We finished office for the day and went home, took some rest and finished the packing for the trip tonight. After dinner we left our respective homes accordingly so that we can meet up at Howrah station at around same time. All seven of us are childhood friends and we have 2 babies with us too… We met at the enquiry of the new platform at Howrah station and soon the train arrived at 21st platform. Though 2 of our tickets were in separate coaches but we managed to pull it together. 11:45 pm is the time, the train started from the station and as soon as it took some speed the mothers wanted there babies to go to sleep and eventually the rhythmic sound and movement of the train took them to dreamland…
The train is not moving for a while. I get up and looked through the window- it’s just a station and i wanted to locate its name. 7am it is and the chai wala said Khurda road,and within a few minutes the train started to move. As we left the station behind, glimpses of shiny melted silver water of chilka lake sparkled my eyes in the morning sunlight.
The next stop is Balugaon, where train stops for only 2 minutes and thats our destination.We got down in a very organized manner and booked 2 autos at 80/- each that time(100/- 3 years back) and headed for Barkul Panthanivas, a 30 minutes ride.
I know, by far you don’t have any idea about what I am talking about! Panthanivas is an O.T.D.C tourist lodging facility and we checked in at the bank of the most beautiful lake… Chilka; well, this is just one part of the vast lake.
We reached there by 9-9:15 am but had to wait in the lobby as the rooms were not ready by then. We kept our luggages at the reception and came to the garden area and roamed around observing the natural beauty of the locality. The sun was hot and luckily we got our rooms in an hour or so. We took some rest, bathed , straighten our backs a little and then gathered in the A.C dinning hall for a great feast of sea food followed by a peaceful sleep looking over the blue chilka from my bed itself .
As per our planning we took a big sized boat and sailed at the lake around 3:30 pm for Kalijugeshwar island which is very rocky but few of us managed to trek the island and managed to reach a cave where a shiv-ling is situated. It’s a total waste of energy except the excitement of trekking the sharp uneven rocky surface of the hill situated on that island.
So we decided not to leave the boat and enjoy the ride by circling the Honeymoon Island’s out-water where you can see a large dinosaur replica which is decaying. We floated around for 90 minutes then headed back to the ghat as it was getting dark. We returned to the hotel with more plans for tomorrow.
2 autos were good for us as we started our journey again after the tasty complimentary breakfast around 9am and took our 1st halt 8 kms away at Banpur, Bhagabati and Dakhya Prajapati dev ka mandir. This mandir is carved like the Lingaraj mandir we were spent few more minutes and then headed for the Nirmaljhar mandir.
This is mainly a Vishnu temple but you can see Shiva, Parvati, RadhaKrishna, Vimala, Ganesh and Jagannath too.
There are several natural springs coming out of the bed-rock. This mandir is really very beautiful. Our next destination is Narayani temple which is situated uphill inside a forest. We started climbing the old rocky steps inside the old forest, known-unknown birds chirping all around the tree branches, natural water-falls cuts our road found their way down and numerous monkeys around us. I was a little afraid of the monkeys as we had 2 children with us and asked everyone to walk together. Suddenly a local chap threw something at a monkey and it just ran straight onto me, jumped from ground and grabed my thigh. It’s my reflex action and i threw it away before it bit me and everybody was stunt..
I had just a little scratch from that monkey but needed a Tetanus Toxoid so while going to Rambha we looked for a medicine shop. After around an hour we found one shop but there was no one to administer the injection. Wondering what to do next, a person came out from a nearby shade and called me in. It is his diagnostic center and he ask me to sit inside and pushed the medicine. I was very thankful to him and offered his remuneration but he refused politely .
We reached Rambha precisely at lunch . This property is much bigger than Barkul’s and greener, more beautiful. It feels like God plucked us out from Kolkata and planted us in heaven…it’s sooo beautiful.
We took a boat ride again the next morning to visit the Breakfast Island which is a 2 and half hour boat ride. It’s not a real island, it’s a man made concrete structure, shape of a room with a fireplace. The original structure was destroyed in a natural calamity in the 40s and this was recreated later.
One can spend some good time on it as it is located in the interior of the lake and wind blows from all directions .
Our train from Balugaon was at 6:45 pm and our responsible auto drivers advised us to start by 4pm from Rambha as the rail gate stays closed for an hour. Unfortunately we started late and then got stuck at the railway crossing. The drivers were very unhappy with us the wait was too long . As time passed by and sun set in it’s horizon all my friend’s faces were getting dark too. The fear of missing the train is setting inside their minds but our drivers started the vehicles and took a wrong turn and drove us down through a red, stony path. We drove by Fanimanshar jhop( cactus), Aile of a narrow river, village road, ponds, paddy field, even through the Uthon of a greehastha in a hurry.
It was a right turn at the right time and our autos joined the main road near the railway station. They took us to a crack on the wall of the railway station and asked us to jump inside to the platform where our train was about to enter; and we all did so. I looked for everyone and found them all and then looked up and could see the head light of a train moving towards us slowly. I was totally cool all this time, I was the only one who was ready before 4 pm plus I don’t have any pressure to join work tomorrow morning but I felt that my journey to Chilka is not over yet. I counted the luggage and swiftly handed Arnab inside the coach and while boarding I am still thinking that my trip to Chilka is yet not over and I will return soon for a Chapter II…..
Information : Balugaon is the nearest station connecting Barkul (6 kms) or Rambha. Most of the trains from Howrah station to South, take a halt of 2 mins here. From the station autos are available at 100-120/- for Barkul. For sightseeing you can book auto or talk to the manager of panthanivas for tour or car. Boating will cost 600-800/- if you took private boate of your choice for a 3 hrs ride. Barakul to Rambha is 20 kms and an auto will charge around 300/-. Food is good over both the places and there are separate bars too. Rambha panthanivas has a SBI ATM counter at there entrance. Rooms are nice and cost efficient. For room tariff and booking, follow –