Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A visit to Kakolat Waterfalls in Bihar

A visit to Kakolat Waterfalls in Bihar
Once upon a time there was a king. He was arrogant, and definitely a dumb one. He ended up pissing off a Muni (Hindu saint). Yea, that's what idiots do even in movies, right? The Muni was a big shot with super powers. He cursed the king and turned him into a serpent. After living the life of a reptile for quite sometime, the cursed king took an experimental bathe in the water of Kakolat Waterfalls, and guess what... he got rid of the curse and reverted to his native mammalian form! While on parole you're expected to maintain a low profile. But, this king was literally on cloud nine. So, he proclaimed that anyone who would bath in the water of Kakolat will never be reborn as a snake. This is one of the many legends associated with Kakolat Falls, a remote 160 feet high waterfall, sitting beautifully on the lap of Kakolat Hill, located over Bihar-Jharkhand border area, roughly 85 kilometers far from Bodh Gaya. In my travel story on the Barabar Caves, do you remember me mentioning that I was exploring real Bihar on two wheels?
A visit to Kakolat Waterfalls in Bihar
However much I dig such pristine roads, it is undeniable that bad roads highlight poverty of tourist infrastructure.
The ride from Bodh Gaya to Kakolat Waterfalls through NH-82 was comfortable till my wheels touched the variegated tarmac of Akbarpur-Gobindpur Road in the penultimate 12 kilometers of the journey. Sudden transition from a better highway was making the ride feel more miserable. It wasn't psychological either. The road was quite narrow and thoroughly ornamented with deep potholes. If there are potholes on the road, you can try maneuvering your vehicle so as to avoid them, but, when there is a fragmented streak of road meandering through herd of potholes, there's nothing much a driver can do except sharing tears with his beloved engine. The final 5 kilometers were fun to munch though. Wait, I didn't say that the path bettered. As soon as you take the right diversion to catch the Thali-Kakolat Road, you get to experience unadulterated off-roading! Riders who love their machines would ride very slowly so as to minimize the damage and covering this 5+ kilometers can easily take good 30 minutes. The pebbled track is untamed, yet very scenic as it passes through woods and villages. However much I dig such pristine roads, it is undeniable that bad roads highlight poverty of tourist infrastructure. There were evidences of prospective road construction but deadlines seemed to have extincted even before it all started.
A visit to Kakolat Waterfalls in Bihar
You have to ascend a flight of stairs to get a glimpse of the waterfall.
I do not know if it was soon enough but after hauling the bike for good butt-felt period, the path broadened as I arrived in front of the concrete gateway to Kakolat Falls. Crowd was thin I understood, as there was a single SUV in the parking space. You've to ascend a flight of stairs from there to get a glimpse of the waterfall. Renovation of the staircase was in progress and I cautiously made my way up while smelling the familiar jungle air and listening to the sweet burble of the covert stream.
A visit to Kakolat Waterfalls in Bihar
The high water column of the waterfall forms a natural reservoir below where tourists love taking bathes.
As I took the last step, the soothing view of a gurgling Kakolat Falls against the backdrop of stones and mosses captivated my mind. The high water column of the waterfall forms a natural reservoir below where tourists love taking bathes. The water was surprisingly chilled and inviting. I wish I had another pair of clothes! The caretaker further told me that the water of Kakolat Waterfalls get cooler during summer months. Annually, a fair is held at Kakolat for 3 days during the time of Chaitra Sankranti, when countless devotees and tourists from different parts of Bihar flock there to worship the presiding deity and take holy dips. It is believed that the water of Kakolat has medicinal value to cure almost any ailment. Beliefs can't be rationalized and shouldn't be either.
A visit to Kakolat Waterfalls in Bihar
The presiding deity in the form of Goddess Kali looks scary enough to trigger your supernatural fantasies in a moonless night.
Other than me there were hardly 6-7 tourists. I grabbed the caretaker's chair and kept watching the waterfall in her spring time glory. There are a couple (may be more) of hilly trails originating from the side of the temple but those paths have been kept closed for the safety of tourists. The presiding deity in the form of Goddess Kali looks scary enough to trigger your supernatural fantasies in a moonless night. Nearby people prefer this place as their picnic destination and there lies the misery. Plastic wrappers and papers littered the surrounding area like cancer cells in a human body!
A visit to Kakolat Waterfalls in Bihar
Kakolat is neither massive, nor an exquisitely picturesque one.
Although I kept clicking photos of the sparsely populated landscape, lighting conditions weren't really ideal at 11 AM. It was nearing noon and there were other destinations to be covered. As a part of postal department's humble gesture to capture the beauty of few renowned waterfalls of India, postage stamps with the picture of Kakolat Falls were launched in 2003. Kakolat is neither massive, nor an exquisitely picturesque one. But this waterfall has something which words can not describe (may be, the appeal of nature at its crudest form). Pay a visit to Kakolat Waterfalls someday and let me know if you enjoyed being there. Other than driving from Patna or Bodh Gaya, Kakolat is also reachable through its nearest railhead, Koderma. Obviously, winter should be your lucky time to visit. Happy traveling and take good care my friends!
A visit to Kakolat Waterfalls in Bihar
Ascending the stairs while smelling the familiar jungle air & listening to the sweet burble of the covert stream is an experience in itself!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar

Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar
Indian state of Bihar enjoys the mainstream media limelight for myriad issues attached to the region. Yet, touring is definitely not something that captivates a wanderer's mind when 'Bihar' is the keyword. Yea, let's accept that tourism was never Bihar's forte, not even today, despite the frail effort from Bihar Tourism to glorify its scattered gems. But it is our country. We're no guests. We need no invitation, no permission or, guidance to explore our own motherland. To hell with futile optimism of development and better tourism infrastructure! Hoping for a better tomorrow is the lie. Today is the only truth you got. Take out your map, do some web digging, lace up your boots and you're ready for the journey. Incredible India is waiting for you to unravel her mystery at every nook and corner. I found Bihar quite backpacker friendly and so would you. Visiting the Barabar Caves was a part of my motorcycling itinerary to Bodh Gaya this January.
Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar
It was bumpy, dusty and warm. Voila! I was riding through the rural Bihar.
If you ever visited Bodh Gaya and assumed that you have seen quite a bit of Bihar, then it's high time for you to understand- you're yet to explore the real Bihar. In Bodh Gaya there are well maintained, properly labeled roads, adequate transports, plenty of shops and thousands of happy multicolored faces to give you a comforting tourist vibe. Buddy, that picture comes noway closer to the interiors of Bihar, or most other Indian states in that matter. I had taken that motorcycle ride not only to connect another dot on the Buddhist Circuit, but also to get proper glimpses of the neighboring state whose tourism seldom comes in picture despite its abundant sites of tourist interest!
Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar
Although this isn't a series of thousand stairs, elder people might still find the ascent tiring.
Do not ask me how but it is true that Indians have been cutting through rocks, sculpting exquisite pieces of art and architecture since last 2,300 years or more. Still standing Ellora Caves, Ajanta Caves, Badami cave Temples, caves at Mahabalipuram etc are living testament of unparalleled Indian craftsmanship in rock-cut architecture. More than 1,500 rock-cut structures have been discovered in India till date and the Barabar Caves in Bihar is the oldest of them all. Located on a hillock, roughly 43 kilometers away from Bodh Gaya, these caves carry inscriptions which date back to third century BC. Yes, here we're talking of caves hailing from Mauryan Era!
Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar
As soon as you take the last leap you'll be greeted by a mammoth whale-shaped, fenced, stony structure at your left- the Barabar Caves.
I took the SH-4 till Khizersarai and the road didn't give much opportunities to complain either. In the middle of a busy market place at Khizersarai, you have to take a left diversion to get in to Barabar-Panari-Diha Road which will take you to the Barabar Hill through the dried riverbed of Falgu. The last eight kilometers of the journey was through meandering broken roads, pebbled paths, sand beds and dried agricultural lands. It was bumpy, dusty and warm. Voila! I was riding through the rural Bihar. My mobile Internet too had given up its reach. I was smart enough to save the map earlier for 'off line' use. The voice navigation accurately guided me till the foothill of Barabar Caves. Two local guys directed me towards the entrance.
Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar
Inside the Sudama Cave. Look how smooth the wall polish is even after 2,200-2,300 years!
A long semi-broken, railed, concrete stairway originates adjacent to a temple, which will take you up to the level of Barabar Caves. Although this isn't a series of thousand steep stairs, elder people might still find the ascent cumbersome. So, the solution is make hay while the sun shines! As soon as you take the last leap you'll be greeted by a mammoth whale-shaped, fenced stony structure at your left- the Barabar Caves. Four caves (Sudama Cave, Lomas Rishi Cave, Karna Chaupar Cave and Visva Zopri Cave) carved in toughest monolithic granite during the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka's reign to provide shelter to ascetics from the Ajeevika sect, are collectively called Barabar Caves.
Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar
It is only the arch of the doorway of Lomas Rishi Cave which bears designs carved on stone.
Unlike majority of Indian rock-cut architectures, Barabar caves have minimalistic design. Perhaps it is only the arch of the doorway of Lomas Rishi Cave that bears stone carved designs you might be familiar with. Rest of the Barabar caves do not boast of much ornamentation and comprise two dark granite barrel-vaulted chambers each, with extraordinarily polished walls. Even in broad daylight, interior of these caves are so dark that your mobile phone flashlight may surrender and your eyes would require good time to accommodate. Your reflection on the polished inner wall of the cave from the little light source near its entrance is sure to make you wonder about the exceptional prowess and skill of masons of the Mauryan kingdom!
Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar
I climbed on to the top of the caves to get a panoramic view of the vast plain underlying the Barabar Hill.
There are iron gates to block entry to each of these caves and a caretaker cum guide keeps them locked until an enthusiastic tourist drops in. He gave me a guided tour to Barabar Caves, elaborating the history and explaining the architecture associated with these caves. If you stand inside the internal chamber of Lomas Rishi or Sudama Cave and chant 'Om', the reverberation of your 'Om' will momentarily transpose you to a different world of serenity. The acoustic inside Barabar caves responsible for that prolonged echo effect amazed me. The coolness inside made me oblivious of the humidity. I came out of Barabar Caves after a brief survey and let the caretaker leave so that I could photograph the colossal rocky whale at my own sweet pace.
Visit to the Barabar Caves in Bihar
And this is the wide vista as seen from the top of the Barabar Caves.
I climbed on to the top of the caves to get a panoramic view of the vast plain underlying the Barabar Hill. There was another set of caves called Nagarjuna Caves, located 1.5-2 kilometers away from Barabar Caves. My lunch was long due and it was almost evening. Primarily hunger, and secondarily safety concerns pulled me back from heading to Nagarjuna Caves. The only eatery at the base of the Barabar Hill didn't have much options and food was bland if not stale. There's a local police station opposite to the food place, probably to make you feel safe. With heaviness of my fatigued butts and happiness of visiting the oldest rock-cut architecture of India, I left Barabar Caves. Mesmerizing view of the sinking sun over the arid Falgu kept me engrossed for a good part of my return ride to Bodh Gaya. For any traveler visiting Bodh Gaya or Patna, visit to the Barabar Caves can be a worthy day trip for him. Winter would be the ideal season to explore that barren terrain. Soon I'll be blogging about other places of tourist interest near Bodh Gaya. Stay tuned and meanwhile, keep clicking photos on the go.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels (Part 4)

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
This is the final installment as well as continuation of the third part of my motorcycle diary on Murshidabad and Malda. In the penultimate post I had narrated you of my butter-smooth riding experience along the India-Bangladesh road in quest of the historical gems at Gour. I have already acquainted you with the Baradwari Mosque of Gour and now, here I'll introduce you with the remaining monuments of Gour for quenching your historical thirst or simply visual delight.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Dakhil Darwaza.
Dakhil Darwaza This impressive gateway formed the Northern entrance to the fort of Gaur and was possibly built by Barbak Shah. Salutes fired from it also gave it the name Salami Darwaza.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Firoz Minar.
Firoz Minar This tower 25.6 m high with spiral staircase having 73 steps was probably built by Saifuddin Firoz, an Abyssinian who became the Sultan by killing Barbak Shah.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Fath Khan’s Tomb.
Fath Khan’s Tomb Here lies the tomb of Fath Khan, son of Dilwar Khan, Aurangzeb’s General, who was sent by the emperor to kill Saint Shah Niamatullah suspected of advising Sultan Shuja to rebel. On arrival at Gour, Fath Khan is believed to have vomited blood and died on this spot.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Qadam Rasul Mosque.
Qadam Rasul Mosque Remarkable for its highly ornamented bricks, this single domed structure with a square interior and a veranda on three sides was erected by Sultan Nasrat Shah. It enshrined the Prophet’s footprints in stone which now remains with the Khadims at Mahdipur. 
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Lukachuri Gateway.
Lukachuri Gateway This double-storeyed eastern gateway into the inner ramparts of Gour was built by Shah Shuja in 1655 AD and served probably as the royal entrance. Its upper storey was probably used as Naqqarkhana or Drummer’s chamber.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Chika Mosque.
Chika Mosque Containing some carved stones from a Hindu temple and enameled bricks in chronicles, this single domed structure is called a mosque, but probably a mausoleum. Tradition says that it was used as a prison by Sultan Hussain Shah.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Remnant of 22 Yards Wall.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Excavation site where one can see the buried remains of a palace.
22 Yards Wall Only a part of it remains now, which is presently under repair by Archaeological Survey of India’s initiative. In close proximity there is an excavation site where one can see the buried remains of a palace. It is thought that the wall used to fence the excavated royal structures from all the four sides.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Tantipara Mosque.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Lottan Mosque.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Gunmant Mosque.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Kotwali Darwaza at Mohodipur, just on the crossing of Indo-Bangladesh border.
The BSF man on duty was courteous enough to offer me a chair. Sitting there I could see Bangladeshi tourists peeping from the other side to get a glimpse of Indian soil. We had chitchat for sometime. It wasn’t officially permissible but he allowed me to take a snap of the Kotwali Darwaza. Then after half an hour of resting under the shades of tree with that BSF guy I rode back to Malda. It started raining but I didn’t stop, rather kept on pushing with goosebumps over my exposed arms. By 3:15 PM I returned to my den having covered a modest distance of 68 KM. It had to be my daybreak as the remaining portion of the day went uneventful, with me lying most of the time on the bed. Next day, the longest ride of the trip was scheduled!

The caretaker’s repeated banging (yea, not just a knock) of my door woke me up at around 5:10 AM. Slender discontent of failing to start my journey by 5:00 morning didn’t leave my head as I hurried into the bathroom. Bags were reloaded for the one last time of this trip and I zoomed out of the circuit house compound by 6:00 AM. Nothing remarkable occurred throughout my return journey. I kept on riding on rough roads while dipped in the memories of last four days. Each and every day was tiring but at the same time filled to their brim with sense of achievement and gratification.

Relief came in the form of a good road as I took the left turn from NH60. It rained in the middle and made me shiver but who cared! After crossing Dakbangla I got dry weather and a lush green meadow few meters down the road hypnotized my power of decision making. I rested on a plastic sheet over the wet grass gazing the infrequent vehicles passing through the nearby road. I didn’t realize how quickly one hour passed… so had to shake off my infatuation towards nature for that moment. That phase of relaxation helped me to cover the remaining distance. Ultimately, having munched 258 KM I reached Bardhaman at 2:15 afternoon.

Kindly bear with me for one more minute as I would like to add few more lines here. Please don’t judge the potential of Murshidabad and Malda as historical tourist spots by their lack of tourism infrastructure and popularity in media. Just make a travel plan for 3-4 days and get down on the track with your bags. Seeing the road condition I would suggest you to take train route… if you can tolerate little adversity even state transport buses can be second option… and of course cabs for the rest of the tourists who don’t prefer any of the above options. Things are so simple out there that any outsider can easily explore. Locals are mostly cooperative. There are plenty of accommodation and eatery options, so nothing should hinder a traveler. And if you're a motorcyclist- Ride Safe… always Ride with a Helmet… Happy traveling and keep clicking photos on the Go!

If you've missed earlier, checkout all previous parts of this motorcycle diary:
* Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels (Part 1)
* Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels (Part 2)
* Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels (Part 3) 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels (Part 3)

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
This is continuation of the second part of my motorcycle diary on Murshidabad and Malda. The mobile alarm rang at 3:15 AM but failed to knock my eardrums before 3:45 AM. Eventually, I packed my baggage, refueled my stomach with crunchy-dry breakfast and fruit juice, took a fast-forward shower and rolled out my wheels by 5:30 AM. The moment I crossed the bridge and put my to wheels on NH34, the complete picture of the "about to be journey up to Malda" became clear before my eyes. The road was in utter misery throughout the 137 KM stretch! It was dusty due to the passing by bigger giants. Every time a bigger vehicle overtook me or vice versa I had to pass through the curtain of dusty air stitched by their tail as if to cast a spell of blindness to this innocent biker. Mostly you can overtake all the vehicles (even four wheelers) there because all are busy to save their pipes and chambers from breakage.

Only threat was the state transport buses… they drive real fast, committed to overtake everyone on their way and not to brake at any circumstance. You may see there’s no vehicle at your mirror in first instant… within a second or two you’ll probably find a red & black bus flying towards you! Whenever I faced such instances, I always got down the road and respectfully made way for the hauling monster (Here I’m criticizing their mannerism from a motorcyclist's point of view, but we shouldn’t forget that whenever we need to travel to any place we always put a Gov. bus as our first preference next to train, due to their fast service).
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Farakka Bridge.
I started feeling cramps of hunger inside my belly, so stopped in front of a dhaba just before Farakka. It was impossible to rest there much longer due to my growing impatience of reaching the destination. I reached Farakka bridge. Unaware of the restrictions, wanted to take some photos… but the police men in duty came running to kill my zeal… then I could see the prohibition notice… there speed limit is 20 KM/hr… so, other than few other bikes, all biggies were going decent making my ride easier… not much easier though… because the road over the bridge was so damn broken! After crossing the bridge and coming away safe distance from the policemen I took out my camera and captured a partial image of the Farakka bridge whatever was visible from that distance... call it my moral poverty.

It was the great festive day of Ramzan Id, so faced a huge crowd clad in white clothes and religious caps around Sujapur. It was not easy to penetrate the dense gathering of celebrators for a couple of kilometers along the national highway… Cutting through the traffic jam, lakhs of Id festive makers and millions of potholes, reached Malda by 10:30 AM and searched for my pre-booked guest house- Gour Bhavan (at Mongolbari). The room there was too big for the poor AC to cool… I had to drag the couch near its vent and stretched my body before taking a much needed bathe.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
My first day accommodation at Malda- Gour Bhavan at Mongolbari.
I readied myself by 1:45 afternoon and rode towards Pandua. Well throughout this travelogue you’re reading of “bad” roads, so here I won’t speak the same once more, simply a single sentence will make your idea clear about this road- while driving to Pandua I was thinking, if this is not the hell then how bad the hell would be! Throughout the stretch it was pathetic. On reaching the guest house, for once the idea of extending my trip to Raiganj to avail the chance of visiting beautiful Kulik Bird Sanctuary was germinating in my determination but when I came to know that the road going to Pandua was the same highway to travel Raiganj, my balloons of desire splattered like pulpy tomatoes under the truck wheels! Finally the monuments of Pandua and Adina soothed my injured soul with their majestic exquisiteness. 
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Eklakhi Mausoleum.
Eklakhi Mausoleum This massive mausoleum with a lofty dome was probably built by Raja Ganesh or Kans whose son Jadu converted to Islam, became the Sultan of Bengal under the name of Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah. It costed one lakh rupees and hence the name ‘Eklakhi’. The stone members of earlier structures were utilized in it. Its facades are rightly ornamented with carved bricks. Inside it lie the tombs of Jalaluddin, his wife and his son.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Golden Mosque at the background.
Golden Mosque This doubled isled mosque with ten domes and corner turrets was erected in the honor of Saint Nur Qutub-Ul-Alam by Makhdum Sheikh, a descendent and a follower of the saint.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Adina Mosque.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Beautiful interior of Adina Mosque.
Adina Mosque Built by Sultan Sikandar Shah, Adina Mosque is the largest Islamic monument in the whole of Bengal. It consists of a large rectangular courtyard surrounded by rows of arched and domed bays, an impressive nave along with beautifully decorated mihrab and pulpit. 
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Adina Deer Park can be a point of interest for birdwatchers too!

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Myriad deer types grazing at Adina Deer Park.
Adina Deer Park It was so ecstatic to ride through the forest road amidst green and green. Some immature tourists who shout at the flock of deer are sure to dishearten you. But again, ‘ape to man’ evolution can be remembered and felt sympathetic about the fact that there are souls among us who are yet to cross that phase of transformation, God help them! Thousands of chirping birds are sure to still the show.

By 7:00 evening, having throttled 195 KM in the whole day, I came back to my rest house in Malda to quit the day gracefully. Next day too many marvelous structures were to be seen at Gour… but before that I had to leave Gour Bhavan and occupy a room in the New circuit house (at Mogdompur) as I couldn’t manage to get a booking there for 1st September. Had a sumptuous Bengali dinner and kept on scanning through the Google-map till I fell asleep. I woke up slightly before the sunrise, packed my luggage and rode to New Circuit House. There the caretaker turned out to be a better early riser than me, so thing became easier… freshened up, had some breakfast and started my journey for Gour by 7:40 AM.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
My accommodation for the second day at Malda- New Circuit House at Mogdompur.
After I crossed few kilometers from Malda and took the left turn for Gour, the road condition changed like a magic… The butter-smooth road seduced my rational mind very soon and I rode in crazy speed the entire extent, partly not to miss the chance in a good road, and hugely to shed off all the frustrations I had accumulated so far in the whole trip due to worst possible highways! In 10-15 minutes I entered Gour to get absorbed in its opulence.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Baradwari Mosque.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
With the arcaded aisle of its corridor, this mosque is indeed the most impressive building of Gour!
Baradwari Mosque It is more popularly known as “Barasona Masjid”. With the arcaded aisle of its corridor, this mosque is indeed the most impressive building of Gour, built by Sultan Nasrat Shah. It is called Baradwari, a building with twelve doors, but has only eleven openings. Its corridor is domed but the three aisled hall is now dome-less, although its domes, originally gilded gave its name the ‘Great Golden Mosque’.


Hold on, my exploration of Murshidabad and Malda on two wheels is not yet over! So, click here to explore the final part of this series.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels (Part 2)

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
This is continuation of the first part of my motorcycle diary on Murshidabad and Malda. My second day started at 6:45 AM with stiff and painful arms. It was the gift of Jumbo cool mode of the cooling imp which affected the fatigued muscles. The moment I got down from bed… Ouch… one of my right toes ached like anything… Gosh there was a shoe-sore! I needed to bandage it to be able to put on my shoes and walk freely. Having taken some dry-fruits breakfast, by 8:00 AM I made my way out for Lalbagh once again.

My plan for the day was to cross the river at Lalbagh to reach Khoshbagh, then from there take the road to Azimganj through the villages, hopping over a few places of interest on the way, to reach Baranagar which is approximately 3 KM from Azimganj, visit the beautiful temples there, come back to Azimganj to cross the river to reach Jiaganj, visit Jain temple, come back to Lalbagh by road to visit the remaining spots which I couldn’t cover the last evening and finally to return back to Behrampur (Ah I just said my whole day plan in a single breath!). My motorcycle had to be carried by a boat again, but by this time my mind had got conditioned to such mode of transportation. Might be I was loving it.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Khoshbagh.
Khoshbagh It means “the garden of happiness”, the burial ground of the last Nawabs of Bengal. In the center of a large walled compound, there is a square shade with three enclosures, on a big platform. Inside the enclosure, the cemetery of Nawab Ali Vardi Khan and his grandson Siraj-Ud-Daula are located. There is also a mosque and small burial ground for female members of Nawab Family.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Tomb of Shuja Uddin Khan.
Tomb of Shuja Uddin Khan The place is also called Roshinibagh, i.e- the garden of lights, hosts the mosque erected by Shuja Uddin Khan. There his tomb lies nearby. You’ll find this on the route to Azimganj from Khoshbagh.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Jagadbandhu Dham.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Charbangla Temple.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
The decorative themes which vary are mainly derived from Hindu epics and puranas.
Charbangla Temple After crossing Azimganj, I had to ride for few more kilometers to reach Baranagar. The road between Azimganj and Baranagar is too narrow, broken and fully dominated by mechanized rickshaw vans. The path gets tolerable only near the temples. These temples lie on the bank of river Bhagirathi. These four temples enclosing a small courtyard were built by Rani Bhavani of Natore. Each temple has three arched openings and three Shiva Lingas. Richly decorated, their facades illustrate the best in the ornamental brickwork of Bengal. The Eastern temple is decorated with delicate plaster work. The decorative themes which vary are mainly derived from Hindu epics and puranas.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Bhavanisvar Temple.
Bhavanisvar Temple The pious and charitable Rani Bhavani of Natore who passed the later days of her life in this village built this temple with several others. Dedicated to Siva and remarkable for its height and unusual style it is an octagonal structure with domed interior and a corridor with sloping roof. In many places, it still retains the original ornamentation on plaster.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Rambagh, a Jain temple.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Dadasthan Temple.

Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
A new temple was under construction near the old Dadasthan Temple.
Dadasthan Temple After visiting Rambagh I went back to Azimganj to cross the river and reach Jiaganj which lies just opposite to it. It was not hard to locate Dadasthan temple (another Jain temple) but on reaching there the caretaker pointed to a board where the entry time was written (7:30-10:00 AM and 4:00-5:00 PM), where as that time my clock showed fifteen to twelve. Rule is a rule… what could I do… I couldn’t afford to wait till four evening, so made a last self rescue attempt. I humbly informed that aged man that I’d been traveling from Bardhaman, all alone, on a two wheeled caterpillar. This information seemed to have molten him and he opened the gate sympathetically for the poor devotee. Finished visiting the temple had small chitchat and thanksgiving with the caretaker and few more staffs there and then throttled my way to Lalbagh as planned before.
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Motijhil Jama Mosque.
Motijhil Jama Mosque After reaching Lalbagh, I took a gentleman’s help to locate this mosque. It was founded by Nawab Md Nowajesh Ali Khan in 1750 AD. 
Exploring Murshidabad and Malda on Two Wheels
Motijhil Lake.
Motijhil It is a horse-shoe shaped lake just adjacent to the above mosque.

I was full with whatever I had seen and done till now, so headed back to Berhampur at around 2:30 PM. I had practically lost my appetite under the sun… so settled with lassi and caffeine drinks before jumping onto the bed. Although I couldn’t extract a proper afternoon doze and the pain had started spreading to shoulder and finger joints, the encroaching evening air created a feeling of guilt against my resting desire. I had to leave the room with my camera and wallet by 6:00 evening. Having met the Range officer while going out, I inquired him about the room charge for two days. He hesitantly informed me of the recent steep hike in their tariff. I was not happy indeed but had to maintain my courtesy. He was nice enough to give me a little discount on the total. But again he was nagging enough to repeatedly advice me not to ride to Malda on a bike, rather I should take the train! I never argue when I’m in any tour, so thanked him and rode to a petrol pump.

There was such a big queue of two wheelers that it made me feel pity for the local bikers. My turn came in almost good 18 minutes. Soon I rushed towards the river bank to watch people running for boats under the glow of yellow neon light. I was pleased to take some night shots and ride few kilometers along the river bank road. What was more pathetic from a tourist's point of view was the worst condition of the entire road along the bank of the river specially in comparison to the roads in the other parts of the city. I went for some small purchases where the shopkeeper got shocked to hear that I was going to Malda the following morning on two wheels. Having finished my dinner I came back to my room.

65+ KM in the whole day was a sweet dessert for this biker. Warning of so many guys against my desire to ride up to Malda was still floating in my mind. Anyhow I had to fall dead asleep… because next day could be a tough day (You never know!). So, Click Here to check out the Next Part of this ride story.