Before hitting the NH2, we stopped at Balvant Singh Dhaba around 6 AM to get refreshed with tea, which Sharba concluded was of buffalo’s milk. After crossing the second Hooghly Bridge the speedometer remained at 100 till Panagarh. As we sped to Purulia 2 things was running in my mind. Firstly I forgot the printout of our booking slip to the Prakiti Bhraman Kendra which is mandatory at the reception desk. Secondly the traffic jam at the stretch of Panagarh! Luckily we got a print out shop near Panagarh bazar and we proceeded without any traffic.We crossed Burdwan quickly but after that our journey was slowed down due to construction of the elevated path at major crossings. Just imagine how smooth the drive will be after the work is completed! One can see the Durgapur Steel Plant after crossing the DVC plant from the NH2. I was nostalgic while crossing the DSP, “Hotel Kwality” on the right of Bhiringi more (Durgapur), where my father had a permanent room during 1987-1991 period. The nostalgia continued until I crossed Asansol – my birth place, while my driver asked for further directions. My Aircel network works efficiently at most of the locations and it directed our destination.The scenario changed after we crossed Asansol and took a left turn from NH2 to NH419. We drove right from Sarbari more for 5 KM, crossing jungle and villages and reached the entrance of Prakiti Bhraman Kendra at Garpanchokot.
As usual I had to submit the booking slip and my ID to the reception and we headed to our room, named “Blue Pansy”. Lunch order was placed immediately as they cook the freshest food and the bazaar is quiet far with limited supply.
We had an isolated room in that unit with dense greenery surrounding it. The day passed by with the continuous buzzing of crickets and chirping of various birds; not to mention night was followed with thunder, lightning, rain and folk music from some nearby village.
It rained continuously for 2 hrs, very severe downpour; we don’t get such rain in Kolkata any more. The air was windy and I took advantage of that situation and sat in the veranda. Tiny rain droplets kept drenching me continuously, and since there was load shedding it was pitch dark.Every now and then the lightning gave me a tiny glimpse of the Panchokot hills and the jungle around. Special mention – do not leave your shoes outside; you might regret it the next morning.
The chirping birds woke me up next morning and the greenery around was reflecting on the clean sky after last night’s rain. We had bed tea and got ready to go to the dining room for breakfast.I put on my shoes, came outside and started capturing the nature around with my camera until Sharba was getting ready for breakfast.While approaching to the dining hall, we discussed the beauty of this place when suddenly i felt a sharp sting on my left foot. I sat down on the ground and quickly removed my shoe to take a better look. I shook my shoe and guess what came out from it-a scorpion, and I knew it! I knew that something venomous must have bit me; thank God it was not a snake, said I. Most of the hotel staffs from came quickly and after looking at the dead creature they identified it as a younger one of its species. I was in tremendous pain with burning sensation throughout. We were a little worried because my platelet counts stays very low, but they assured us that I do not need any medical attention but would have needed had it been an adult one. It took more than 24 hrs for the effect of the tiny 4” baby scorpion to fade off.That evening we drove 4.6 KM over the Panchet Dam then another 3 KM to reach Mobarak snake rescue centre. There were various types of venomous and non-venomous snakes, and Sharba bravely handled them as per Mr Mobarak instruction.I also touched some of the reptiles and it was a better encounter than what I had at Sonarpur a long time back. There were some Emus, Turkeys, Love birds, Pigeons, Titir and even a monkey too. After spending an hour or so we drove to Maithan Dam.There was a lash green spoon island and the horizon was splendid too. Water was very less at the Barakar River and even the other side of the dam was dried up too. We spend some real good time sitting on the dam. Majumder nivas which is situated at an island inside the lake and connected by a narrow bridge was also standing upon a dry lake bed now. We went to the “ghat” of the boats which was totally dried up.
There were few boats in the water and the others were parked in the dry land during our visit. This part of the lake was dried up mostly.It was getting dark slowly and we decided to go back. Before reaching the Forest Dept property we had to cross a stretch of 3-4 KM through the jungle and mention not that there was no street lights. It was just the headlight of our car tearing apart the darkness and moving forward and no one else.
We shifted from Blue Pansy to Lemon Pansy today. Those are the names of our rooms at Garpanchokot Prakriti Bhraman Kendra and I have no idea what they mean but now I know.
Google dose not reach here easily but when I stood in front of our new room today for the first time, there was a picture of a beautiful butterfly hanging on the main door and it named Lemon Pansy. They are the names of the beautiful butterflies fluttering around us, here in the jungle of the Panchokot Pahar (hill). This room was at another extremity of the property and dense jungle of Sal, Piyal, Mahua and many other large green trees were just behind our room. The room was larger mostiy with an anti-chamber. Well furnished with wooden decoration, even the bathroom was large and with costly fittings. I spend most of the day staring at the trees and shot some snaps of the birds of the Panchokot hills.
Basic Bengali style food was available there and it was mostly “thali / meal” system. They served freshly made and tasty food but the availability was limited. Food was not costly at all but they do not serve in rooms.
Unfortunately we had to shift from this beautiful room to a new unit and name of our room was Piyal this time. This room bas big too but nothing like Lemon Pansy and surely overcharged as this was the costliest room among the three.
In the evening we went to the Garh of the Garpanchokot through a large village of the same name. Garh means a kind of fort. This fort was surrounded by “Parikha” (large canals) at 3 sides and guarded by the Panchokot hills behind.
The garh was destroyed by the “Bargi” (Marathas) attack sometime during 1400 BC. Now there are only ruins of few temples, L-shaped “Rajbari” and a watch-tower. One of the temples was restored some time back, after which it lost its charm and is an absolute mismatch.
The only remnants are the main entrance of the “rajbari”, parts of brick walls and 6 arched entrances to the “andar-mahal” now a day. The watch-tower is two storied but there was no sign of any staircase or ladder from the ancient times.
They used some kind of light for “signalling purpose” that time from this tower.
Again we are on wheels and headed towards “Baronti” lake. The road lead us to this manmade lake through a village named “kumartuli”, a pond full of white lotus and a “sal” jungle via a road which was at its worst condition.
The lake was quite big and the water was refreshing cool to submerge your feet.
The sun was going down to the horizon slowly as we moved for our next destination “Beror pahar”. Our guide, Mr. Swapan Chatterjee, told us that the nearest village at the footstep of this hill is the birth place of Comrade Basudev Acharya. We stopped by till sunset and felt the nature, captured the natural beauty not by the artificial lens but by the natural one, into our memories.It was dark by the time we returned, travelling through a jungle. It was an experience in itself when suddenly our driver Sona switched off the headlight and we got a glimpse of the darkness; darker than you ever seen in Kolkata…
We got up late and lazily went for a late breakfast. It’s the day we returned back Kolkata. After breakfast we packed our baggage and shortly after 11 AM we hit the road. The green of Garpanchokot left behind but my memory was full of it’s magic.