29 Dec 2007

Lunch at Taki

The gang :
Ajay (Ajaymama) & Margerata Bhattacharyya
Usha Rani (Boromaima) Bhattacharyya
Protima (Mejomashi) & Sugata (Bapi) Chakraborty
Maitreyi (Mitu), Madhuparna (Bumpy) & Aparajita (Rumpa) Choudhury
Sandipan (Pimpu), Esha (Mamni) & Soumwa (Tokai) Mukherjee
Lokendra Nath & Chitrita (Pinkie) Roychoudhury

Destination : At 22.59ºN, 88.92ºE Taki is the erstwhile capital city of an old and defunct Kingdom of Taki. It is presently a municipality under Hasnabad police station, Basirhat subdivision in North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, India. It is separated from Bangladesh by the River Ichhamati.
Day : Sunday 2.12.07
The idea : It was Ajaymama’s brain wave to spend a day out, somewhere not too close to Calcutta, have lunch, a little site-seeing & back, to celebrate the 25th Wedding Anniversary of Loken & Pinkie. As ideas go, this turned out to be a resounding success, with a few glitches thrown in, to make the trip memorable. The actual logistics was courtesy Mejomashi. Navigators on the road were Pimpu and Bapi.
The journeys : This was one of those rare trips, where from the beginning the journey started pleasantly. We assembled at Mejomashi’s house at Salt Lake or Bidhannagar. Bimal was hired with his 20 seater (for school children) bus for the 12½ of us. So, it was quite spacious. We took off at about 10:15, travelling southward along the E M Bypass, passed Science City turned left to take the road to Bantala, Basanti etc. just by the P C Chandra Park, along road no. 3 (see map). As it turned out, the road was narrow, but unusually good for a Bengal village road. It was decidedly far better than the congested & pot-holed road no. 2, via Madhyamgram, Barasat, Dhanyakuriya, Basirhat etc., which is the normal road. Barely had we passed the outskirts of Calcutta, passed by drains carrying stinking effluents from leather factories, were we in pristine village area, dotted by crowded little market places at long intervals. By & by we passed by Bantala Leather Complex, Bhojerhat, Kajirhat, Narayanpur, Bhangor, Ghatakpukur, Chandipur, Ghushighat, Kancahanpukur, Shis, Minakhña, Kalitola, Malancha Bazar / Trimali, Nimich, Bhebia Bazar, Murari Shah Choumathha, Habaspur, Makhalagachha, Kumarpukur, Talpukur Bazar, New Thhuba Rail Gate, Thhuba and finally to Taki.
On the way, we were intrigued by a number of strange vehicles. Basically, they were large tricycles, whose front is the frame and engine of a motorcycle, while the rear was a flat bed made of slatted wood. As a vehicle, it is as universal as possible. So, we came across one carrying a huge pile of hay, one with mounds of freshly cut ripe rice plants, one with several goats, one with plastic pails, even one acting as a passenger bus, albeit without hood or walls.
While coming back, local public pointed us to the usual road, not the one which we came by. After travelling some distance, we quickly got lost. Soon darkness fell and we were literally in the dark. Guided by passers-by, we zigzagged vaguely towards home. In village after village, I noticed the faithful in their evening namaz prayer. Since they faced west, we were assured that we were indeed travelling west towards Calcutta.
The place : A room was booked for us at Nripendra Atithishala (= guest house). It belongs to Taki Municipality. It turned out to be in the 1st floor. Boromaima, always game, climbed up with some assistance. But this room was without a view to the River Ichhamati, flowing just behind the house and dividing India from Bangladesh. Ajayamama then booked another room in the 2nd floor, which had a balcony with a beautiful view to the river & to Bangladesh visible through the haze across the water. River Ichhamati was in ebb, when we arrived. Long procession of water hyacinths made their journey towards the Bay of Bengal. This procession changed their mind at midday, when they started to turn back and move upstream as the tide turned. Around midday, a large and noisy group of teenage boys and girls materialized from nowhere, most probably from Calcutta. They were lured by the boatmen to take pleasure boat trips in the Ichhamati. The way they carelessly piled too many to each rickety boat, it would be a surprise, if they did not overturn a boat or two.

Left & middle : Garden view
Right : Peddlers of the famous Bashirhat towels
During our perambulation along the banks of the Ichhamati we came across a shy young man playing a soulful tune in a flute. The tune had a deep village soul. A sample of the tune was recorded and carried back with us. I remembered, when 20 years earlier Pinkie & I came here first, a tall, elderly beggar playing the same tune in the local train. Surprisingly, he was playing the flute through his nose. On hearing this, this young man suddenly became very nostalgic and explained, that beggar is actually his impetus. It is sad, that such rural talents never get the recognition they deserve for keeping native music alive. The young man claimed to be available at the steamer wharf daily from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. I wish some talent hunter would discover him one day to have his music recorded and given proper circulation.

Left : Pinkie in dance pose in the courtyard
Middle : Margareta & Ajaymama, after we settled Boromaima in the 2nd floor
Right : The photographer (me, at left) ……....

Photo by Ajaymama

View of the Guest House garden. Bangladesh across the Ichhamati River.

Rumpa was in for a surprise, when she received an SMS in her cellphone, “Dear Airtel, Delhi customer, welcome to Airtel, Bangladesh. Call rates to India are Rs26, to Bangladesh Rs16 per min. SMS Rs8. For assistance contact …”. We discovered, that towers in Bangladesh were much closer, so Taki population never use cellphone, as all calls become international calls, with appropriate high rates. Fortunately I was carrying my cellphone with BSNL connection, which has no presence in Bangladesh. So, I could talk home without international rates of call.

Boarding & Lodging : We stayed at Nripendra Atithishala, Taki Municipality, office phone (03217 or 95217) 234 481, Guest House is at Taki Uttar Bari, P O Taki, N24 Parganas, WB, phone (03217 or 95) 233 248. River facing rooms are available at ground, 1st or 2nd floor at rising rates. Some rooms in each floor are with individual balconies, of which some of them are river facing. My recommendation is a 2nd floor room with river facing balcony.
Just next to the Guest House, there is a brand new hotel called Suhasini Guest House, Taki Uttar Bari, P O Taki, N24 Parganas, WB, phone (03217) 325 493, (953217) 234 108, 093308 26779. Bookings can be made by paying advance money to the Suhasini Guest House, Taki or their Calcutta agents Mr P K Chaudhury, Netajinagar phone 93310 26585 or Mrs Swaswati Biswas, Kalindi, phone 93393 75915. Local report says, it is much better both for Boarding & Lodging. It has deep covered balconies in each floor. However, the balcony is common for all rooms, thus you may find inquisitive souls peeping into your room from the balcony-side window.

Other modes of visit : Train : Sealdah -> Barasat -> Taki. Bus : Esplanade, Calcutta or Barasat, N24 Parganas Bus Terminus -> Hasnabad route to Thuba Bus Stop, Taki, then rickshaw / van rickshaw. If you are enthusiastic, you can consider the alternative routes too.


Arijit said...

Hi, your pics are really nice. appreciate that. More than that you have chosen a nice digital camera, can you please post the make and model number of your cam.

lokenrc said...

@ arijit : my camera is Fuji FinePix S5000, about 2 years old. Not much of a lens, so I have to be careful in composing the shots

Capt.Debasish Dey said...

I stumpbled upon your blog while searching Informations on Taki,
I am very much impressed with the
photography and contents of this Travelogue.

Thanks for Maintaining this Nice


Anonymous said...

What was the distance from the P C Chandra Park to Taki by the road you have taken i.e. via 3 as per your map?

lokenrc said...

@Anonymous - I didn't keep a note of our vehicles odometer while going to Taki, but the road distance from P C Chandra garden must be slightly less than that via Barasat You save the travel all the way to Barasat. We did not have to take the entire stretch of road 3 (yellow line in map). There is a road across the Matla River mud flats, which is a short cut to Taki

Orkos said...

Wonderful write up. I think - no one should check any other sites for Taki related information - once visit this blog.

Arindam said...

Can anyone tell me how I can book a room at Taki Guest House? I am living in kolkata. I want to go there on 29th Aug, 2009.

Lensofmine said...

@Arindam - this is the reply for your question.

Nripendra Atithishala, Taki Municipality, office phone (03217 or 95217) 234 481


Guest House is at Taki Uttar Bari, P O Taki, N24 Parganas, WB, phone (03217 or 95) 233 248


Suhasini Guest House, Taki Uttar Bari, P O Taki, N24 Parganas, WB, phone (03217) 325 493, (953217) 234 108, 093308 26779. Bookings can be made by paying advance money to the Suhasini Guest House, Taki or their Calcutta agents Mr P K Chaudhury, Netajinagar phone 93310 26585 or Mrs Swaswati Biswas, Kalindi, phone 93393 75915


sukamal kundu said...

Dear Loken.
u have done a fantastic job in creating this travelogue(especially as a native of Taki I really thank u ).I was born in Taki in 1946.I was there upto 1960 studying at Taki Govt. School.Taki has change a lot as recently (on 16th Dec2009)I went with my daughter Rupa -an architect who is settled now in Chicago-along with my two grand children Ruhika (8yrs) and Siddharth(7yrs)and my wife Subhra.We also took ur route (distance from Salt lake to Taki was 78km by this route).Ur naration and our recent trip has made me nostalgic.As a young boy I, with my friends ,used to sit on the bank of our dear Ichhamati and count the waves.U also must know that best scenery that u can witness is during the Durga Puja Dashami (Bisarjan) day in Ichhamati river when each Idol will be placed in between two boats with the help of wooden planks/bamboos. At the time of immersion the boats will shift and it will be great sight.One more thing if u do revisit Taki then donot forget us.

deepC said...

we built the bridge spanning the bidyadhari river ( completed 2005). nice to see it being put to good use.. and yes it does considerably shorten the distance. i remember having cycled from malancha to bashirhat on a full moon night on a whim .. magical .. : )

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my bad english. Thank you so much for your good post. Your post helped me in my college assignment, If you can provide me more details please email me.

Saurabh Sen said...

Excellent details. Would surely plan a trip to Taki in any weekends. Can someone please confirm which would be the best place to stay with scenic view/safety. Thank you all.

Dr. Mansij Biswas said...

I am very much pleased & grateful with the photography and contents of this Travelogue.
Thanks for Maintaining this Nice
kudos to u..
just one question - from dumdum airport gate no. 1 which route will be nearer?the science city-pc chandra route or the barasat-basirhat route?

Dr. Mansij Biswas said...

we are planning to go there on 14th april,thursday..the car we are hiring,will charge us via per kilometer..so i just want to know the less distance route..

lokenrc said...

@Saurabh Sen : sorry for the delay in reply. I received no email report, that a comment has been posted.

As it stands now, Taki is quite a safe place. In any case, you will be quite secure in either of the 2 places I have named, which are side by side. Both are directly on the shore of River Ichhamati & short distance from the steamer jetty. Country boats berth on shore between these 2 places.

lokenrc said...

@Dr. Mansij Biswas : If u r already near Dum Dum airport, then the road no. 2 in the map will be definitely shorter in kM. Yet, if u can manage, I still recommend road no. 3, which makes the journey far smoother, due to better road surface & more beautiful scenery. The vast mud flats near Malancha is itself worth it.

However, if u decide to take road no. 2, be sure to take a peek a the erstwhile guest house of the Dhanyakuria zemindars, as in http://www.flickr.com/photos/lokenrc/196318365/

mansij said...

thnx a ton..