In search of the autumn beauty of rural Bengal – Jamalpur, Bardhaman

Autumn of this year is completely different. It was a complete lock down for last six months due to Covid-19 pandemic. Privileged class people were terrified and imprisoned inside home. The working class was jobless. Obviously there was no travel. When the unlock process was started during early days of autumn, people started for travelling. But considering the sanitation, nobody was interested to stay elsewhere at night, instead, they opted road trips.

I was a bit skeptical to start travelling. Even I was not participating in any house party. Road trips were out of questions. I was in a dilemma to travel by any hired car. But without travel I was getting depressed. It was confusing whether to start travel in New-normal manner or to get confined in home. In this mystified situation, my friend Anirban called me and asked about my interest for a road trip. He assured me about the sanitation of car and the health condition of the other two co-travelers. His promising voice influenced me and I agreed to join for a road trip to enjoy the autumn beauty of Rural Bengal.

I called our friend Madhabendu and asked for his suggestion about the place. He advised me to go to Jamalpur a small village near Masagram in the district of Bardhaman, West Bengal.

Autumn is the most colorful season in this world. In Europe, America and a long portion of Asia and Oceania, Autumn is known as Fall and the fall colour of conifer trees makes the season dreamy. But in Bengal (mostly in Bangladesh and West Bengal – the easternmost state of India) Autumn is divine. After a Sweaty Summer and wet Monsoon, when Autumn comes, the sky becomes azure blue with chunks of small white clouds. The temperature starts decreasing and the entire landscape of rural Bengal gets ornamented by white Saccharum. In Bengali, this is called “Kash Phool”. Kash Phool (Saccharum spontaneum) is a grass native to West Bengal and Bangladesh. Its white, cotton like flowers brings festive season in Bengal and thus it has significance in Bengali literature and movies.

When Anirban came with two other friends, we started our journey to Rasulpur (a village in Bardhaman – a district of West bengal). We crossed river Hooghly via Bally Bridge and continued our journey along NH-2 (AH-1). Alternatively, Nivedita Setu could have been an option to cross the river. 

Here I would like to introduce our team. Anirban and myself work in the same organisation – Tata Consultancy Services. Beside to that, he is a wonderful photographer. Our other friend Pulak is pursuing PhD in Zoology and a photographer too. And our most important friend Pralay is a businessman and loves to drive. His only passion is to drive on road trips.

We took a small tea break near Dankuni and continued with NH 2 i.e., Durgapur Expressway. After crossing Dankuni Toll Plaza, we headed towards Bardhaman. But instead of going to Bardhaman we detoured and took the ramp for Masagram, drove along Memari-Tarakeshwar Road and headed towards Jamalpur.

We crossed the level crossing of the chord line. Taking a sharp left turn near BDO office we reached Jamalpur Bridge. The condition of the road was deplorable with countless potholes. However, it was a smooth driving experience till Jamalpur. After 10 kilometers, finally we reached Habitapur playground. We deboarded there. Though Google Maps marked that place as a playing ground but actually it was a paddyland. We asked a villager and he said, “the paddy land is on the bank of Damodar after the agricultural land.” We started walking through the ridge of land set up around the agricultural land (in Bengali – Alpath) and at last reached the playing ground.  There was none in the playing ground, so we decided to go to Jamudaha Ferry Ghat. We found a fisherman throwing net.

It was almost late afternoon, we came back to Habitapur playground. Rural kids were playing football – the innocent dreams to be Mesi, Ronaldo. Their coach was wearing the jersey of Pep guardiola. Leaving aside, we entered into the small jungle of Saccharum (In Bengali – Kashbon). We found two young kids playing. One of them reminds me of “Apu” – The main character of the novel and its eponymous film “Pather Panchali”.

Our “Apu”, original name Biltu, made our day. We kept clicking his activities. He was running, playing with flowers, jumping on the river bed and our camera-shutters were creating clicking sounds.

Dusk was about to set in. We found a boatmen returning his home.

Finally, while coming back, we found the local boys were playing football. The most played sports in Bengal.

Tips:

  1. Jamalpur can also be accessed by train. The nearest rail station is Masagram.
  2. There is no hygienic food joint in the area, so it is advised to fill your stomach in any “highway dhaba” before leaving NH2 from Masagram turn.
  3. No hotel or guest house is available, so it can be a complete day trip. However, accommodation can be arranged in Bardhaman Town.

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