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Old 23rd April 2019, 04:29   #1
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Default A trip to Bishnupur : Revisiting the history of the epicentre of Mallabhum

The Planning
The month of December and the advent of the Christmas period means a pleasant weather and a light workload in offices. A time ideal for planning and executing vacations and getaways to wherever you want. We had recently been to Puri for a week (of course not by road) and another long vacation is something that we were not really looking for. A road trip to a quick weekend getaway seemed to be the obvious choice and we were almost drenched by the excitement as the weather seemed perfect. After our last day trip to Garchumuk (Weekend Getaways - Garchumuk under the umbrellas) this time we wanted to go a bit farther.

The great tour planners of our road trip gang finally zeroed on Bishnupur, a town in the Bankura District of Bengal which is around 160 Km from Kolkata. The place has immense historical significance as it was the capital of the Malla Empire and in the 16th and 17th century several Terracotta Temples were built here that represent the contemporary art and culture and mythology and still stand till date as a iconic place in Bengal. At present, apart from Terracotta temples it is also famous for Baluchari Silk Sarees and models from burnt clay out of which the iconic is the model of a Clay Horse. For more details on he place read here

Some Precautions
When planning for road-trips with kids on board there are of course a few additional considerations, the most notable being drinking water. While at home we do prepare his drinking water by boiling filtered RO water, on outstation trips spanning more than a day we have to take or locally buy bottled / mineral water and then boil it in electric kettles that we carry along. In our last overnight road trip to Taki we had boiled the water only once but that did not help since post return our little one fell sick due to stomach infection. Thereafter we decided to boil it 3 times in the same electric kettle, a method we had already perfected during our recent trip to Puri and planned accordingly this time.

The Route and Itinerary
The initial plan was to cover Jairambati / Kamarpukur on Day 1 and then Bishnupur on Day 2 and return on Day 3 but eventually considering the kid on board we decided to shorten the trip and hit Bishnupur first and on next day Gongoni, which is also known as the grand canyon of eastern India and around 26 Km from Bishnupur.

We searched for proper accommodation in Bishnupur, the Annapurna hotel topped all reviews but the Christmas period rush made finding a reasonable offer next to impossible on such a short notice. We ended up booking Hotel Laxmi Park in Kabiraj Para area which was not that far away from the center and including breakfast charged us 2000 rupees for an AC room.

The shortest route to Bishnupur is via Arambagh and we decided to lock that option. So the final route being

Dhakuria / Kolkata --> Vidyasagar Setu --> Kona Expressway --> Santragachi --> NH 16 --> Chamrail -->Dankuni --> Chanditala --> SeaKhola --> Anantapur --> Khejuria --> Champadanga Flyover --> Saidpur --> Harinkhola --> Rashkhali --> Arambagh --> Kalipur --> Naraharbati -->Kotulpur --> Joypur --> Radhamohanpur --> Amtala --> Basantitala --> Kabirajpara (Bishnupur)

Day - 1 :- Kolkata to Bishnupur / Local Tour
It was Saturday, my usual workhorse the Getz which was recently serviced was tasked with the job of transporting us. After meeting at a common place with the rest of the members of gang, we stacked all the luggage at the back and finally started off from Kolkata around 8am. The additional winter attire did ensure that we had literally zero space left inside the boot or on the parcel tray at the back.

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Soon we went past Vidyasagar Setu in no time and headed towards Kona expressway.
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After around 30-40 mins, shortly after we took a left turn from Delhi road towards Dankuni, our kid started vomiting, seemed to be his morning meal.

We pulled over to a side on the Dankuni Road immediately to get him some fresh air outside
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We decided to give him the doctor prescribed Digipen to prevent in-digestion and also to prevent vomiting. Probably this is a lesson learnt for future road trips as it is possible he felt claustrophobic inside.

Our younger member of the gang also met similar fate here and was given the same remedy. After stabilizing we resumed the journey.

We were looking for a place to have some road side breakfast, specifically Tea and Egg-Toast. But to our luck, the hotels on this route were only serving full rice meals and a many of the road side small tea shops had surprisingly run out of eggs due to the crisis created by the advent of Christmas where eggs are in high demand to be used by bakeries for making cakes.

After several KM finally found one shop where there were luckily 5-6 eggs still left and we were quick to pull over.
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We made our fasting break with bread-omlet with normal and bun breads and tea. He had his small share too and seemed to like it after the previous incident.
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Finally some smile came back on him after the initial hiccups
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We resumed our journey forward along the planned route while the phone kept him busy
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Crossed the bridge over Mundeshwari river
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The road thereafter was clear until we approached Arambagh where we encountered dense traffic that we could not get past and what seemed mostly to be commercial trucks and tempos. The traffic was very slowly moving forward and we had no choice but to keep following. Eventually we entered Arambagh and there were few narrow / market roads showed to us by Google Map, probably will need to find a way to avoid these routes on future trips. After the market area was over then came a very interesting stretch of 1 - 1.5 KM in Arambagh where on both sides of the street there are abundance of Hospitals, Diagnostic Centres and Medicine shops with highly congested road. We were cautious while passing by this stretch not using the horns unless absolutely necessary but stay patient and move with the crowd. Our journey through Arambagh delayed us and may be next time we plan for a Bishnupur trip I would like to try another route option.

Soon after we went past Arambagh and once again caught up speed towards Bishnupur.

After some time we found ourselves passing through the Jangalmahal area and what we could make out to be the Joypura Forest with tall and dense Sal / Segun trees guarding on both sides and the density was high to an extent that one cannot see what is 10 metres inside
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Found some tourists pulling off their cars on the side and engaging in some photography. But we decided not to stop and stay on route as it was getting late and lunch time was limited in the hotel.

Soon we arrived at the approaching roads of Bishnupur
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Finally around 1-30 pm we reached Bishnupur, following Google Map suggestions encountered some narrow roads again and on one occasion had to turn back. We did find our hotel eventually by sticking to wider roads and forcing google map to suggest alternate routes. We completed the formalities, left the car parked outside in front of the hotel similar to what other visitors seemed to have done and headed for our rooms on the 1st floor.

The rooms were huge for the price and on the same 1st floor we also had the restaurant. We completed the lunch and headed for some rest.

Around 4 pm we set out on a Toto for the local tour. A guide is available there for a nominal cost but we decided to be on our own as the Toto driver otherwise knows the route to everything locally.

Here are pics and videos of some notable places we visited

Rasmancha, built in brick by King Veer Hambir in 1600 CE. This is the oldest standing brick temple in Bishnupur
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The area around Rasmancha is a beautiful well-maintained garden
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Closer look at the Rasmancha
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Inside the Rasmancha
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Pancha Ratna Temple, also known as the Shyamrai (Krishna) Temple, built in 1643 CE
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JorBangla Mandir built in 1655 CE and dedicated to Krishna and Mahaprabhu Chaitanya, the famous Bengali saint of 15th century
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A closer look at the teracotta work in JorBangla Mandir
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The gang at JorBangla Mandir
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Kalachand temple built in 1656 CE
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Radhashyam Temple built in 1758 CE
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Entrance to the once Bishnupur Kingdom
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For an extensive list of temples in Bishnupur refer Wiki

Thereafter we headed for Poramatir Haat as it was getting darker by the hour.

Poramatir (Burnt Clay) haat (Fair) also referred to as Bishnupur Mela is a very big live exhibition of the local culture of the area as depicted in various cultural shows that take place along with sale of numerous small scale cottage industry items mostly constituting of handicraft and artwork from the locals.

Entrance to the Fair
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A video tour of the surroundings at the Poramatir Haat


A closeup of clay models being sold
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A very notable event at the Poramatir Haat is the live Tribal Dance by the Tribals which anyone can join and participate, this video will give an idea





It was already past 5-30 pm and getting darkar, but the fair would continue even in the evening with lights on, there are several generators to power the fair throughout the evening and the crowd seemed to increase slowly although the cultural events had completed. Its even a recreational place for the locals.
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We left the Poramatir Haat after buying a few items and having some tea and snacks (notable being a localised version of Panipuri with tomato sauce) and headed for the next stop.
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We arrived around 6-30 pm at the Dolmadol Kaman which is 13 feet long cast iron cannon built by the Malla Kings to defend the city against maratha attacks in the 17th century. It is said that lord Madan Mohan, an incarnation of lord Krishna who was the worshipped by the Malla kings, himself came to the rescue of the city and fired the canon. It was full dark and in the florescent lights around prevented taking better snaps. So wanted to have another shot in the morning.
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The area just in front of the Dolmadol Kaman is the Chhinnamasta Road and there are several shops of Teracotta and handicrafts on this road. It remains very congested all the time hence parking is a pain. So our toto parked at a distance and we scouted ahead on feet, and for the first time felt the bite of the cold.
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A better closeup of the famous Horse and Elephant models the shops are selling
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We picked up a few souvenirs and gifts and headed back to our hotel where we finally left the toto, the tour costed around 550 rupees. For a better touring I recommend starting the same from 2 - 3 pm. That would leave room to comfortably cover everything before the dark.

It was around 7-30pm and there was not a civil night life option in the cold outside that we could evaluate with ease. So a cheap Chinese projector we brought along and some "Jugaad" work of putting a white bedsheet on a window curtain and pairing a bluetooth speaker helped setup our private INOX in the hotel room where we all had gathered for the evening Adda.

The Gold Class experience (read as wrapped in blankets among loads of Pillows on the bed) did give a fun experience of watching favourite movie and helped pass the remaining evening with a breeze amidst the chit chat.

We thereafter ordered dinner through room service along with some desi home made chicken curry that we bought earlier from the Poramatir Haat. Completed dinner by 11 pm crashed on bed for after the hectic day.

Last edited by haisaikat : 3rd June 2019 at 00:59.
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Old 25th May 2019, 23:42   #2
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Day 2 :- Bishnupur Shopping, to Gongoni and return to Kolkata

After a good sleep we completed the packing next morning and were ready by 9 am. Our room rents included a complementary breakfast but the menu did not meet our expectations and we decided to have a early brunch on the way. I had even tried to get hold of someone who can get a car washing but the hotel could not arrange for someone. Eventually we checked out of our hotel at 9-30 am and boarded our car. The gang wanted to look for sarees and we set out towards Chhinnamasta Road looking for good shops.

It is on the our way we fulfilled last nights commitment. Got a clear picture of the Dolmadol Kaman.
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We finally stopped at the shop named Anuvab who are both manufacturers and retailers of Baluchari and Bishnupur silk and the collection brought a smile on everyone's face
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In a car already stuffed to the last corner we got some more things to store now, somehow managed it and headed for Annapurna hotel for our lunch.

Inside the premises of Annapurna
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Annapurna had a car parking inside even for outsiders
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The restaurant on the ground floor is comparable to any fine dining restaurant of bigger cities. Our lunch was served and after around 1.5 hours at 2-30 pm we started again for Gongoni, which is near the edge of the Gorbheta town in the neighboring district of Midnapur

As per google map Gongoni showed around 26 Km from Bishnupur and we followed that, the road was clear.
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We did have to ask a few locals as we approached Gongoni since google map failed to show the exact entrance path to the picnic spot of Gongoni. If you are interested to learn more see this link.

At around 4 pm we finally reached Gongoni. There is a paid parking where many cars are parked and we followed the same route, charges is 50 rupees and make sure you collect the receipt of parking as otherwise they will come and ask again. I did not but later on when being asked again I told them I have already paid and they were a bit surprised, but eventually believed me and did not harass in any way, it was a good professional gesture from them.

The place is made of red rocks although down below the color changes to a mix of yellow and golden that looks stunning beautiful in the backdrop of the setting sun
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Down below laid the Silabati river which has formed what is otherwise called the Grand Canyon of Bengal. The view from the top is wonderful, there are not only shops on top to aid the visitors including the ones flocked for picnic but even paid toilets. There are several ways to descend down to the gorge below including steps and some trek like undulated routes. Considering the little one had to be carried on our arms and the not so long back lunch we had, I chose to stay at the top only

Some clicks of the place
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Our gang in various moods
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At around 5 pm we decided to start our return. We went to Arambagh via Kamarpukur and then the rest of the route was same as what we had followed during the onward journey from Kolkata to Bishnupur via Arambagh
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We halted at Food Express at Kolaghat for some evening tea and snacks by 730 pm.
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Christmas decoration found at Food express
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We resumed after a 30 mins halt towards Kolkata and encountered very heavy road congestion near Satragachi. Eventually after dropping everyone we arrived home at around 11-30 pm in the night and a great weekend trip came to an end with around 370 KM traveled over 2 days.

Last edited by haisaikat : 3rd June 2019 at 01:03.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 18:18   #3
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Default Re: A trip to Bishnupur : Revisiting the history of the epicentre of Mallabhum

Nice short trip, reminded me of mine in 2016. You could have taken the Durgapur Expressway and then turned left from Muchipara crossing. That road till Bankura goes through Beliatore forest range and is awesome (as in terms of road quality, sparse traffic and scenery) with Palash flowers painting the whole road Red. Even Bankura-Bishnupur road is terrific.
Sorry probably I have started writing my own travelogue, but that's what good memories do to you.
Nonetheless, awaiting more such road-trips.
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Old 5th June 2019, 12:24   #4
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Default Re: A trip to Bishnupur : Revisiting the history of the epicentre of Mallabhum

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
Nice short trip, reminded me of mine in 2016.
You could have taken the Durgapur Expressway and then turned left from Muchipara crossing.
I am fairly new or rather novice to making road-trips and so far keeping distances shorter but slowly increasing

Thank you for the route suggestions. Will keep them in mind for upcoming trips along this route. Why don't you post a few pics from your 2016 trip, it would be pleasure to view them.

One other question, is there any forest department resort in the beliatore forest?

Last edited by ampere : 5th June 2019 at 13:35. Reason: compacted quoted post
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Old 5th June 2019, 13:24   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haisaikat View Post
I am fairly new or rather novice to making road-trips and so far keeping distances shorter but slowly increasing
Dear haisaikat,

I don't think there are any such lodges within the Beliatore forest range, none atleast as per West Bengal Forest Department website. As for the pictures, I did not take one for any of the roads, as I was engulfed in driving.

Regards
Aritra

Last edited by ampere : 5th June 2019 at 13:34. Reason: formatted
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Old 5th June 2019, 17:25   #6
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Default Re: A trip to Bishnupur : Revisiting the history of the epicentre of Mallabhum

First of all congratulation on penning down such blog. Welcome to TeamBhp.
This is my usual route atleast two times a year doing Hyderabad- Asansol.
Some great pictures too. Look forward to some great threads.
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