Monday, April 24, 2017

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal

Finally, a time comes when you manage to free yourself from the shackles of monotony and puff out an extended sigh. But before you resume your normal breathing, what is that one portrait which captures your mindscape? For me, few important elements of that liberating picture are- the ‘Vroom’ of my motorcycles, ‘Click’ of my camera shutter and of course, the ethereal call of some unknown soil. This motorcycle diary dates back to 25th June, 2011. My only pony used to be a Bajaj Discover 125 back then. I wanted to ride along the beaches of Bengal which was demanding a complete week. Ouch, luck returned me a disdainful smile when my leave application got rejected at the climax of a much fantasized trip! Thus my well-planned twenty days vacation got truncated to a bad joke of three. But I refused to sit back and doze like a panda.

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
Tall greeneries at two sides were real comfort to our eyes.

As I Googled for places nearby Bardhaman, Indiamike travel forum came to my quick help. The old town of Bishnupur with its widely acclaimed terracotta architectures topped the destination shortlist. Bishnupur, renowned for its exquisite terracotta temples, illustrious terracotta crafts and the gorgeous Baluchari Sarees made of Tussar silk, is a town in Bankura district in the state of West Bengal. A quick web-search can fetch you a lot of information about the rich history of this temple town. Owing to its significance as a tourist destination it is nicely connected via roads to almost all major places of Bengal. There are regular and frequent bus services available between Kolkata and Bishnupur, which roughly takes 4-5 hours. This place is also connected by rail to the rest of India via Kharagpur and Bankura. Once you reach Bishnupur, you better hire an auto-rickshaws or cycle-rickshaws, though I personally would prefer the later option due to its sluggish pace that enables your eyes to record the details of the town and its people better.

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
We came across a group of elephants near a place called Kotulpur.

Luckily, my brother agreed to join me for the day ride to Bishnupur. As a routine ritual, last night I had packed my backpack before going to bed. The 4 AM alarm was anything but comforting. There was mild drizzle, so we couldn’t commence our ride before 05:45 AM. The sky was clouded and I could sense the pleasing collision of tiny drops of rain over my face and forearms. Unless you’re commuting for office, or an allergy-prone individual you love getting mildly wet… don’t you? We crossed Krishak Setu over the river Damodar and took the truck-congested Arambagh Road. We were never in hurry and kept mopping miles over the narrow yet nice state highway. What a bliss, there were no dust and smoke of big vehicles due to the wet atmosphere around us! What could be a better token of love from your lady luck when you are riding on a two-way road? Soon we reached Arambagh, and it was time to take the diversion to Bankura-Bishnupur road.

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
Bishnupur is renowned for its exquisite terracotta temples and illustrious terracotta crafts!

Now it was the time for some woes as the road condition changed for bad. You can find a smooth span of 100-200 meters of tarmac, and suddenly a big trench (yea I really mean a trench)! The message is: be steady and watch out for ugly potholes. If you’re planning to drive your four-wheeler then you have to be twice slower, provided you love your machine. We came across a group of elephants near a place called Kotulpur. My brother spotted them first and showed me. I took out the camera and clicked few shots while passing by them gently. Our pony was no larger than a toy before those royal creatures. Due to some unknown reason, men riding those tuskers seemed displeased with my photography zeal. I couldn’t take the risk of annoying them and signaled my brother to speed up.

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
Inside the Rasmancha.

Gradually we entered the forest road of Joypur. The road became butter smooth once again. Tall greeneries at two sides were real comfort to our eyes. Although the sun had come up the air was still cool. We came to know from a local guy that one can spot deer in the early morning on that road. We reached our destination by 09:30 AM. The trip-meter was showing a satisfying reading of “100” kilometers. I got down and inquired the directions of the places in my list. A veteran came to our aid. He was unexpectedly helpful and information rich. I listened to that nice man until he was satisfied with his guiding endeavor. Then we covered different places of tourist interest at Bishnupur, one by one. Here I won’t elaborate each spot, because I believe, wanderers in general are not so thirsty for the background history. Rather they are more concerned with the visual appeal. Obviously I’m not talking of those serious group of travelers who don’t miss out any single chronology.

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
Dalmadal Canon.

Outside the Mrinmayee Temple we took double glasses of Lassi and came to know that tourists usually start gathering there from the Dussehra month. I was extremely happy to find the place almost tourist-free. In the entire trip we had to purchase tickets twice- once a Rs 5 ticket from Archaeological Survey of India for visiting three temples under their care (Jor Bangla temple, Temple of Shyamrai and Rasmancha), and another 5 rupees ticket for Lalgarh Nature Park. We covered thirteen places before the afternoon clock struck two. A couple of places were yet to be explored, like- a museum, Nutan Mahal etc. But we were left with no energy to push farther.

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
Jorbangla Temple.

Brother wanted to freshen up in a hotel to get rid of the dust and sweat over his skin. But I knew once we enter a hotel and take shower nothing would better cloud our decision than a cat nap which eventually shall delay our return ride indefinitely. So I swapped my cap with his helmet and zoomed out of Bishnupur. On reaching Joypur, we found a manageable roadside restaurant ‘Banalata Restaurant’, adjacent to a vehicle exhaust analysis center. There you can have your lunch in air-conditioned cabins by paying few extra bucks. Expect semi-decent Chinese and North Indian dishes, along with common Bengali cuisines. Pricing was OK. We had our lunch, sipped coke, and rode back to Bardhaman in a post lunch idle mood.

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
Radhashyam Temple.

Having munched 217 kilometers in the odo, we returned back to our place by 5 in the evening. I stopped by River Damodar to capture few quick snaps and conclude our road trip. As a bottom line note I must say, squeeze out some time, rekindle your traveling spree and head out for Bishnupur. You don’t have to plan anything in particular. You’ll be touched by the simplicity and down to earth nature of locals. When you are at Bishnupur, every time you breath in, you urban conditioned soul will be rejuvenated by the relaxing aroma of rural Bengal. Finding an accommodation won’t be an issue. I would recommend a 2 days stay to make your trip more effortless and absorbing.

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
Rasmancha.

Folks, do you make it a point to put on your helmet while riding two-wheelers? If not, then you should be seriously ashamed of your riding behavior. You’re not only risking your life but also peace of your dependent ones. A helmet not only safeguards your invaluable head from road trauma but also protects your eyes, face and ears from the effect of dust. Do not apply your cost-cutting ideas while purchasing a helmet. Always go for a robust one from reputed manufactures. Nothing can be worse than a helmet breaking into pieces after a collision and its sharp parts piercing into the scalp of the unfortunate rider! I support CEAT whole-heartedly for taking this initiative in promoting road safety. Apart from wearing a proper helmet, few safety measures which every rider should stick to are:

- Check your tyre pressure periodically and maintain the optimum pressure as recommended by the manufacturer. Remember, slightly under-inflated tyres are safer than overinflated ones.
- Avoid abrupt changing of lanes on a highway. Do so with proper turn indicator on.
- Respect other drivers, riders and pedestrians on your way.
- Engrave it in your mind that driving is a privilege, and by no means it is your right!

A Ride to Bishnupur - the Terracotta gallery of Bengal
I stopped by River Damodar to capture few sunset snaps and conclude our road trip.


(I’m chronicling my road trip adventure for CEAT Tyres in association with BlogAdda.)

4 comments:

  1. Enjoyed going through your blog. I include it my to visit place next time I plan a visit to Bengal

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely my pleasure!
      If possible, plan your trip in winter months. Bishnupur is quite warm :-)

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  2. Lovely post Anunoy. It's great to virtually visit these places. The Jorbangla temple, Rasmancha temple, and Rasmancha all seem so different compared to the temples I've visited though they don't seem in good shape.
    And it's good you're encouraging bikers to wear helmets.

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    Replies
    1. That's really encouraging Vibha!
      Ah... about promoting road safety, however bad it sounds, I'm least optimistic. If someone wants to die a petty death despite knowing its cons, there's hardly anything left to enlighten such fellow. As I already mentioned in this post, till we accept the fact- "driving is a privilege, and by no means it is your right", our road accident statistics are not going to take any downward curve :-(

      Delete

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