Ambika Kalna – Glorious Temple Town

A section of Rajbari grounds at Ambika Kalna

A section of Rajbari grounds at Ambika Kalna

The debate continues till date. Which is the ultimate temple town of Bengal – Bishnupur or Ambika Kalna? Bishnupur is indeed more popular among tourists as it has connecting trains providing the luxury of travelling in AC Chair car and many standard accommodation facilities. Sadly till date, for travelling to Ambika Kalna by train you have mostly unreserved local trains. There is one Intercity express with AC Chair car facility but in reaches it the afternoon and is not ideal for day tour. Lodging facilities are just two or three at the most. Till date, the best way to reach Ambika Kalna is by road. The journey takes about 2.5 to 3 hours and you can cover the city easily in a day trip.

Ambika Kalna showcases all major temple structure of Bengal  of Temple

Ambika Kalna showcases all major temple structure of Bengal School of Temples

Bishnupur is way ahead that any temple town when it comes to variety in terracotta art. However, if you consider the variety of temple structures, Ambika Kalna is way ahead. You name a style in Bengal temple structure and this town in the Burdwan district has it to showcase. Also if you are strictly talking about temples with terracotta panels, Bishnupur has only four such temples. Rests of the temples at Bishnupur are made of laterite stones. Whereas in Ambika Kalna the number of “terracotta temples” are more than double than that of Bishnupur.

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Historical Towns Immortalized by Writer’s Fancy

One of the country home of a landlord which resulted in a writer's fancy

One of the country home of a landlord which resulted in a writer’s fancy

Eminent sports journalist Moti Nandy was also an eminent Bengali novelist who was popular among readers of all ages. His most famous fictional character was the swimmer “Kony” on which even a national award winning film was made.

Yet Moti Nandy did not write any sequel to Kony. Instead, he made of series of novels on another female character named Kalabati. She hailed from a family of ex-zamindars of a settlement named Atghara. Nearby was Bakdighi where another family of ex-zamindar resided. The stories of Kalabati were based on the characters of these two villages. In the first story, Kalabati participates in disguise in an all boys cricket match between the two settlements and wins the match for her team. This was long before the film “Dil Bole Hadippa” featuring Rani Mukherjee starred was released and one wonders if the film was inspired by the story.
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Exploring the Real Explorer of the movie “Praktan”

The character of Prosenjit in the film "Praktan" was role modeled to a considerable extent on Ritwick Ghosh of "Calcutta Walks"

The character of Prosenjit in the film “Praktan” was role modeled to a considerable extent on Ritwick Ghosh of “Calcutta Walks”

There was widespread talk in different communities of Kolkata before and after the release of the movie “Praktan”. The superstar of contemporary Bengali cinema, Prosenjit was again acting in a movie with another celebrated heroine of Bengali cinema – Rituparna Sengupta. They were last seen together in a movie 14 years ago. Being a huge successful pair on the silver screen, fans were thrilled with the prospect of viewing the star pair together again. The duo of Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee fulfilled the wish of the fans.

This post is not about the film. This is about the real-life character on whom Prosenjit’s  role in the film was based to a considerable extent.

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How Social Media is Promoting Offbeat Travel Destinations in India

A Travel Destination is boosted by its Social Media Presence

A Travel Destination is boosted by its Social Media Presence

I have always maintained this opinion that whenever you are looking for a travel destination which has all amenities that your heart desire, be careful that you are actually running from one crowd to another. The more facility a place provides, chances are you will get more crowds there.

However, the latest craze in the tourism sector in India is visiting off-beat destinations rather than the popular one. There were always a few takers preferring unknown hamlets, but in recent times, the numbers have increased. What more interesting is apart from backpackers and couples, tourists with all family members are opting for such places. There was a time when information of lesser known travel destinations used to spread mainly through word of mouth. Families rarely opted to such destinations because they had no clear idea about the amenities available at  these places. After all, word of mouth from one or two travelers could not paint a clear cut picture of these destinations.

In recent times, the same old school of the word of mouth is playing a big role in promoting offbeat destinations in India. Today word of mouth literally does not mean only “words” only. It means lots of other things. That is where social media is playing a big role.

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A Perfect Beach Holiday

Sunrise at Bakkhali with Low tide

Sunrise at Bakkhali with low tide

For anyone at Kolkata, who wish to have a secluded yet economic weekend beach holiday, Bakkhali is an obvious choice. The beach is located at one of the 50 odd island clusters of Sunderban area – famous for its mangrove trees and the Royal Bengal Tiger. Although there are enough mangrove trees at Bakkhali, thankfully there are no tigers roaming around.

On a lazy afternoon, one can just sit at leisure at Bakkhali beach sipping tea from earthen pots enjoying the breeze whilst the low waves caress the feet. The sea at Bakkhali is not ideal for swimming as there are no large waves here. Perhaps it is one of the reasons that many tourists do not visit this place often. However, the accommodation facilities are very cheap. You usually get a decent accommodation at a very reasonable price without any prior booking.

One can also take an extended morning walk through the long stretch of sand to the town of Frazerganj. A cycle rickshaw van ride through the rural landscape takes you to the Frazerganj fishing harbour. Add to it a visit to Henry’s Island – the latest holiday spot at Bakkhali developed by the fisheries department jointly with the ministry of tourism.

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Durga Puja of “Bonedi Families” at Howrah


Youngest family member of Ghosh family , Salkia

Youngest family member of Ghosh family at Salkia taking a look at the proceedings

After my blog post  “Durga Puja of “Bonedi Families” at  Kolkata”  became immensely popular among viewers, many have asked me to start writing blog posts on such bonedi families of West Bengal outside Kolkata. Members of many such families have also e-mailed me their details and asked me to visit their places.

Since no one is sponsoring my travel for writing such blog posts, I decided to start with Howrah. Howrah is nearer to Kolkata than many other districts. At Howrah, many age-old Durga Puja gets celebrated in the residence of many bonedi families. In this blog-post, I will start with describing Pujas of few such families residing at Shibpur, Andul, Salkia and Panchla. This list will increase with the passing of time.

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Monsoon Photography at Tamhini Ghat

A local resident taking a bath at one of the many waterfalls at Tamhini Ghat

A local resident taking a bath at one of the many waterfalls at Tamhini Ghat

With the monsoon at its top in India, wouldn’t it be nice if one could take a short drive to a pathway studded with lush green hillocks and gurgling waterfalls?  One would stop the car occasionally and wade into one of the huge mass of water. The more adventurous ones would climb up the rocky and muddy ridges and get soaked in the natural shower.

Unfortunately, you cannot think of such a frivolity sitting at Kolkata. The nearest waterfall from the city is at a distance of no less than around 250 km at Ghatshila and unless you go to North Bengal region you can forget about hillocks.

However, such a drive is not impossible if you visit the city of Pune in eastern India.  During the monsoon, a drive to a place called Tamhini Ghat is one of the most popular ways for the residents of Pune to relax and enjoy the rainy season. Granted the Mulshi road which leads to Tamhini is infested with numerous potholes and often you encounter over enthusiastic and slight off balanced city animals near some waterfalls. However, during monsoon, the surroundings looks so inspiring that you overlook such “little” hindrances. 🙂

Three years ago when I visited Pune to take my Monsoon trip to Amboli and Ganapatipule, my friends suggested me this drive. After having a rain-soaked outing, I was definitely interested in more. Also shooting waterfalls in slow shutter mode with my camera was an added interest.

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