Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal (Part 1)

A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
Before my Solo ride to Daringbadi and motorbike trip to Bodh Gaya, this motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal, back in September 2012 was my longest trip on two wheels. We had covered a distance of 1,026 kilometers in six days which included eight beaches and one island. However mediocre this riding stats look today, doing it four years back with a pillion, on a 125 cc motorcycle was indeed a very satisfactory motorcycle diary for me.

Prologue: His fist hit the right side of my jawbone before I could anticipate that the verbal chapter was over. Surrounded by a number of dark men in bare bodies in a busy fishing harbor was the actual pain, not the punch. The ego inside every man shouts out for a duel but our wisdom alerts us of the actual scenario. I had the fraction of a second before I could get a second blow on my face… practically there was no time for deciding my action… but I couldn’t let my reflex to act either. I tried to soften my voice as much as I could… “I said I’m sorry, I really didn’t know that”, low volume but stern words of defense popped out of my clenched chin… Life is really like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get! It didn’t start so simply… Want to know how did it all start?
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
We rode 1,026 kilometers in 6 days on a 125 cc motorbike, which included 8 beaches and 1 island.
Well… You get your hard earned leave and pack your rucksack dreaming 24/7 about your long planned destination- Kinnaur & Spiti, spread your wings of fantasy farther as you check the all possible nooks and corners of world wide web to avoid missing even the rarest info about the magical valley and finally the evening of your departure crawls in… but along with it hops in an uninvited, unwanted and unforeseen circumstance for which you’re compelled to open railways website to cancel your confirmed ticket without being able to indulge in a second thought! Yea… imagine… and it happened to me in the beginning of this month of September only!

After that couple of days passed by and the situation stabilized with passing hours but left me with no opportunity to think of Himachal trip again in this very month. I spent another couple of nights reading about beautiful places around my hometown where I could divert my plan without the headache of a railway reservation. Most of the worthy places were a ‘No-No’ due to end monsoon effect. A friend of mine over net, suggested me of Mandarmani which is a serene village growing of late with several beach resorts. That modest idea reminded me of a wilder plan which I was about to execute last year but couldn’t materialize due to some reason. Yes… now I was off the mark… ready with my traveling vigor once again… and luckily my brother joined in!
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
The daylight was dimming and the hazy sky gave no hope for a mesmerizing sunset...!
Ride Itinerary along the Bay of Bengal: 
Day 1- Bardhaman to Bakkhali. Local sightseeing (Bakkhali beach, Frasergunj beach, Frasergunj fishing harbor) and overnight stay at Bakkhali.
Day 2- Local sightseeing (Henry Island, Watchtower, Beach, Bakkhali beach, Bakkhali Aranya Binadan Kendra, Frasergunj fishing harbor) and overnight stay at Bakkhali.
Day 3- Bakkhali to Gangasagar. Local sightseeing (Kapilmuni’s Temple, Beach, Port) and overnight stay at Sagar Island.
Day 4- Gangasagar to Digha. Overnight stay in New Digha.
Day 5- Digha to Baleswar district of Odisha for some specific destinations (Udaipur beach, Talasari beach, Chandaneswar temple, Bhusandeswar temple), back to Digha and local sightseeing (Marine aquarium, Old Digha beach, New Digha beach, Science center) with overnight stay.
Day 6- Digha to Dariapur. Some local sightseeing (Light house, Kapal Kundala temple) and return to Bardhaman.

Day One: Last evening I remembered to look out for a carrier which I could add at the back of my Discover 125 to improve its luggage carrying capability. I was a fool to keep it pending till the last moment but it was my ignorance in reality. In my last bike (please read it as ‘motorbike’ throughout this post) trip I was riding solo, which had left ample space to hang my luggage here and there but this time my brother was there to take up the pillion, and that’s how the necessity of a luggage carrier was felt... unfortunately too late! No ready-made carrier was available and at last the welding mechanic advised to get that made by some blacksmith. It was night by then and so I returned home ignoring the worry of hauling baggage. Somehow time flew like anything and we ended up finishing our packing by midnight. I have that hyper stimulation syndrome which a lot of travelers suffer from, i.e. I can never get a proper sleep before a journey… after couple of hours of dozing and tossing on the bed I woke up very early but could commence our ride not before 5:30 AM.
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
The Bakkhali Beach ornamented with infinite seashells has a grayish tinge
The four lane expressway till Kolkata have always been a bliss to me… the first hundred kilometers I throttled as fast as I could and surprisingly my pony with all its load kept pace with my zeal, almost vibration free at a constant speed of over 80 KM/hr! Very soon we entered Kolkata through Vidyasagar Setu and took the Alipore Road. We wanted to avoid the office hours rush and succeeded at that… but the ride through the city didn’t go that butter smooth too. A traffic police stopped us for checking our vehicle documents. Due to the lack of pollution certificate we had to shed off some bucks as Policeman’s unofficial income. I got a certificate made in the very next petrol pump to avoid further flattering-bargaining-bribing cycle and headed along Diamond harbor road to reach Diamond harbor by 10 O’clock. It was fun riding by the bank of Hooghly river… we stopped seeing a Benfish restaurant opposite to riverbank road.

It was not lunch time precisely… but we were hungry as we didn’t take any breakfast… settled with some prawn fried rice and it was not bad at all. We reached Kakdwip, refueled our vector and hurried for Namkhana. Like a good boy my pony got onto the ferry which carries vehicles across the Hatania Doania creek at Namkhana to get into the other side and head for Bakkhali. Some local guys suggested availing the passenger boats which usually carry motorcycles of local people along with passengers at a much cheaper rate. But I was apprehensive of treating my motorbike like a rice sac, which I had experienced previously in Murshidabad trip last year, so remained glued with my previous decision only. I heard that a grand bridge will be constructed over the creek after Durgapuja!
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
Like a good boy, my pony got onto the ferry which carries vehicles across the Hatania Doania creek at Namkhana.
We got wet by a sudden shower some ten kilometers before Bakkhali… wet in afternoon rain and an ‘almost there’ joy crossed Frasegunj to reach Bakkhali by half past two. We checked in quickly to the hotel Joyguru Abasan which I had known from wikitravel beforehand. Impatient soul didn’t let me to take a proper bathe and we rode to the beach. Bakkhali beach had more tourists than what I had expected. There the Bay of Bengal is much more modest than what you see in Puri (in case you’re fascinated to roar of the sea and grandeur of the waves), even more pacified than Digha… the beach ornamented with infinite seashells has a grayish tinge and hard but officially motoring is prohibited. After enjoying see breeze for a while under the overcast sky we made our way for Frasegunj beach which is geographically an extension of the same Bakkhali beach and share the same citadel of Casuarina trees.

The Frasergunj beach was desolated with prominent signs and symptoms of lack of maintenance… the Windmills forming the perfect background generate power for the tiny tourist place. We could spot the house of Sir Andrew Fraser (now you can guess the origin of the name of this place) near the beach on its last legs! Unluckily we could only watch Jambudwip Island from the Frasergunj beach as the local people told us that since last few months they have stopped their boat service to Jambudwip. Urbanization seemed like a novel makeover for the area, as evident from the simplicity of the lifestyle, market pattern and local means of transport… motorized rickshaw van is the versatile vector all throughout the place, carrying goods, passengers as well as helping the tourists for sightseeing!
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
A green-coconut vendor busy in serving at Bakkhali Beach.
Fishing… fishing… and fishing, backbone of the region… so after asking out from a van puller we headed for our next target- Frasergunj fishing harbor. The place is meant for collecting the fishes in bulk from fishermen’s boats and transporting them to different places by trucks. The harbor is characterized by fishy air, colorful innumerable fishing boats, green/blue large fishing nets, busy fishermen and porters, plying motorized vans, loads of ice blocks and of course tons of fishes! The daylight was dimming and the hazy sky gave no hope for a mesmerizing sunset… so, instead of returning to beaches we lazed around in the harbor till it got darker watching the brave men resting, eating or repairing their nets on board who go across the untamed sea at night for our gustatory satisfaction.
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
Windmills forming the perfect background generate power for the tiny tourist place, Frasergunj.
In the evening when we returned to Bakkhali beach we found it dark, tourists scattered here and there, some enjoying the land breeze and the others roaming with bottles of beer… I was sad to spot too many drunken souls standing out of the darkness of the otherwise pleasant beach. I was happy to be without family at that point of time… there should be enough properly functioning halogens and physically present beach polices I must say. We aimlessly walked for a while tasting little fast food from beach stalls. 9 O’clock seemed perfect to finish our dinner. There are quite a few eateries in the small beach town of Bakkhali near the beach but you can’t expect quality food from there… it shouldn’t be a problem to fill your stomach though unless you’re really choosy. Thinking that it’ll be a sin if I don’t taste a sea-fish I ordered a Pomfret fish dish but my bad luck, it was horribly cooked! Brother was wise enough to stick to his ‘veggie when out of home’ strategy… we rode back to our hotel and concluded the day happily with great expectation to watch sunrise over the sea next morning.

This is just the beginning. Do visit back to know what had happened in the following day. i.e. To be continued...