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Old 8th April 2015, 10:09   #1
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Default Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

One could not have asked possibly for more. Our office was to be closed for consecutive four days on the occasions of Mahavir Jayanti and Good Friday, followed by the weekend. Besides, I had the option of adding another day or two to it from my available leave. So it was a perfect setting for a long road-trip. Except that we did not have any accommodation booking nor we could fix a destination. This is despite the fact that we have been contemplating to do the same for last two months.

In the end of January, I got my existing credit card cancelled to remove the FD lock. As advised, I applied for a new card with them. The new card was promptly approved with a better credit limit and without any FD requirement. It was shipped soon. I received the PIN mailer and after couple of weeks I received the bill for the first month. There was no sign of actual card though. I started calling their helpline number. Each time I was promised that concerned department has been alerted and I should receive it within next few business days. As the same drama was being repeated, I too kept postponing my holiday booking in the hope that I will receive the card shortly. Then I received the bill for the second month which included a penalty for non-payment of the first bill. This really broke my patience. I readied myself to file a consumer court complaint and served them an ultimatum to do so unless I receive the card by the end of March. Finally, things moved. The card was delivered on the last weekend of March.

As they say, late is better than never. Armed with my newly activated card, I sat after dinner on March 31st to scout for available accommodation. We had just a day before the holiday begins. I started looking for WBTDC or WBFDC properties. Given it was a long weekend, the most places that I searched was fully booked. Finally, I found two different rooms which were available each on a different night. The both rooms were non AC. Although it's first week of April, a quick Google search revealed that the temperature was already peaking at 37 degree Celsius there. So? Let whatever it be! The rooms were booked online and our destination was set to WBFDC nature resort at Mukutmanipur.

The red, the green and let it be the theme!
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Sonajhuri:
West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC) nature resort at Mukutmanipur, is officially known as Sonajhuri Prakriti Bhraman Kendra. The resort is named after the Sonajhuri trees that surround the hillock where it's located. The term "Mukutmani" literally means the crown jewel and it is touted as the top most tourist destination of Bankura district in West Bengal.

Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_3898.jpg


Day 1; April 2nd; The drive to Mukutmanipur:
The temperature has been steadily rising here for last one week. It rained a bit in the last evening but the temperature was still high. We planned to begin our drive at 5:30 am so that we could reach there early. However, we got delayed and could start at 5:50 am. This was our first ever journey to Bankura.

I don't have a dedicated GPS navigator. Instead, I have been using my android phone with Google Maps together with different windshield mounts for last four years. It has been a mixed experience so far. In few instances, I have been stranded in middle of nowhere with no available mobile signal. So about a month ago when I tried Nokia Here Maps with offline mode, I was impressed. So I decided to try it again for this journey.

Our first waypoint was Gurap ramp of Durgapur Expressway which is around 50 km from our campus. We crossed Hooghly river in Kalyani and soon we were cruising through Mogra-Gurap road. The rain of last night had a pleasant effect all around.

The green-field in Hooghly district
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We reached our first waypoint at around 7:15 am and stopped there for a cup of hot tea from our flask. This has become almost a custom for us on this route. This little tea break also helps me to switch mentally from low to high speed driving mode!

Gurap ramp
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Estilo is waiting to take the ramp
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On Durgapur Expressway
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Our next waypoint was Durgapur. There are several routes that lead to Mukutmanipur. However, following fellow BHPian Samba's suggestion, we decided to take Durgapur - Bankura route. Soon we reached Shaktigarh aka Langcha Garh (Langcha is a famous Bengali sweet!). Unlike many of our previous journey we didn't stop there this time. We got stuck briefly in a traffic jam at Panagarh. Post-Panagarh, the six-laning work was going on for NH-2. This too slowed us down a little. We reached Durgapur at around 9:15 am and exited NH-2 by taking a left-turn towards Bankura.

Soon we noticed a road side restaurant named "Sher-e-Bengal". With a bit of curiosity we decided to stop there for breakfast. Despite the name, we gave order for two South Indian dishes namely Dosa and Utthapam. It took longer than expected, but it tasted really good. It also had ample parking area in front.

Sher-e-Bengal
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A deserved break
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We resumed our journey at around 10am. Our next waypoint was Khatra, a little town of Bankura just before Mukutmanipur. Eventually, we entered into Bankura district by crossing Durgapur barrage bridge.

State Highway 9 (SH-9)
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As we were cruising along SH-9, a notice board had suddenly drawn my attention. A quick glance on my GPS screen reminded me that we were crossing through the Barjora-Beliatore forest range. The road was superb and the surrounding view was simply breathtaking! The board was informing us that it's an elephant crossing zone and elephants have the right-of-way here!

Barjora-Beliatore forest
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The elephant crossing zone
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Around 11:20 am we started crossing Bankura town, the district headquarter. The temperature was rising outside as well as inside. The car AC was put in full blast. The SH-9 had merged with NH-60 just before the town and the road surface had deteriorated a bit. Near a level crossing a pothole was big enough to cause a minor hit at the sidebar. The road surface did improve afterward. Near Dhaldanga, we bade goodbye to both NH-60 and SH-9 and started our drive towards Khatra using SH-2. The SH-2 was bit narrow. The traffic was less and the surface was super smooth. I really enjoyed driving on this stretch. It turned out to be a very scenic route even in summer. I presume the monsoon drive would be a quite gorgeous affairs in this stretch.

SH-2 between Bankura town and Khatra
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We reached Khatra around 12:20 pm. The Sun was blazing with its full glory. As we crossed Khatra, we also departed from SH-2 and began our drive toward Raniband. Within few minutes, we reached our exit point for Mukutmanipur and we began final leg of the journey. The terrain was hilly a bit.

Exit at right for Mukutmanipur
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Mukutmanipur Road
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We reached the gate of Sonajhuri Nature Resort at around 12:35 pm. After a few hundred meters of uphill drive, we reached the reception area. We checked into our cottage which was further uphill. However, the car was parked closer to the reception area.

Sonajhuri Nature Resort
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Estilo in parking lot
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The cottage
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Last edited by gmhossain : 10th April 2015 at 16:30.
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Old 9th April 2015, 07:28   #2
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Day 1; At Mukutmanipur:

It was hot outside. One could feel the summer loo. So after lunch we decided to take a rest till afternoon. The cottage was non AC yet the inside was surprisingly pleasant thanks to the surrounding trees and their shades. Around 4:30 pm, we decided to venture out. The temperature had become quite manageable. There was a stair-way just behind our cottage. As we climbed up, the Kangsabati Dam started to appear with her majestic beauty.

The hill-top view point
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Kangsabati Dam
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After climbing down from the top, we started walking toward the dam. We planned to take a boat ride and enjoy the sunset from it. When we reached, there were only few people around. A gentleman approached us and asked whether we are interested in a boat ride. After a bit of bargaining, a deal was reached for half-an-hour ride at the cost of two hundred rupees. It was a lean season and we were his first customers for the afternoon. Effectively the whole boat was ours.

The Sun was playing hide and seek with the cloud. The surrounding view was mesmerizing. There were some fishing boats afar. Some migratory birds were also on course. The Sun appeared with its full glory just before the sunset.

The preparation for the ride
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After the boat ride, we started walking back towards Sonajhuri resort. The evening was setting in but it wasn't pitch dark. Through the trees one could see the Moon. It was a surreal experience to walk through the Sonajhuri trees in a moonlit night. We climbed up to the canteen and ordered a plate of veg pakoda along with cup of tea. We decided to have an early dinner and call it a day.

Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_3987.jpg



Day 2; The morning:
The morning was cool and pleasant as there was a nice breeze. We went for a short walk towards the lock gate. I wanted to see the office where one can get the vehicle pass to drive on the Dam. Our daughter was excited to find an ants colony on the way.

Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_3999.jpg

Ants colony
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Dumur
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We returned to the resort to have breakfast. Besides we also needed to pack up our belongings as we needed to shift our room. Once these were settled, we ventured out again around 10:30 am. This time we took our car and drove towards a small office near the lock gate to get the vehicle pass.

Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4006.jpg

The car
Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4009.jpg

Lock gate
Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4002.jpg


We reached the said office. It was open but there was no one around. The fan was running at full speed. After a while, a person came down with a book of empty passes in hand. Apparently, he ran out of empty passes. The vehicle number was noted down. A gate pass was issued free of cost and it was valid for two hours.

Gate Pass
Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-20150403_110331_2.jpg

Last edited by gmhossain : 10th April 2015 at 10:31.
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Old 9th April 2015, 11:41   #3
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Day 2; The drive on Kangsabati Dam:

Once the gate pass was checked, we were allowed on the Dam with our car at around 11 am. The Sun was in no mood to let up. The car AC was on with full speed but it didn't feel like. It was scorching outside. The full length of Kangsabati Dam is about 11 km. So in principle one could have a more than 20 km of round trip drive.

The road
Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4077.jpg

The passengers
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The driver
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The tarmac
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Musafirana view point:

After driving for few kilometers, we reached at Musafirana view point. It appeared to be a newly developed view point. We had to climb up to reach at the top of it. It was taxing given the temperature. However, it was worth it. The views of surrounding area from this point was simply stunning.

The view point
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Ignoring the summer heat was not easy. But there are means to make it easier!

The Umbrella
Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4049.jpg

Boat with a shed
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The Island
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Confluence of Kumari and Kangsabati rivers
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It was becoming lunch time and we thought of returning to the resort. However, my daughter wanted another round of boat ride! So a pact had to be made that we would come back again in the afternoon for a boat ride.


Day 2; The afternoon ride:

As promised, we came back for another round of boat ride. Incidentally, the same boat was waiting again. After an exchange of smile with the owner, we went ahead for our second boat ride. This time we took a slightly different route. Unlike the day before, the sky was mostly clear. The sunset appeared to be even more dramatic this time.

Golden water
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The sunset
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It was a hectic day and soon we decided to retire in our room for the day.

Last edited by gmhossain : 10th April 2015 at 16:25.
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Old 9th April 2015, 14:37   #4
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Day 3; The morning hike:

We woke up little earlier than day before. The morning breeze was soothing. As we had few more hours in our hand, we decided to explore the backside of the resort by going for a hike. It didn't take a long to reach near the top. The birds chirping was among the dominant sounds that we could hear.

Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4186_2.jpg

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Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4174.jpg


After a bit of rest, we started climbing down. Our breakfast was getting ready. We planned to leave just after the breakfast. It was Saturday. So last night we finalized a plan to drive towards Birbhum to spend a day there. This way we would return to the campus on Sunday.

As we were packing our stuffs, we were discussing about our stay at Sonajhuri resort. Like most government-owned resorts, this resort too have a envious location and a sprawling property. And exactly like others, this too suffers from the same symptoms like a little lack of maintenance etc. However, the mantra that keeps us extremely happy about visiting them repeatedly is to lower our own expectation about their services. At least, we know that there are only few who could beat them in terms of their exotic locations.

Sonajhuri Nature Resort
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Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4187.jpg


Good bye Mukutmanipur:

We began our return journey at around 9:30 am and we crossed Khatra town soon. The roadside signboard bade farewell to us so did we. Good bye Mukutmanipur. We may return again in future.
Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura-img_4202.jpg

Last edited by gmhossain : 11th April 2015 at 20:46.
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Old 12th April 2015, 08:13   #5
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Mod note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing this nice short trip.
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Old 13th April 2015, 07:44   #6
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Beautiful! Getting to know such places, which I was unaware about. On looking at Google, I see its closer to Jamshedpur and also I see a considerable green cover around that region.
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Old 13th April 2015, 16:28   #7
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

It seems like a nice relaxed getaway. The road along the Kangsabati Dam looks like an inviting one. How did your Estilo perform in terms of comfort and efficiency? Clearly, the summer heat had the better of it but IMO the Estilo is a very under-rated car.
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Old 13th April 2015, 17:35   #8
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmhossain View Post
Day 3; The morning hike:

We woke up little earlier than day before. The morning breeze was..... We may return again in future.
Attachment 1358755
Hello gmhossain,

That was one straight from the heart! And some of the photos are genuine soul food too! The more we see of Bengal through travelogues like yours, the more relieved we feel that, tho' belated, our decision to return to our roots was not in error.

Thanks once again,
Shashanka
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Old 13th April 2015, 18:54   #9
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Really good drive account. I recall when we drove into Mukutmanipur , summer of 2014, we had really good buno murgi for lunch , and a lot of chilled drinks before that.

And then after a siesta, we had walked down the dam road - just as the sun set. Magical moments.
Your photographs , brought back those memories... many thanks for posting.
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Old 14th April 2015, 00:13   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Beautiful! Getting to know such places, which I was unaware about. On looking at Google, I see its closer to Jamshedpur and also I see a considerable green cover around that region.
Thanks! Indeed, it's quite close to the border of West Bengal and Jharkhand.


Quote:
Originally Posted by S2!!! View Post
It seems like a nice relaxed getaway. The road along the Kangsabati Dam looks like an inviting one. How did your Estilo perform in terms of comfort and efficiency? Clearly, the summer heat had the better of it but IMO the Estilo is a very under-rated car.
Thanks. As you have rightly said Estilo is definitely an under-rated car. I am quite happy with its performances so far. It's has been a hassle-free car for me in last four years. I have been getting 19+ km/l (full tank to full tank) consistently on highway with moderate AC. This time it was bit less; 18.6 km/l with full AC.


Quote:
Originally Posted by shashanka View Post
That was one straight from the heart! And some of the photos are genuine soul food too! The more we see of Bengal through travelogues like yours, the more relieved we feel that, tho' belated, our decision to return to our roots was not in error.
Thank you Shashanka! Bengal is indeed beautiful! The road infrastructure has been a bit of lag. However, I must say that the overall situations of State Highways have been steadily improving lately. I am sharing below one of the video that we took during the journey.


Quote:
Originally Posted by joybhowmik View Post
...
And then after a siesta, we had walked down the dam road - just as the sun set. Magical moments. Your photographs , brought back those memories... many thanks for posting.
Thanks Joy! It's has been a pleasure for me to read many of your travelogues.

SH-2 section between Khatra and Bankura town
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Old 14th April 2015, 08:41   #11
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

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Originally Posted by gmhossain View Post
Thanks! Indeed.......]SH-2 section between Khatra and Bankura town[/b]
Hello gmhossain,
Thanks once again! That was one soothing video and the road I think belies your fears about the condition of Bengal's roads! The thing is that every state has its good and bad stretches. I hope that Bengal too would focus some more on the tourist industry - it has such fabulous natural beauty and it reminds me of the Kerala countryside which is similarly blessed.

We have been touring the country by road since '94-'95 when admittedly the roads were nothing to write home about! I have recently submitted a thread (our first !) in the travelogue section (13th March'15) about our long love affair with Naukuchiatal in Uttaranchal (Naukuchiatal - Far from the madding crowd) and I hope you enjoy it too and decide to visit the place in future.
Regards,
Shashanka
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Old 14th April 2015, 16:19   #12
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

I never knew such a beautiful place exists so close to Jamshedpur. It's now definitely on the cards when I next visit Jamshedpur. Thanks a ton.

How about the food options, do they have a dedicated restaurant?
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Old 15th April 2015, 11:52   #13
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Very nicely composed travelogue. Excellent all the way, reminded of my trip to Bishnupur and Bankura last monsoon.
Why did you gave Joypur Forest a miss? It was just 17 km from Bishnupur.
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Old 15th April 2015, 20:40   #14
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Default Re: Mukutmanipur: On a summer drive to the crown jewel of Bankura

Quote:
Originally Posted by shashanka View Post
We have been touring the country by road since '94-'95 when admittedly the roads were nothing to write home about! I have recently submitted a thread (our first !) in the travelogue section (13th March'15) about our long love affair with Naukuchiatal in Uttaranchal (Naukuchiatal - Far from the madding crowd) and I hope you enjoy it too and decide to visit the place in future.
Thanks for pointing out your Naukuchiatal travelogue. Himalayan trips are always exciting to me and your pictures are quite inviting. I will definitely go through it in the weekend.


Quote:
Originally Posted by nischaltopno View Post
I never knew such a beautiful place exists so close to Jamshedpur. It's now definitely on the cards when I next visit Jamshedpur. Thanks a ton.

How about the food options, do they have a dedicated restaurant?
Thanks! WBFDC runs a restaurant/canteen in the resort and generally they prepare food based on orders. However, food choices are limited. It was more like home-style food and we actually enjoyed it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gearhead_mait View Post
Very nicely composed travelogue. Excellent all the way, reminded of my trip to Bishnupur and Bankura last monsoon.
Why did you gave Joypur Forest a miss? It was just 17 km from Bishnupur.
Thanks! In fact, your travelogue was one of the reason why I didn't hesitate when I got Mukutmanipur as an option! Joypur Forest is kept for next trip
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