fact, in my knowledge, it was only lodge located right inside the campus.

Sightseeing inside the campus

We visited many memorable places inside the campus. Just to name a few,…

Campus tour:We visited many memorial buildings and exhibition centres inside the campus.

Memorable experience to spend morning time in the Amra kunja (mango gandel). My wife was singing a Rabindra Sangeet, and my little daughter Richita was dancing to that song. I  writing this blog post after 9 years, still that time, song, dancing sequence and tranquillity of green campus are afresh in my mind.

The whole day, we spent in the campus. We also visited a mini zoo inside the campus.

Upasana Griha at Santiniketan

Upasana Griha at Santiniketan (dated September 2009)

a) Amar Kutir

b) Vidya Bhavana

c) Kala Bhavana

Prakriti Bhavan Nature Art Museum

Prakriti Bhavan Nature Art Museum

 

d) Partha Bhavan

Patha Bhavana Bolpur

Patha Bhavana Bolpur

e) Sriniketan

Santinikatan Building

Santinikatan Building

Pathsala under the tree in Santiniketan

Pathsala under the tree in Santiniketan

Amra Kunja - My daughter was engaged in drawning

Amra Kunja – My daughter was engaged in drawning

 

Santiniketan mela just opposite Partha Bhavan- local studnets sold home made foods and crafts

Santiniketan mela just opposite Partha Bhavan- local studnets sold home made foods and crafts

F) Ballavpur wildlife sanctuary (Deer park)

Inside the deer park

Inside the deer park

Second day: we visited places outside the campus

1) Kankalitala Temple (The Shakti Peethas): it was about 5 km from the campus.

At Kankali Tala Mandir on 17-09-09

At Kankali Tala Mandir on 17-09-09

On the way to offering puja at Kankali Tala mandir

On the way to offering puja at Kankali Tala mandir

2) Kopai nadi: it is really awesome place for nature lover. You can walk through the nature, see the brids chattering over the tree. Spend some time near a lonely river kopai still bearing the memories of Kobi Guru Rabindanath Thakur.

Kopai Nadi , Site seeing

Kopai Nadi , Siteseeing

Khoai -Nadi -canyon

Khoai -Nadi -canyon

3) Prakiti bhraman kendra: it shows the marvellous creation of arts.

Praktiti Bhavan -Near Khoai Nadi

Praktiti Bhavan -Near Khoai Nadi

Praktiti Bhavan -Near Khoai river

Praktiti Bhavan -Near Khoai river

4) Village tour for kutir Shilpa.  I couldn’t not recollect exact name of the village. Based on the guidance from local people, we drove 30 minutes through the village road to reach that nondescript village to see the Bengal tant work in that report. It was day of Vishwakarma puja. When we reached the village, the whole area was decorated with flowers and pandel. We were tourists there, still they treated us as special guest. They invited us to have prasaad in a makeshift tent.

We spent the whole afternoon in that village, and returned to lodge before dusk.

 

Return to Kolkata

It was our last day (3rd day) in Santinikatan.

Someone told us there was tribal mela near kopai nadi on every Saturday afternoon. We couldn’t miss that chance. We waited till 4 pm to enjoy mela.

Purchasing crafts in the Tribal meal near Kopai Nadi

Purchasing crafts in the Tribal meal near Kopai Nadi

Crafts at display in the fair

Crafts at display in the fair

After mela, we are now ready for returning to Kolkata

After mela, we are now ready for returning to Kolkata

Baul song near the kopai nadi, made the afternoon nostalgic.   we left Santinekaton, it was 430pm. We started for Kolkata carrying with sweet memories of Santiniketan and Kobi Giru Rabindran Nath.

Lucknow tour- very short tour to explore city of Nawab

It was a conference tour to present my paper at prestigious PAN-IIM conference in IIM Lucknow. Our research team from IIT Kgp started our journey from Kharagpur to board Kolkata -Lucknow Indigo flight. It was about 2 hours flight journey to reach Lucknow airport at 11 am on 14 December, 2017 (our tour was 14-17 December 2017). We reached our destination IIM Lucknow in 40 minutes car drive and checked in International hostel inside the campus.

5Th Pan IIM conference 2017 at IIM Lucknow Campus

5Th Pan IIM conference 2017 at IIM Lucknow Campus

Since, we went there for conference, most of the time we were  busy in attending relevant sessions and lecturers. Meanwhile, we roam around beautiful IIM Lucknow campus in the afternoon. By 16th December morning, my presentation got over. Now free for the  city tour. Since, Lucknow is a city of Nawab, hence, we plan to see most important historical places in Lucknow.

Beautiful IIM Lucknow Campus

Beautiful IIM Lucknow Campus

Normally, I used to read a lot about history and directions before visiting the places. But, time was limited due to conference activities. But tempo was high after I finished my presentation, as only limited time left for touring.

Some quick facts about Lucknow:

Lucknow is popularly called as city of Nawabs. Nawabi culture and foods make this city distinct from other cities in India.

It was a kingdom of nawab of Awadh.  The rulers of Awadh (anglicised as Oudh) governed the states in north India during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Nawabs of Awadh belonged to a dynasty of Persian origin from Nishapur, Iran.

The top most historical places to see in Lucknow are 

1) Bara Imambara

2) Rumi Gate

3) Chota Imambara

4) Clock towers

5) Moti Mahal

Places to enjoy and shopping

  • Lucknow kebab
  • Chikan sari/garment

Journey started at Bara Imambara 

Our team set out to visit Bara Imambara from IIM Lucknow campus. When we reached the venue, it was 12 noon. Being it Saturday, there are many school teams and picnic parties inside the premise. We entered through the mail gate, and got mesmerised to see the vast and beautiful architecture of Imambara. We took ticked and price is Rs. 50 per head for entrance to old and new Imambara, and art gallery.  So single ticket is enough to visit there top 3 locations.

Bara Imambara gate

Bara Imambara gate

At Bara Imambara, it it better take a guide. They charge Rs 150 per team of 3-5 people. But it’s  worth to spend on it. Without guide you cannot feel the history of Imambara. We took a quick tour inside the main tomb of this beautiful structure. There we found samadhi of Badshah Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh .

Main entrance to Bara Imambara

Main entrance to Bara Imambara

First guide handed our team to second guide to explore bholbhuliya (labyrinth). This located on the top of tomb. Seeing through the secret window and sensing riddle of narrow path inside bholbhuliya could made you nervous. Without using permutations and combination, our guide  narrated that there  are hundred of ways you can get stuck inside the maze.

Ariel view of Lucknow city from the top of Bara Imamabara

Ariel view of Lucknow city from the top of Bara Imamabara

While walking though narrow dark lane, guide informed us to put ear on the left side wall. We could hear that someone was whispering from different chamber in the maze. Popular proverb, “deoler kan ache” (wall can also listen your talk) was originated from here. Following guide direction, we reached on the top of the bara imambara. We took some photo session on the top. From, here you can see distant view of clock towers, Chota imambara, rumi gate. All are located in a km distance.

After coming out from bholbhuliya, we were handed over to the third guide to explore Bouli. It located inside  the bara imambara campus. In Bouli, our guide explained how if some enter through the main gate, can be captured as a image on pond located beneath the fort. We took a quick round inside Bouli.

Chota Imambara

Chota Imambara

Chota Imambara

After Bara Imambara visit completed,  we now moved to visit chota imambara. It a nice, but small  structure. Which entering, one self appointed  guide asked us: what is meaning of big metal fish near the entrance? What is the meaning of statue in the garden? What there are the purpose of  certain hooks fastened on the main gate? “These are really top secret. If you like to know you have hire me as your guide at a fees of INR 100.” he exclaimed. But, we refused take guide here.

Magnificent view of Chota Imambara

Magnificent view of Chota Imambara

When we entered  the main mosque, a young man explained history and significance of this place.  He also explained the answers of the  3 questions that the first guide asked. We gave them Rs 30 as a tip  He was very courteous.

Clock towers and rumi gate

Clock tower near Rumi Gat

Clock tower near Rumi Gat

After Chota Imambara, we walked back to clock towers and spent some time near rumi gate.

Rumi Gate -famour landmark in Lucknow

Rumi Gate -famour landmark in Lucknow

It was 4 pm by that time. We took an auto to reach the nearest junction for shopping. Lucknow is famous for chikan garments. I purchased chikan sari for my wife from Aarohi market. We finished our lunch in this area. It was 5:30 pm. We booked another OLA  cab to return to IIM Lucknow campus.

It was a quick tour. We, in fact , need more time to explore Lucknow old city and Moti Mohal etc. However, we managed to see few  important places in Lucknow in a half day tour. Hope, in our next tour we would explorer cultural heritage of Lucknow.

Jhargram tour – a journey to the land of Malla Dev in Junglekhand

Monsoon sets in July 2017 with full force; flood inundated in many part of west Bengal. We are not sure where to venture out during this monsoon. I feel the God makes some places suitable during manson for travellers. Jhargram is one such weekend destination, where you can enjoy the beauty of jungle, verdant villages, hillock, and waterfalls at the same place. News paper (ABP) also reported many tourists flocked to Jhragram for a short week end tour in Jhargram.

Our Journey to Jhargram though Shalboni Forest along state highway 5

Our Journey to Jhargram though Shalboni Forest along state highway 5

I also did same during this monsoon, but I have taken different route to reach Jhargram. I have planned my visit first to IIT Kharagpur with my family. And we planned Jhargram Tour from IIT Kharagpur campus. We reached KGP on 11Th August 2017 and checked in Visveswaraya Guest House. As usual, we checked Google for all possible tourist destinations in Jhargram.  In fact, I have visited Jhargram 2 years back. But this time I planned tour with my family.

We are at Visveswaraya Guest House, IIT Kgp campus ready to leave for Jhargram Tour

We are at Visveswaraya Guest House, IIT Kgp campus ready to leave for Jhargram Tour

Jhargram tour plan from Kharagpur: I have checked few travel agents. And finally, I selected four seater Swift Desire (AC) car for day long tour in Jhargram. The cab cost me INR 1900 for day long tour Jhragram.

We booked our cab for tour on 12Th August (Saturday). We made our Google Map ready. We ate ready with all possible information of tourists’ destination (known and little known) in and around Jhrakhand.  Our Journey started from IIT Kharagpur campus around 8:30 AM. After few km Journey, we crossed Nimpura area to reach National Highway 6 (NH6).  We take left towards Lodhasuli.  It was 30 Km journey to reach Lodhasuli bus station along the highway. During the journey, we observed jungle on both side. After reaching bust stop, we took right turn to take State Highway (SH5) towards Jhargram. Jhragram is about 18 km from this junction.  Driving is very pleasant through highway and view of country side relaxed our mind. On the way, we found long stretches of Shalboni forest.

We reached Lodhasuli bus stop along NH 6, from here we have to SH5 towrads Jhargram

We reached Lodhasuli bus stop along NH 6, from here we have to take SH5 towrads Jhargram

Our plan is to cover few important places inside Jhragram City first, then covers tourists places outside city. Here is the list of tourist places in Jhragram

  • Eco-Tourism Centre & Tribal Museum (outside city)
  • Jhargram Mini Zoo (Inside city)
  • Jhargram Raj Palace (Inside city)
  • Sabitri Temple (Inside city)
  • Kanak Durga Temple (outside city)
  • Chilkigarh Raj Palace (outside city)
  • Kendua village tour (outside city)
  • Medical Plant garden (outside city)

1) Eco-Tourism Centre first:  We first planned our visit to Eco-Tourism Centre as it comes before entering Jhargram city from Kolkata (Kharagpur side). But local people could not tell the exact location of this place. We are actually interested to see the Tribal Museum. I know many things are written on Internet, but when you actually look for the place and ask local people with that reference, you may not find good direction. Even our Google Map could not locate this place. Hence, we could not visit that spot. Anyway, after some search we left for the next tourist spot Jhargram Mini Zoo which is 2 Km from city centre.

2) Jhargram Mini Zoo:  It is famous for the deer park. An exclusive big area is kept only for deer park.  When we entered the park, it was raining; a peacock was spreading his wing before us. An important point about this place is that most of the animals are kept in very natural environment in the bigger cases (spaces). It’s not like zoo where animals are fighting for their own space. I mean we find this quite spacious. We spent about 40 minutes in the Zoo.

We are at Jhargram Mini Zoo

We are at Jhargram Mini Zoo

We found a peaock in happy mode in the Zoo

We found a peacock in happy mode in the Zoo

Inside the deer park, we feel that we are in the middle of jungle. Very spaicous

Inside the deer park, we feel that we are in the middle of jungle. Very spacious

(Important notes: Zoo is closed on Thursday, Timing: 9AM to 5 PM, enter fees : 20/- for each Adult)

3) Kanak Durga Temple: This my favourite sightseeing places in Jhargram. You should keep at least 2 hours for this place. This is really a nice place to hang out with your family. In my previous post Jhargram tour,  I have narrated history about Kanak Durga Temple. In this post, I have highlighted some additional information about this place.

Way to Chilkigar Kanak Durga Temple

Way to Chilkigar Kanak Durga Temple, road direction helping us amidst the jungle. From Jamboni more (on SH5) we need to take road to reach the temple

Since this our first family trip, I ensured that I would spend quality time here. There 3 important things to see in and around Chilkighar and kanak Durga Temple area:

Way to Kanak Durga temple through dense Jamboni Forest

Way to Kanak Durga temple through dense Jamboni Forest, Some sources called it Kanak Aranya

We entering Kanak Durga Temple nested in a deep jungle

We entering Kanak Durga Temple nested in a deep jungle

a) Forest with medicinal plants: We have to reach Kanak Durga Temple through a brisk jungle walk. We parked our car in parking lot. Then we started our jungle walk towards temple located other side of the jungle. From Parking lot to mandir, it’s a 300 meter journey though jungle (but nicely maintained in garden like environment) on the both side of the road, you see various types of medicinal plants and many big trees are nicely labelled. Many places you find deep jungle both sides, and many roots are coming from tree tops and winding other trees. My Daughetrs told me that this place may be perfect for shooting Hobbit movie. On the way you will cross a bridge over a deep narrow canal. If you look through, you feel like a mini Amazon basin. In fact, I would not be surprised, if I locate an anaconda near the canal. Now you understand the nice 300 meter walking experience through the forest before reaching the Temple premises.

We are entering through medicinal plant forest to reach Kanak Durga Temple

We are entering through medicinal plant forest to reach Kanak Durga Temple

Dense Kanak Aranya consitsing of medicinal plant near temple

Dense Kanak Aranya consitsing of medicinal plant near temple, my daughter looking into the forest.

b) Chilkigarh and Kanak Durga Temple: The main attraction of this place is 500+ years old Chilkighar Kanak Durga Temple. Chilkigar was a part of Dhalbhum. I have read history about this place. But as a traveller I share a very short historical description of this place. Few researchers believed that king Jagatdeo from Suryavansh dynasty hailed from Madhya Pradesh assumed name King Dhabaldeb after defeating Chilkighar’s king. He later assumed another name “Jagannathdeb Dhabaldeb”.

Old Chilkighar Kanak Durga Temple popularly called as Baramahal

Old Chilkighar Kanak Durga Temple popularly called as Baramahal

King Gopinath was a popular king in Jangle  (now called Jamboni) at that time. He got her only daughter married to Jagannathdeb Dhabaldeb. After this marriage, relationship between Junglemahal and Dhalbhum become stronger. It was a golden age of Jamboni. History narrated that Devi Durga came in dream of king Gopinath and order him to build the temple (old temple).

Old temple popularly was known as “Baramahal”. It was believed that there was stone idol covered with gold and was worshipped as kanak Durga temple. Local folklore narrated that God Chandi was kin to Kanak Durga. You may idol of God Chandi in nearby forest and she was worshipped by the local tribal.

Some quick facts  about Devi Kanak Durga temple for travellers:

Location of Temple: Kanak Durga temple is located in the Jamboni area, a Jhargram sub-division. It was known as ‘Gateway to Bengal” as it is located in border area between Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Devi Kanak Durga – is a symbol of Energy and Power. New idol is made of Kanak (gold)

Old temple made by king Gopinath, King of Jungle Mahal

Shifting of temple: Historian said that  king Kamalkanta planned to shift the temple, but Devi came in dream and oedered not to shift. Iold was there in that old temple for 300 years.

Pujari of this temple: Sarangi (Brahmin) family is main pujaro of this temple

New Temple: Another folk lore said, after a long drought in Chilikigar, there was sudden deluge in area and save the region from further prolonged draught. But deluge did not harm local population. Local aged people felt that Devi Mahamaya saved local people. And local people erected a new temple near 400 years old banyan tree. You can locate the same in temple ground.

Sacrifice of men (norobali): As per some historical account, there was a tradition of Naraboli (sacrifice of men) offered to Deity. It continued till the blood reached Dulung river (following down the temple).

Kingdom: Chilighar was a part of Samantabhum kingdom

General population: As per website update from folkgods.in, This is located in Village Dubra and general population is consists of Bhramin, and local tribal population. Though it’s part of Jhargam (West Bengal), but culturally it is close to Jhargram tribal culture.

Now Our journey experience to Kanak Durga Temple :

When we reached Kanak Durga Temple, it was 11:15 AM. We have kept about 2 hours time for this place as this is really nice place to enjoy.  This time while walking through the medicinal plant garden, we observed many labels were pasted on the various trees. This helped us to identify various types of trees.

New kanak Durga temple, recoonstructed near old mandir

New kanak Durga temple, recoonstructed near old mandir

When we reached main temple ground, we observed few small concrete shops are selling local foods and puja items. In my last visit, we found here many kaccha shops (huts) selling food items. Most of them were local people. That time, we ordered lunch in a makeshift food stall. They cooked food in their home located other side of Dulung river. They carried foods from there and served us at temple ground,

This time Mandir committee only allowed licensed few shops (about 6 shops) to sell puja flowers. Local people kept some precooked luchi-ghugni and chops as a lunch/ breakfast for devotees. They informed that temple committee does not allow any fire (for cooking) was near the temple premises. I am avid tea drinker, hence looking for tea stall. But, no sign of tea stall nearby. One local shop owner informed that I could get tea from a tea seller near Dulung river.

We located the old Kanak Durga Temple , and It’s remained in same condition as I saw 2 years back. Puja was going on in the New temple. Hence we rushed to new temple premises for Devi Durga darsan. It was really a hooly envirenemnt insde the temple and we felt relaxed and tranquiled after Devi darshan.  Mandir was closed by 12 Noon. Pujari was on a bike for retrunig to his home. Hence, visitor plan to visit this place make sure you reach before 12 Noon.

Greenery covering Kanak Durga Temple

Greenery covering Kanak Durga Temple

After puja we are free to jumgle darshan in and around the temple. As mentioned in historical accounts,  you would find many old trees guarding the temple ground. You can locate the most important big banyan tree near the near the old temple. This tree is supposed to be bridge between old and new Kanak Durga Temple.

c) Dulung river trip

When we finished the Devi darshan, I felt strong urge for tea break. On left side of the temple, you find a way taking you down to jungle path. Since I already visited this place, I guided my family to follow the jungle trail to reach the bank of Dulung river. Through a narrow step, we reached the river bank. Last time we observed a knee-deep water in the river in December. But, this is rainy season, hence river take full strength to refrain you from crossing the river. Many devotees are taking bath in the river.

Dulung river following the temple, nice view of jungle around

Dulung river following the temple, nice view of jungle around

We found a old man with a kerocine stove making tea and serving tourists. I placed order for 4 cup teas. We sit under a big tree near the river bank. While sipping the tea, we were hearing drum beats are coming from other side of the river. Tea stall owners informed that some tribal ritual was going on. Last time, we crossed the river and ventured into village walk on the other side of the rivers. As per legend, Devi Chadni temple might be nearby in the jungle. Norobali was tradition long back. Hope nothing is existing  now. I was narrating a tale of noroboli with my kids. Just to bring a sense of uncanny feeling of jungle and old rituals. Some kids from other tourists team was guzzling our story. Tea was finished by that time. Dulung river acknowledged our presence with a mind wave in the stream, It was sudden, but we found for a moment that water level was in Dulung river. It was 1:30 Pm by that time. Now time to reach temple compound on the up-slope of river bank. We come out from Chilkigar temple about 1:45 PM and boarded the cab for next destinations.

Dulung reiver bank, on the other side of the river you can enjoy village walk and bird watching

Dulung river bank. On the other side of the river you can enjoy village walk and bird watching. Last time crossed this river to walk into the village

4) ChiliKIgar raj palace: it is located 1.5 km away from kanak durga temple and located other side of Dulung river. In my last trip I missed this place. That time ee returned back from chilkigar kanak durga maandir. But after visiting this place, I felt that this is most historically rich place after kanak durga temple.

Chilkigar Raj bari located on the other side of Dulung river

Chilkigar Raj bari located on the other side of Dulung river

Main entrance to Chilkigar Raj bari

Main entrance to Chilkigar Raj bari- no description of this place. No historical account maintained here for tourists

We have kept 30 min for this place. We started for this place from kanakcdurga temple around 13:24  pm. We took the main road and turned  right . On the way we found lush green field and distant jungle. Our car took road in the down slop and crossed Dulung river over a rocky bed type bridge. Local tribal people were taking bath in the river. Herds of cows were bathing while crossing river. It was such a beautiful bucolic life; it was immediately framed in my mind. Car started ramping up upslope. After crossing this valley, we saw the main entrance of chilkigar raj place. It looked like historical monument counting it’s day before lost into oblivion. We entered into the palace ground, had 360 views of this place. Chilkigar place is just like big building showing its wounds due to negligence of local autthority. We have located a west Bengal government office placard pasted on the building facade. But there was no sign of people around. A big rath (lagannath dev rather) was parked inside a hall. In that vast complex, left side on the entrance, we found beautiful Temple, local people called it Shiva temple.

Inside Chilkigar raj bari, this temple is counting its day for geeting into oblivion

Inside Chilkigar raj bari, this temple is counting its day for getting into oblivion, jungle is threatening its presence. It is locked by iron gate. Entry is not allowed. No description of this place.

Beautiful Chilkigar raj bari temple. Local people infored me it is Jagannath Temple

Beautiful Chilkigar raj bari temple. Local people informed me that it is Jagannath Temple.

Opposite of the Shiva temple, there is a beautiful temple depicting cultural richness of jungle mahal and puri Jagannath temple.  This temple is extremely beautiful, and old architecture on this temple showed richness of the local culture. But, this is a neglected heritage side. Whole mandir is schekeled behind an iron gate. Jungle and bushed are eating its beauty. There is no signboard about this place. I checked with a local guy, that person after scratching head informed it is a Jagannath temple.

Shiv temple opposite Jaggannath Temple inside Chilkigar Raj bari

Shiv temple opposite Jaggannath Temple inside Chilkigar Raj bari

I am delighted to this temple and its architectural richness, at the same time I feel sorry to see its dilapidated condition. There much hoopla about Jhargram rajbari. But if you like history and nature, then I feel chilikigar raj palace tour experience is more fulfilling.

My honest review: Jhargram Raj bari vs Chilkigarh raj bari

In my opinion, I prefer Chilkigarh raj bari over Jhargram rajbari. WHY?

a) jhargram raj bari is like a heritage hotel. If you stay at their lodges, then you can get entry pass. Whereas, Chilkigarh raj palace is purely a natural tourist spot to enjoy moments with nature and history. Entry is free for all.

b) If you like to enjoy architectural beauty, then visit Chilkigarh raj palace, just saunter inside the campus and visit 3 temples inside. In jhargram rajbari, at most you can see a rajbari from gate and have a quick walk around a garden in front of the palace.

c) Jhargram Raj bari is located right inside the city, whereas chilkigar raj bari is located near Dulung river and surrounded by green villages.

Hence, for nature lover, I feel Chilkigarh raj palace is more suitable for tourist.

We spent about 30 minutes in this place. It was 2 pm by that time. We felt hungry and asked driver to take us to a good restaurant nearby. In fact, you would not get any dhaba or restaurant nearby. We drove another 12 km and reached Jamboni Chowck (towards jhragram) on SH 5 connecting jhargram and Lodhasuli. In fact, from this junction, you have to take 10 km ride to reach kanak durga temple. We checked in restaurant Green view (AC restaurant). Prices are reasonable, but foods are not tasty. Anyway we are traveller now. Just finished the lunch and moved for  second phase of our journey.

5) Jhargram Raj palace:  This is the second time I visited this place. Last time (2 year back), we were allowed to enter the premises, but entry is restricted now. This time security does not allow us to enter the premise. In fact, nothing to see here except just roaming around near the gate. This becomes a private hotel and it should be not publicised as a tourist destination for general tourists. I do not like this place.

Jhargram Raj bari

Jhargram Raj bari

For history about Jhragram Rahbari, read my last blog post Chilkigar tour

6) Savitri temple:  We reached Savitri temple at 3 pm. It was closed that time. So we could not enter  the temple compound. It is located near the state highway 5 and close to Jhargram city centre.

7) Kendua village:

it was 3:30 pm,  now we kept  2 hrs time for outside city tour. Our next tour is visit kendua Village and Garshalboni for bird watching and village walk (you can call it Jungle Walt). Both spots are close to Lodhasuli and located along SH 5. Many internet websites described many things about these locations. But it was hard task locate these places. As there are no sign boards, no directions,  no Google map direction. Even locals do not recognize by these names.

Way to Kendua village and medicinal plant garden

Way to Kendua village and medicinal plant garden. We are coming from Jhargram. From here we have taken right turn to reach Kendua Village and medicinal plant garden. No signboard for village and garden. Hence, we have taken local guidance to reach Garden. If you go straight, you would reach Lodhasuli more after 5 Km drive

When we asked Kendua village or Garshalboni, many locals showed a quizzical glance. But, our driver helped us a lot to find the location. . He asked many local people. Finally we located the junction from where we should take turn to reach the heart of the village.

How to reach Kendua and Garshalboni?

Trust me; there was no sign or banner to guide us. So we got guidance based on local people’s  view. If you come from kolkata/ Kharagpur side along NH 6, and you  take SH 5 towards jhargram. You just drive about 5 km and asked someone about “veshoj uddan” (local land mark) or medicinal plant garden. You find a right turn and take gramin road (concrete road) taking you towards Labkush. It’s nice road recently build under pm gram sarak jojnya prokolpo.

If you come from Jhargram side, after about 20 km car drive, you would find Shalboni forest on both sides of the state highway, then look for a big cement factory ( I feel it is Reshmi cement factory). Now you are close to Garshalboni. Ask any one for “veshoj uddan” (medical plant garden).after 200 meter drive, you would a concrete road on the left and banner placed nearby indicating it was build under prodhan montri gram sarak jojona. Take left to reach kendua village and medicinal plant garden.

8) Garshalboni and kendua village: it was a 3km drive through jungle type village environment. When we reached there, it was drizzling. Due to rain the whole environment turned into a green hub of variety of tress. Birds were twittering over the trees. Road condition was very good. When we were driving, we could not find a single person on road or in the  fields. Only nature was our company. On left, inside the deep jungle, we found a resort. But, we moved on as our target was to enjoy the nature around.

Journey through Kendua Village towrads Medicinal plant garden

Journey through Kendua Village towards Medicinal plant garden.It was drizzling outside

After 2 km  drive, we located a person emerging from the jungle. We asked about medicinal plant garden. He pointed a distant jungle and said it was behind that jungle. Since, we are new to this jungle path; we drove slowly for reaching our next destination.

9) Medicinal plant garden (Amlachoti Medicinal Plant Garden):  Local people called it vessaj uddan or Amlachoti Medicinal Plant Garden. While driving on the way from Garshalboni, we crossed a jungle and took left turn. Then we saw tourist car on the road and we asked them for garden location. The driven informed us that we already reached the location. He pointed a jungle path and told it was a entrance gate. Believe me it was just a jungle path, hardly can you trust that this path takes you to famous medicinal plant garden cultivating 100 + plants. Anyway, we took courage and entered the path. After 15 mitre walk, we found a small gate on the left. On the others side we found series of plant tray cultivating different species of plant. We found another tourist team also roaming in the garden.

Way to,main gate of Medicinal Planr garden, it was drizzling

Way to,main gate of Medicinal Planr garden, it was drizzling

It is a big medical plant garden nested in a deep jungle. It is Very well known spot among local people, but no landmark or signboard at main road (SH5) or at main gate of garden. While walking in the garden, one official asked where we are from. I told him that we are coming for IIT Kharagpur. He immediately took interest to show us variety of plants. Also he  guided us to know various species of tulsi, lemon leaf, mixed spice leaf etc. We also identify few known plant and unknown species used for treatment of various disease.

Garden official helping us to identify the plants

Garden official helping us to identify the plants

Spetakular view of Graden

Spectacular view of Graden

Suddenly, we smell of payesh (kheer) from nearby location. I hope some may offer us payesh in a while. My wife indicated that none was there for offering payesh, smell was coming from payesh plant, cultivated in a nearby location. We found many species of plant with labels for their function. After a few turn, we observed a tourist from another team enjoying musambi under a tree. I became cautious to guesstimate like payesh last time. But he indicated  a tree and low hanging fruits. He collected musambi and enjoyed fruits that under the tree. Few more tourists also joined in searching and eating fruits in ceremonious way. In fact, we have found many good fruit are lying on the ground. But we have not tried any fruits; rather we took a sampling of rare tulsi species from nearby jungle by requesting local official. It was really an enriching experience to spend such nice time ib garden located deep inside the forest. I urge you to go there to spend time with nature and know many facts of medicinal plants.

Nice labelling on each plant

Nice labelling on each plant

It was 4:30 pm and we are now ready to return to Kharagpur. On our return journey, we also stopped at Lodhasuli for tea break. When we reached Kharagpur, it was 6 pm. We stopped at Jagannath temple near Big Bazar Kharagpur. It is a very famous and popular temple in Kharagpur. About 6:30 pm,  we returned to our Visveswaraya Guest House at IIT kharagpur campus.

Jagannath Temple near Big Bazar Kharagpur

Jagannath Temple near Big Bazar Kharagpur,

Returning back IIT kharagpur with swwet memories of Jungle Mahal tour

Returning back IIT kharagpur with swwet memories of Jungle Mahal tou

Some quick facts for tourists

1) Jhargram tour: This is a very nice weekend tour or sightseeing tour from IIT Kharagpur. Jhargram is about 47 km from IIT kharagpur campus. Hence this is an ideal one day tour from Kharagpur.

2) Tour cost: We have book AC car (swift desire) for INR 1900 . Price may be about 2000 depending on season and car type etc. If you come from kolkata, it is better to check in jhargram and take car from there. In that case,  car price would be less. From jhargram, it could be a local sightseeing.

3) How to reach Jhargram? : You can reach jhargram by train or car. Many trains are running between Howrah and jhargram. Check time table on online.

4) Other tourists places in Jhargram: since I have come this place from Kharagpur, I only managed to these local tourist spots in jhargram. But if you stay at jhargram, then you can plan Belpahari tour. If time permits, I will plan my next jhargram tour to belpahari tour.

5) Best time to visit jhargram: Winter is always the best time to visit these locations. However, you can enjoy Dulung river tour and jungle trip in rainy season. But avoid heavy mosoon season. Puja vacation is the best time to visit these tourist spots in and around jhargram.

Hope this help. Please share your comments.

Thank you

Reference:

http://www.chitrolekha.com/V2/n1/11_Kanakdurga_Temple_Medinipur.pdf

http://www.folkgods.in/kanakdurga.html

http://www.jhargram.in/gallery.php?gallery=7

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amlachoti_Medicinal_Plant_Garden_Gate,_Jhargram.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c1dcZCC7_E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp9AmDaIRtk

 

Night on a stranded boat in the Sundarban forest

It was a Mokar Sankranti day (January 15, 2017). We were hopping from one island to another island in Sundarban delta during our sightseeing tour in Sunderban. I heard from local villagers that tigers are very active during this time for catching his/her pray.

Sightseeing in Sundarban -our day long tour in Sundarban Jungle 

We have traveled all the day to visit many islands in Sundarban delta like Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali, Do-banki camp. We have seen herd of deer grazing inside jungle, deadly crocodile taking sunbath near river bank, and distant view of Bonbibi temple near swampy river bank. We are eagerly waiting for a chance of tiger darsan. But it seemed that it is not there in our luck.

Crocodile on sea bank at Dobanki Camp

Crocodile on river bank at Dobanki Camp

In the afternoon, our boat reached Jharkhali ghat, and this was our last spot of our day long sightseeing tour in Sundarban. We have spent here about 1 hour and have seen tiger rehabilitation center, mangroves nursery cum cultivation field. When returned boat after seeing all these, it was evening 5 pm. We boarded on boat for return journey to hotel in pakhirala, our night halt in sunderban delta. Many tourists stay at Pakhirala village before going out for sunderban sightseeing.

Spectacular sunset at  Jharkhali – our boat in trouble 

We have observed a spectacular sunset on the back of deep jungle in Jharkhali. Our driver informed that our launch engine has developed some problem, and they are attending the problem. It may take some time to start. We told driver to rectify the problem first. As we need to take 3-4 hours water ride through deadly forest abound with snakes, tiger and crocodile. Our boat should not stop in the middle of the jungle. It is better to stay back for complete check up of boat. Other fellow boats departed with tourists for reaching hotel destination in Jungle Island.

Sunset in Jharkhali ghat - distant view of jungle on the other side of riverbank

Sunset in Jharkhali ghat – distant view of jungle on the other side of riverbank

We are the only boat still tugged to jharkhali jetty ghat. Our cook serves the evening tea on the boat deck. Cool breeze has started blowing and brought chiller all around. We all male members sit on the deck waiting for boat to start. Local folk song on a loud speaker is coming from some unknown destination in jetty side and reminding us petha-pully’s days in our days. In Kolkata, culture of pitha-pully on mokar sankranti is almost over. We are now at jharkhali, enjoying vicarious felling of the festival and winter chill just sitting on the boat.

Our boat journey started in night through deep jungle

It is 6:30 pm. Boat driver comes from engine room and informed that they somehow managed to repair the fault. But, he also cautioned, problem may happen again. We tell them not to be in hurry. Our boat now set out for next 3-4 hours journey through deep jungle to reach our jungle cottage in pakhirala. Dkukuda, our team member, ordered some benguni chop as evening snacks. Cook also informed that chicken rice would be served in dinner.

Our boat is sailing through river, and deep jungles on sides become more mysterious now. As if they come close to us. Driver told us not to stand on front boat deck in night. All female members have taken seats inside the cabin. We all male members sit together on the top deck and waiting for benguni and chilly chops for evening adda. A small light is lit on the deck. We sit on the deck with our second driver to listen some histories of Sundarban and any interesting stories of tigers attacks and local folklore. Hot beguni chop and chilly chops added energy in our discussion.

We are busy in evening add on top deck- stories of Sundarban made the adda more interesting

We are engrossed in evening adda on the top deck- stories of Sundarban made the adda more interesting

Boat journey experience in night through deep jungle – talking to nature and sky 

Our launch is sailing, twinkling stars are watching us from vast night sky on the mystic jungle. Some of us are looking into dark jungle for possible eye contact with wild beasts. Histories of local tiger attacks from driver made us glued to discussion.

Our boat stuck on river bed – deadly jungle around 

But, all of a sudden, we fell a sudden jerk. Some of us managed to balance to stand on our feet. All of us become alerted. What happened? We come to the side of top deck and tried to judge the fact. Our boat engine has started giving unusual loud sounds. Then, with a big jerk our boat stopped. We light our torch, and found on our utter surprise that water on both sides of our launch become muddy. Driver looks nervous. And later he informed that our boat touched riverbed because of low tide. We need to wait for high tide for more water level.

We try to gauge where we are in dark night in deep jungle. After some glances, we have realized that we are stuck up in the middle of river. On both sides, jungles are about 800 meters away. So it is not a small river. Driver told even big river in Sunderban may have low depth during low tide. Our team member head Khokada try to see the depth of river using bamboo stick. Driver hinted possible crocodile attack, if we go close to water level. Our adda on boat, still continued. However, we are looking into deep jungle to check whether we could feel any presence of wild beast. Our female members also started asking about what happened and when we would reach  safe zone. We know this place is not safe even we are in the middle of river.

Our boat started after incidence

It is about 7:45 pm, dark night rises and become more thick with cold breeze flowing over the river and jungle. After some time, we feel someone is shaking our boat. It starts undulating. Driver informs that water level is rising due to high tide ahead. We get relaxed and news is communicated  to female members in cabin as they are nervous. After, 15 minutes, out boat seems   that it gets untangled from the river bed. Driver has started the boat. We are all relaxed and some of us go to cabin for rest. Temperature dips further due to cool breeze. Hence, I feel difficult to spend more time on top deck, even though there is cover on the top deck.

Our boat stranded again near a narrow creek 

Our boat is sailing though jungle. We thought we finally got rid of the deep jungle. From the deck, we could see moon on the horizon. Few members are sitting on the top deck  to enjoy beauty of deep jungle in moonlight. All are relaxed and some members taking nap due to day long tiredness. I don’t know what time it is. Again we hear a screeching sound. And our boat is undulating due to some obstruction. This time jerking is more. We all come on the front deck. Again, our boat stopped  after big jerk. Same thing is happened again. We are again stranded. River water around boat becomes thick with mud.

We are very close to jungle – beasts are roaming 

To our utter surprise, we have found now that we are in relatively Narrow River. And our launch is hardly 20 meter from deep jungle in left side. Now we are very close to jungle. Driver requests us not to stand on front deck. Hence, we come onto top deck. Discussed with Driver why same thing is happened again. He narrated that he took shortcut through narrow river and hoping that water in high tide might have come here also. Explanation was not convincing as it is dangerous to stay in narrow river in this deep jungle.

However, we have no other choice than waiting on a stranded boat. Moon by that time appears above the horizon, and with dim moon light we could see riverbank and nearby treacherous narrow creeks flowing into deep jungle. Some unknown night birds are crying inside the jungle. We become cautious as we heard bird twitter may indicate the presence of tiger in jungle. Lady members have started loud discussion in the cabin.  Our lady team member Bela boudi lost her temperament as she got frightened and telling other members tigers is definitely going to kill us or some local looters will loot valuables. We are pacifying them and assuring them nothing would be happened. As we are very close to Pakhirala.

In fact, all members on the top deck are also nervous. It is 9 pm night. What would happen if we would have to spend the whole night here. We already feel the presence of unknown beasts roaming and watching us from nearby jungle. Anytime during night they can swim the river and attack our boat.  We are all discussing all possible outcomes and praying to god that show us path.

Something is approaching our boat from jungle side- we are nervous- what is that? 

All of a sudden, we hear some sound coming from left side river bank. Something is swimming or filing water to reach our direction. For a moment, it sends chill through our back bone. We don’t have any fighting instruments. Then how could we fight with beasts. Sound becomes clearer. From top deck, we look on to river water for any eye (may be tiger’s eye) coming close to us. Drivers also become nervous. Out two cooks are wrapping cloths on small bamboo sticks for making fire torch. We are all ready with some possible darshan (visit) of wild beast. We switched off all flight to locate eye on the river. Fire torchs are ready. We are counting each second with deep breath. It seems that time is refused to move ahead. Yes, after few minutes, we could locate the source of sound. By that time it comes close to our boat

New jungle visitor near our boat !!

No it is neither tiger or other wild beast. It is a small fishing boat. Two local fishermen with minimum dress braved the freezing cold water, catching crab for livelihood. They also got surprised to see us here. Our driver communicated with them. They inform that we would get higher water level soon and can reach big rivers confluence ahead. They speed away and vanish  into deep jungle. Driven tell us to keep silence and switched off light as this place is covered with dangerous animals. It is 10 pm. Moon become bright in the mid sky. In moon light, surrounding jungle looks more mystic and dangerously beautiful. After some time, our boat starts undulating and finally got enough water level to sail through. At last,  out boat starts sailing and enter into Vidya river. From there, we reach Pakhirala whining 40 minutes.

We reached safely at our jungle lodge

When we reach Pakhirala jetty chat it is 11 pm. Our hotel care taker is anxiously waiting at the jetty ghat. He gets relaxed after confirming our safe arrival. We are also happy to arrive safely at our jungle lodge.

Jakpur- Journey to The Valley Of Rose Garden

It is a non-descriptive Railway station located 5 km from famous destination of engineers IIT Kharagpur. Hardly any people know that this place is famous for many flower nursery gardens. There are at least 4 to 5 gardens are located here supplying varieties  of flowers to many national and international destinations. Most famous of these gardens is Puspanjali Nursery in Jakpur.

If you have few free hours  in the evening, planning to spend in a flowers gardens located in rural environment, then this is really a good hang out place for families during weekend.

Today is 26 the January, 2017. We plan to spend some free time in rural village for enjoying rural environment. I got some reference of this place from my friends. We set out from IIT Kharagpur campus by 3 pm and reach Kharagpur bus stand. From stand we take private auto to reach Puspanjali Nursery by 4 pm.

Jakpur Puspanjali Flower nursey

Jakpur Puspanjali Flower nursey

Puspanjali Nursery is build over a 20 acres land. It is big nursery and house of hundred varieties  of rose. There is no formal entry tickets. You just step in and local nursery people helps you to locate different types of flowers. We found 2 rose gardens full of various types of roses. Besides you can see how nursery people are treating  various types of flowers including roses.

Flower decorated house inside Nursery

Flower decorated house inside Nursery

Varieties of flowers in the garden

Varieties of flowers in the garden

Sapling of flowers

Sapling of flowers

We located a big pond located right in the middle of garden. Left side of the pond, there are many small gardens with varsities of flowers. On the others side we find fields cultivating saplings of flowers.

Big pond inside the garden - nice village environment

Big pond inside the garden – nice village environment

It is really worth to spend 1-2 hours there. We came out from nursery by 5:15 pm. We found a small village market near nursery. We finished our evening snacks there. While coming we could not find any transportation.we walked about 2 km to reach Jakpur station. And returned Kharagpur  by Medinipur local.

We spent some time in local market in the evening

We spent some time in local market in the evening

Travel tips to reach Jakpur

1) It could be a popular picnic destination during winter.

2) You can reach Jakpur from Kharagpur/ Medinipur by local train and get down at Jakpur station. From here nursery is about 1.5 km located along the road connecting NH2 and jakpur station. You can reach there by 20 min walk or by auto. But we have found  very few autos there.

From Jakpur, you can get up Medinipur local at 6 PM evening for Kharagpur, There are very limited trains stop at this station. Only slow Medinipur and Kharagpur local train stops here.

3) Pushpanjali nursery opening time till 5 pm

4) Best time  to visit : during winter (December and January)

5) Other side of Jakpur station, you can visit  famous Maa Manasa mandir. This is a popular pilgrimage destination.

Hence, if you have half day time, you can enjoy following things in Jakpur

A) Maa Manasa temple

B ) Puspanjali Nursery- a famous nursery

C ) Enjoy bucolic simplicity and village life during village walk.

D) Off course a popular picnic spots during winter.

For Jakpur Maa Manasa temple visit, please look into this blog post:

https://gobindaroy.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/its-my-journey-to-connecting-with-rural-mythology/

Trip to Sundarban – a forest journey to experience presence of tiger and legends of Bonbibi

Our trip to Sunderban- experience in enjoying swampy forest infested with Tigers, snakes and crocodiles. 

If you like to explore Kolkata and nearby tourists places, it would not be completed without visiting Sundarban, the largest delta abounded with deadly snakes, crocodiles, and Royal Bengal tiger. This time I have got tour offer from my friend Chiranjib and Arijit (Khoka). They offered a group tour to visit Sundarban on hired boat. I immediately agreed, as I know that I can’t visit this place as a solo traveler or in a single family. It’s better to go in a group. Hence, we planned our 2N/3D tour in Sundarban during 14th January to 16th January, 2017.

We are so excited to explore this forest delta in a group. We planned a lot for maximum coverage of this Delta with limited time, budget, and safety.

Journey from Kolkata to Sundarban

You cannot reach Sundarban directly by train or bus. Nature has projected this dense forest from human invasion by separating it by series of rivers and tributaries.

From Kolkata, the last rail head is Canning station. And there are plenty of buses from Kolkata taking you to Gosaba. From Gosaba you can take boat for Sundarban.

In our case, we reached Canning railway station via Sealdha. From Sealdha, there two morning Canning train (6:30 am and 7:42 am) taking you to canning station by 9 am. We are 20 members in our tour. We boarded into 6:30 am local from Sealdha. It was like picnic mood on train. We were excited for possible meet with tiger in deadly forest. We reached canning at 9 am.

Our team at Channing station before starting out journey into Sundarban Forest

Our team at Canning station before starting out journey into Sundarban Forest

Sundarban Trip #1 ; Canning to Dhamakhali journey

This is second lap of journey on land. From canning you can reach either Dhamakhali or goskhali or Gosaba by auto or bus. But our launch is waiting at Dhamakhali. Hence, we come out from station and headed towards auto stand.

Outside the station, we have seen a big signboard telling snake bite help lines. It signifies the terror of snakes in the local people. Some of us got frightened and looked for tiger bite help lines. But no sign of it found nearby. It seemed tigers never allowed its prey to call helpline. If one comes under his jaw, he has to donate his life. Anyway, we are boarded on auto for Dhamakhali for 27 km ride through villages on the both side.On the way we crossed Matla river.  Initial 17 km journey was smooth. Next 10 km journey was a bumpy ride through fish ponds (vaery) on both sides. Finally, we reached Dhamakhali after 1.2 hours journey at 10:30 AM.

our boat at Dhamakhali , other side is Sandeshkhali

Our boat at Dhamakhali , other side is Sandeshkhali

At Dhamakhali

Our guide on board Sujanda greeted us there at nearby lodge. All foods are loaded on the boat. We have found Barasat – Dhamakhali are also plying in this route. But from canning station, it is best to come by either Canning- Dhamakhali bus or by shared auto service. It was 11 AM, and finally we started for an island called Pakhiralaya sundarban deep inside the forest.

Our family on boat and all team member in full mood to meet tiger at jungle. Khokada is danchinh on the deck

Our family on boat and all team member in full mood to meet tiger at jungle. Khokada is dancing on the deck

Sundarban Trip #2 : Journey from Dhamakhali to Pakhiralaya

It was a 4 hours journey by boat. We are sailing across river Raymangala. Spread of river was big. Still we could see the distant villages. Breakfast was served on the board. We are all getting settled inside cabin and chair are placed on the top deck for jungle views. After few minute sailing, we entered into deep forest area and both side of the river was covered with jungle. Mobile signals got disappeared. In between tea and snack are severed. We are planning final Sundarban travel trips for next 2 days.

Our boat journey towards Pakhiralaya along Raymongala River

Our boat journey towards Pakhiralaya along Raymongala River

Mangrove forests welcomes us from both sdies

Mangrove forests welcomes us from both sdies

Lunch time came; we finished our lunch on deck with spectacular jungle views, occasional views of fishing boats, and swampy river banks. Jungle views were not intimidating so far.   Kids in our group become impatient to see tigers and other wild beast. We made them clam by saying wilds are sleeping after lunch. Since we are going against high tides, our boat speed was slowed. About 3 pm we reached Pakhiralaya spot. The whole day journey to reach the jungle resort island made us tired.   We are expecting lots of pakhi (birds) would on site. Inspire a hanging and almost broken stairs from jetty chat welcomed us there. Cemented stairs from jetty also tilted onside. You need have a great balancing power to reach the bank while using this jetty ghat

Pakhiralaya

This is a beautiful island just close to Sajnekhali Island. Most of boats from Gosaba, Godkhali, and Dhamakhali take halt here before starting jungle cruise. When we walked in the village market of Pakhiralaya , it was 5 PM. From jetty Ghat , we could see the distant view of Sajnekhali. In fact, it is opposite of the river. In Pakhiralaya Island, we checked 2-3 hotels for the night stay. Finally, we selected Hotel Mangrove Inn. We booked a 18 bed dormitory for night stay. It was really a very nice dormitory with ample space and 4 toilets. Food counter were located in opposite lawn in the garden. In fact, this my first experience to stay at dormitory. All families were sharing fears and fun together about tomorrow’s jungle adventure. We went bed early for regaining full energy for tomorrow’s day long cruise deep inside the jungle.

Pakhirala jetty ghat

Pakhirala jetty ghat

We are reaching Pakhiralaya Sunderban

We are reaching Pakhiralaya Sunderban

Pakhiralaya market- enjoying evening walk in the market

Pakhiralaya market- enjoying evening walk in the market

Hotel Mangrove Inn - in Pakhiralaya

Hotel Mangrove Inn – in Pakhiralaya

Enjoying Garden Dinner in lawn of our hotel Mangrove Inn

Enjoying Garden Dinner in lawn of our hotel Mangrove Inn

View of Raymonganala and nearby island from Pakhiralaya Jetty ghat

View of Raymonganala River and nearby islands from Pakhiralaya Jetty ghat

Sunset at Pakhiralaya

Sunset at Pakhiralaya

Sundarban Trip #3: Journey to deep forest in Sajnekhali Island                

Next day morning, we get up early; boat is waiting in the river. After tea break at hotel we headed towards jetty ghat at 8 am morning. In the morning, we could see a clear view of Sajnekhali Island from Pakhiralaya jetty ghat. We will go to that destination first. Out launch started and anchored at Sajnekhali Island.

We are at Sajnekhali island - journey started from here

We are at Sajnekhali island – journey started from here

From here we entered into the tiger reserve forest. Our guide obtained pass for all members from here. Before venturing into jungle, we have to take pass from forest department here. The famous Sajnekhali tourist lodge located here. But you have to book in advance. Our boat anchored in a protected jetty ghat.  Nobody lives on this island outside this protected area except wild beasts. Inside the forest office, you we have seen Mangrove Interpretation center. Crocodile pond,  Bonobibi temple, and  wild lizards pond.

Mangrove Interpretation center

Mangrove Interpretation center

Normally, forest office charges 30 per head for park visit. But for one day pass per boat, entry fees are included. I enjoyed mangrove concentration center. Tale a photo of all types of mangroves as this will help me to identify mangroves deep inside the jungle. Park is open till 4 pm evening. After 30 minutes stay at Sajnekhali Island , we boarded on boat  for next spot Sudhanyakhali.

Map of Sundarban - I found this map very useful

Map of Sundarban – I found this map very useful (this was displayed in front of Interpretation center)

Sundarban Trip #4: Sajnekhali Island to Sudhanyakhali journey

Standing  at Sajnekhali  ferry ghat,  we could see distant view of Pakhiralaya. Boat driver told us that sometime tigers swim this river to reach the other side of villages. We again boarded on the boat and finished our breakfast on the deck. Boat started sailing for  Sudhanyakhali  camp. After 15 min drive, we reached the core area of forest. Now we are sailing along the Vidya Rivers. Both sides of the river are covered with dense forest. We could see different types of mangroves on the left bank. Our boat is keeping 20 ft distance from the border line of deep jungle. We now can see many infamous creeks entering into the deep forest. Entry paths of those creeks are covered with nets so that fishing boats cannot enter into deep jungle for crabs and honeys. If lucks favors, we can see the glimpse of tigers at the swampy river bank.

Our journey towards Sudhanyakhali - many boats are joing with us

Our journey towards Sudhanyakhali – many boats are joining with us

On the river bank near the jungle, we observed board indicated name Pirkhali, driver informed we are now leaving main stream of vidya river and take left side tributary to reach Sudhanyakhali . Now real thrill has been starts. Here jungles on both sides come close to our boats. Rivers is not wide here. We see many types of mangroves both side. Notably golapata, sundhari, Goran all covered both river banks. We observed many big fruits are hanging from trees. But, could not identify what type of trees these are. All lady members came on front deck; all are enjoying mild sun burn on the deck. They started antakshari on board. Boat is meandering through tributary. I was on front deck reading local book about Bonobibi and local folklore.

irkhali -our boat takes left trun towards Sudhanyakhali camp. Deep forest both sides.

Pirkhali -our boat takes left trun towards Sudhanyakhali camp. Deep forest both sides.

Jetty ghat at Sudhanyakhali camp

Jetty ghat at Sudhanyakhali camp

Tea was served on board.  I was reading history of Bono bibi, Dakhin Roy, and Maajonghi. It was an awesome experience to read local history while sipping tea and watching deep forest in both sides of the boat are crossing by. Suddenly, our boat stops near a creek. I wondered what happened. Guide whisper “sir, just look through the creek. We saw small team of dears grazing on the land inside jungle. We stopped there and suddenly they departed that place. We saw some undulation of tree tops on the backs. Guide hinted driver to start boat and   take it to the mid river. Later guide informed that there might be wild beast around. Since river is narrow, it better to maintain safe distance from riverbank.

Different types of Mangroves in Sundarban

Different types of Mangroves in Sundarban – I mentioned here as I used this image to locate different types of mangroves during jungle journey- Just look at Hental and Keora – both are favorite place for tiger habitat

I felt unlucky as we could have stayed there to see a tiger to kill his pray. However, guide advised to maintain safe distance for safety. This is very popular place for tigers watching.

Old ship parked at Sudhanyakhali camp

Old ship parked at Sudhanyakhali camp

We reached Sudhanyakhali after 1 hour boating. We observed a old ship anchored in this place, it may be  a victim of infamous Aila storm that ravaged Sundenban delta few years  back.. There is a watch tower and observed a panoramic views of mangroves all around , narrow stretches of creeks, and deep forests. In this place, Forrest office nicely presented various mangroves plantation with proper labeling.   We stayed there for 30 minutes. While retiring to jetty ghat we paid our tribute to Bonbibi darga.

View from Sudhanyakhali watch tower - tigers are coming here for drinking water

View from Sudhanyakhali watch tower – tigers are coming here for drinking water

Sundarban Trip #5: Journey to Dobanki

View from Sudhanyakhali watch tower - tigers are coming here for drinking water

View from Sudhanyakhali watch tower – tigers are coming here for drinking water

After Sudhanyakhali , our boat took the main journey through core jungle area in Sunderban.  Driver informed it take another 1-2 hours journey to reach Dobanki camp. Our boat took more narrow path of a tributary. Jungle on both sides comes close to our boat. We keep our eye open for looking beasts on the river bank. This area is really dreadful  dense forest and uncanny silence on both sides make nerve alert for any possible darshan of wild beasts nearby on the river bank.

Dobanki Camp journey - jungle on both sides come close to boat

Dobanki Camp journey – jungle on both sides come close to boat

We are at Dobanki Camp

We are at Dobanki Camp

Our family at Dobanki Camp -just before starting canopy walk

Our family at Dobanki Camp -just before starting canopy walk

In sunderban, there is a popular saying, you me be looking for tiger on river bank or in jungle, but Dakhin roy (tiger) is watching you from deep jungle. Kids stopped playing now. All are anxiously waiting for some darshan of wild animal either in jungle or river bank or in river. I was standing on the front desk of boat. All of a sudden, our team manager Chiranjib silently pointed a swampy land see through the creek. Yes, we observed a big crocodile (about 2-3 meter long) taking rest in sunlight on the bank. Our boat stopped engine and went close to creek. Yes, I could see the giant crocodile taking sunbath on riverbank.  We stopped sometime there. On the way we saw deer and wild hen. But we could not find any trace of Royal Bengal tiger.

Crocodile on sea bank at Dobanki Camp

Crocodile on sea bank near Dobanki Camp

On the both sides, we found various types of mangroves sharing the riverbank and water was covering the base of dense mangroves forests. After 20 minutes water journey we reached Dobanki  camp. This is very popular tourist spot in the deep jungle. Boat left us on jetty connecting to the forest office on the land. Both side covered with iron mesh as this is located just deep inside the forest.

Canopy walk at Dobanki camp

Main attraction of this place is canopy walk through a 20 feet elevated path through the deep mangroves forests. After disembarking at jetty, we went to watch tower. From here you can have spectacular view of Sunderban deep forest. From the watch tower,  we took elevated path covered with iron mesh. We could see food steps of many wild animals roaming near the path. Someone tells we may see tiger in this area coming for water in the morning or in evening time. But it was 2:00 PM  pm. Hence no trace of tiger around. We all are stranding on an extended platform near path. On the bottom below 20 feet’s there is deep jungle. . All of asudden we heard a sound as someone smashing bushes nearby. We got curious, but we are feeling safe as we are inside mesh. Then suddenly we saw a big deer coming out of one side of jungle and quickly vanish in other side. That was really an awesome experience to see animal are roaming in deep jungle and we are inside a case to watch their lives.

View of Canopy walk from watch tower at Dobanki Camp

View of Canopy walk from watch tower at Dobanki Camp

We spent another 30 minutes there and moved to jetty ghat to board the launch. It was 2:30 PM by that time. Our next destination is Jharkhali.

Sundarban tour#6: Journey to Jharkhali

This place becomes increasingly popular among Sunderban tourist in the recent time. This is famous for 3 reasons. First, it is close to forest area. In fact, you get many boats to venture into islands deep inside the forests. Second, this is most famous for recently built tiger rehabilitation center. Forest department keep wounded tigers here for treatment and release them after necessary treatment . Third, it is very nice picnic spot just very close to hear of Sunderban jungle.

Our journey towards Jahrkhali - confluence of rivers

Our journey towards Jahrkhali – confluence of rivers

From Dobanki camp, our launch entered into a large river confluence. Here we could vast water body on both sides of our launch. It seems 2-3 rivers meet here. We were on our boat deck. We finished our lunch on the boat before disembarking on land. After 1 hours water journey, we reached Jharkhali around 300 pm. From the launch we could see distant view of tiger rehabilitation center, mangrove forests and   watch tower protruding out of jungle top.

Jharkhali island - distant view of watch tower from boat

Jharkhali island – distant view of watch tower from boat

When reached jetty and observed local mela organized in the name of Bonbibi. Path connecting to jetty, covered with food stalls and are selling foods to travelers. Many boats from deep jungle islands stopped here with jungle tourists for tiger Darshan.   Moreover, this is well connected with Kolkata and other places in Gosaba.

After some brisk walk along the fields which are used for cultivating different types of mangroves in sunderban, we reached a tiger rehabilitation center. Entry fees is RS  30 per head and open up to 4pm ( they sell ticket up to 4 pm) we entered the center and observed watch tower on the right side. It was closed then because of renovation work. We saw one big royal Bengal tiger which was taken here from forest for treatment few weeks back. In the whole day, we at last saw tiger of Sunderban. It was a vicarious feeling as this tiger is real tiger just taken from forest and would be released to forest soon.  On the back side of tiger camp, we saw two forest bungalows for tourist. Kids from our team spend some times for rides in nearby park.

Tiger rehabilitation center at Jharkhali

Tiger rehabilitation center at Jharkhali – this tiger would be released  into jungle after treatment

It was 5 pm by then and park was closed for visitors. We came out and moved to jetty for our return journey to pakhirala. It was sunset time. We were again on boat for return journey. Evening tea was served and we were observing sunset over the jungle.

Sunset over the Sundarban jungle at Jharkhali

Sunset over the Sundarban jungle at Jharkhali

Driver informed technical problems in our boat. Hence, we started late around 530 pm from jharkhali to our jungle destination pakhiralaya . Darkness already covered the river and nearby jungle area. It was Makar sankranti night. Cool breeze was flowing over the river. Jungle becomes more mystic. We are on the top deck of our boat.  Moon would  come appear in the sky soon. Driver told it would take 3 hours to reach pakhiralaya .

Both sides of the river were covered with deep jungle. Regular tourist boats were absent by then as we were late to start our boat due to technical problem in our boat. We started after sometime, when main driver informed that boat problem was rectified. So we gathered happily on the top deck of the boat in an adda mood with our co-driver  and listening old folklore and historical narrative of jungle, tigers, and struggle of local people.

But, after few minutes journey, our boat got stranded on the river bed due to low tide. We had to spend fearful 2 hours on a stranded boat deep inside the forest. It was 8 pm night. Big moon declared her presence in sky. In the moon light deep jungle on both sides looked more romantic and equally dangerous. After some time, high tide came and we started our journey. When reached pakhiralaya, it was 10 pm night. Care taker of our hotel stood at jetty ghat and anxiously waiting for us. We foot onto jetty and be assured that we were safe. Our day long journey ended with a tasty dinner and finally went to bed safely. We tanked Bonbibi for ensuring our safety during this Sunderban trip.

We could not get change t o have look of tiger in jungle, perhaps,  tiger was might be watching us through the narrow jungle creek. Watching tiger on river bank may be the next event  in our next trip in sunderban.

Sunderban sightseeing and travel tips: 

Sundarban tour guide: Some important information for travelers:

1) Best time to visit Sundarban: From September to March every year. In winter, there are greater chance of seeing tiger, crocodile and other animal on river bank. In September, weather would be more humid. But you can enjoy heavy current of rivers. It is better to avoid rainy season and summer time. In summer, there is always chance of facing Kalbaisakhi (local Strom). It is dangerous to venture into jungle through river path during this time.

2) How to reach Sundarban ?

You can reach Sunderban delta through various routes. We have reached Sunderban via Dhamakhali. But, it is better to reach core jungle via launch thorough Gosaba or Gadkhali. From these places, you can reach Sajnekhali by launch in 2-3 hours.

3) Where to stay in Sunderban ?

Based on my travel experience, I have found pakhiralaya is the best place to have night halt. There are about 35 different budget hotels in that location. We did not book our hotel in advance and it was Saturday night. Hence demand was peak. Still we managed to book our hotel there after checking 2-3 hotels. We stayed in Hotel Mangroves in and it is very close to pakhiralaya jetty chat. There is small market near jetty ghat. We did our evening shopping here. In fact, I always look for books shared local folklore and fables. This land is famous for Bonbibi. Hence, I grabbed a copy of Bonbibi upkhaan ( legend of Bonbibi) written by local author.

Again for hotels in pakhiralaya, I feel you can try your luck if reach here in non pick season.

4) Approximate budget for Sundarban tour

It depends on which travel agency you have chosen to visit there. We spent about INR 2500 per person for 2N/3D tour. It is very cheap as it was managed by our local friends group. This tour cost INR 4000 – 5000 if you book from outside agency.

Please check their itenary before booking the same. In fact, if you have about 20 members in your team, you can arrange your personal trip by hiring boat and cooking facility from local market.

5) Some myths and facts about Sunderban tiger and sunderban tour

Sundarban tiger facts

Some interesting facts  you should know about Sundarban tiger while you meandering though deep jungle creeks for quick meet up with tiger.

When you cruising through treacherous creeks in Sundarban, you keep yourself alerted for possible darshan of dakhin roy (local name of sunderban tiger). But, what is the best time to get darshan (visit) of a tiger?

I have shared some facts of Sunderban tiger, especially their habit and daily touring activities. Here are some interesting facts

1) Sundarban tiger moves 4.6 km per day.

2) Home range popularly  designated  by the area where tigers catch their preys is  57 sqr km (female tiger) to 110 sqr km .( for male tiger)

3) Peak activity of tiger. In Sundarban, tigers are very active during morning I.e. from 5 am to 10 am. Hence , you are peeing into deep mangrove forests near hetal tree or sundari trees during this time. There is good  chance to get welcomed by tiger. So be careful this time. When we visited Sundarban, we knew that we could see tiger in the evening or night. But in night tigers to to bed after day long marathon. Hence, most of reports of tiger attack in sunderban happened between 7 am and noon.

Sunderban tigers prey base mainly consists of deer. Deers are diurnal in nature. That forces tigers to hunt preys in morning. Hence, tigers are very active in morning. However, tigers in Russia and in other part of SE Asia are nocturnal in nature as prey base are very active in night.

4) Though tigers are good swimmers, still they are reluctant to cross big channel or rivers. Tigers in swampy forest like Sundarban cross about 5 channels or creek per day. In fact, in Sunderban preys are so abundant, a tiger , can satisfy its hunger after few hours of strolling.

( source, public library of science journal. 2017) reported in times of India.

How to reach Sundarban from Kolkata

There are many ways you can reach sunderban. I have found many questions raised online about route information for reaching sunderban

A) Reaching Sundarban from Sealdah

Sealdah is the second most busy train terminal in Kolkata. From Sealdah many trains run up to canning, the last railway station near Sundarban. Every one hour you get Sealdah-Canning local to reach canning station. From here, you can take bus , auto to reach various islands near Sundraban’s core jungle area. Best way to reach these islands just take bus or auto for either Dhamakhali, Gosaba, Godkhali.

Canning to Dhamakhali : you can reach Dhamakhali from canning by auto or bus. It  is a 28 km journey on road and you can take either bus or auto to reach Dhamakhali. Just come out from Canning Railway station, you can get bus from main road connected to station. You can ask anyone for bus direction. In the morning, you get 2-3 buss from Canning Railway station for Dhamakhali.

However, if you like to avail shared auto, then you need to walk at least 200 metre towards Matla bridge to reach auto stand. They talk about 10 people per auto. Charges 30 rs per head for 28 km journey. If you get sitting place in bus, better you avail that as the last 18 km road near Dhamakhali is really very bad. Plan your journey  accordingly. From here you can reach Pakhirala in 4-5 hours.

Canning to Gosaba : This route is good. From here you can reach Pakhirala in 2-3 hours by boat. You can plenty of buses and shared autos to reach Gosaba.

Canning to Gadkhali : this very nice route. Road condition is very good. From here pakhirala is also 2-3 hours boat journey. We booked auto from this place while returning to canning station. The whole auto can charge rs 400. -600 for booking.

I strongly suggest to avail this route to reach Sundarban from canning station.

B) Reaching Sundarban from Howrah : if you reach Howrah railway station, from there you can take bus or taxi to reach Sealdah station. From Sealdah  you take local trains to reach Canning station.

C) Outside Bengal: if you are coming from the rest part of India outside Bengal. Then you can take trains to reach either Sealdah or Howrah station. Once you reach there, you can take trains for Canning and follow the directions mentioned above.

By Air) Nearest airport  in Kolkata is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose international airport (Dum Dum Ariport). From here you can take cab to reach Sonakhali, Canning, Namkhana, Raidighi. From here can access waterways to reach sunderban jungle.

D) Bus routes for Sundarban:

From barasat  :  if you like to catch bus from Barasat, Airport, VIP  road or Ultadanga ,  you get Barasat Dhamakhali state transport bus to reach Dhamakhali. From there you get launch to reach the heart of sunderban delta. Again, this is a long road journey.

From Husnabad : few boats are plying between Sundarban and Husnabad route via Ichamati river. But I am not sure how much time they take to reach popular tourist destinations in sunderban.

By bus from Calcutta city : many buses are plying on a daily basis between Kolkata ( K. C. Das at Esplanade) and Sonakhali port near Sunderban.

In my opinion, train journey is comfortable to reach SundArban from Kolkata.