Parmadan: A week-end gateway from kolkata (on a shoe string budget)

#1 Aug 23rd, 2015, 11:49
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#1
PRELUDE

For quite some time, we were confined within the four walls of our house and not being able to move out and explore new places. It was not by choice, of course, but due to some family compulsions. Nonetheless, we were getting impatient; and as each day passed by, our restlessness was growing manifold and we were are almost dying to break open the shackles of our confinement, literally!

An opportunity was presented to us for a quick outing, maximum for a day or two. We grabbed the offer and quickly decided that the dates will be 18th & 19th August and since we have only two days at our disposal, it has be some nearby destination, may be, a week-end Gateway from Kolkata. After lot of deliberations, we opted for PARMADAN, Bibhuti Bhusan Wild Life Sanctuary, named after famous Bengali Writer, Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhay. Incidentally, Bibhutibabu was a School Teacher and I had the privilege of being one of his students in my early student days. Parmadan is only 25 KMs away from Bongaon (appox. 80 KM from Kolkata), a Sub Divisional Town of West Bengal, bordering Bangladesh.

JINXED LUCK

I booked a 4 bedded Room in the Forest Rest House in Parmadan (Rent: @Rs.500/- per Room per day) through the online booking system of West Bengal Forest Development Corporation for 18th & 19th of August. But it seemed that our trip is jinxed from the very beginning and our bad luck struck us soon; 18th was declared “Bangla Bandh” (General Strike in Bengal). In a situation like this, no way we can move out on that day and later unfortunate developments on that day proved our decision to be right. So, one day had gone totally wasted. But we were determined to move out at any cost and had decided that we will go there on 19th for a night only. I phoned up the Care Taker of the Bungalow and told him that we are unable to go on 18th due to “Bandh” and that instead we will reach there next day i.e. on 19th and stay overnight there. The Care Taker told me that it is okay with him and that he is not going to cancel our booking because of our “no show” on 18th.

But our bad luck continues to follow us. This is how it is unfolded. We took the early morning train (Bongaon Local) from Sealdah Station (Fare: @20/- per 2nd Class Ticket); reached Basirhat Station, appox. 30 KM from Kolkata, and then the train stood stationery for more than an hour or so. We were told that some agitation was going on due to some dispute with the Ladies Special Train; and hence there is obstruction on the rail line and train services are totally disrupted both on up and down lines. After agonizing wait for about one and half hours, the train started moving. After crossing two or three Stations, again the train came to a halt. We were told that there is another obstruction at Datta Pukur Station on the same issue. The stalemate continued for another an hour or so, and then finally the train moved normally and reached Bongaon at 12-30 PM, solid two and half hours late!

FINAL JOURNEY

Our lady luck was on our side for the remaining part of our journey; and the final part of our onward journey to Parmadan was, comparatively speaking, smooth and hassle free.
1. We took Van Rickshaw from Bongaon Station to Motigaunj Bus Stand (@Rs.10/- per head). It took appox. 20 minutes to reach Motigaunj.
2. From there we boarded another Auto Rickshaw going towards a place called “Kolom Bagan”, 12 KMs from Motigaunj and fare is @Rs.13.00 per head. Journey time was appox. 30 mts.
3. From Kolom Bagan, we took another Auto Rickshaw, going towards Parmadan, our final destination. The distance is appox 12 KM and the fare is @Rs.13.00 per head only.

These Auto Rickshaws on this route go beyond Parmadan; and the Drivers usually drop the Parmadan-bound Passengers at a road crossing, from where the main Gate of the Forest is appox. 5 minutes walking distance. We had offered our Driver an extra tip of Rs.10/- and requested him to drop us the Main Gate. He happily drove us right up to the Gate. It was exactly 2-30 PM when we reached the Gate.

At last we reached our destination. We were hungry, damn tired due to the terrible journey; but there was some more things to be done before we get an entry to the forest and finally to our room. First, we are required to

# report the Gate Office,
# show our booking/permit slip and enter our arrival details in the Register.
(Incidentally, it may be mentioned here that entry ticket for the forest costs @Rs.60/- per head; but we were exempted from buying this entry tickets, as we had booked our accommodation in the Forest Lodge inside the forest. Further, this gives the boarders the power of multiple entry/exit during their stay in the Lodge without any entry ticket.)

Secondly, we are required to

# contact the make-shift Caterer at the Gate for arranging our food.
(Incidentally, we phone up this Caterer guy beforehand and ordered our lunch. The Lodge does not have any regular kitchen attached to it; a private person, who runs a shop just outside the forest Gate, was entrusted with the job of supplying food to the boarders at a nominal cost. But food options are very basic.)

The costs of food are fixed as follows:

Egg Lunch/Dinner – 80/- per head
Fish Lunch/Dinner – 100/- per head
Veg Lunch/Dinner – 60/- per head
Breakfast with
Luchi & Sabji – Rs.25/- per head

Meanwhile, we got hold of the Caterer guy; and we were told that food will be served at the Lodge Dining Hall within next 30 minutes.

With this assurance, we put our foot inside the forest; and moved ahead towards the Forest Lodge.

The Entry Gate to the Forest:
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Booking Counter just outside the Entry Gate:
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Entry Notification showing the entry charges:
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The Road leading to the forest and to the Lodge:
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THE STORY CONTINUES.....
#2 Aug 23rd, 2015, 11:54
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  • abhinandab is offline
#2

Parmadan: A week-end gateway from kolkata (on a shoe string budget)

Wonerful start as always.already hooked.

tough luck with the bangla bandh part,but i believe you could have done the journey,as not much was disrupted in terms of train at least on that day.i myself travelled by local train uninterrupted on that day.
#3 Aug 25th, 2015, 10:53
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#3
PART-II

A correction: In the first part of my travelogue, please read "Barasat Station" in place of "Basirhat Station". The error is sincerely regretted.


FOREST REST HOUSE(WHERE WE STAYED)

Entering through the Forest Gate, we followed only road leading to the Tourist Lodge. Now, I must explain at the outset that there is some confusion about actual name of the Lodge, some where it is mentioned as “Forest Lodge”, some places it was called “Forest Rest House” and the Sign Glow on the walls of the Building proclaims it as “Tourist Lodge” (Please see the picture). The fact is that this property is owned neither by WBTDC, nor by WBFDC. The actual owner is the Forest Department of Govt. Of West Bengal and it is maintained by the people engaged by them. But, the job of booking through on-line system has been entrusted to WBFDC. The property is located in midst of thick vegetation, tall trees, surrounded by very poorly kept Nursery for Medicinal Plants. The Building itself is not bad; but its upkeep is horrible. It seemed to me that no maintenance work was taken up since it is built a few years back. Bathroom water pipeline for Wash Basin is chocked, the Cistern is broken, but functional, and the Mirror attached to Dressing Table gives such reflection which we see in the horror movies.

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Our Room was actually a suit consisting of 2 separate Rooms, having 2 separate single cots in each of the Rooms. It has one attached Toilet with European style of WC. Though upkeep is poor, it is quite clean; and the linens used in the Rooms are also reasonably clean. They do not provide Towel, soap etc. to the guests. Though, on insistence of my wife, the Care Taker managed to produce a clean country Towel (Gamcha) for us. The suit is on the first floor and has an attached Balcony, which is a beauty!

There is no Kitchen attached to this Lodge. The catering arrangements are taken care of by a private party, having a Shop just outside of the Forest Gate. He cooks as per Guest’s order in his home and caters the cooked food to the boarders in the ground floor Dining Hall of the Lodge. The food option is very limited and very basic. If anyone has any special requirement, rest assure that such culinary expertise is not available with them. So, be prepared to manage with Rice, Roti, Dal, Sabji, Fish/Chicken & Bhaji (all cooked in typical Bengali style) only; and nothing more. The Care Taker and the Caterer guy are both simple folks, helpful and ever smiling. They provided us some very important tips on how to explore the forest, what to see, how to take boat ride in the River Ichamoti etc. etc.

THE FOREST

Bibhutibhusan Wildlife Sanctuary (formerly known as Parmadan Forest) is an animal sanctuary in the North 24 Parganas District of West Bengal. Situated on the banks of river Ichamoti covering an area of 68 square KM, it has more than 300 deers, birds, rabbits and a large number of langurs. It also has a children's park, a small zoo (very poorly maintained). It was started in the year 1964 with only 14 Chital Deers and it has got its present name in the year 1995. The name was derived from famous Bengali author Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, who hails from a nearby village.

The travellers who would be visiting this Sanctuary would not find 5 Points or 7 Points types of tourist attraction in the forest. The main attraction in this Sanctuary is huge number of Deers of various types. But, for me, more than Deers, the nature in its raw form, the huge, tall trees, thick vegetation, the unknown flowers, the whisper of forest, chirping of birds, occasional barking of hungry Deers & caged birds in the Mini Zoo were more fascinating. If you love nature in its raw form, you are bound to love this place. One more thing that I wish to emphasize here : Usually the tourists prefer winter season to visit this place; but I would urge upon all the intending visitors to please visit during monsoon. It is wonderful, awesome! Nature is at its best now; the rain has washed away the dust from the leaves, exposing its lush green dazzling colours. Now, you will be able to find sparkling green of foliage and I guarantee that never before you had come across such dazzling display of colours anywhere. Your built-up tension will melt away; your eye will experience such a soothing effect!

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THE DEERS

Both the Care Taker as well as the Caterer guy advised us to finish our lunch quickly and proceed to a particular point in the forest, where Deers are offered food daily at 3 PM. They informed us that this “show” must not be missed. We quickly finished our lunch (Egg Lunch) and proceeded to that particular spot. The day, being a week day and also being during monsoon, there was a not a single soul, other than us and two of the forest guards, who brought the food for the Deers. While reaching the spot, we find the entire population of Deers’ community were already present there, looking anxiously for their food to come. There was occasional barking, a sign of impatience perhaps, we thought! When the Guards came, the entire herd of the Deers remained somewhat calm; but soon after they completed the laying of food items at the respective places, a pandemonium broke out. True to the principle of survival of the fittest, the larger-sized animals got their share before others could touch it. The small-sized and babies amongst the Deer population waited and when their big brothers finished their quota, they came in and started their lunch leisurely with whatever is left for them.

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Honestly speaking, I, for one, did not like this “show” at all. It was too much stage managed and the whole process lack spontaneity. We were told that total herd consists of 300 odd Deers of various types.

THE MINI ZOO, THE CHILDREN PARK

Just when this show was over, it has started raining, not very heavy rain, just drizzling a bit. We ignored these small droplets, which was mostly unable to pierce the canopy of leaves of the tall trees covering the sky over us. We started walking through narrow pathway, which circles the inner circle of the forest, the abode of Deers. The walking was at a leisurely pace; and we were not feeling any tiredness at all, although we had gone through a horrible, gruelling journey only that morning. It was such bliss and we felt all our tiredness has just evaporated; and we are fully rejuvenated. We took a half circle of the forest periphery; and come across a few Cage and a few birds in the Cage. Actually we were drawn to this so-called “Mini Zoo” by the loud call of a particular colourful bird, which we later come to know as “macaw bird”. There are few other birds in the cage, like, Parrot, Dove etc. This may be interesting for the children. Just attached to this “Mini Zoo”, there lies some “See Saw”, a few Slips & Swings etc. in an Enclosure. This is what they call as “Children Park”. We continued our journey onwards through the alleys where staff quarters are located. Suddenly we hit a dead end and through the thick foliage, the glimpse of quite flowing River, Ichamoti, came to our view. There is one more Rest House (supposedly meant for Departmental bosses) very strategically located just by the bank of the river. The main Gate of this property was kept under lock & key and we did not get any chance to explore this premise. There is a Ghat at the end of the road leading to the river; but the Gate for the Ghat is also under lock & key; and we could not reach water body. Spent some time gazing at the flow of Ichamoti, there was nobody around us; and we were in heavenly bliss!

ICHAMOTI RIVER

The moment I saw the River Ichamoti, a surge of nostalgic emotion came rushing and engulfed me entirely. Permit me please to share my feeling (though it is not possible to express this very personal feeling properly and that too in an alien language) with my readers and pardon me please if I had heaped some garbage on the sensibilities of my dear readers.

A few KMs away from the place where I was standing at Parmadan on the bank of Ichamoti, there lies a village called “Barrackpur” (don’t equate this village with the Barrackpur town on Sealdah-Ranaghat Main Railway Line). This village is just like any other non-descriptive village in rural Bengal. But there is a difference. It is here where the great author of Bengal. Shri Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadahay was brought up, and had written most of his master pieces here in his ancestral house, just lying at the bank of the tiny, little, quite-flowing Ichamoti river. Readers might say, okay, that is known fact; but what is that to do with you? I’m coming to this point right away. In the year 1947, just after the partition of undivided Bengal, huge influx of refugees took shelter from Easter Part of Bengal to the Western Part. Among this teeming, fleeing population, there came a 7/8 years old boy, with his family and got settled in the said Barrackpur village, close to Bibhuti Babu’s ancestors’ house. This boy took admission to a neighbouring School in primary section, where he got Bibhuti Babu as one of his Teachers. The boy had no idea, who this teacher was; and Bibhuti Babu, in his typical humility, took this boy in his fold. The school was 3 to 4 KM away from the village, the boy was terrified (he was scared of ghosts) and Bibhuti Babu used to take him along when he used to go to School. The River Ichamoti was like a house hold river to village boys. This refugee boy (I don’t think I need to tell who the boy is) made this river as his own; and used to spend most of his leisure time here in bathing, swimming or just idling away with other boys of his age. This has thus made a very deep, lasting impression in the mind of this young boy, which still exists even today. Thus, when he came to face to face with his old mate at Parmadan, emotion gushed in, memories engulfed the old, diehard guy as he is today.

Slowly, but surely the evening sets in, night has started to descend. My wife cajoled me to go back to the Lodge. We slowly started our return journey back to the Lodge.

NIGHT IN THE LODGE

As I had stated earlier, the power supply was very erratic; but we were prepared for this eventualities. My wife carried a jumbo-sized candle and we had quite, candlelight dinner at the Lodge. After the dinner, we sat in the open balcony attached to our suit, initially we spoke a little; slowly we went silent totally. What had actually happened is very difficult for me to express in words. But I will try. There was no power, entire forest is soaking in the sea of darkness, sky is overcast with clouds, there is no faint of light anywhere to be seen. Cool breeze is flowing together with occasional drizzling. In between, this silence is getting broken by sudden barking of deers at a distance. The huge trees around the Lodge look like engulfed the Lodge completely. We were sort of marooned in the sea of such darkness! And, then we noticed some tiny star-like objects are falling from the dark sky, on the trees, onto its leaves. It took us sometime to realize that these “objects” are nothing but fire-flies, or the glow worms (“Jonaki” in Bengali). They were all over the trees, all the trees, descending from nowhere, falling like rain drops. A few of them even paid a visit to our balcony also. What a spectacle! Never had seen such natural show ever in my life. We sat there spellbound for quite some time, feeling blessed by such a huge spectacle that is being enacted just before our eyes. Then the rain became heavy and did not let us stay outside. We came inside our Room and had retired for the night. Lying in the bed, I was asking myself: Is this real or some kind of dream??
#4 Aug 25th, 2015, 11:01
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#4
I had exhausted the maximum of quota of pics per post. That is why I could not post a few pics in my earlier post, which I am posting now. Kindly co-relate these pics with story narrated above. Thanks.

More Deers

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Ichamoti River

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The next part would the final and concluding part of the Travelogue. Thanks.
#5 Aug 25th, 2015, 11:31
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#5
Hats off to you master. Beautifully narrated and sprinkled with nice photographs and my memory is rekindled.

I went there many years back. The armeture of our old Ambassador conked and we had to spend several hours to repair that . The grand old cars used to have a mood of their own. We reached at the very late hours and had a great time then onwards.

Thanks for the superbly detailed TR
#6 Aug 25th, 2015, 11:57
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#6
An another very detailed description of a short trip in a forest in South Bengal after the Bethuadahari one. These kind of TR s are rare. We have always heard Parmadan as just a picnic spot. But you have given a completely different perspective of the same during monsoon. And told us that in such closer places also the dwellers of south Bengal can get a taste of raw nature with greenery and silence of night with glow worms all around in a jungle. And I really liked the awesome depiction of your childhood nostalgia. It is great to know that you were a student of great Shree Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay!!! Please share some more memories with him.
#7 Aug 25th, 2015, 11:58
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#7
Mesmerized. Beautifully narrated and nice photos. Thanks. Many thanks
Sourabh Bose

Enjoy viewing the memories captured through my lenses at ------>>Flickr

Sharing my experience through India Mike blogs: In the lap of Himalaya, Trekking trails Varsey
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#8 Aug 25th, 2015, 12:11
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#8

Parmadan: A week-end gateway from kolkata (on a shoe string budget)

Beautiful..as always..
#9 Aug 25th, 2015, 12:42
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#9
Another nice TR with fine details . Thanks for sharing ashishda
#10 Aug 25th, 2015, 13:02
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#10
Down the memory lane...excellent....thanks for sharing your feelings Ashis Da
#11 Aug 25th, 2015, 17:03
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#11
As usual nice TR...thanks for sharing with us.

Sent from my Micromax A110 using Tapatalk
#12 Aug 25th, 2015, 18:01
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#12
An excellent cover-up of a usual place within low budget. Salute You.
Eagerly waited for next part.
#13 Aug 25th, 2015, 19:22
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#13
An articulate write-up Asis Da. I'm not getting mail notification from Indiamike in my given mail box. Hence could not read this lovely crisp post.

Had been there with office colleagues more than 10 year back. While going we took train up to Bangaon, but our return was excellent. We took river ride by a hired boat which dropped us near Ranaghat. In fact we boarded in the boat from the Gate of the rest house.

Keep it up.
#14 Aug 25th, 2015, 20:43
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#14
Nice that you were able to enjoy your shorter visit, a great description of the fireflies too.
I was interested by the entrance gate pictured... it reminded me of the Paris Metro entrances in art nouveau style by Hector Guimard.

Cheers,

Edwin.
#15 Aug 26th, 2015, 16:33
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#15
As usual, beautifully narrated, enjoyed a lot asish da
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