Friday, September 9, 2016

A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal (Part 3)

A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
This is continuation of the second post on my motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal and here we'll resume the story from the third day. The darkness cleared off eventually exposing a lighter sky above the Bakkhali Beach, but it seemed Apollo had something else in His mind! Gradually some more tourists gathered near me who didn’t look much bothered about missing the sunrise. I clicked the sea in different lighting conditions, clicked people around me, quadruped animals whoever strolled around and returned for my morning tea when I got tired of my unfruitful wait. The tea maker lady told that apparently there was no sunrise the day before as well due to overcast condition… Oh that means I didn’t really miss anything due to my sleep! We had plenty of beaches to cover in our trip… that meant many more opportunities to enjoy a sunrise over the sea… what a big deal?

We checked out of our hotel by 8:30 AM. The bread-omelet we had taken with morning tea was sufficient to let us skip our breakfast and reach Kakdwip quite soon. Few more kilometers from there, we reached Lot No. 8 of Harwood ferry point from where we had to take a vessel to cross the 3.5 kilometers of Hooghly river (Muriganga creek) to reach Kachuberia jetty (entry point of of Sagar Island).
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
Southernmost tip of Sagar Island is called Gangasagar which is heart of religious interest to the pilgrims.
It took half an hour. We saw enormous electric posts/towers carrying electric supply from the mainland to the island. The large, densely populated island Sagardwip is a famous Hindu pilgrimage site where every year in mid-January (on Makar Sankranti) over five lakhs of Hindu pilgrims assemble to take a holy dip at the confluence of river Ganges and Bay of Bengal followed by prayer in the Kapil Muni Temple. By 10:30 AM we touched the island at its north at Kachuberia from where one can get plenty of cabs to hire or public bus service to travel 30-35 kilometers distance to reach the southernmost tip of the island called Gangasagar which is the heart of religious interest to the pilgrims.

We cruised along the well maintained metaled road (though full of speed-breakers) in between ample greenery of which bamboo plants seemed to have taken the lead role… crossed a number of villages to reach Gangasagar. We didn’t leave the main road till it ended into the beach area… it started drizzling and we didn’t have any backup information of accommodation options in the island. Suddenly I noticed an Ashram building on our right… Oh hurray, it was written ‘Omkarnath Panthanivas’, i.e. a sure shot lodging option! I thanked God for the instant help and entered into the Ashram compound. The Babaji in the office wrote my particulars in his guest register and handed me the room key and the donation receipt with a pacific smile. I had read before about the high incidence of snakebite in the island… but Babaji diluted our fear by confirming that a snake won’t usually climb up to the first floor where our room was allotted… What a consolation!
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
Seashore was dirty, full with dogs, crows, devotes, Pandits, remains of rituals and even fecal matter scattered diffusely!
There was no arrangement of food in the Ashram and one of the staffs told that he’ll be cooking dinner for us if more guests arrive by evening. We left our luggage, changed clothes and rode for Kapil Muni Temple. The actual format is to take a bathe in the holy water and then visit the temple but we did the opposite… after all it’s the ‘Bhakti’ that matters, not rituals (see, how nicely human beings justify their acts!). The Kapil Muni Temple was being renovated… so all what we could see were naked bricks and bamboos… luckily there was a priest before the idol where we could offer our Puja. Obliging some beggars outside the temple we marched towards the beach.

The seashore was dirty, full with dogs, crows, devotes, Pandits, remains of rituals and even fecal matter scattered diffusely. Dogs and crows are in abundance as devotes who worship on the beach feed them after their religious affairs. From the locals, later I came to know that they are disgusted by such ‘feeding animals & earning Karma’ policy of Hindu devotes as it causes unwanted interference of those over pampered creatures to their daily chores. The look of the sacred water changed my outlook about taking the holy dip and I refrained myself even from a head bath when a dog went few meters down the sea and completed his toilet work in a jiffy!
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
Presiding deity at the Kapil Muni Temple, Gangasagar.
I enjoyed clicking frames containing devotes offering prayers through priests or taking a dip with utmost devotion. While coming out of the sand we came across a beggar who was also the victim of polio. I wanted to take a portrait snap but from somewhere the feeling of ‘being from the same burial ground’ saddened my heart and left the place offering him a change… I really couldn’t afford the same luxury of a western shutterbug. We rode to see the lighthouse but the security guard informed that the entry of tourists is prohibited in the complex… what we could see was the dilapidated jetty and the security man there narrated the story of the furious waves who were the culprits for the scene. He pointed towards a ship distant away on the sea named ‘Ma Ganga’ who regulates the movement of other ships in that route.
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
The right protocol is to take a bathe in the holy water and then visit the Kapil Muni Temple.
Our lunchtime had already got extended and we didn’t want to delay any farther, so rode back to Gangasagar and took meal with Ilish fish. There food options are really limited (unless it’s fair time) and basic, so you’ve to cope up with the supply. Again we turned into good cats and ran to our ashram for a nap. I parted with my bed somehow to catch the sunset in the divine land. The beach looked the same… just that crowd had thinned out a bit. Sun was till then bright enough to blind my eye on direct contact… slowly the intensity softened and I was getting ready with my gear for some long desired shots. The big ball was coming down, but instead of coming down to horizon it went behind a gray cloud like a coin entering the shirt pocket… all I could see and click were diffuse colors of setting (subject being vanished from frame!) sun and some silhouettes… I was disappointed, itchy but option-less.
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
All I could see and click were diffuse colors of the setting sun and some silhouettes.
The day offered nothing much after that… tea in the roadside stall… sitting in our ashram balcony in the complete darkness of power-cut… listening to evening arati from far away and nearby temples… smelling some obnoxious odor of bidi smoke coming from the neighborhood balcony and getting hypnotized by the soothing breeze were all those followed. We rode to the bus park to finish our dinner and ended the day with a ‘feel good’ factor of sleeping in an island, listening to the sound of raindrops toppling on leaves and unknowingly dreaming about snakes!

The following day, it was five in the morning when I walked out of my room to find the ashy sky over the sea from our balcony… again there was no hope for any visible rising sun but I was getting used to it… it was high time that I realized the real shade of a post-monsoon trip… no expectation… no frustration… it got that simple! We walked down the beach before leaving the island. It was amusing playing hide & seek with countless red crabs who had dug countless holes in the sand and over apprehensive of us approaching them for innocent photography.
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
It was amusing playing hide & seek with countless red crabs!
Walking to one extreme side of the Gangasagar beach we found a fleet of fishing boats anchored to the shore and soon it was easy losing my mind to the intoxicating wind and the cradling motion of the resting fishing boats. Oh, the raindrops broke the code of conduct to bring me back to my sense! We moved to a tea stall and cherished evergreen Parle-G with hot tea. We shared our biscuits with some common myna birds sheltered under the same thatched roof. There was a Hanuman Temple just beside our Ashram which we discovered after the tea session. I prayed Hanumanji for our safe ride and returned to our room for getting ready for the next destination.
A Motorcycling affair along the Bay of Bengal
I clicked the sea in different lighting conditions, clicked people, animals whoever strolled around.


Click here to know where we headed after that. i.e. the continuing part...

6 comments:

  1. You ARE on Twitter.. jantam na...following you (in the hope that you would follow me back as you are a nice person. Please don't disappoint a lady :-( )

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    1. You'll find me in a lot more place than you can think of (assuming from my cropped B&W DP) :-P
      Followed you back... Yo :-D

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