Baranti and Garh Panchkot - the two amazing places in Purulia that you must place it into your bucket list if you haven't visited yet, because the beauty of mother nature you can experience there, can't be described only with words or photographs. Get to know more about this intriguing place while reading this blog and hope you would love it!!
Baranti is nearly 240kms from Kolkata and its perfect for a 3-4 days trip (door to door). With around 4 to 5 hours estimated time one can easily avail car services to reach there. Driving through the Durgapur express way, its just a matter of time after you cross Durgapur. Even if you opt for a train journey, Adra will be the nearest station from where you can book a car and reach there! But however due to post-covid situations, we took the long drive as a choice.
But challenges keep crawling as we all know! On our way, we faced a punctured tyre and we settled for half an hour to make it right in a roadway workshop. Taking that to my little advantage, I loved interacting with the local people who were basically labors, having their mid day meal and I could describe the feel of a tyre-mechanist through my frame depicting their work style and how they help doctoring our vehicles...
Our trip was hugely delayed due to a political party strike that day and finally we entered the tribal village of Muradi where the sun kissed golden trees washed our minds with rejuvenation. Unfortunately we missed the Beautiful Baranti sunset as we reached Allure De Baranti Resort at 5:40PM. The resort has provisions of both Well built tents as well as AC rooms with king size beds in a minimal expense.
Baranti's enormous patch of greenery and lush green patches of trees with pairs of naturally grown date and palm trees scattered at intervals of walking can surely make you rejoiced with all happiness. Here its important to tell, if you are a macro photographer, you will definitely find bliss with Baranti's offering of different insects and frogs outside the hotel room / tent premises. One mentionable subject will definitely be the Tree-Frog!
The next morning, rising up at the dawn before the Sun appeared, I prepared and did a solo trek from my resort up to the lake. In between I remember trekking up a small hill walking among the bushes and shrubs and finally the view I got from top of the hill, through the greens was majestic perfectly defining the place's freshness!
After half and hour or so my uncle joined in with me for the morning walk up to the lake, filled with a golden magenta tint of the rising sun. On the way, I could experience the love of babblers, scaly breasted munias, Jungle mynas and few prinias. On reaching the Muradi Lake shores, the landscape was truly dreamy and with the hues, the foggy waters of the lake guarded by the Panchet hill like a guardian and the silence of the hills - broken only by bird chirps all over - it was probably a pure morning dream one can have!! You can just close your eyes and listen to the songs of birds and lose yourself in the lap of nature's beauty.
I interacted with the local people there as one elder brother was taking bath in the lake water along with his two children. Talking and interacting with the people there felt more pure than before, off from the complexity of the city side and a warm welcoming tone (obviously they were more curious after seeing my camera gears and tried to get along more). The little guy was brushing his teeth in the morning while I kept on listening to the beautiful experiences they have in the Muradi Village. After going through some landscape photography session under the humid Purulia Sun, I returned back to my resort for breakfast.. We had to set out for Garh Panchkot!!
After chasing for a couple of paddy pipits on our resort lawn, we had breakfast and trust me Allure de Baranti has an amazing cooking staff which makes food as delicious as home! Leaving back the lovely memories, we set out for Garh Panchkot. Among the hilly roads covered by deep green trees, sometimes driving through small villages and narrow rural roads and sometimes driving through the woods after 1 hours we covered 17 kilometers to reach the WBFDC Resort. What we felt there is a whole new world (PS - If you are scared of spiders, be alert)
WBFDC Forest resort is a government aided resort with beautifully maintained rooms and bathrooms. The whole resort is segregated into two buildings (While booking, SAL is the room you wanna book for sure!) The variety of trees inside the resort is much more than anywhere else and trees are maintained by gardeners. That day after coming and settling in the rooms, me and my brother went out in the afternoon to experience something unique.
Have you ever felt true darkness? Have you ever felt scared of Hyenas and foxes while you are roaming alone in the deep dark woods? Well Garh Panchkot is truly a place where you can experience this one. After a thrilling walk among the deep woods, me and my brother walked back a mile to our resort while there were no lights on the road - a complete darkness twice or thrice enlightened with the flares of thin motorbike headlights. Upon coming back, we started planning the next day's agenda which was going to be the absolute one.
The morning activity started at 5:30AM when me and my uncle went for a morning walk searching for birds, in vain due to the deep overcast. The ecstasy started after half an hour of walk when it started drizzling - aah! The moist smell of the rains mixed with the serenity of the deep green forest and chirping of the birds. Due to overcast, birding plan dumped and within an hour me along with others decided to go for a walk AS FAR AS WE COULD. Walking a distance of 2 Kilometers among the dense forests where there was ONLY US was something worth the whole morning. On our walk, we interacted with the simple villagers of Puapur who were sharing their life stories with us and also we discussed about the prevailing Covid situations there which was basically far more safe than you can think!
Finally we came back after having the morning tea at Puapur and prepared for setting out on the day's agenda.
The day was full of landscape shooting as we commenced towards Jaychandi hills, 24 Kms from our resort. Traditional red soil hills of Purulia that embrace the Bengali stories and films can be tasted here as these hills welcome not only the tourists but also the rock climbing enthusiasts! Climbing about 300+ steps we went on to the top of Jaychandi hills from where it was an utter bliss to see the surroundings. The famous HIRAK RAJAR DESHE film by Sir Satyajit Ray was shot here and hence it became a place of nostalgia.
There was a temple at the summit which is told to be a strong one by the locals. Kids were selling the hand crafted flowers and many more beautiful craftworks made of cane all over the steps to the top of hill. One thing I observed that they will keep chasing you unless you buy something from them.. Poor kids needed money for a living! As I climbed to the summit, the view was something indescribable. You can see the entire district from up there as well as the other 2 hills of the Joychandi ranges were closer to you! But on a humid day, you will keep on sweating there sadly.
Finally after stepping down those steps, when I came to the foot of hill, I was sweating like never before, being exposed to extreme humid climate of Purulia! We all had some cold lemon water from stalls beneath the hills and finally it was time to visit the famous Panchratna Temple.
The Panchratna temple is located in the Garh, which is basically a lowland valley in the heart of Purulia. Surrounding the temple many small shops have been set up by the locals including the mask shops selling famous Chhau Dance masks and also the contemporary Purulia dwellers' face masks. The art of drawing the faces on a material called Paper Pulse is truly mesmerising if you notice it with care. Around the Garh, I interacted with the mask makers about the ruins of one kali temple which was surrounded with thorn wires for travelers warning. And in this process, I came close to them and got to know about their daily lifestyles. The Garh became a very exciting place for me lastly. Why? I will tell towards the end of this story... (PS - Visiting Garh in the noon is pretty challenging if you are not accustomed with Purulia heat)
Finally after shooting the temple shots and buying two pairs of Purulia figure masks, we set out to visit Panchet Dam. Unfortunately we could not go beneath the dam that time as the roads were closed and many checks were going on the way and all we could do is to go halfway over the dam and come back!!
What happened in the most interesting way is that from the Garh temple, we had already told a couple who runs a small hotel, that we will be having the dinner at their hotel. Surprisingly, it was around 8PM when practically no one was there when we reached the temple again. Only them who waited for us to come and have dinner and with gratefulness, I can challenge you will have one of the best chicken curry and roti in life, made with village love and a pure soul. The experience of dining under the clear sky full of stars in a dimly lit hotel where there are no one except our group and the old couple is majestic. One of our members could spot a hyena tail merging into the deep forests! And now imagine yourself, dining, under a river of stars, a dimly lit candle with a constant thrill of hyenas around in a place circumfered by dense forests!! Isn't that cool?
Get into the serene Garh Panchkot and it will cost you lesser than you expect (Around 7000 to 8000 bucks if you opt for a car drive) and what you can bring home is a bag full of positive memories, a rejuvenated soul filled with fresh oxygen of the forest area and lastly, its a privilege if you enjoy the forests of Bengal WITHOUT POLLUTING THEM BY ANY MEANS!
So, are you planning to go?
IMPORTANT CONTACT : Our late night candle light dinner hotel in Garh - UNIQUE HOTEL (Mob : 9002970294)