The Pirates of the Sundarbans

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#1 Mar 8th, 2013, 20:38
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#1
Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho,
thieves and beggars,
never shall we die.

The king and his men
stole the queen from her bed
and bound her in her Bones.
The seas be ours
and by the powers
where we will well roam.

Some men have died
and some are alive
and others sail on the sea
– with the keys to the cage...
and the Devil to pay
we lay to Fiddler's Green!

The bell has been raised
from it's watery grave...
Do you hear it's sepulchral tone?
We are a call to all,
pay head the squall
and turn your sail toward home!

Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars,
never say we die.

The poem as sung by a small boy in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: at world's end. encouraged me to be a PIRATE.... for a day at least. Long gone are the days when you could sail with the flag of the black skull, loot the ships of the wealthy merchants or blow the royal navy ships with the cannon bolt. So the options that remains are just sailing around, no violence....sing the pirate's song.....look for adventure and.......and of course a bottle of RUM.!!!

So where would you be if you are looking for something very similar to me. Yes I had been there earlier...3times but this time its purely to lead the life of Captain Jack Sparrow(the notorious pirate). People had been here for ages but with the zeal of tracking down the Royal Bengal Tiger...But I thought to do some thing different. So ahoy all crews....of IM..... tighten your rakes....hit the deck and follow the orders from the Captain. Hoist the flag and here we sail to the journey of a life of Pi(I mean Pirate).

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#2 Mar 8th, 2013, 21:03
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#2
Time for a joly cross flag, legless soul! Savvy??
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid Albert Einstein


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#3 Mar 8th, 2013, 21:14
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#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Legless soul View Post ..... this time its purely to lead the life of Captain Jack Sparrow(the notorious pirate). People had been here for ages but with the zeal of tracking down the Royal Bengal Tiger...But I thought to do some thing different. So ahoy all crews....of IM..... tighten your rakes....hit the deck and follow the orders from the Captain. ....
Ho ho ho Captain, sail there ..... I'm following .... and recalling our's

Yes, we did that thrice [YES, THRICE] ..... ho captain, like to know your's.
aamar payer tolai sorshe...(I have wheels under my feet)
#4 Mar 8th, 2013, 21:17
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#4

Getting ready for the Plunder

Plunder means to take the booty. Our booty is the fun and the adventure which we like to squeeze out to the fullest from our traveling and clicking the camera. With less doubloon(Spanish gold, here it means money) in our pockets and less time in our hands we decided to head towards the Sundarbans -the mangrove delta of Bengal. You can enjoy unlimited boat rides through the backwaters and even some parts of the sea. The animal sighting gives a different angle to this....maybe it would add few more escudo(coins) to your treasure of traveling. So the destination was set Sundarbans or what we call here ...TO TORTUGA(the pirates den)

Some Info:-------courtesy@wikipedia

The Sundarbans (Pron:/ˈsʊndəˌbʌnz/) (Bengali: সুন্দরবন, Shundorbôn) is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.[1] The Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering parts of Bangladesh and Indian state of West Bengal.

Two-third of the Sundarbans is in Bangladesh and the remaining third in West Bengal, India. The Sundarbans National Park is a National Park, Tiger Reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in the Indian state of West Bengal. Sundarbans South, East and West are three protected forests in Bangladesh. This region is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger.
How to reach
By Rail: The nearest Railway station of Sundarban is Canning Railway station which is located 29 KM far from the Gate way of Sundarban (i.e. Godhkhali)

But First I need a crew......
The Crew:



@all
guess who the captain could be......the black eyed Jack Sparrow
Oh my first mate(pirate language for the 2nd in command) is absent in this picture.
#5 Mar 9th, 2013, 10:48
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#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by sagarneel View Post Time for a joly cross flag, legless soul! Savvy??
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duronto Jajabar View Post Ho ho ho Captain, sail there ..... I'm following .... and recalling our's

Yes, we did that thrice [YES, THRICE] ..... ho captain, like to know your's.

@ Sagarda and DD

its not yes............ its Aye Captain !
#6 Mar 9th, 2013, 11:59
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Getting to Tortuga

My Tortuga or the Sundarbans is pretty close from kolkata. Just around 55-60 Km. Easily reachable by car and train. I chose the cheapest and the quickest mode. Get up early in the morning, boarded a local train and reached Sealdah station. From Sealdah south section board any Canning Local but the more early you get, the more you will feel comfortable. The local train will take you to Canning within an hour. Canning is the gateway to Sundarbans. The winter is the best time to visit Sundarbans as the rainy season would be too dangerous and the summer sun would burn you. Like if you are Mr/Mrs X then you will be X tandoori(Google for the meaning). I had no such ambitions, so winter is the best, though it gets a bit crowdy.

Had our breakfast with "chera paratha"(a special kind of paratha which is must if you are at South24 Parganas) "ghugni" and boiled eggs. Oh I forgot to introduce my crew members:

1) The first mate - My same old doctor friend(absent in the pic)
2) The carouser(keeper of Rum) - The one whose hed could be seen peeping from left
3) The Jack Ketch(hangman) - The man on the extreme left
4) The scallywag - The one with yellow specs.
5) The me - Captain of the Black Pearl(black sunglasses)

As you can see in the pic above we hired a Vano(typical village 3 wheel van, with a bike or scooter engine) from Canning Bazar. That would only take us to Basanti. But we forced the man to take us to Godkhali or the exact location from where tourists start their boat ride. There is now a motorable road till Godkhali, but earlier you had to cross the Matla River(a bridge has been constructed now, railway work is in progress). The word Matla came from "matal" or the drunk. The river has its bad reputation of behaving like an intoxicated person specially during the rainy season Thank God they made a bridge. The vano ride is not at all comfortable, due to the road condition which is pathetic but the village air and the sight of different birds along the way would make it soothing. Godkhali is a small village on the opposite bank of Gosaba, or the last town in Sundarbans.



We had our lunch(we had made lots of brawling on the way so it was already noon to reach Godkhali) there with fish/rice and aloo bhaja(french fries). The rates are quite average and the food was fresh, specially the fish. After the lunch we went to bargain for my Black Pearl(my vessel). We had our reservation at a lodge in Pakhiralay. You will have to cross the river from Godkhali and reach Gosaba. From there a van ride will take another 1 hour to reach Pakhiralay.

There are other hotels and lodges at Pakhiralay, with a small market place and few souvenir shop. I had booked the Krishnakunja Hotel(Artland Group Hotel) from their Chatterjee International office(website present). It was a descent lodge, clean rooms with basic accommodation facilities. Food is arranged only for big groups and prior request on a package system.
#7 Mar 9th, 2013, 12:40
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The Night at Pakhiralay

The hotel was nothing great but was clean and we were given a 4 bed room for Rs 800. We were 5 so it did not matter. Hot water buckets would cost Rs 10 per delivery...... "Sasta aur tikao"(cheap and decent). We had booked a small boat for the next day and would come early in the morning to pick us up from Pakhiralay ghat(dock). We had decided that we would cook food in the boat and even spen the next night in the boat.

the evening in pakhiralay....


So we got freshened in the evening and decided to hit the market for some ration which would be necessary for our trip. The main thing would be fresh water and a 20 liter keg would be enough for us 5. The estuarine water is clean like a mirror but very salty. The menu was decided: banskathi chaler bhat(fine quality of rice), ghee, aloobhaza, Muger Dal(yellow lentils) mach bhaza(crispy fried fish) and Macher-jhol(fish curry). Dinner next day would be chicken, rice and green salad. The fish/meat was to be taken in the morning but the groceries were was bought then and there. But the dinner on that night was a bit exotic: roti, egg-curry(duck egg) and Kakrar jhal(crab roast). My Carouser actually did rob two large crab fro the store(mark of piracy). One notable thing is that the grocery shops in the market sold everything...i mean everything.....from hair pin to medicines, fish/meat, vegetables, honey, souvenirs etc,etc. The bill for all our requirements including the kerosine oil(needed for lighting the stove) was around Rs 3000. The crabs were not in the bill. A lady agreed to prepare the "rotis" and the crab along with the eggs for a very nominal amount. She ran a tea stall with her family. What taste it was. The others had allergy to crab so we two had a great time with it.


a souvenir shop

At night we watched the Bon Bibir Pala, a typical street drama from the Bengal villages, usually sang and danced while performing. There was a bon-fire and the ambiance was like dreamland.
#8 Mar 9th, 2013, 15:24
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#8
Great going LS.
#9 Mar 9th, 2013, 15:33
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#9
Good start Captain.

Debashish
#10 Mar 11th, 2013, 14:52
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@ Legless soul

Great going man....keep it up
#11 Mar 11th, 2013, 15:15
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The run-away chicken

Finger licking crab roast and Egg curry made our dinner a special extravaganza. We were packed to the tooth for our great feast that we planned on-board. The morning was chilling and there was a good wind blowing. A very good sign to set the sails high. While we went to the market again for the fish and meat, my 1st mate or quarter master waited at the dock to check the arrival of the boat.....my Black Pearl.

my Doctor friend and the First Mate

We were busy at the fish market, where the fresh stock from the dawn had arrived. Vetki (Barramundi perch famous for the fillet), Parshe, Golda chingri(Prawn) etc etc...truely a paradise for fish loving Bengalis. We decided to go off-track. As most of the crew members were allergic to prawns/lobsters, we decided not to include that in our cuisine, thoug the price was less than half of what we get at Kolkata markets. So we got some killos of "Paira Chada"(English name not known) for the curry and some killos of the ones in the picture below, for crisp fry.
All the stores sell chicken but not dressed, you will have to buy it quite alive and the dressing part has to be arranged yourself or there are people who does the job for Rs 5 and some pieces of meat. I respect vegetarians and I don't wanna mess with Peta. Please forgive me. Nothing personal. The Chicken was handed-over to us and I had appointed the scallywag to look after it. Sticking to his reputation and the name, the fool went busy, looking for pretty faces, so the result was inevitable.....Chicken compromised for the chicks. Oh what fun it was, for the spectators of course. Early morning village market. A big fat chicken running along......after it 3 young men...seeing us the dogs started too and the hole market got plundered due the notorious gang of Capt Jack Sparrow
We deserve the every bit of the catch. one cycle thrown to the drain(Khaler jol e)....3 clay pots shattered one of the shades uprooted....villagers irate but we didn't let go our hunt. The man responsible for this was punished.....no meat for the landlubber. It was his luck that I didn't maroon him in some isolated island.
#12 Mar 11th, 2013, 16:07
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The First Sail

The ship had already arrived while we kept the morning market busy. Hurried to the boat and untied the anchor, before the villagers could hang us for sure(but they were kind enough actually). To hit the estuaries one has to take a permit from the Sajnekhali watch tower which was just opposite to the Pakhiralay ghat. We assembled there along with other tourists to get the permit. Per head cost would be Rs 10-20(i forgot) and the boat would be around Rs 150(Now you call us pirates). Our boat had a driver(also our cook) and a small kid to accompany him. Sajnekhali is the first watch tower, which consists of a small museum and a small water body filled with crocs. What is spectacular here is the cleanliness and check over water pollutants. Plastic in any form is strictly abandoned(heavily monitered and fined) in Sundarbans. We had prepared our own dustbin to dump every kind of packets we used on the way and made sure that the bin was carried back and dumped in a proper garbage at Canning.


the wait for permit....

As you can see in the above pic the face of the scallywag(yellow specs), deprived of the chicken at dinner. Well as a captain I had to maintain discipline......
Here we encountered the first species of Sundarbans - the common Macaques, beware of those cutie baby faced devils. They loiter around all the watch towers and looks for opportunities to raid the boats for booty. Very Pirate indeed, our forefathers after all.

playing on the mud....becomes easy prey for the Crocodiles

After an hour of waiting we set sails towards the next destination...SudhanyaKhali watch tower. The estuarine water looked emerald green and you feel to take a plunge, but there are crocs and "Kamoth"(local term for estuarine sharks) present...so a swim in the cool waters not advisable even if you are a Michael Phelps. Enjoy the same with a bucket




Captain on the starboard
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#13 Mar 11th, 2013, 17:18
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Bon-Bibi and Dakshin-Ray

Now if you are a pirate you might be aware of "Calypso" deity of the sea. Bonbibi is the deity of Sundarbans and is respected irrespective of religion. Dakhhinray or Dakshin Ray is the demon of Sunderbans......can be compared to the Flying Dutchman. He takes the form of the tiger and hunts the poor honey hunters and fishermen. On reaching Sudhanyakhali watch tower you can pay homage to the shrine. Tigers generally doesn't move along the usual tourist trails so spotting one is very difficult and the day would be very lucky(unlucky if you are a local) if you see a yellow and black tail inside a bush.


The tiger generally hides in the "hogla"(local term of a genuine camouflaged bush) bushes and you cannot make out the difference.


The tower has lost its glory since my last visit. The fences have gone rusty at places and the concrete towers seems to be falling apart. But I wasn't interested in tigers and tried to grab some other beauties of the sea and the mangrove.









Every place we went, were followed by a particular vessel(probably belonged to Capt Barbosa) blocked our way. What feud it had with my little Black Pearl?(the fools had painted it green). What was annoying that the people on that boat made much noise that disturbed the ambiance of the forest. Please dudes a request don't shout on kids and inside forests. They are both very tender. If you love fuss, Circus would be a better option I guess.


attacked!!!
#14 Mar 11th, 2013, 17:24
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#14




planning to attack my ship



The bucket.....I had spoken earlier
#15 Mar 11th, 2013, 17:45
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The smell of mustard oil filled the boat and our first serving of the crispy fried fish came from the kitchen below. The pirates jumped over the plate and we already had popped the bottle of rum(water for pirates). The breeze was strong and sun was warm. We could strip off the pullovers/jackets but couldn't remove the skull caps. The cold winds would give you a headache. All we did was keeping an eye over the narrow water strip for the sight of any possible movements in the bushes.






What freedom we had. Only the blunt sound of the engine and the silence of the forest. The emerald green water and the chirping of the birds. If you keep your eyes on the banks you might come across a snout or two of the crocodilus porosus...the only man eating croc of India.

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