19 April 2021. It was about 11.30 at night. After dinner, I started to feel restless. The next day there is no office. There is no special work. Tuning the TV channels makes you more restless as the only news that’s flashing time and again is – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi… again in lock down, SARS Covid-2 is even more frightening than Covid 19 and there is a lot of discussion and debate in various political circles about it.
The TV screen got slowly blurry in front of my eyes. Painful memories of 2020 are were coming back. But what about that coming again? That house arrest again? What if I never get further chance to get out? My mind became occupied with thousands of such questions. I turned off the TV and searched the internet on my mobile and decided that the next day I would board a train from Howrah and go somewhere. In an unknown unseen village. I googled out a place in my mind and fell asleep.
April 20, 2021. I boarded the Burdwan local (cord line) from Howrah at 11.22 am. Incidentally its is quite less crowded so I was able to take the window side seat as per my choice effortlessly. After leaving Dankuni, the outside scene began to put on color which is of great satisfaction. That color is of beautiful greenery and swipes the mind from the balance sheet of life to an altogether different world.
That color proclaims a new world beyond the rat race where there might not be luxury, but there is comfort, an intense peace, the smell of the soil, lot of time to know people and above all there is the satisfaction of survival.
Might be for that reason… the tune of a blind beggar- “Help the blind a little”, an old man wearing a pants shirt with a speaker around his neck singing “Purano sei diner kotha”, a hawker with a box in hand shouting “ those who are searching for cold water can take a cold Bislery bottle from me”, another man yelling “30 rupees outside but 20 rupees only for date palm from me”, a man with small packets in hand “Fresh yogurt made at home for you to keep your body cool this summer”, guava sold in baskets, peas mixture, jhalmuri, sweets etc… none of these sounds annoyed me.
Rather I was feeling good to realize that life is not just to get “most” from “more”. I reached Gurap station in an hour and a half. A small tidy station. After landing at platform No. 3, I saw that most of the people were crossing the overbridge and walking towards No. 1. Following them, I also went there. Let me say one thing here that I have very little experience of commuting in the local trains of Kolkata because at work place I take bus/ taxi/ my own car.
After going out of the station I did a little research and found the autos for Bhastara. Rent 20 rupees. This Bhastara is about 5 km away from Gurap. My target is the zamindar house of the Sinhas of Bhastara village (vastara rajbari). When I asked the auto driver about it, he smiled very sweetly and said, “I haven’t heard this name. I’ll drop you off at Bhastara stop. If you ask anyone there, they will show you”. After getting down from the auto I realized that I have come forward by about 1 km. From a place called Kamalsagar there is a path through the village which leads to the zamindar’s house.
I started walking backwards. It was about 1.30 in the afternoon and the sun was in the middle of the summer sky. Its not that I was not feeling the scorching heat. However, might be in the excitement of searching the unknown I overcame all adversaries. The touch of the primitive village is quite clear in Kamalsagar. Several mud houses came into view. I found the right way for zamindar house by asking the residents of one mud house.
A little further on, I saw an ancient sub post office or post office. Next to it is the office of the Panchayat Samiti. The winding road has gone inside the village. Although there is a lot of heat in summer, there are a lot of plants on both sides of this village road. A cool coating of shadow covers the road. A little further on I got the house of Bhastara zamindar ( Bhastara rajbari or Bhastara Jamidarbari). On the other side lies a high school established in 1859 by Yajneshwar Singh, a zamindar of the Singh dynasty.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Mahasaya himself was present at the time of the establishment of this school and his footsteps are still preserved in the room of the Head Master. Vidyasagar Mancha is also set up in the school premises. The 11th and 12th classes of this school are now only co-ed. Beforehand, all classes were co-ed. Later a separate school was set up for girls up to 10th class.
Major part of the zamindar house is almost ruined today. However, the descendants of the Sinha dynasty still reside in one part of the house. I entered the zamindar’s house with their permission. The history of this palace is ancient. The Durga Dalan of Rajbari is still present today. This architecture of this Durga Dalan with its held high,still whispers about the ancient history of the place. Durga Pujo in this house which is about 500 years old, is still celebrated here every year with pomp and old tradition.
These zamindars of the Sinha ( Singha ) dynasty were originally from the Rajput clan of Rajasthan. Their descendants settled in Burdwan zamindari from Rajasthan. From there Dhaniakhali Boso. Then from Boso to Bhastara. Its believed that zamindar Ekkari Sinha built this house in about 1750 AD. In 1759, Yajneshwar Sinha, the zamindar of this dynasty, established a high school at Bhastara. Yakjeshwar Sinha’s father Chhakuram Sinha became famous all over Bengal as a generous zamindar.
The contribution of this Sinha family behind the overall progress and development of this part of Bengal is undeniable. This Bhastara has been destroyed many times in Bargi ( Maratha) attacks. Sukhdev Singh, a member of the Sinha family, was killed by a Bargi attack just beside a Tulsi Mancha in Andarmahal of the house. That Tulsimanch still exists there. The name of this village is Bhastara after the then Bargi leader Bhaskar Pandit.
After visiting the zamindar’s house, I wandered around the village. Numerous mango trees and pomelo trees caught my eye. Some of these are just inside the gardens of the houses and fresh mangoes are hanging just over the boundary walls of their garden. There is a Chandi temple nearby. Time in this village passes in its own mood. But it doesn’t have the courage to intimidate the life of the villagers here. It is surprising to think that at a distance of only 57 km from Kolkata, an ancient history is still existing like a dim light. I walked around the village and came back to the crossing of Kamal Sagar.
I easily got the toto for Gurap station. Rent 15 rupees which has another history. There are very few Bengalis studying in Bengali medium who have not read Keshab Chandra Nag’s math book. Gurap is the birthplace of this Keshab Chandra Nag. If you rent a Toto from Gurap station, you can visit Keshab Chandra’s residence. Now it’s my time to return. A village like Bhastara brings real peace in the life of tension.
The tradition of Bengal is not in the a daily rat race. Rather its in the philosophy of life. If you want to come in contact with that philosophy of life, you have to get on a train in this manner. The train that will take you to a world that might be even unknown to an experienced librarian also… where even today, you can find pure gold. The real essence of survival! I have been waiting for the night of April 19 to come many times in my life.
Best Time To Visit:
Its good to avoid the summer.
How To Reach:
From Howrah take Bardhaman Local (cord line ) and reach Gurap station. Fro Gurap station auto & toto is available on share for Kamalsagar stoppage. From Kamalsagar walk down the road on right towards the Jamidar Bari.
Where To Stay:
This place is better for a day trip.
Places Of Interest:
- Bhastara Rajbari
- Chandi Temple
- Keshab Chandra Nag’s house
- Enjoy a peaceful walk in Bhastara village
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.