Category Archives: Memories

DEULTI – THE HOME OF SARAT CHANDRA CHATTOPADHYAY


Deulti, a village 50 kms from Kolkata, leads to Samtaber which is the abode of famous Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay was a Bengali novelist and short story writer of the early 20th century. Most of his works deal with the lifestyle, tragedy and struggle of the village people and the contemporary social practices that prevailed in Bengal. He remains the most popular, translated, and adapted Indian author of all time.

His house was constructed in the year 1923 by a local worker named Gopal Das and it cost a sum of ₹17,000. He stayed here for twelve years before moving to Calcutta.

The house and his belongings are still kept as is. The rooms, the courtyard, the staircase, the balcony – each and every corner of the house takes us back in time.

This two-storied Burmese-style house onlooking the Rupnarayan river, was also home to Sarat Chandra’s second wife, Hironmoyee Debi, and his brother, Swami Vedananda.

Parts of the house was damaged in the 1978 West Bengal floods.

The Zilla Parishad repaired the house, and it was declared a heritage-historical site under the West Bengal Heritage Commission Act (IX) of 2001.

Trees such as bamboo and guava planted by the novelist still stand in the gardens surrounding the house.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s works such as Devdas, Baikunther Will, Dena Paona, Datta, and Nishkriti among others were serialised during his stay here. He also wrote Ramer Sumati and Mahesh among others during his stay in the house. We can also see the guava tree in his garden which has also found a place in his book Ramer Sumoti.

Green agricultural fields, temples, village houses by the Rupnarayan river and the house of famous Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay – that’s all what Deulti has to offer. A perfect blend of history and rural Bengal!

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Kumara Parvatha Trek


Pushpagiri or Subramanya Hills (also referred as Kumara Parvatha) is the second-highest peak in Kodagu and also fourth highest peak in Karnataka.

It is located amid the jungle and has two base points for starting the trek. The Eastern entrance can be reached from Beedehalli via Heggademane temple and the Western entrance from Kukke Subramanya via Girigadde. Our plan was to start from the Girigadde side and come back before it gets dark, even if we don’t make it to the summit as we didn’t want to camp overnight inside the forest.

We reached Subramanya village in the afternoon and decided to start the trek early morning next day. We set ourselves a target of completing 34 kms in 12 hours and getting back to the base on the same day.

It was 5:50 AM and raining very heavily. We were all set with our raincoats on and bags filled with fruits, energy bars and water. We started walking through the cemented road, which is the initial part of the trail. After walking for around 2 kms we reached a small gated entrance, which marks the beginning of the forest. None of the rain gods were on our side. It felt like they were taking out their wrath on the forest. Inspite of being in our raincoats, we got fully drenched within the first few minutes of our climb.

Forest Trail

Forest Trail

Forest Trail

The 2-3 kms of jungle felt like it was never ending. The forest was dense and full of leeches. We tried to get rid of them, but invited more of them in the process. All our efforts of staying away from them were in-vain. The presence of leeches added to the difficulty level of the already treacherous jungle trail. It took us almost three hours to cross the jungle and reach Bhattara Mane.

Bhattara Mane

Bhattara Mane is the house of the Bhatts, which is the only house within the jungle. Most trekkers seek shelter at Bhattara Mane after hours of trekking through the forest. This is also the last point in the trail where one can camp overnight. The forest check-post also lies few meters away from this point. One has to get permission from the forest check-post before continuing further.

Trail Beginning

We rested for a while at Bhattara Mane, got permission from the forest office and continued trekking. The trail from here on is less difficult than the forest stretch. It mostly has inclined grasslands and green meadows. We had planned to continue with our ascent till noon as we wanted to be back before it gets dark. We assumed that the jungle would get dark early in the evening as the forest was very dense. It being the month of August, the jungle was at its densest form as it was the peak of monsoon season.

Pushpagiri Hills

After crossing the forest check-post we crossed a few peaks, trekked for another couple of hours and decided to make our way downwards. We didn’t make it to the Kumara Parvatha peak as getting down safely before it gets dark was our first priority.

Pushpagiri Hills

We trekked for 12 hours continuously with few pauses here and there. It was very foggy and rained very heavily throughout the day, which made it grueling for us to reach the peak.

Pushpagiri Hills

We almost got lost while returning back as we spotted multiple paths for getting down the hill. Those paths were not visible to us during our way up due to heavy fog. We wandered away through some other trails for sometime and had to trace back the route till Bhattara Mane and start afresh.

Pushpagiri Hills

The trail seemed endless and felt like being stuck in some loop. But we didn’t stop and finally, we were back to the base around 6:15 PM with no energy left and full of leech bites on our legs.

It was a once in a lifetime experience to be able to spend 12 hours of time inside such a dense and dangerous forest, amidst mother nature and coming back safely to the humdrum of city life.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Torna Fort Trek


After my last hill-fort trek experiences of Lohagad and Sinhagad during the summers of 2016, I was keen to witness the scenic Sahyadris during the monsoons this time.

10:00 AM, 17th July 2019: It was a rainy Wednesday morning and we were standing at Velhe, the base village for the Torna Fort trek. It being a weekday, we were not expecting much of a crowd and our expectations didn’t disappoint.

We started the climb in our raincoats, with water-bottles and some snacks in our backpacks. It was raining on and off. It is not at all recommended to trek Torna during the monsoons unless you are an expert trekker. We were not sure about our expertise, but decided to give it a try. As the saying goes, “You never know until you try”.

The Torna trail is not one of those where you should go unplanned. If you are serious about making it to the top, you should at-least have some basic idea of what to expect from the trek.

Initially the trek starts like a normal walk amidst the trees and the slope gets steeper as you progress. The starting phase of the trek has red soil which gets muddy and slippery during rain. Small granular stones on the track make it slippery and difficult to maintain continuous balance.

Initial phase of the trek

Once you have crossed this area, then comes the most difficult part of the trek. The rocky part, which is more difficult and slippery if you are climbing during rain. There are railings installed at some places to help us with the grip. One just can’t climb through these rocks without holding onto any support. According to me this was the most challenging part of the trek.

Some places on the trek demands hundred percent of your focus where you can’t afford to be careless for a bit. It was very foggy and misty all along. Nothing more than a distance of fifty meters was visible, making it very difficult to predict the remaining climb to be covered.

We went on with the flow and helped each other on the climb. After an hour and twenty minutes, we reached Bini Darwaja, which is the entrance to the fort. Once you are in the fort, it is somewhat like a a flat top. But it remained slippery due to the rain. I slipped flat on the ground there after having covered all the difficult parts successfully. Kinda embarrassing to be honest.

We were happy to reach the top so quickly as we had read about others reaching the top in 2-3 hours. Reaching the top was difficult, but getting down through this slippery rocky slope was going to be a different challenge altogether.

Budhla Machi and Zunjar Machi are the two most important points inside the fort. Machis are like watch towers, which are the most important vantage points on any fort. Budhla Machi connects Torna Fort to Rajgad Fort through the Kokan Darwaja, which is a separate trek of 14 kms.

On the way to Budhla Machi, we visited the Mengai Devi Mandir, which is a temple inside the fort that can accommodate up to 25 people for a night camp.

The way from the top of the fort to Zunjar Machi is one of the dangerous parts of the trek. First you have to go down a ladder where the base of the ladder can accommodate only one person at a time, then you have to slide down few big boulders to reach to an end.

Ladder down to Zunjar Machi

After walking for a while, you will get to see a very small door of crawl-able height which will finally lead you to Zunjar Machi. Need to mind your head here and also might need to go on all fours.

The last hurdle

Now, if you have reached this far, a grand spectacle awaits you!

 

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Breathtaking, isn’t it? It did take away some of our breath to reach here.

The view from there is massive (prachanda) and is definitely one of the best views I have seen in my life. It was very foggy, but we waited for the fog to clear out.

We explored the fort for the next hour and decided to sit and have some snacks before we started our trek downwards. The descent was as challenging as expected as there was always a threat of slipping and rolling down. Thankfully, we trekked down to the base safely.

Best things in life are unplanned. This was one of such experience for us. This trek was also an experience of many firsts and many things which I haven’t imagined to have done. This will certainly be one of those moments in life which I can always look back and be proud of.

Facts about Torna Fort – Torna Fort, also known as Prachandagad, is a large fort located 60 kms from Pune. It is historically significant because it was the first fort captured by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1646, at the age of 16, forming the nucleus of the Maratha empire. The hill has an elevation of 1,403 meters (4,603 ft) above sea level, making it the highest hill-fort in the district.

Torna Fort from Zunjar Machi

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Kerala – God’s Own Country


The first word that comes to my mind whenever I think about Kerala is diversity. Both culturally and geographically Kerala is a conglomerate of beautiful places. The scenic beaches of Kovalam, the amazing backwaters of Alappuzha, the mesmerizing tea gardens of Munnar, the Chinese fishing nets of Kochi and many such things make Kerala the place to be.

Kerala is the cleanest state of India and also the first Indian state to receive rainfall. It also has the highest female to male ratio and the highest literacy rate in India.

Kerala is also known as the Spice Garden of India for it’s varied production of spices. If you are travelling to Munnar, then make sure you don’t miss out on the spice gardens there. Besides spices like pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove, they are known for many medicinal plants as well.

Last but not the least, anything about Kerala would remain incomplete without the mention of the majestic houseboats of Alappuzha. Very few things are better than a houseboat which serves amazing food throughout the day, that too riding through the beautiful backwaters of Alappuzha.

Do visit Kerala, sooner or later. Till that time, I will leave you with some photos from my Kerala trip.


Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Kanyakumari – A Photo Story


Kanyakumari, or Cape Comorin, is the southernmost point of Indian mainland. One can also see the confluence of Bay Of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean here. I was there for a weekend with two of my friends. We reached Nagercoil Junction around 7 o’clock in the morning, the muggy weather came as no surprise.

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Land’s End

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Sunrise

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Voyage

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Like everyday, that day too, the sun had set into the Indian Ocean

 

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Going Places


What comes to your mind whenever you hear about a place ? You desire to go to that place ? You wonder about the food or the rich culture there ? Or maybe memories of the past start gushing into your mind ?

Places are filled with memories. How important a place is to a person doesn’t depend on the place itself, it depends on the memories that person has of the place. But memories fade with time, so do the importance of the place to the person. Yes, people move on.

Sometimes, you connect to a place immediately. But most of the time, you start missing the place once you have left. For example, school or college. Most people hate the idea of going to the class every morning until the day comes when it’s over. People shed tears and bid farewell to each other in the hope of meeting again someday sometime. But in most cases, people get busy with their lives, meetings become rare and eventually stop. Still ‘those days won’t come back again‘ and ‘those days were the best days of our lives‘ are the most heard lines from every person talking about their childhood or teenage. Normal human behavior, right ? People learn to value things only when it’s over.

It often happens that a person runs away from a place because of the bad experiences  he/ she has had over there. Some other person wants to go back to the same place or never leaves at the first place due to the good experiences he/ she has had there. Circumstances and situations change, but that place remains the same. It treats different people differently.

Yes, life takes us to places. Sometimes it’s thought out, sometimes it’s destiny.

Sikkim Diary : Ten Minutes Of Tea


“Is this really a wish fulfilling lake ?”, my mother asked.

“This is Khecheopalri Lake. The locals consider it sacred. They throw a coin into the lake and wish for whatever they want.”,  replied Adong, chewing on to his Haitai gum.

Walking back from the lake, we came across a tea shop. We stopped there for a while and ordered four cups of tea.

While the shopkeeper was busy making tea, I found his daughter, trying to hide behind him.

The little girl was playing with a bundle of straws. She was into some kind of mischief. She had brought these straws from somewhere and now was making the shop dirty. I approached her with the camera in my hand. She moved off, but was full of laughter. Visitors with cameras were not new to her.

She had a plump face with beady eyes, eyebrows so light that you have to look for it, snub-nosed, reddish brown hair falling on her forehead. The naughty giggle made her even more beautiful.

“What is your name ?”, I asked her.

Her father was very happy to see her daughter getting all the attention. But she payed no heed to my question, turned away her face and continued to play with the straws.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Sikkim Diary : Nathu La


Back in 2007, the road to Nathu La had got blocked due to snowfall and my desire to visit the Indo-China border remained unfulfilled. This time I was there early, it was the month of November and snowfall had not started yet. How could have one afforded to miss a second chance ?

Nathu La remains closed for public sightseeing, on Mondays and Tuesdays. So if you are planning a visit, make sure you don’t end up in Gangtok for the first two days of the week. The border being at 14000 feet above sea level, people having breathing troubles at higher altitudes are advised not to visit the border. Passing through two or three check posts of the Indian army, it took us around two hours to reach our destination from Gangtok. It was freezing cold, the chilly air made everyone quiver. With numerous army camps, barracks and bunkers on both the sides, the journey was nothing but enthralling. Sriman, our driver played all kinds of patriotic songs on his music player and that just added to the mood.

On reaching Nathu La, the army officers guided us to the top and showed us around, a wired fencing marked the border, with a huge gate in between. The huge gate is actually the pass, which was originally a part of the Old Silk Route. Each and every word by the soldiers were words of wisdom and every single moment shared with them were moments of pride. The excitement of being there made shivers run down my spine. The excitement was natural. Is it everyday you get to visit the border ? Definitely, not.

The border there has been quite peaceful since 1962 and you will surely adore the camaraderie the soldiers of both the nations share. The Chinese soldiers even shook hands with us which told us loads about the current relation between the two countries.

“When is the next war uncle ?”, asked a kid.

“When the government decides my son. Hope it’s never.”, replied an officer.

The soldiers answered to all the innumerable questions without hesitation. They were all smiles in-spite of all the silly enquiries. It was heart warming to see how they sacrifice their lives, away from the city, far away from their families, in a place with no telephone network or internet connectivity, protecting us from all odds. That too without a twitch. It was an incredible experience to witness a soldier’s life from such close quarters.

Does travelling make us humbler ? Yes, surely experiences like these do. I would like to end this post with something the soldiers said. “When you go home, tell them of us and say, that for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”

 

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Sikkim Diary : Pelling


Since my last visit to Sikkim, Pelling had always been on my wishlist. Finally, after an overnight journey by Darjeeling Mail, we reached New Jalpaiguri. Due to the just concluded monsoon season, the road to Pelling was full of potholes and gravels. The locals recommended us to hire a bigger vehicle instead of a smaller one as bigger the vehicle, less would be the chances of it getting upturned. So we hired a Mahindra Bolero.

The journey on NH-10 started with the hills on our left and river Teesta on our right. The zigzag ride continued for the next five hours with the hills and the river exchanging sides more often. By the end of it, Adong, our driver turned out to be a nice guy. Before we could reach Pelling, he had already shared many interesting facts about Sikkim and stories from his past experiences.

The days are becoming shorter and nights longer as we are approaching the end of the year. On reaching Pelling, dusk had just started to settle in. Since it was getting dark, there was no sign of Mt. Kanchendzonga. Our hotel manager assured us that we will be getting a clear sight of it the next morning. That evening, being tired of the long train journey followed by the giddy road trip, we had our dinner and slept off by 8pm.

The next morning, we woke up to the extravagant Mt. Kanchendzonga, we saw the first rays of sun fall on the mighty snow-clad mountain. It was not that we were seeing it for the first time, but this time we were closer. The nightlights were still on in some far away houses as the rays of the sun slowly touched the hills one by one. It was morning! The sky was clear, there were no clouds and the majestic Mt. Kanchendzonga stood in front of us.


We covered almost everything in Pelling over the next two days. Pelling has numerous waterfalls by the road, some are big like Chhange Falls and Kanchendzonga Falls, and some are just water streams by the hill. To name a few of the must visit places, there is the famous archaic Singshore Bridge, the sacred wish fulfilling  Khecheopalri Lake, the Rabdentse Ruins, the Pemayangtse Monastery and the Yuksom Lake. Many mountaineers visit Yuksom throughout the year as it is the base camp for trekking to Mt. Kanchendzonga. The nature is at its best in Pelling where the lakes, the waterfalls and the forests among the hills are a treat to the eyes. The clear skies and the sunny weather just added to its beauty. 

I quickly ticked off Pelling from my wishlist and was more than excited to write this post. It has not been a day that I have returned from Pelling, yet I am certain to go back sometime again. Till then I have these evocative photos to keep me going.

Edit 1 – Special thanks to Adong (our driver and tour guide), Yap Chung Bhutia (Managing Director of our hotel) and his wife Yangden Bhutia for there love throughout our stay. 

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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Summing Up 2014!


Last year was probably one of the most important years of my life. It comprised mostly highs and some lows.

  •  Academically, it was a good year. I managed to get an eight in both the semesters without giving any real effort. The results were as much a shock to me as to my friends.
  • Spent a month at Tata Steel, Jamshedpur for industrial training.  This was my longest stay away from home (about 40 days). I stayed at my uncle’s place. My cousins there are very much into chess, they go to chess coaching classes every Sunday. I enjoyed an occasional game of chess with them, then after a week or two I started taking chess seriously and now it is becoming an obsession.
  • During my stay at Jamshedpur, I tried out some Bihari cuisines like litti and dhuska and will try to avoid them in  future. 😀
  • Two IT companies visited our college for campus recruitments. I was lucky enough to cash in the opportunity. Yes! I got placed!
  • After two months of discussion with my group-mates, we settled with walkie talkie as the topic for our final year project. Also, we were allotted a mentor, who has a knack of answering questions with another question. Some of my friends suspect him to be a sadist.
  • Started reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh, It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong, The Man-Eater of Malgudi by R. K. Narayan. But finished reading none.
  • Joined gym and started swimming. But ended up eating more to make up for the burned calories.
  • Learned to make tea.
  • Applied for passport.
  • Went on a trip to Darjeeling with four of my friends. We had a great time travelling, sight seeing and eating. The memories still remain fresh in my mind.

Hope for a better 2015 !

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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