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Old 2nd June 2019, 15:02   #1
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Default From Kolkata to the Terracotta temples of Bishnupur

Hello Everyone!!
My name is Akash and I am a new member on this forum. Before moving on to the Travelogue, a little introduction. I am a 24 year old guy from Kolkata working as an IT professional for an MNC. I have been crazy about cars as long as I can remember. I used to have the largest toy car collection in my whole family. My father bought our first car in 2013, a 2004 Santro Xing(I don't remember the variant). I learned driving in that car and have been using it since college till last year. After working for almost 2 years I had saved enough money to put a down-payment for newer used car. So the search began, and after 3 weeks of searching on every weekend, we finalized on a 2013 2nd Generation White colored Maruti Suzuki Swift LXI from the True Value Shoppe in Birati. I took delivery on 25th May, 2018 and named it after my favorite anime characters "Vorg"(which roughly translates to "Wolf" in Russian). Somehow later last year I had put together some money and on a whim purchased a 2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan BS -IV ABS Snow. Buying two automobiles in same year, that too on EMI. Now, that's Stupid. . The heart wants what it wants!
Anyhow, that's all for the Introduction, let's get back to the TL.

The idea to visit the temples of Bishnupur did not come from me but from my parents, specifically from one of my father's high school friends. They still have a small group of friends who meet almost every month. On one such tea party (as they call it) in December, 2018, one of them suggested to visit the Terracotta temples of Bishnupur and a plan was born. Initially the plan was to go by train. But since all the seats were booked on the trains, the decision to make this a road trip was final. This was my first road trip on my new car. The dates were finalized and the wait was on. This was going to be 4 day road trip with my parents and a couple of my father's high school friends and their spouses.

Day 1(23rd February, 2019):
Vorg was refueled and bags packed on Friday night. We were ready by 6 in the morning. It was going to be a 150 km drive only. But our excitement was through the roof. There was going to be 2 cars with 4 person in each one. Coincidentally, both the cars were same apart the color. Both were 2013 2nd Gen Swift LXI. Some photos of our steeds on the single lane state highway.

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We met with the other car near the airport and settled the luggage (Lesson learned: Do not bring a big suitcase when travelling in a swift). Off we went. After taking the Belghoria expressway, we crossed Dakhineshwar and continued towards Dankuni. From Dankuni signal crossing, we took a left and went towards Arambagh. I personally wanted to travel via Durgapur expressway via Bardhaman and Bankura town, but others wanted to halt at the "Banalata Resort" near Joypur forest in Bankura. The drive started out with slow driving, mostly through markets and residential areas. People scurrying all over the place. After driving on 1st and 2nd gear for around 5-10 kms, we were greeted with a wider road and less people. I do not know if this was a state highway (looked like one). If anyone knows do let me know. We picked up our pace and rocketed to our destination. After driving for around 30 kms, we were hungry. In our excitement, we forgot that we did not have any breakfast. Searching left and right for some good dhaba for another 10 kms, we finally made our first break near a place called "Jagajibanpur"(I did not know the name when we stopped, I googled the place from my Google maps timeline) for some food and much needed bio break.

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Since we had roughly 90kms before we reached we took our time. With a belly full of kachoris we started at quite a leisurely pace. Facing with only a little traffic in the Arambagh town, we continued smoothly towards our next halt and that is "Banalata resort" on the edge of Joypur forest. Single lane roads with lot of trucks does not make for a nice driving experience. After some hours of overtaking trucks and bad or under-construction roads, we reached this resort.
Now why were we so made up stopping at this resort? From the outside it isn't much. Looks like any random dhaba on the highway. But if you navigate an alley next to the dhaba and go inside the proper resort, you will find a beautiful place. These resort is fully maintained by local men and women. Delicious authentic Bengali food and fresh fish is their specialty as I have heard. Tasted some of them. It was wonderful. They have their own farms for vegetables. Fresh Fish from the lake and some ponds in the facility. More than anything else they had an emu farm. So you can try that out also. I passed. I don't remember if the menu had emu meat, but their eggs were on the menu. They had chickens, turkeys and other fowl as well.
Even though this place was only 14kms from Bishnupur town, we weren't going to stay here. So we had our lunch here and took off for our final destination.

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Big swings in front of the villas

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Numerous colorful flowers and plants around the facility

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Grey colored plant. Does anyone know what this is?

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My mother near the farms

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Emu farms

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Some closeups of the Emus

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As soon as we left the resort, we were supposed to be driving through Joypur forest. Cruising through a forest had always been my dream. But as soon as we entered the forest, that dream became a nightmare. The roads for some reason have been stripped of their asphalt. The whole road through the forest (almost 10 kms) was done in 2nd gear and jumping in our seats. Trucks and SUV's with their big wheels zooming past us.
As soon as you enter Bishnupur town you will know that you are there. The buildings, the narrow roads, the narrower alleys. Locating our hotel was another task. After 20 mints of maneuvering through narrow alleys and getting lost, we finally reached our hotel. We had booked Hotel "Holiday Resort". It was a quaint little place on the edge of town. Vorg was dusty and was looking like a battered warrior posing next to the green trees in the hotel garden.

It was nearly 3 pm when we reached our hotel. We asked the hotel to book us two electric rickshaws (locally know as TOTO) to go around the town and see the Terracotta temples. Seeing the narrow alleys and unsure of any parking space near these temples we took the local rickshaws and the guidance of their expert local drivers. I'll let the pictures say the rest.

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My father in front of the Rasmancha

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My mother in one of the entrances to the Rasmancha

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The setting sun plays wonderfully with the pillars

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Flash-startled mother inside the innermost atrium of the rasmancha

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Rasmancha from the outside

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Selfie time with My parents and yours truly

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Shyamrai Temple, Pancharatna style

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Artform on the walls of the Pancharatna temple
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Old 2nd June 2019, 17:37   #2
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Default re: From Kolkata to the Terracotta temples of Bishnupur

Welcome Akash.
Nice write up and pictures.
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Old 2nd June 2019, 22:15   #3
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Default re: From Kolkata to the Terracotta temples of Bishnupur

Cont. from Day 1:

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Sunset over the ruins of the Bishnupur Rajbari(King's place)

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Flowers like these adorn the gardens surrounding the numerous temples

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The ruins of the gate to the Bishnupur Rajbari

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Dalmadal Cannon

After going around town for around 2.5 hours we were exhausted. Still the ladies in our group were not satisfied. There was still one more thing to see. The “Bishnupur Silk” sarees. We headed to some Saree shops near our hotel, which was still 2kms away BTW. After almost over an hour and half the ladies emerged from the shops with bag full of sarees and a big smile on their faces.
Coming back to the hotel, we freshened up and ordered some snacks and Coke. Gobbling on those snacks we finalized the destinations for tomorrow. Had dinner at 10 and turned in for a much needed sleep. It had been a long day.

Day 2: (24th February, 2019)

Today's destination was decided last night. Mukutmanipur, Panchmura village and Gangani River bed. First destination for the day was Kangsabati dam in Mukutmanipur. Driving towards Mukutmanipur, the other vehicle took a shortcut through some rural road which was supposed to be some 10 kms less than the one through the highways. This shortcut was supposed to join the main road after 30 kms. But the road turned out to be the highway to Hell. The roads were deserted and broken. This road gave full meaning to the Hindi saying "Raste mein khadde nahin hain, khadde mein rasta hian"(Eng. translation: There isn't a pothole in the road, there is a road in the pothole.) Hoping the road will get better, we had already gone for about 10 kms. With no incentive of turning back we carried on. The only automobile we came through were 2 bolero pickups filled with wood from the logging operations in the forest areas nearby.

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Stopped on the bad road for some memorablia

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Palash trees on the way

After an hour of negotiating through bad roads and another hour of smooth sailing through flat roads we finally reached Kangsabati dam. The panoramic view of the Damodar River along with the dam and clear blue skies made the sight very calm and relaxing. Cool breeze and the cacophony of hundreds of school children flocking the river bank for a winter end picnic was making the view even more soothing. You can hire boats here to take you around the dam and to a nearby Deer park. Considering everything and the heat of the 12o'clock sun we opted out for the boat ride and decided to come here on a separate trip and go on the boat ride at a less hot time of the day.

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Panoramic view of the Kangsabati Dam riverside

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Paintings on the Dam road

We had lunch at a nearby dhaba and left for Panchmura village.
The Panchmura village is the source of the Terracotta works that Bankura and Bishnupur is famous for. Most of the Terracotta artists live on the "Kumarpara road" near the main market area in the village centre. As you go inside the neighbourhood, you will see the Terracotta handicrafts on the veranda of each house. The ground floors have been turned into a shop and workspace. The final products are displayed outside. We found that few of these artisans even have been awarded the Presidential award. As a memento, we purchased a cute looking elephant and some other decorations. There weren't only artisans working, the whole family worked together to make this beautiful art.

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We bought this one!

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The furnace is being prepared

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Next on the list was the Gangani river bed, also known as the Grand Canyon of Bengal. This naturally formed canyon made by the Shilabati River is located near the town of Garbeta in the West Medinipur district. The view of the canyon at dusk is mesmerizing. The natural golden colour of the exposed stones and golden rays of the setting sun makes the place look even more beautiful. As the sun set we started our journey back to our hotel in Bishnupur.

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Naturally formed Heart shape

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Sunset

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Taking the long way back this time, within an hour we were back to our hotel rooms. After a delicious and heavy dinner, we were gossiping on the veranda when the skies opened up. Cold winds and a heavy downpour brought down the rather high temperatures we have been facing since the start.

Day 3: (25th February, 2019)
Today we were going to leave Bishnupur and move to Bankura town.
After checking out of the hotel we stopped at some nearby not so famous Terracotta temples, which does not usually draw attention to the numerous tourists who visits Bishnupur.

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Our hotel at Bishnupur

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A short 30 kms uneventful drive and we were there. We had booked a hotel right in the heart of the city.
After lunch we headed off to the village of Bikna, which is famous for another type of Bengal artistry known as "Dokra". A small village with a handful of artisans mostly living in the same neighbourhood right off the Bankura Raniganj Highway. The art form being passed down from one generation to another can be seen right in front of you as kids in school were being trained by their elders outside their homes. Almost every artisan asked us into their homes showing us their art, so we might purchase a few. And boy did we buy. All the ladies in our group went crazy and went on a shopping spree from one house to another. One of these artisans took us around to the other houses and showed us around the neighbourhood. He answered our queries on the different kind of processes that goes into making this kind of art.

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They had turned one of the buildings into a "Dokra Museum" that stores the history and heritage of their art work. Award winning pieces and their certificates adorn the walls of this building. While we were being mesmerized by the art form, we did not notice that as the darkness fell, clouds had started to gather above us. As soon as we started to head towards our cars, the first lightning struck. We hurried to our cars, but the raindrops were faster than us. Lightly drenched, we reached our cars and took off. As soon as we came on the highway I had a dark realization. My stock headlights were of no use in the heavy rain even with the fog lamps and high beam. My visibility was stuck to a range of 5 feet at max. I am in need of an upgrade and some good Hellas as a backup. Suggestions are welcome. After a very exhausting 20 min drive, we were back at the hotel.
As soon as we got back to the hotel, we were faced with a sad realization. The trip was at an end. After a delicious dinner, we went to sleep.

Day 4: (26th February, 2019)

Nothing special to report for the last day of the trip. We took the State highway 9 from Bankura to Durgapur and joined the Durgapur expressway till Kolkata. While the drive was mostly uneventful, we faced the mother of potholes in Durgapur, a few kilometers before joining the Durgapur expressway. The pothole covered almost 80 percent of the road. The remaining part of the road was covered by a smaller pothole but could be safely navigated in slow speeds. But a local bus had broken down on the smaller pothole. With absolute surety that we were going to be hit, we slowly neared the larger pothole. The Scorpio ahead of me had averted the underbelly hit but hit its rear bumper as the rear wheels came down. My heart was in my throat, as I slowly approached. First an underbelly hit and then a rear bumper hit as the rear wheels came down. I looked in the rear-view mirror fully expecting my rear bumper to be hanging or lying on the road. Sigh! No bumper on the road! I moved ahead and stopped on a clear patch of road to inspect the damage. Bumper was intact and no major damage to the underbelly. Tensions finally relieved, we started again. Had a very bland lunch at a roadside dhaba near Bardhamann. Stopped for Lyangcha (a kind of sweet) at the famous shops of Shaktigarh. Liesurely drove and reached home by 3 PM.



My membership was approved in April 2019. So I did not really think that I would be writing this travelogue when I went on this trip. Please pardon the lack of pictures.
Hope to travel more and share more!!
Till next time, signing off
Skywraith
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Old 3rd June 2019, 09:56   #4
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Default Re: From Kolkata to the Terracotta temples of Bishnupur

Hello SkyWraith,

Welcome to the forum. Nice to have you here.

Nice travelogue with some really good pictures. Nice to see pictures of the Terracotta temple and the handicrafts. I will plan a visit to Bishnupur the next time I am in that part of the country. Glad to read that your car survived the pothole-ridden road with no major damages.

Also, please do share more pictures of the car and ownership reviews of Vorg and the Himalayan. Looking forward to reading those.
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Old 4th June 2019, 01:27   #5
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Originally Posted by ChiragM View Post
Hello SkyWraith,

Welcome to the forum. Nice to have you here.

Nice travelogue with some really good pictures. Nice to see pictures of the Terracotta temple and the handicrafts. I will plan a visit to Bishnupur the next time I am in that part of the country. Glad to read that your car survived the pothole-ridden road with no major damages.

Also, please do share more pictures of the car and ownership reviews of Vorg and the Himalayan. Looking forward to reading those.
Thank you ChiragM. Started working on the Himalayan review. Want to put in some more kilometers before giving a proper review.

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Originally Posted by umang dutt View Post
Welcome Akash.
Nice write up and pictures.
Thank you Umang
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Old 5th June 2019, 17:27   #6
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Default Re: From Kolkata to the Terracotta temples of Bishnupur

Welcome to the group. Some great pictures in deed.
This is my usual route doing Asansol - Hyderabad atleast two times a year.
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Old 12th June 2019, 13:45   #7
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Default Re: From Kolkata to the Terracotta temples of Bishnupur

Welcome to team-bhp. Great TL, well narrated with cool pictures. Inspires me to make a trip to those places. Keep exploring, keep sharing !
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