Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bewitched at Bangriposi

It’s the time of the year again when one intends to run away from the mundane life and recharge one’s energy levels. And what more refreshing than spending a few days away from the hustle-bustle of Kolkata, in some tranquil location around uninhibited nature.

Since I just came back from another trip (Madhya Pradesh – the experience of which I would like to share at some other point of time) I was looking for a nearby place and suddenly I came across an article about this place called Bangriposi in Mayurbhanj district of Orissa. More than anything the lyrical name caught my attention.

At first I planned a weekend trip to this place with a couple of my friends (we three formed an incredible threesome during our student days and shared some memorable travel experiences but did not quite get much opportunity after we started our work life) and their families but both of them backed out later due to personal problems. I was not seriously thinking about the trip any more when all of a sudden another occasion arrived and I found myself again being part of a short trip with my cousin sister’s and aunt’s families.

Initially some other names were doing the rounds and then I put forward my suggestion of choosing Bangriposi as our destination. I was a bit hesitant to begin with since I did not know much about the place myself but then a weekend getaway is more about enjoying the vacation itself than worrying about the destination.

We started in the morning of Friday and took the Falaknuma Express (departing at 07:25) from Howrah to Balasore. The journey takes a little more than 3 hours. Dhauli Express which leaves at 6 o’clock is another good option but none of us were game for it as we are not particularly good at being early risers and that too in the winter (btw, Kolkata experienced one of its lowest temperature stints this year). One may take the road way as well, to Bangriposi which is off NH6 and about 230 kms away from Kolkata. However there may be some safety issues of late due to Maoist activities.

From Balasore we booked a cab to Bangriposi which is about 100 kms away and takes around 2 hours by road. We were 6 people so an Ambassador sufficed for us but I hardly noticed any other car model plying as cab. We paid 1100 bucks for the cab and reached our hotel around one thirty in the afternoon ready to feast on the lunch (which was ready for us as per our arrangement during the booking of the hotel). The drive was a pleasant one and the road looked gorgeous with those drooping trees at both sides on the road.


The hotel was kind of a setback to tell the truth. There is an OTDC Panthasala at Bangriposi (Rs. 150/- per room) which can be supposedly booked from Utkal Bhavan in Kolkata. However when I called at their office, they said that the booking has to be made from forest department. Apparently there was some confusion and we booked another private hotel (Hotel Bangriposi Rs. 350/- per room) the booking of which was done at Pratapaditya Road. This hotel was also mentioned and actually praised in the article that I mentioned at the beginning. It’s a bungalow type small one storied house with three rooms to rent plus a common dining space. We were not hoping for any luxurious accommodation at this remote place but the hotel fell well short of the expectations set by the hotel owner herself during booking. In fact, we checked the OTDC Panthasala (which was absolutely empty) and it seemed to be in better condition. During the evening strolls we came across another hotel (Simlipal Resort) nearby which looked much well maintained from the outside.
The food at our hotel was not of much delight either but there was hardly any other option outside. The local market was also quite far away.

Mobile network at Bangriposi was feeble and the cell phones did not work for most of us and for major part of our stay. BSNL service was still better than the others. We took this obstacle however in good spirit and some of us were actually happy with the fact that our professional life would not tag along due to our being mostly unreachable.

The evening went by without much happening. We went for a leisurely walk along NH6 and enjoyed the serene surroundings. There was a small hill in the backdrop the view of which added to the beauty of the place. We had our evening tea at a nearby roadside dhaba and returned to our hotel. There was a power cut soon afterwards. Power cuts are regular events in Bangriposi in the evening and the power remains away for about a couple of hours. We played a few rounds of dumb charades in the ghostly candle lights at my nephew’s insistence, before he dozed off. Even when power was back, the light was not bright. The yellow bulbs were dim and the voltage was fluctuating and there was no idiot box for recreation. We went to sleep (or rather to bed) right after dinner at around 9 o’clock as there was nothing else to do. In fact we spend the entire tenure of 2 nights and 3 days without any television or newspaper, detached from the civilization at large.


The next day (Saturday) we woke up at 7 am, a bit late than we planned. We had booked a cab on the previous day for local site seeing. The caretaker of our hotel provided us with the contact number for the local tour operator Dilip Kumar Jena, who is by profession a reporter at a vernacular press and probably runs a tourism industry as a side business (though not sure how many tourists visit the place regularly). He charged us Rs. 1300 for a day’s outing. We could have bargained a little more but there was no other option available to us, so we gave in. The bad news was that the Simlipal forests had been sealed off for tourists due to Maoist activities. That was a setback since we heard Bangriposi is one of the gateways of Simlipal National Park and that is one of the major attractions of this place. But Dilip promised us some other places of interest.

The journey started at 9:30 am, a little late one would say but the previous night was quite cold and no one was eager to wake up earlier. We had to go to the local roadside teashop for our breakfast tea since our caretaker could not be found in the morning. One advice for people would be to take enough snacks and refreshments during visits to such small places where there are very few shops, if any.

The first stop was Sulaipat dam on Khadkhai river which is build in the midst of a range of hills in an exquisite location. The journey (about 2 hours’) was a pleasure as well, the last part of which was through earthy cottages and red soils of hamlets. The dam was almost deserted barring a few local people from the nearby villages. Some fishermen were busy catching fish in the river with large fishing nets. The dam with the hills behind it against the backdrop of the serene river looked magnificent from distance. The green water locked on the other side on the dam was a breathtaking feat as well. There was some flight of steps leading to the woods which serve as a beautiful picnic spot. There was some scattered rubbish here and there to suggest that it is indeed a busy picnic spot. Only because of this careless attitude of people, the environment is affected so adversely today.


We conducted some photo sessions and started the journey back. The afternoon sun was blazing and we were wondering what the weather would be like in the summer.



On our way back we had our lunch in a sort of “pice-hotel” in the town of Bisoi. The quality of food was again not so good but one gets such only in places like this.

The next stop was the banks of Buribalam river. The famous freedom fighter Bagha Jatin fought with the British alongside this river. The river had been brought down to a mere creek in the winter and we noticed some local villagers crossing the river with their bicycles on top of their shoulders. However, the place provided a panoramic view of the river and the bushy woods with the hill ranges in the background.


The afternoon temperature was mounting and we were becoming restless to be back in some cool shades. That’s exactly what we received in the small village we visited next to get a glimpse of the local Dhokra art. We also got to see how the figures with metal casting over clay are made. At first a rough clay structure is built to form the core without the delicate art work, which is then coated with a layer of wax. The finer details of carving are done on the wax layer and again covered with a layer of clay to form the mould. Liquid brass metal is then used to fill the mould and the outer clay cover is removed. The villagers use a crude form of earthy furnace for putting the layer of liquid metal inside the mould. This form of art is carried out in about every house in the village and the products are dispatched to Bhuvneshwar for marketing. The products were not polished and the finishing was not very professional, so I presume that the final touches are applied in the city workshops of Bhuvneshwar. Mostly religious figures and figures of animals comprised the artifacts. I bought a model of goddess Durga at the cost Rs. 350/- and it seemed a good bargain.

Evening was setting in and we were on our way back to the hotel. Just before our hotel there was a small lake and the sun was setting behind the hills and the reflections it was making in the lake water was mesmerizing. The shutterbugs in us took some quick snaps in excitement.


It was evening at the hotel appended again with power cut. The journey was coming to the end. The next day (Sunday) we would be coming back to Kolkata. We had booked the same cab which ferried us from Balasore to Bangriposi for the return trip as well. Some of us were tensed as the return train tickets (of Dhauli Express departing at 16:20) were not confirmed. But more than anything else, we were depressed to return to the monotonous daily chores of life starting from Monday.

We took refuge from the growing melancholy by planning our next trip to Uttaranchal, sometime soon in the future. If that materializes into reality, I hope to return to you to share another enchanting experience.

15 comments:

  1. hey Deep, nice blog this one. would love to read your M.P. experience sometime soon.

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  2. A nice description along with some really good pictures. i didn't knew Bagha Jatin's story :).
    hope to see your next blog.

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  3. Good description of the details along with the expert like pics of the scenic beauty of the place making a great combo...:)

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  4. Thanks Jayanta! Nature brought out the good photos out of me. Otherwise I am quite novice :)

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  5. my ancestral place is pandhda which is 6km from bangriposi.i was really impressed with your writing about bangriposi and the photos,you all could have enjoyed a train drive from balasore to baripada,from baripada you could have hired a taxi.from baripada its 33km to bangriposi.thanks

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  6. Thanks Surajit. Pleased to hear that you loved my blog.

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  7. Wow, awesome, we will now go to bangriposi only :) Can you provide me with number of hotels there please?

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  8. For OTDC Panthashala you need to contact Utkal Bhavan at Lenin Sarani (Ph. - 2249 1653) and for Hotel Bangriposi you need to book from a Pratapaditya residence (Ph. - 9831309512).

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  9. Ur account is very elaborate and contains all the details. It has triggered me to go bangriposhi this winter. But will u inform me whether mosquitoes bothered you during ur stay? This is important as Simlipal has been mentioned in the WHO s malignant malaria prone area. Plz. inform.

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  10. Hi Debdatta, we did not face much problem with mosquitoes, you may carry odomos type repellent if you want. But I went 3 years earlier so not sure about any new development.
    Though one may enter Simplipal from Bangriposi, the forest was closed down when we visited due to maoist activities so we did not go close to the actual forest where there might have been more mosquitoes. You can check with OTDC office also if you book there hotel.

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    1. hi Deep.
      this is subhro who now takes care of the bangriposi hotel.
      the hotel has been revamped a bit but the essence of the bungalow is the same in sync with nature. i must tell u something about this hotel. this is the hotel where buddhadeb guha stayed and wrote the book "bangriposir du ratri". so one can meet the tribal characters like budhuya and shanti till date... also the place has been kept very basic so that people get a feel of the tribal village life. we could have made it a luxurious hotel but the travellers and tourists who visits this place comes back to me saying that keep the place as it is. dont make it a modern property.

      if you again plan a trip to bangriposi please so stay at hotel bangriposi only.. this time you will not have a complain.

      check : www.facebook.com/Bangriposi

      thanks,
      subhro

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  11. Hey friend. I think your site is very interesting for me, your site give me some important information about place, thanks a lot!
    Balasore Tour Operator

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  12. The theme of your blog is very beautiful and the article is written very well, I will continue to focus on your article.
    Balasore Tour Operator

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Deep,

    Thanks for such informative blog on Bangriposi specially about the resort..Its your blog form where we come to know about the staying places in detailed way..

    ReplyDelete