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Old 3rd April 2009, 22:58   #1
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Default A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans

We thought of giving our daughter a first-hand experience of life deep inside rural Bengal, and it helped matters no end that my Man Friday hails from such a village (Companirthek is the name of that place). It's approachable via Jaynagar, and once the tarmac runs out, there's brick-and-mud village roads to follow along a waterway for some 15 km before we can reach what he calls home.

So off we went to discover this village in a friend's Santro, with this weird thingy hanging from the IRVM (its actually artwork done on a date palm seed, called taalshaans in Bong).
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-166.jpg

The first part till Jaynagar was as smooth as possible on a narrow single-lane crowded state highway.
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-160.jpg

Overloaded two-, three- and four-wheeled motorised and non-motorised vehicles made for slow progress. Always ensure your Mediclaim is valid and car insurance covers fire and riot before you go there. Drivers who have never driven in Bengal would do well to note that injuring a human being with a motor vehicle in these parts can invite lynching and more by the locals.
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-182.jpg
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-181.jpg

After Jaynagar we turned left, and Mapmyindia and Google Maps had no more road to show, GPS ackowledged that we were floating on water, and our Airtel cellphones still kept working. Buses, "van rickshaws" and a thousand cyclists guided us to our first checkpoint, a bridge over a waterway. And here we rendezvoused with our man of these parts. A quick round of tea later, we were on our way, away from metalled roads and into the OTR, not quite Santro territory, but manageable nonetheless. The first few km were along brick-lined lanes through village huts and along fields,
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-178.jpg

A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-177.jpg

A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-176.jpg

A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-175.jpg

and then I suppose they ran out of bricks and it was earth-packed aisles masquerading as roads. Steep drops on either side, and a track just wide enough to accommodate the Santro. This was May, and the earth was baked dry and hard, but I'm sure I wouldn't venture here with a 4x4, even a Gurkha, during the monsoons.
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-174.jpg

A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-173.jpg

A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-172.jpg

A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-171.jpg

CONTINUED...

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 3rd April 2009 at 23:05.
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Old 3rd April 2009, 23:49   #2
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We are now into seriously car-less territory, where this is considered to be an automobile...
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-170.jpg
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-168.jpg

It's the Bengal-produced 3-wheeled version of the "jugaad" seen so often in the hinterlands of UP, runs on a Rajdoot or Jawa engine, and can carry quite a load of passengers or goods. It's reported to cost about Rs.15k.

Villagers gawp at the interesting sight of a car and its city-babus.
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-164.jpg

The surroundings are serene, and oh-so-soothing to the eyes, but I have a job to do, keeping the car on track. So I stop every few hundred yards, and soak in the surroundings - the fields, the river, the mud huts and the beauty of nature.
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-169.jpg

And then we ran out of road...

CONT'D...

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 3rd April 2009 at 23:53.
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Old 3rd April 2009, 23:58   #3
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Hey, nice depiction of rural bengal. Waiting for more. It makes sense to take a Santro to these roads, keeping their width in mind. It would be a nightmare during monsoon, but, thats life for rural bengal.

EDIT: your location shows Delhi. Do you have a bengal connection?

Last edited by Saurabh M : 3rd April 2009 at 23:59.
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Old 4th April 2009, 04:33   #4
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These 3 wheeled "juggad" in bengal now fondly called "Vano",
this is a sort of non-licensed vehicle you will find all over bengal,
it is indigeniously made and cheaper than " Nano" and
ofcourse carries the pride of Bengal.

"Santro" is an amazing car , you can driver over any terrain
without any problem, some of the roads I have driven on
Santro , I would dare not to drive on my Scorpio .

Cheers
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Old 4th April 2009, 08:44   #5
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Strange coincidence but I went in the same direction last Sunday. Of course we didn't take the brick paved roads but carried on till you hit the river Matla near the village Kaikhali under Kultali Police Station. There is a tourist lodge run by the Neempith Ramkrishna Ashram.
The river is almost like sea, complete with the non-stop sound of the waves. We even met a fisherman boy who was attacked by a tiger five years ago but fought gallantly with it in the river and slipped out and survived.
Attaching the brave boy's pic here. You can see the marks and see how the tiger attacked him on his head and shoulder. The fight apparently lasted for only a few seconds

The survivor
Name:  survivor.jpg
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Old 4th April 2009, 08:53   #6
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@Sudipto-da: Its amazing when you sit down and think about the kind of hard life these people lead. They literally fight the tigers and crocs. BTW, good to see the Canon at work.

@SS : Waiting for more pics
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Old 4th April 2009, 09:16   #7
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Sourabh
Yes true they have to fight with the tigers and crocs to survive. After the boy recounted the story we realised - he continues to do what he was doing when the tiger attacked him; that is, catching fish. So he takes the same kind of risks and might well be attacked by the tiger again. His grandfather, incidentally was taken away by a tiger.
Sudipto
SS - I hope this is not thread hijack. That's not the intention. By the way, I couldn't understand from which point on the state highway you took the diversion. Was it to the left or to the right? There is a place called Kella in that region did you go in that direction?
When you say "bridge" do you mean the Jamtala bridge?
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Old 4th April 2009, 10:21   #8
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nice one there Travellor, whose Santro is this (I remember u have a Accent CRDi)? Reminded me of a documentary on Royal bengal tiger from Sundarbans in Discovery. Good pics. How long was the brick roads? How much time did you take to reach there from Kol?

Abhi
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Old 4th April 2009, 11:25   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Always ensure your Mediclaim is valid and car insurance covers fire and riot before you go there. Drivers who have never driven in Bengal would do well to note that injuring a human being with a motor vehicle in these parts can invite lynching and more by the locals....
More? What else could be more?

Enjoyable account.
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Old 4th April 2009, 18:30   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
your location shows Delhi. Do you have a bengal connection?
Yep, I'm a full-blooded Durga Pujo and Mishti Doi loving Bong. Born and brought up for the first 25 or so years of my life in Kolkata.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captdey View Post
These 3 wheeled "juggad" in bengal now fondly called "Vano", also called the Meshin-Bhayn
"Santro" is an amazing car , you can driver over any terrain
without any problem, some of the roads I have driven on
Santro , I would dare not to drive on my Scorpio .
So true - as also for the M800.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Strange coincidence but I went in the same direction last Sunday. Of course we didn't take the brick paved roads but carried on till you hit the river Matla near the village Kaikhali under Kultali Police Station. There is a tourist lodge run by the Neempith Ramkrishna Ashram.
Very coincidental indeed. After crossing Jamtala, we took a right turn to cross a bridge, while you continued straight down the same road till Kultali.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
SS - I hope this is not thread hijack. That's not the intention.
Not at all - I'm learning about that area too - didn't know the Neempith Ashram also ran a TL there. Might take another trip there once you post your travelogue.
Quote:
By the way, I couldn't understand from which point on the state highway you took the diversion. Was it to the left or to the right? There is a place called Kella in that region did you go in that direction?
When you say "bridge" do you mean the Jamtala bridge?
Sorry but I got my village name wrong - it's called Purba Gurgura, and the bridge I mentioned in the narration is the Petkulchand bridge, which one crosses after turning right just after Jamtala. You crossed another bridge further ahead on that road. Not sure about the place called Kella...
Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
nice one there Travellor, whose Santro is this (I remember u have a Accent CRDi)?
That was a friend's Santro as I'd mentioned.
Quote:
Good pics. How long was the brick roads? How much time did you take to reach there from Kol?
Abhi, we traveled about 10 km and then ran out of road. The river alongside is locally called the Dhakir Mukh, a distributary of the Thakurnadi, which arises from the Matla River. More to come...
Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
More? What else could be more?

Enjoyable account.
Well, getting lynched, after having your car burnt to ash, and seeing your family members beaten to pulp - that could be more... . I'm sure Sudipto-da/Abhi would vouch for it! Long live the Commies of Bengal!

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Old 4th April 2009, 19:56   #11
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Default And the end of the road...

Ten km down the brick road followed by the stretch over baked earth, we came to the end of the road, near a place called Debipur. The locals had dug up a trench right across the road, apparently to build a culvert, and there was no way any wheeled vehicle would go across for the next two days.
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-161.jpg
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-163.jpg

We had the option of parking our car there, walking across the trench, and taking a ride on one of those meshin bhayns, to complete the rest of the 6 km to this village. But somehow a ride on one of those thingys didn't quite appeal to my wife!

So we parked on the side of the "road",
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-162.jpg

and had a fantastic brunch of tea and some (read: many) of the best "rosogollas" I've ever had (never mind the calories). The tea was hot and milky, with a touch of ginger, (my Man Friday had the stuff specially made!)
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-167.jpg

and the rosogollas were soft, tasty, and just the right sweetness.

And then it was time to turn back home to Kolkata city, some 3 hours and 70 km away.
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-165.jpg
A drive to the fringes of the Sunderbans-kolkata-may07-180.jpg

END OF TRAVELOGUE.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 4th April 2009 at 19:58.
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