Last Saturday, my morning surfaced at ten when the outside was already quite sunny. Soon I realized that I was free for the entire day. What about a quick ride then, I teased myself! One thing I knew, if I sat on my chair and gave that riding thought a scope for reasoning, eventually procrastination would take the upper hand and a motorcycling trip shall never materialize. So, the first-aid measure was to ignore the overhead sun and lock the riding plan. When it came to choosing a destination, three places seemed practical for a half day ride- Bishnupur, Susunia Hill and Mukutmanipur. Being farthest among three, Mukutmanipur won hands down. This was my first leisurely ride with Benu (Benelli TNT 600 GT). The idea of her first thousand kilometers getting clocked up in my work related commute started taking its toll on me. She was not meant to haul monotony. Go by your heart or literature. Either way, she was born to travel. In Italian, "Gran Turismo" (abbreviated as GT) refers to vehicles that can make long distance tours in optimum comfort and style. Benu's first service is due on coming Saturday. I had to initiate her self-actualization before that.
|Cars are not allowed to enter this scenic road over the dam. But Benu could squeeze the juice.|
Mukutmanipaur is a picturesque hamlet in Bankura district of West Bengal, nestled at the confluence of rivers Kangshabati and Kumari, houses a giant blue lake as the center of attraction for thousands of tourists visiting Mukutmanipur for unadulterated weekend relaxation. Just like Maithon, Mukutmanipur is a place to be best avoided during summer. Still, if you are a traveler with a spoonful of madness and can put up with the baking heat waves of Bankura, you're most welcome to visit Mukutmanipur anytime round the year and setup your own picnic spot. Apart from the vast water-scape, there are plenty of greenery and hillocks studded in the canvas of Mukutmanipur to exhilarate a wider variety of wanderers. Thankfully, my brother volunteered to be the pillion in my sudden-planned weekend ride to Mukutmanipur. We left Bardhaman at twelve noon!
|You might encounter an elephant or deer (strictly in the early morning though) crossing your way.|
Our route to Mukutmanipur (170 kilometers stretch) was fairly simple and mostly through well maintained roads, starting from mammoth NH-2 to modest yet smooth SH-2. As soon as we touched the highway tarmac, Benu started pulling like a charm, easily cruising over triple digit speeds without letting us feel the rapid motion. When I ride my dark mare (Bajaj Pulsar 220 F) on highways, at times young wannabe racers play the "catch me if you can" game. With Benu the situation is bit different. Whoever chases me on a motorcycle, does so to know my machine and certainly not for outracing her. When the old problem gets perished a new one is conceived. Nowadays many four-wheelers on highways do tend to treat Benu as their competitor. You want to know how I respond? Well, that's an evil secret I'm not ready to share. After attaining a stable speed on road I can use the engine guard (also called- limb guard) on either side as highway footpeg, and I tell you the posture is so damn relaxing after that!
|Mukutmanipur welcomed us with her beautiful roads, Kangshabati Dam and a huge lake.|
Soon after crossing Durgapur Barrage the typical Bankura landscape, comprising curvy roads fenced by tall furniture trees and red rocky soil popped up its head. Even if I keep aside those faint childhood memories associated with my three years of stay at Bankura back in kindergarten days, I had accumulated enough while revisiting the town on multiple occasions later. Luckily, despite its dry heat and rough terrain, this district still boasts of a number of prominent forest areas. You might encounter an elephant or deer (strictly in the early morning hours though) crossing your way. The surrounding nature is so beautiful that one would long to take numerous photo stops. But, when the afternoon heat is at its zenith and your two-wheeler weighs north of 250 kg, you often put a rain check to your other longings.
|When you are at Beliatore, spot one of those old sweet shops selling Mecha, like Mecha Mahal.|
After a couple of halts at different forest zones, our third and final halt before Mukutmanipur was at Beliatore. It was neither a re-hydration necessity nor a photo break. Beliatore is famous for its Mecha Sandesh (a special form of local sweet) which I absolutely wanted to include in my trip blog, more than I wished to taste one. When you are at Beliatore, spot one of those old, less glossy sweet shops selling Mecha, like Mecha Mahal. Call me old-school but I'm deeply skeptical about the newer shops claiming to sell authentic Mecha or any other traditional item in that matter. To cater the anti-diabetic (do not take it literally) need of modern travelers, sweet shops also offer a less sugary type of Mecha which is vastly different from the one we used to savor in our childhood. Despite its sophistication and price it was tasty. I would recommend you to taste both of them.
|Half a dozen of motorized boats were dozing by the jetty (Of course with their boatmen).|
Mukutmanipur welcomed us with her beautiful roads, Kangshabati Dam, huge lake, scanty tourists and rows of closed shops. The government has certainly done its bits to make the town look like a tourist spot. I think you are getting me, right? A hand few food shops screaming desperately to pull few customers in for lunch, and a couple of tourist groups packing up their mess near the boating jetty were the only signs of life in an otherwise still Mukutmanipur. We were starving like rats, yet postponed our lunch for surveying the place. Half a dozen of motorized boats were dozing by the jetty. The shadow of off-season was clearly visible over the entire tourist ambiance of Mukutmanipur. Either those boatmen were too exhausted by the summer heat or they were least optimistic with a unshaven loner. One of them invited me reluctantly. A two-hours boat ride, which includes two sightseeing spots, one of which is an old temple, costs only 400 bucks.
|Like a dreamer, I indulged in the fantasy of being there in a full-moon night...|
We were in real paucity of time. Half an hour could have been manageable, but two hours... in no way we could have afforded. Cars are not allowed to enter the scenic road over the dam. But Benu could squeeze the juice out for us. Voila! The kilometer-long (probably more) road turned out to be motorcyclists' paradise. It is twisted but without sharp bends, wide enough to let you corner with confidence, maintaining the perfect harmony between the green valley (slightly exaggerating) at your left and the blue endless water at right, and most importantly giving you the illusion that you're part of a Hollywood chase sequence. Those of you who won't be carrying your two-wheeler there, do not lose hope. There are auto-rickshaws available to offer you the Corsican experience! Like a dreamer, I indulged in the fantasy of being there in a full-moon night and imaginations those followed spontaneously made me real high...
|Off-season is the perfect time to explore a place especially so if you are a shutterbug.|
Who can beat the whims of nature? The tyrant sky turned cloudy all of a sudden. There were distant roars of cloud. Our lunch was long due. As a matter of fact, the overall dehydration had engulfed our appetite. What choice did I have but to abort our dam-side riding ecstasy! Off-season is the perfect time to explore a place especially so if you are a shutterbug. But, availability of food becomes an issue. Avoiding those roadside food hotels (desperate ones I mentioned earlier) we tried our luck in a decent restaurant. The silly waiting time they threw at us was the clear indication of how disinterested they were to toil in an overcast summer afternoon. The scarcity of good food coupled with the moody gravid sky above compelled us to cancel our food. We went for packaged fruit juices instead before bidding goodbye to Mukutmanipur.
Benu is blessed to be a machine. She doesn't have to lose her patience out of hunger. Human coldness fails to disappoint her. She claims her needs without a tinge of hesitation. Once she gets fueled, she munches miles effortlessly without the slightest bother for weather, terrain or hospitality. Yes there are few areas where she falters and right now I'm too hexed by her spell to highlight those. Safe riding folks. Summer is on. It is very easy to lose patience and engage in a road rage. So, keep calm and ride smart!