KONARK…The Black Pagoda

ভারতবর্ষে প্রধানতঃ ৬টি সূর্য্য মন্দির আছে, ১ নাম্বারটি কোনারক, দ্বিতীয়টি খাজুরাহ মধ্যপ্রদেশ, তৃতীয়টি  গুজরাতের মাধেরা, চতুর্থ জম্বু-কাশ্মিরের অনন্তবাগ এর মার্তন্ড সান টেম্পল, পঞ্চমটি আন্ধ্রার  আরাসাভিল্লির  সূর্য্যনারায়ান স্বামী টেম্পল এবং শেষটি  গোয়ালিয়ারএর বিড়লাদের নবতম সূর্য্য মান্দির যেখানে এখনও পূজা হয়। এছাড়াও বিহারে কিছু ছোটো বড় মন্দির আছে কিন্তু সেগুলো Archaeological Survey of Indiaএর  অধীনে নয়। ভারতের বাইরে হিন্দু সূর্য্য মন্দির আছে শুধু কম্বোডিয়ার  আঙ্কোরভাটএ, এছাড়া ইরাক, ইরান,  পারস্য, মিশর, মেসোপটেমিয়া এবং মেক্সিকোতে মায়ারাও সূর্য্য দেবতার আরাধনা করতে মন্দির গড়েছে। সারা পৃথিবীতেই সূর্য্য আরাধনা হয়ছে কোনো না কোনো যুগে কারণ তিনিই সর্বশক্তিমান, তিনিই সৃষ্টিকর্তা তিনিই বিনাশক তিনিই প্রকৃতি এবং তিনিই ধারক ও বাহক। আবুল ফজল এর আইন-ই-আকবরীতে উল্লেখ আছে  এখানে ২৮টি মন্দির ছিল।রাজা Narasimha dev ১২৫৫ সালে এই মন্দির তৈরি করেন, ১২ একর জমিতে ১২ বছর ধরে, ১২০০ শ্রমিক কাজ করেছিল। ১৮৪৮ সালের ৪৪০ কিমি বেগে ধেয়ে আসা সুনামিতে প্রায় সব নষ্ট হয়ে যায়, আজ যা বেঁচে আছে তাও বালির নীচে চাপা পড়ে যায়। ১৯০১ সালে East India Companyর নির্দেশে খোঁড়া-খুঁড়ি করে এই ধ্বংসাবশেষকে বেড় করা হয় এবং Lieutenant governor of Bengal, J. A. Baurdilon এর নির্দেশে মন্দিরের চারটি দ্বার বন্ধ করে মন্দির কক্ষ (জগমোহন) বালি পাথর দিয়ে ভরে seal করে দেওয়া হয় যাতে তা ধ্বসে না পড়ে আর। তিন বছর পর ১৯০৩তে এই মন্দির সাধারনের জন্য খুলে দেওয়া হয়। ১৯০৯ সালে মায়াদেবীর (সূর্য্যদেবের স্ত্রী) মন্দির আবিষ্কার হয় এর দক্ষিণ-পশ্চিম দিকে।

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নিঃসঙ্গ এবং অপূর্ব beach Chandrabhagaতে বেশ কিছুটা সময় কাটিয়ে আমরা রওনা হলাম Chandrabhaga নদীর মোহনার অদূরে কোনারকএর  দিকে।গাড়ি একটু দূরে পার্ক করতে হয়, অটোওয়ালারা ঊচ্চঃস্বরে বলবে অনেক দূর কিন্তু নয়, খুব বেশি হলে ১০ মিনিট হাঁটা। দুদিকে রকমারি দোকান আর অজস্র মানুষকে পিছনে ফেলে আমরা পৌঁছে গেলাম কোনারক মন্দিরে। দূর থেকেই দেখা যাচ্ছিল, টিকিট কেটে ঢুকে পড়লাম কোনারক চত্তরে শহুরে  সভ্যতা থেকে সোজা ইতিহাসের পাতায়।

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১৯৮৪ সালে UNESCO এটিকে World Heritage Siteএর  তকমা দিয়েছে। ঢুকতেই চোখে পড়বে Archaeological Survey of Indiaএর বোর্ড, পড়ে নেবেন চট করে।

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সংস্কৃতর “কোনার” এবং “অর্ক” জুড়ে কোনারক কথাটির উৎপত্তি। মন্দিরটি এমন ভাবে তৈরী যাতে উদীয়মান সূর্য্যের প্রথম আলোয় স্নাত হয় “Garva Griha”এর সূর্য্যদেব। রথ এর আদলে তৈরী এই মন্দিরের ১২ জোড়া (২৪ টি) চাকা যার ৮ টি করে স্পোক আর সাতটি ঘোড়া এই রথ পূর্ব দিকে টেনে নিয়ে যাচ্ছে।

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২৪ ঘণ্টা অর্থে ২৪ টি চাকা ৮ প্রহর অর্থে ৮ টি স্পোক আর ৭ দিনের অর্থে ৭ টি ঘোড়া। প্রতিটা চাকা একেকটি  সূর্য্য ঘড়ি এবং এই  ঘড়ি শুধু সময় দেখায় না, এর আরও অনেক অজানা function আছে। এই মন্দিরের চারটি অংশ ছিল যার মধ্যে প্রধান এবং বৃহত্তম অংশ “বিমান” আজ  ধ্বংসপ্রাপ্ত। আজ যা বেঁচে আছে তা ছিল প্রধান মন্দির “বিমান”এর প্রবেশ পথ এই জগমোহন, নট মন্ডপ ও ভোগ মন্ডপ এছাড়া আছে মায়াদেবী ও বিষ্ণু মন্দির।

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১৬০৬ এ  জাহাঙ্গির মন্দিরএর swarna kalash লুন্ঠন করার পর থেকে  পূজা বন্ধ। সূর্য্যদেবের ৬ টি মূর্তি ছিল এই মন্দিরে যার মধ্যে মন্দিরের বাইরের ৩ টি আজও বর্তমান। “Garva Griha”এর প্রধান অষ্টধাতুর মূর্তিটি সরিয়ে নেওয়া হয়েছে Londonএর Victoria and Albert Museumএ,  আরেকটি আছে পুরীর জগান্নাথ মন্দিরে এবং শেষটি আছে দিল্লির National Museumএ। ছায়া আর মায়া দেবীর মূর্তি দুটো এবং আরও প্রায় ১১ টি মূর্তিও আছে কলকাতা Museumএ।

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সে যুগের নাবীকরা পুরি মন্দিরকে landmark হিসাবে White Pagoda আর কোনারককে Black Pagoda হিসাবে উল্লেখ করেছে…

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আরও অনেক বলার আছে, continue হোক Unique Black Pagoda of Odissaতে

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Ruposhibanglar Mukutmanipur

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep… I have to wake up at 4. God its such a love-hate relation between my sleep and the excitement of catching a train. With an anxious mind I eventually managed to put myself into slumber.
‘You and I in this beautiful world…’ rang my alarm. It’s 4 am. I have to get up, pack our toothbrush and my best buddy boroline (yeah I know). I wake up Sayantan. He is in the loo with tea and newspaper… men!
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Our driver called up that he has left and will be there pretty soon. We left home around 5 and it was pretty dark, mostly how it is on cold winter dawn. I am talking November and one needs a pullover in the morning. I felt rather glum on the way to the station. I was worried for Sayantan because he’s just been back from the hospital after his 5th chemo. With the rising sun and the first light I started feeling so much better. As if my energy level were at solar charging mode . The driver dropped us just outside Santragachi railway station and we took a cranky flight of stairs to reach this neat and tiny platform. I couldn’t really find anyone to ask about the train’s whereabouts. And then the announcement-Ruposhibangla is arriving. It was suppose to come on platform 2 so we headed for the foot bridge and waited.
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 Luckily our coach landed almost were we were standing and we boarded quickly. And then the nightmare, we had the very last seats! I hate the first and last row of seats, the ones near the doors, the ones near the lavatory and the ones at the direct meeting points of vendors. It sucks.
The train was due to start and here comes our 1st vendor with tea. I really needed one. Then the lean man selling combs and handkerchiefs, followed by singara. Who eats singara at 6:15am! And then a young boy with a big thaili. He had books, lots of books and he arranged its neatly inside his thaili and few he kept aside. There goes the signal and the train started. Now I am feeling really excited, whoo-hoo another holiday. Silently I reminded myself to keep my phone at bay and not to indulge in any office work or take no  calls from patients. This trip will be a complete de-stress. The young chap,  must be around 10, started selling his books. I felt so sad for this lad, probably never been to a school and selling books. Irony of life. Soon I noticed that the young boy had a clear pronunciation and called the writers by their correct names, he was dressed soberly, clean finger nails, oiled and combed hair and mannerism quite elegant. It instantly hit me that he does goes to a school and since today is Sunday he must be helping his father. I felt so happy that moment that I called him. He showed me his goods and said the books were for 100 each. He even admitted that the content of the books were exact same except not from the printer but Xeroxed and bind together. We got ourselves 2 of them- Diary of a young girl (Anna Frank) and Dr. Sigmund Freud. We started reading our copies immediately.
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“Interpretation of dream”- I have always been fascinated by my own and now I have a chance to know how much I am right about my own experiences.  Rest of the journey was rather boring with the usual environ- mothers chasing their kids, men talking loudly over phones , a young couple fighting etc. Sayantan slept for some time but I guess I was the one snoring away.  Occasionally I opened my eyes, taking a view of the majestic nature outside and the dozing off again. Sayantan woke me up at around 10 as we  approached  Bakura. I tidied my hair and started towards the door. The platform was quite empty and we exited via a flight of stairs. There are many cab drivers standing by the stairs inviting passengers to board their taxis. We got on one for 800 bucks from Bakura to Mukutmanipur. The fresh air, smell of the greenery, color of the soil completely mesmerized me. I looked at Sayantan and the serenity on his face gave me so much pleasure. God I love this man! Travelling is such a therapy and for him its Elixir. Am so content we managed to pull this off….
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The official trip starts now and one can know all about it at https://sayantansharba.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/mukutmanipur-sonajhuri/

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park at Darjeeling… Darjeeling 3

After a short tour to HMI we finally entered the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, the largest high-altitude zoo in India. We started by exploring the bird cages that had lots of Golden, Kalij and Silver Pheasants, Blue Gold Macaw, Red-eyed Cockatoo, Parrots / Parakeet, Gray Peacock, Himalayan Monal, Hill Myna and many more beautiful birds. 22.jpgIt was winters, so did not hope to see any reptiles or amphibians, so we climbed uphill to the mammals section. 24.jpgThe zoo was very clean with well maintained cages. They had some Asiatic Black bears enjoying the sunny day by sleeping the whole time!

27 26.jpgAmong the carnivores they had a healthy Indian Tiger, shiny Black Panther, Common Leopard and few rare species like Snow Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Leopard cat, Tibetan Wolf, etc.

28 25.jpgThe zoo houses herbivorous like Goral, Blue sheep, Himalayan Tahr, Sambhar, Musk and Barking Deer too. Apart from these, they also had Himalayan Palm Civet, Jackals, Slow Loris and most importantly the Himalayan Red Panda. 30.jpgThe Himalayan Red Panda (Alurus Fulgens Fulgens) was declared Endangered Species by IUCN in 2004, got a successful captive breeding program here. This zoological park specializes in breeding animals who adapted to alpine conditions, and has successful captive breeding programs for the snow leopard and the critically endangered Himalayan wolf.29.jpgWe were so amused that when checked the time it was around 2 PM and we had to headed for lunch. Rest of the day we spent by resting, roaming around the Mall in evening and finished with a great treat at a local Tibetan food stall near Mall – a very economic place run by mother and son.31.jpg

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Baranti Lake of Purulia

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Muradi / Baranti Lake is a small, quiet and scenic place in the vicinity of Ramchandrapur Irrigation Project, not very far from Garpanchkot. A 2 km long irrigation project dam, located between two small hillocks; Muradi Hill and Baranti Hill.

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A hamlet of small villages, populated by the Santhal tribe who are known to be peaceful and truthful. The area is surrounded with splash green forest of mainly Sal, Tamal, Sonajhuri, Palas, a big natural lake and few elegant hills. The hills appears  green and dark green during rainy season, slightly grey during winter and dotted with fiery red during the autumn.

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The fiery red colour comes from the fully blossomed Palas trees, a source of natural red colour. The stagnant water of the reservoir look like a large, blue-tinted glass mirror reflecting the vast expanse of sky and the green hills be on it. The view of the sunset with the lake on the fore ground is breathtaking.

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There were some private hotels / eco-tourism which provides lodging and food near this lake. I guess it would feel like staying near Chilka. This dam was made by the Government to store the natural water and supply it for domestic and agricultural purpose. This hydro-electric power, water reservoir project has been set up on 680 acres of land with the erection of soil dams on the river Baranti based on the pattern of Kansabati project (Mukutmanipur).

 

An Encounter with Mrs. Morgan

The Morgan House was built by jute baron George Morgan in the early thirties. Mrs. Morgan died in that house soon after her husband’s demise. Sometimes it is said that one can feel her presence inside the hotel rooms at nights or roaming in the gardens. Morgan House is considered to be one of the haunted places of Bengal.

It was around 10 pm and our first night at Morgan House. We took our dinner in the room itself. Mostly in the mountains and hilly areas people sleep very early, so did our hotel. Although the kitchen was open, most of the guests had already eaten and retired to their rooms. It was an absolute silent state except the wind whistling along the leaves of the tall trees around. Sayantan and I were talking softly about our trip when suddenly I heard footsteps. Someone was walking on our ceiling, inside our room, footsteps on the wall of our room, a sudden sweep on the floor, a sharp giggle and a shoe-mark on the wall…

mh7.jpgWe sat silently following the sound and the shoe-mark on the wall gave us chills. Suddenly the bathroom door opened with a bang and the room became extremely cold. Load shedding is quiet common in Kalimpong and I silently prayed to prevent it’s arrival. And then there were a power cut…

mh8.jpgWe sat there motionless for what seemed like eternity, for the lights to come back. By the time electricity returned everything got back to it’s usual silent state. Sayantan got down from the bed and I managed to follow him till the door to explore his curiosity and my freight. A hotel staff rushed passed me to the kitchen. Honestly speaking, I was scared as hell. I stood there stoned for sometime, until we saw him return with a young kid of around 7 years !

mh4On enquiry from the hotel staff, we found that there was another family on the 1st floor having a party in their room and had paid the hotel staff to take care of their child. Since the hotel interior is all wooden work, in the silence of night walking inside the hotel gives the impression of someone walking on your walls and ceiling. 

The mystery of Mrs. Morgan’s spirit was hence solved !!

mh6We came back to our room, laughing on ourselves when we suddenly realized, the shoe mark. None of the above explained the shoe-mark beside the almirah.

mhMy personal theory states that some previous guest might have tried to scare away a lizard or some spider with his shoe, although I did not really find any spider or lizard there…   

 

Chilka Cheers..Chapter II

Most people who have been to Puri will always emphasized that they’ve seen Chilka, but sadly they miss the real beauty. From Puri everybody goes to Satpara, Chilka,  to watch the dolphins but sadly that place is the most barren part of this beautiful lake. This is the second time we are here in Barkul Panthanivas and we bargained with the manager to allow us to check-in early. From the reception our unit was just 20 steps away, via a red tiled path,  garden and a playground, till our unit. Each unit consists a total of four rooms, two on each floor. Flight of stairs bifurcates leading to two rooms on each side. The room was quite spacious with a large bed, side tables on both the sides, a dressing table, a center table with two wooden armchairs and most importantly, a great view of Chilka  from the bed.  On the other end of the room, there is a full length window and glass door leading to the balcony.cc12 While I was enjoying the vibe of the room and was in a conversation with Sharba then suddenly my best friend entered like The Flash and said, “Sayantan, something bad has happened, there is a ‘laash’ (dead body) below my balcony. Quick, come and see!” I got up instantly and followed him to his balcony. Oh my! I saw half of the body of a man, wearing blue jeans, lying ten feet below us. I looked at my brother-in-law, Junaid (he joined us from Bhuwaneshwara this morning itself) standing beside me and Sharba and Pathak behind, with blank white faces. Unbelievable! I looked down again and noticed that although I can’t see his face but I can see his stomach expanding. I shouted, “Oye, hello, get up”. I turned around and said “that’s  a drunk person, pata nehi kab se yaha pada hai (don’t know from when he is lying here). Lets call the reception and inform them. I could see the white faces getting back their color.c1 Later we found that a boarder at the ground floor of another unit went missing since this morning and that was him who fell unconscious below our balcony due to over consumption of alcohol and also his room mate had vanished with the room key.
cc13Sharba was getting ready while I came out to the stairs and looked up to the lush green hills in front. Little blots of cloud floating in the sky and casting a shadow on the hills. How refreshing a bright sunny day could make you feel!  One by one Sharba, Pathak and Junaid came out and we, the hungry young men (one women included) marched to the dining hall of Barkul Panthanivas to eat. I have been to a lot of places around Odissa, and stayed at Panthanivas and have found that their dining halls are large air-conditioned rooms with same the menu (except Chandipur) and the recipes are exactly the same in all of them. But I feel that Barkul’s is the best. I ordered my favorite lunch ‘fine rice, dal fry, jhuri kore bhaja alu, crab masala and chingri maach er malaikari with green salad and Thumbs up’. From service till satiety, there was total silence on our table, except “nun ta de”, “ektu bhat lagbe”, “uff”, “ota sesh kore de”, “daarun” and at last “aar parchi na”. The food was too good too be true and we all are stuffed.cc13.jpg Somehow we managed to carry ourselves out and the weather changed dramatically. It turned cloudy and dark and seemed like the rain will bear upon us anytime. We dragged our heavy stomachs to our rooms..cc32
I had a very clear idea about the islands situated around the beautiful Chilka , so I asked our manjhi to take us to the distant part of the lake  where no other boats will be around, no noises from the tourists could disrupt our peace of mind and no island to restrict our view.cc16 Finally we found a place where wind blew softly and tickled my neck, my ears. The small waves of the vast Chilka breaks at the body of our boat  giving a lively beat. The odour of the algae and the fishing birds gave the lake a marine smell. We found our perfect spot to anchor.cc18 The Sun was setting and with it the color of the sky and the tone of the lake changed with each moment. We were spell-bound and kept staring, as nature slowly lost her bright colors and wore the cold and misty cover of the darkness. We just sat there motionless, leaning back on our hands and feet submerged in lake water. Few dim lights slowly glows afar at some corner of the island and mildly saddened melody of a folk song intoxicated the air heavy…cc17The  manjhi slowly got up and broke our meditation by saying it’s too late to stay here and we should probably head back to the jetty; he started the motor of the boat. Slowly we came out off our trance as the boat headed to the jetty.
cc1Junaid left at dawn the next day as he had to join work. I was awake since then. It was around 5:15 am and the sun started rising in the east, glazing the clouds and the lake. I witnessed another memorable sunrise of my life from my bed and then slowly sleep conquered me .cc20Our next destination was to the other bank of the lake, another beauty spot named Rambha. The road to Rambha is beautiful by herself and we decided to visit Nirmaljhar, Narayani mandir and Salia dam to explore more artistry of Odissa.cc22     
Nirmaljhar mandir is basically a Vishnu temple but along with other gods like Lord Shiva, Jagannatha, Ganesha and goddess like Parvati, Vimala and RadhaKrishna. I was amazed to see the architecture and the structure of the temple- the brick-red colored exterior of the temple and the beautiful sculpture carved on them.cc23
The temple was built on a hillock which extended behind the temple and there were narrow and short steps leading to different caves and separate  wings of the mandir. Some are quite small to crawl inside while others  big enough to bent down a little and get in and  rest were high enough to  be able to enter easily.cc29 But the main attraction is the underground natural spring, some 7-8 at least of them coming out from the bed rock. A square, decorated pond, cleanly cut out of solid rock is at the heart of the temple which accumulates the clear waters of all the springs.cc25
Fishes of various sizes swam  carelessly and the locals believe drinking this water cures diseases miraculously (consume at your own risk). We roamed about this magnificent temple, admiring its beauty and taking photos of this place when suddenly rain started.
 We left Nirmaljhar quickly and headed for the Narayani temple which is situated at the top of Bhalleri Pahar, surrounded by dense jungle.cc28
When we reached the foot of the hill, the rain started heavily so we waited there for the rain to stop, but it didn’t. When I had visited Narayani temple last time I was bit by a monkey while saving my friend’s kid. Sharba started calling me Monkey-god after learning about this incidence and teased me all though the way. After around an hour and we decided to head for Salia dam, a little known place of Odissa.cc31 Luckily when we reached Salia dam, the rain stopped and we bought Rs. 5 ticket for each of us to enter to another wonder.
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We walked upon the dam halfway and were already amazed by the beauty of the landscape. cc36I saw a beautiful green hilly islands far away from the dam with blue sky and water reflecting green, a hawk conquering the clean sky, dry side of the  river with green land at the other side of the dam.cc35 We keep walking till the end of the dam where it seems that the water from the dam will spill to the other side even if I throw a pebble,cc38 The reservoir was completely filled with water. It was just 3 of us on the dam at that time; the beauty, the nature, the sky and the greens, befalling upon us….that was so relaxing so therapeutic.  cc39
We spent around 2 hours there and continue our journey  to Rambha. Rambha is named after an apsara (dancer-angel) of swarglok.
cc40It’s around 2 minutes drive in auto from the entrance of the Rambha Panthanivas up to the main wing of the hotel. We occupied 2 rooms at the 1st floor of the main wing. The rooms are smaller than Barakul’s room but having a huge balcony with 2 deck chairs overlooking most probably the best scenic view of Chilka, we sat there for at least an hour.cc41 There was an open semi-circular amphi-theater inside the premises along with beautiful gardens, trees, flowers, beautiful street lights all around and the twin cottages at the edge of the property, very near to the lake.1269283_627882830567327_99051893_o The golden fried prawn from the kitchen of Panthanivas is what one would call god-food-  salty, fishy, sandy and fresh, melt-in-your-mouth prawns and Sharba declared that she will never eat golden fried prawn ever again except at Rambha. The O.T.D.C special soup made up of shredded chicken, mutton, prawn, crab meat is ecstatic too. cc30We savored every moment of our dinning experience but we were little tired from that stormy journey. We went for a boat ride in the evening. As Babla majhi (name of the boat man) started rowing the boat we realized we were not enjoying it as much as Barakul, reasons mainly that his boat was narrow and much smaller that what we experienced before. That fear of falling in the lake caught us tightly (you know how we urban people are!). On top of that Babla started bragging about himself and bored us to quite an extend. It was then, when we decided to head back. cc43By the time we got down at the ghat and came back to the hotel, the lights of the garden were on so we directly went to the open theater and sat on the soft green grass. The weather was little cold at that time and we witnessed another beauty on the premises of Rambha Panthanivas and more over the Chilka lake…we just sat there blank mindedly looking over the lake……cc42

P.C : Sayantan Pathak