Pitch black smooth highway with the red clay carpets on both sides. And someone seems to decorated that carpet with plenty of greenery. The blue mountain in front outside the windscreen is telling me that Bangriposi is ready to receive me with both hands.
This road seems to run straight and fall into the lap of Thakurani hill range. After hearing “You have reached your destination” in Google Navigator, I became alert and reduced the speed of the car. Khairi Resort caught my eye on my right hand. Quite a big gate and eye-catching. My destination is not Khairi, its Hotel Bangriposi rather. A little farther from there I saw Hotel Bangriposi written on a small board on my right hand. It looked very average compared to Khairi. A little unhappy, I entered the car with through the open wooden gate. There is a lot of space inside. I saw an old man sitting in front of the a mud hut on a bench.
As soon as I came out of the car, he told me to go to my cottage at the back of his house. He asked a young woman to show him my room. I thanked Shintu Babu, the owner of the resort for the sight I witnessed just rolling my car a few yards. I applauded my own wisdom for choosing this hotel. A beautiful cottage revealed before me surrounded by a small fence. There is a small porch in front of the cottage its having a red floor. Two stairs lead to the veranda. Three bamboo pillars hold the canopy over the veranda. Two lanterns are hanging from the roof. Beautifully paved narrow road with bricks on both sides ends to the stairs of veranda. Small pebbles are adoring both sides of that narrow road. There is a Shimul tree just above the roof of the cottage’s asbestos and the fallen flowers from the tree adorn the entire place. I parked the car just beside the cottage and came in front of the cottage. I remembered the pictures of small huts that in my childhood days I drew with colored pencils. It seemed this cottage has come out straight from those childhood drawing books. Its the abode of my heart and the address of my mind.
When I am wandering through the alleys of my own mind. ”Babu, I opened the room. Please take a look. ” .. I got back to senses on hearing these words that young woman and entered my room. The room surprised me. There are all sorts of modern arrangements. But the interior is in perfect harmony with the hut of the drawing book on the outside. There are two or three Bengali books on the shelf of the wall. Decorated brick painted walls on one side of the room suits the environment. It has some beautiful photo frames. It seemed that the entire room is painted by a skillful artist.
The woman introduced herself and said that she was Budhiya’s daughter-in-law. Budhia is the caretaker here and they live in the front room with their family. This woman will take care of all my food. She went out after taking my lunch order.
It was 1.15 pm on the clock. February 24th, so it’s safe to say it’s not cold at all. I drove 235 km from Kolkata via Kolaghat taking the Mumbai Road , crossed the Lodhasuli forest, crossed the Jharkhand border, entered Orissa and reached Baharagoda. The last part of the road seemed like arranging commando training for vehicles. From Baharagoda to Bangriposi its only 7 km. But the pitch on road is 10%, and potholes are 90%. Taking the speed of more than 10 means you are damaging the car. On the way a strange temple caught my eye. The front of the temple is a monster’s face.
After visiting the Kali mother inside, getting exhausted with the frequent combination of clutch and brakes I finally reached this abode of calmness. Finding this dream hut, I almost forgot the fatigue of the exhaustive driving. After taking my bath and lunch on time, I spent the afternoon by walking around a bit. There is another long patterned cottage in front of Budhiya’s house. I saw a group of 5 young tourists in 2 rooms of that cottage. These rooms also have beautifully decorated interiors. Walls are painted with alpanas. Somewhere in the middle of those paintings there are some hand fans hanging on the wall and somewhere some pictures of Simlipal forest.
I came back to my quiet nest. In the darkness of the evening, the lanterns on the veranda was lit by someone. Hundreds of thousands of stars are embedded over the pitch black sky beneath it on the earth stood my peaceful nest in that sweet light. I took the tripod out and captured few moments of that night at slow shutter speed. After dinner I spoke to Budhia and made a plan for the next day.
Next day, that’s on 25th February…after taking a heavy breakfast I got out with my car at around 11am. The excitement is extreme because this is the first time I will experience driving in the mountains. This road is black and smooth like slate, which is called driver’s paradise. The blue mountains are peeking out in front.
The scene on both sides is changing rapidly as I am moving forward. Palash & Shimul flowers creating a vermilion aura in between the green, yellow & purple trees are proclaiming that touches of Spring I still there in the environment. There are very few cars on this road. Occasionally there are some lorries, bikes and bicycles.
After a while the uphill drive started. Might be its a hill station of Darjeeling or Sikkim but the mountains are still mountains. The wide road of the plains is now a narrow hilly road. I crossed one hair pin bend after another. After such a bend I found Duarsuni temple. I didn’t stop the car there and decided visit the temple on my way return. The weather also showed that I am gaining altitude. The cold wind is blowing. I am in the peak of merriment. The place is surrounded by such a natural beauty, and moreover this is the first mountaineering drive of my own. I was at the height of the thrill. Thakurani mountain range is at an altitude of about 3000 feet and lot of monkey families live in the crevices of this hill.
After climbing a bit more, I found a flat roads again. This side looks like a plateau. Small tribal villages are were sliding in front of my eyes like a carousel. I parked my at a tea stall in such a village and after knowing the way to Bankabal Dam, I turned the steering wheel on that way. Google navigator seemed became a little upset because she had already guided me about that road again and again. The distance from Bangriposi to Bankabal is about 14 km. The narrow road starts from the main road and goes through the tribal village. Travelling through the ups and downs of the hilly road I reached Bankabal Dam.
I climbed the narrow road above the dam with my car. The lake is vast. On the other side of the lake is a range of blue mountains painted with a light brush. Somewhere in the middle of the water maps of some countries in Atlas has been created by the char.
According to the navigator, when I went out on the other side of the road of this dam, I saw that the road was blocked by tree branches. A kind Oriya Brahmin saw my condition and came forward and explained that this road has been closed from the dam for some time, otherwise I could have easily reached Sulaipat Dam through this road. I had to put a lot of effort to turn the car on that narrow road. After going back and forth five times, I finally turned the car towards Sulaipat Dam. The distance from Bangriposi to Sulaipat is 47 km.
I came back the same way I came to Bankabal and took the main road again. The farther I am going, the more there are colors all around. There are red soil fields on both sides. Along with that red soil, the reddish aura of spring is spread by the forest of red palash flowers scattered here and there. I was parking my car frequently to get down and capture the colors of Bangriposi.
At the navigator’s command, I left the main road again and took a narrow road inside. It is as if nature has poured out all its essence in this region. Somewhere there are rows of dense green and blue trees, and somewhere its only palash. Somewhere its jungle and somewhere only empty fields of the plateu region. Through that serpent like road I entered a tribal village. At one place in that village I saw village women sitting on the road and selling “haria” in pots and pans. “Haria” is the favorite addictive drink of the local people here.
Finally I reached Sulaipat Dam. It is larger than Bankabal in size. The road above is also quite wide. This dam is on the Kharkai river. The lake has deep blue waters and is surrounded by distant blue hills. It seemed someone has painted in green, red, yellow and purple fillers in between the mountains and the water. Its hard to turn one’s eye off from this eternal beauty of nature. I walked to the other end of the dam and found that there is a park down this side and through some stairs you can climb down to that park. The steep hill rises from this end and the park is at its foot.
Today is Saturday. I learned earlier from Shintu Babu that there is a place called Bisoi which is 17 km away from Bangriposi. There is a tribal market (haat) at Bisoi and among many other things cock fight is one major attraction in this market. I left Sulaipat and headed for Bisoi. I noticed a strange thing. None of the roads match. The beauty of this path is different. Dense green on both sides and the shades of Palash make the road magical. This is like a dream world. On the way came another tribal village. It took about an hour to reach Bisoi. Its a huge market. I have rarely seen such a tribal market. Glass bangles, clothes, vegetables, fish, meat, home decor, haria, chicken… .what’s not in it !! Buyers and sellers are mostly local tribal people.
It was nice to see Bisoi’s colorful market and the local crowd. But even after searching a lot, I did not find any cock fight. Might be its because of the fag end of the market time now. It was about 3.25pm when I came out after visiting the market. I decided to go back at hotel now. In half an hour I reached the Duarsani temple. The temple is located on an elevated place. After visiting, I came back to Hotel Bangriposi.
I already told Budhiya’s daughter-in-law to prepare my lunch when I came out in the morning. So, after returning to my room I took a quick bath and after taking my lunch went for Buribalam river. After driving for a while, I first went to Kanchinda village. The road is along the river bank. In the light of the setting sun, the distant mountains looked more magical. I stopped in front of a large field. At one end of the field is a long one-story raw house surrounded by a canopy of large trees. An old man in front of the house is playing with small children. His only goal of life now is to raise these tribal children in the light of education with utmost care … under the open sky and amidst this beautiful nature. I went back to the bank of Buribalam. It took quite some time to return back from Kanchinda. The sun was almost setting. Shortly before I reached the bank of the river, my eyes stopped at a place. As I drove, my eyes were keeping a close watch on the rear mirror to keep a track of the setting sun. In this place I suddenly saw him preparing to hide behind the distant mountains. I immediately got out of the car and witnessed the natural moment with the camera. At dusk, the world is saying goodbye to the sun behind the mountains.
Capturing this moment in my lens I went back to the bank of Buribalam river. The Bangriposi artist ended the day with heavenly colors on the last stroke of his brush on the top of the blue hill.
On the way back, I saw a temple of Radha Krishna near Bangriposi Bazar. I took my evening tea at the tea stall next to it. Back at the hotel, I spent the night looking at the sky of Bangriposi. It is as if the universe has collected all the stars of the world with both hands and spread them on this pure black sky canvas of Bangriposi.
February 26th. Today is my returning day. The day to say goodbye to this quiet nest where I found the address of my heart. My heart became heavy. But I reassured myself that the tour is not yet over. Before taking the road to Kolkata, I will go to Dokra Industrial Village in Kuliana Village. After having some food and saying goodbye to the wonderful tribal family of Budhiya, I started for Kuliana village at around 11.30 am. I heard that the rail station here is very beautiful. I went out and first visited the Bangriposi station. One can get an idea of the beauty of the place from the station itself. Looking back along the rail lines in the backdrop you can find the view of Thakurani hill range runs over the horizon. The platform is low in height and wrapped in green on both sides of the station. This Bangriposi station is like a water color picture of an artist.
Kuliana is 18 km road from Bangriposi station. I reached in half an hour taking a narrow village road. The picture of poverty is clear all around. Dokra work is done in all the houses of the village. In most of the houses, the whole family is busy with this work. Its very hard and time consuming work. These dokra statues are made using the Wax Melting method. These idols are made by melting copper. Sadly, the local traders have to sell their work at the price of water to some middlemen. And these middlemen sell these dols of Dokra in the country and abroad at about 7-8 times of the price in which they buy from this village. But the real artists are still living in the darkness of poverty.
Now its really the time for returning back. Its hard to leave such a place which is full of unadulterated nature, a place in the safe haven in the mountains, a place full of greenery, a place of colors all around, a pollution free environment, a place full of oxygen and above all a place full of these simple minded tribal people. Bangriposi is not just a name, it rather a philosophy of life. This Bangriposi is a place to go deeper int one’s soul and re-discovering yourself! I have to drive a long route now. So,I could not give further time to Bangriposi and pressed the accelerator. This time I selected a different route which goes through Baripada, Gopiballabpur, Lodhasuli and then takes Mumbai Road. Goodbye Bangriposi.
Hi! I am from Kolkata, India. Travelling and photography is my passion. As I love landscape photography most, travelling goes hand in hand with it. Since my matriculation days I started travelling. I have also penned down a book on my travelling which is available in Amazon in the name of Ghuranchandi – Part 1. Whatever travel experiences I have, I have shared those in my blog in the form of travel stories.