Bolpur is far away from the flashy buzz-a three and a half hours drive from Kolkata, India. We were on a trip to a village – Panchshoa, Bolpur for the Holi (festival of colors) celebration. We took the Durgapur Expressway (NH 2). This motor able route is exceptionally smooth & we had a glitch free travel. The four lane dividers are beautifully landscaped. The route had an extensive paddy farm land and the hues of green on either side looked magnificent! The enchantments included many other small observations, like the bullock carts, mud huts, cow dung cakes, etc. The greenery was flourishing as we were nearing our destination.
“There, can you see the Tata Building?” Manhawar, our driver pointed at the huge deserted land. We were taken aback by the stretch and its vastness. The infamous Singur is significantly a huge barren land we crossed by. The gigantic Tata building lies abandoned. It is the disputed land of Tata Nano project. What a waste!
Shaktigarh was our tea break, a famed stopover popularly known for “langcha”, a sweet meat made of fresh cottage cheese.
We watched the orange haze casting over the nearby trees with a glowing light on the horizon. A warm sensation splashed onto my face from the beaming rays of the setting sun. We finally reached our destination through muddy and dusty road. On arriving, we were transported to a different place altogether. The surroundings dazzled with lightings and all preparations were on for the big occasion – Holi that was on the very next day. We were welcomed by cousins and relatives.
As we tried to settle down and relax, within half an hour tea with puffed rice and some yummy fries were served. Eat like locals with locals as they say.
The huge area of land, consisting of the main building is my hubby’s cousin’s house. It has a rajbari (palatial) look. Just beside the Rajbari (as I call) is the temple of Radha-krishna along with a shiv mandir and opposite is the temple of Shinghabahini (Durga) with a podium on both sides. A part of the temple area is the guest house and just opposite is the area where hay is stacked from the recent harvest. Basically, the family owns a huge farmland where rice is grown in abundance. Adjacent to it is a community kitchen and a dining hall. The stage was already set and the evening saw some soulful numbers by some local baul singers. This continued till late at night.
Early next morning, the temple reverberated with Rabindra Sangeet accompanied by the beats of drums. Some 12 dhakis (drummers) were gloriously drumming in majestic rhythm bringing a typical festive aura. What amused me were the decorative drums and the number. I’ve never seen so many dhakis at a time, not even in Durga puja celebrations.
It was after 11.00 a.m. the pujas started and soon after, the head priest applied abir (color) on everybody’s forehead. The festival of colors came alive.
Evening saw some wonderful music by Shantinekatan students performing dance drama and the likes. The ground was filled with all village folks from young to very old. This continued till the wee hours.
Food was exceptionally sumptuous all through our stay. Dinner on “Holi ” night was just awesome. The menu was tastefully set with crunchy fish fry and salad to start with, followed by lobster curry dipped in coconut milk, mutton curry steaming out of the serving bowl and an array of vegetarian food & desserts to wrap up. Not forgetting a pint of the best scotch whiskey and many other I don’t know drinks( i don’t drink 🙂 ) for some, to honor the celebration before diving to the dinner table.
To wind up, we set out to Shobuj Bon (Green jungle) the next morning. The entrance made me feel very excited. It had a rugged pathway. A flash of memories of our jungle adventures came back. The owner, a bald headed middle aged man greeted us and we made rounds to the 120 acres of land cover. The amazing part was the variety of flowering plants that were carefully handpicked to landscape the property – noteworthy natural attraction. As we explored, we came across few thatched houses. It is a Jungle Resort as well. We met few tourists here and their experience was good. “If you want a real jungle experience, this place delivers”, said one of them.You are sure to love the exotic and once in a lifetime experience of staying inside the jungle. Where the heat, humidity, and discomforts, this place can be met with considerable comfort. Perhaps this will be my next destination very soon.