Once Upon a time there was a river called…….

Once upon a time there was an angry lady, irritated with midlife crisis, infuriated with the monotonous, suffocating and unnecessarily hurried city life, exasperated with the preachy people she had to meet sometimes and sad with the lack of diversity in the daily routinized activities that destiny had allotted for her. Though her intellect and instinct tried to keep herself cool like cucumber, all her endeavors went into vain as soon as she started to sow the seed of a dream, especially a dream vacation; it got destroyed then and there. Actually, she felt too happy and peaceful only at imagining a vacation. Starting from Mauritius, Maldives, Switzerland and Paris the track would have just entered the land of Thailand, Indonesia and Bali – when reality knocked at the door harshly and tightly slapped her to bring back the lost practical sense. She woke up with intolerable rage and frustration. The bank balance flashed like a ghost and she had to surrender to her inner self. Lastly, after the   soulful and inspired mind-traveling through Leh, Ladakh, Nainital, Kullu Manali and Haridwar, one day, destiny settled her dream at Taki, a small town near India-Bangladesh Border, just at the lap of the calm and vast river with a sweet name Ichhamati. She knew even this plan would not be beyond hassles and tussles, but as her nature was a badly stubborn type, she stuck to it.

And yes, it happened.

We went to Taki in the month of March, 2022.

The moment our car turned left from Science City island, my over-sensitive nature got super- enthused and sensed the distinguished audio visual touch and smell of the raw soil and river, although we were still on the jam packed Basanti highway . My fifth sense organ did not sit idle for too long and started functioning. I was literally getting the taste of fresh Rohu, Katla and Bhetki. In no time imagination turned into reality as soon as we approached Basirhat; famous for Bheris – big fish reservoirs. Fishermen with large nets, baskets and small boats were very common to see on both sides of the highway.

Finally, a few hours later we reached there and Ahh…. I was in front of Ichhamati – in front of someone looking so caring, gentle, kind hearted and who seemed to fulfil some of my small little wishes.

The river was mesmerizing. The enthralling vastness can compel anyone to forget and forgive all the scuffles one may come across before and after any travel; big or small, near or far. It was such a spellbinding experience that I could see Bangladesh border just across the river. A dense forest like land was clearly visible on the other side and that was of Bangladesh! Tagore, Shilaidaha, Nazrul, River Padma, 21st February or Shahid Dibash, – everything just jumped into my mind simultaneously but distinctively. The rich heritage of my neighbour country was so invisibly visible to me through Ichhamati.

Taki, the nearest border point of Bangladesh from North 24 Parganas, is a place of national importance and a BSF camp is situated there. The time-to-time inspections by the BSF vessels on the river with Indian flags held high on the top of them are bound to create a feeling of an unknown yet strong connection to own soil.

Though some critics describe me as sluggish and lethargic, I know I am a true fighter from inside and believe me I can adjust to any adverse situation; the only thing that I desperately need is a sufficiently comfortable stay and very good food. Now if some evil people call this luxury, I do not mind. The resort where we took shelter for three nights did not disappoint me at all in this front. After some refreshment and rest, when my body and soul permitted, I decided to take a tour of Taki. We took an auto rickshaw standing in front of the resort to guide us through the township. See, I could opt for a car, but NO, I do not like luxury; I prefer to get anything and everything after a little bit of struggle.

Thus, our journey started to explore Taki.

Machranga Dweep, situated at the junction of river Ichhamati and river Katakhal, is a very solitary island with enormous natural beauty. It was beautiful. I felt sorry that you missed a world class sonnet as I missed to bring any pen and paper. Mini Sundarban or Golpata Forest with almost 600 Acres of land, is an attractive spot as the forest consists of Mangrove plants like Sundari, Garan etc. An amazing Canopy way and a watch tower yet to be completed, added some adventurous flavor. A tiger or at least a bear could jump out from the forest but all its residents rightfully ignored and refused us to have a glimpse of them.

After exploring nature for a while, we were keen to watch some historic structures of ancient times that Taki is famous for. Taki Kuleswari Kalibari, an ancient temple, nearly 300 years old, offered us a real time travel in back gear to rediscover Bengal as a symbol of heritage and honour. The Jora Mandir, 200 year old twin temples devoted to lord Shiva, looked like some old painting filled with so much of serenity. The tranquility and calmness of the places indeed brought some relief from the complications – the baggage that we transported from the demanding city life along with us.

Puber Jomidar Bari is one of the oldest palaces in Taki. The ancient building and the antique collection transformed it into a spot of sheer magnetic attraction and thrill. I wished if I were not born in a wrong time, who knows, maybe my portrait would have been there on the wall today! Taking a sigh of repentance, I moved on. For this time, last spot we visited was the old house of Ex-Chief of Indian Army Mr. Sankar Roy Chowdhuri. Deep down in my mind, I dared to think of a meeting with the Chief to discuss my brilliant ideas about national security.

One having a shopping spree like me should not forget to buy the Gamchhas of Taki. The old man selling Gamchhas followed us to the resort to sell one. And last but not the least never ever miss to taste the Chhanar jilipi of Taki main Bazaar. The sweet shop owner was kind enough to give his card, phone number and all details to ensure guaranteed delivery of jilipis at any time!

Next day, early in the morning, we went through such an unforgettable experience that later it became a significant page in my life’s small insignificant travel diary.

A boat ride on Ichhamati just after the dawn, captivated all my feelings, a sense of being out of this world gradually set in. It was a surreal experience. Visible Bangladesh border, a cool breeze, calm waves in the midst of the river, the first and soft sun rays of the day twinkling on the shadow of the boat under the water, were bound to bring the best of you. I think nature inculcates the sense of good in yourself only at these moments. I felt like I could elevate myself over and above the mundane and petty punch-ups, could forgive easily the one whom I have the utmost grudge upon and also could start afresh the mornings coming in future. Though the boatman was delivering his earnest commentary on various places nearby, I realized my attention was falling short of – I was somewhat embedded and inscribed into the nature which made me float along with time. When did time and the tireless flow of water became synonymous was really not clear to me.

When the ride finished, walking towards the rooms I felt an existential crisis. Distinctively felt a difference between the two ‘me’ s; me before and me after the journey through the river. I could not decide upon the real me, whether the one who is an always angry and annoyed woman or the one who still can build up some hopes, dreams and expectations of new dawns. Ichhamati is like a symbol of divinity to me.

Nice place, nice people, nice river, nice journey. And a nicer me to return with!

This weekend, pack your bag, lock your home and Get, Set, Go.


10 thoughts on “Once Upon a time there was a river called…….

  1. Nice reflection on yourself. Remembering Ichhamati through writing must have had a salutary effect on your heart and mind once again.

  2. Spellbound. So wonderfully penned down. Yes, I myself traveled and enjoyed Taki through your piece. An amazing write up indeed.

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