Category Archives: Personal Musings
“My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There are two kinds of Bengalis – those that prefer the mountains for vacationing and those who are enticed by the sea. I fall in the latter category. Having grown up in north Bengal, with mountains and forests abound, my heart always yearns for the majestic view of the sea – serene, endless and unrestrained. The sea epitomises a boundless bundle of energy which follows its own rhythms and refuses to bound by any rules. Who can say no to such charm, right?
My latest trip (on Bhaiphonta) was to a little-known beach near Digha in coastal Bengal. Tajpur, located 180 km away from Kolkata in Purba Medinipur district, is a quaint, secluded and serene destination, ideal for those who want to break free from the maddening city-life and relax in the lap of nature for a weekend.
With an abundance of Casuarina trees, the Tajpur beach is a joyous territory for those who want to explore nature. The greenery is striking, and the air so fresh and pure that you feel alive again. The place is also known for its red crab island. With small shacks serving fresh fish right next to the beach, the experience attains fruition.
The Government of West Bengal is currently constructing a road connection Shankarpur with Mandarmani. The road passes over Tajpur and is a tourist’s delight. The mighty sea on one side and the lush green, idyllic, rural Bengali landscape on the other side – this certainly is a sight to behold.
You can just sit on the sandy beaches (or the rocky embankments made by the administration to prevent erosion) and stare at the waves; there can be no better purpose in life.
How to go
We had hired a car from Kolkata to Tajpur (180 km). The route we took was: Kolkata – Kolaghat – Nandakumar – Contai – Chaulkhola – Balisahi – (turn left) – Alampur (turn right) – Tajpur.
One can also take the train from Howrah to Digha (and a local vehicle from there). There are several buses that leave from Esplanade for Digha.
A rain soaked ride
Where to stay
While there are a few hotels to stay in Tajpur, I would advise staying in Shankarpur or Digha. The facilities are better there.
While large parts of India celebrate the return of Ram to Ayodhya on Diwali, in Bengal (and other eastern States of India) we worship Maa Kali, the goddess of destruction. Bengal is the land of the ‘Shakto’ (those who worship Shakti), thus Kali Puja is a gala affair in the State – specially at the Shaktipeeths in the State.
Bhramari Debi Temple
The Bhramari Debi Temple, located on the banks of Teesta river at Bodaganj in Jalpaiguri district, is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths. The left leg of Sati fell at this place, the devotees believe.
Bhramari Debi is a form of Shakti. She is worshipped as Kali. She is accompanied by her Bhairava (popularly known as Lord Ishwara). Her chakra (shaped in the form of lotus) is believed to have healing powers.
Those who are well-versed in the Hindu mythology would know that after Daksha publicly rebuked Shiva at his famous ‘yagna’ Sati could not take the insult of her husband and immolated herself in the fire of the ‘yagna’. Shocked and numbed by the death of his beloved wife, Shiva carried the body of Sati in his arms and began his ‘tandava nritya’ (dance of destruction). The gods trembled in fear and sought Vishnu’s help. He shot an arrow and split Sati’s body into 51 parts which fell all over India.
Of all places in the country, Bengal has the highest number of Shaktipeeths, as many as 13.
Devi Chaudhurani Mandir
Those who are familiar with Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s works would know that Devi Chaudhurani, the bandit queen of the famous ‘Sanyasi Movement’ period in the 19th century, had established the Kali temple near Gosala More of Denguajhar.
It is believed that Devi Chaudhurani used to visit this temple regularly. The famous Kali Puja here is still held under the centuries-old huge banyan tree. The Kali puja is now organised by the Devi Chaudhurani temple committee.
The Kali Puja at this temple is a major attraction for the people of Jalpaiguri. Thousands of people flock to this temple to witness the puja at midnight.
These places are easily accessible by road, rail, and air. The nearest town is Jalpaiguri. The nearest railway station is Jalpaiguri Road. The nearest airport is Bagdogra.