Since we had started to Bhitarkanika National Forest boat ride, it was an amazing journey from last night since we had boarded the bus. If you missed the earlier story of this journey, please read the journey to Bhitarkanika National Forest (part-1)
We got some rough ideas about way- flowing through the Baitarani river we would encounter a two way point from where either to take another river or the stretched way which would open to sea. The another river was none but the river Brahmani. The river was rather narrowed & closed – both the banks now seemed to be very close to us. The usual mangrove vegetation wrapped up the ground surface, even some plants were into river water upto their waist. soon , we came to the govt sponsored permit office, from where permission to be taken for the islands, proper Identification to be submitted. Boatmen insisted us to keep the boat surface clean & free of liquor or other materials.sometimes, they often come to visit inside.
As this place was very famous for its availability of crocodiles & different classes of birds, we started to enquire about crocodiles. Boatmen informed crocodiles are there in river, & they are often found , but sometimes fishes are used to catch attention – thats a tricky thing. The dense water & the muddy soils near the bank were shouting about their presence & we were searching for crocodile footprints. Boatmen resolved all queries – yes those were due to the crocodiles’ activity.
Now the boatman told, ” Here we go – Bhitarkanika Island.” we came out from the hood & found a bank- where some of those other boats were waiting, we understood that now its the time to step our feet on ground after some hours. we asked the boatman what was inside. By the way, its Captain (the boatman, we renamed him with honor) . Captain told us that there are two temples & a zameendar property inside, also in forest monkeys, python snake, deer, birds, crocodiles available. With a boosted energy we touched the ground just until we could understand that we need to travel a distance of 6km up & down both way by walk. Believe me, the Sun was not so charming that day & it was the biggest problem for this walk. Ujjwal was very enthusiastic & he was making hurry, calling everyone to walk fast- “come on! hurry up, faster!”
The road was through the jungle, this forest was on the bank of Brahmmani river, having lots of unknown classes of trees, herbs, the road condition clearly told about the presence of human existence here- I mean no people hardly pass through this area. The jungle is basically home for thousands of birds, animals. we were approaching with loads of noise with heavy footsteps. Guide insisted us to slow down the walk, there was a flock of deer. we actually found some deer within 40-50 meters of distance.
we slowed down the walk, as became extremely thirsty, exhausted by the Sun – concentrated on photography. Though Ujjwal was again guiding us to hurry up except those moments when we actually taking his photos. 😀 Thus traveling after some painful 40 minutes, there was a temple – an old Hanuman temple. It was heard that from the Zameendar period, this temple was very renowned, people came from distant location to worship Hanuman ji. we bypassed the temple & made our fatigued body forward to the jungle. Now, it was a watch tower, from where Zameendar usually keeping their eyes over hunts & the surrounding area. The watchtower holded a decent position, it was a 3 floored tower, a great place to have a break, some chill wind & if you’re traveling with friends then a gossip spot.
After spending half an hour, we were extremely affected by hunger, so asked our guide where we’d get sufficient meals. But food was not the thing so easily available here. we need to go back to boat & then some another bank – Dangmal. It didnot take much time to reach there. But again we were surprised by some walking distance. Dangmal owns a forest Bunglow- you need to book it advance due to its high demand. Though this walking was not actually so bad – it was not a forest, rather a man-made road. Well decorated coconut trees were there by two sides of road. A very common wood pecker bird was found, which I captured without its intention.
Food quality was average. But there was not much option , only if you are enough hungry & need some food at any cost then it will be a good choice, because you cant argue with price in this deeper part of an island. we were charged 700 bucks for a Egg- thali & one plate for each extra rice. Really expensive. 😀 Apart from the food, the hotel location was great. Very shadowy place with toilet facility. If you’re too sleepy after this Bengali foods, then there are resting places under the trees, you can lay down & have a nap. But be ware from the birds. we had a great spell of drinking of coconut water. Its bit cheap than kolkata.
Finally we were back to the boat again. Being extremely sleepy, me, preetraj, soumo we preferred to stay inside boat, where as Ujjwal & souradeep stayed on the roof . The afternoon was so calm & peaceful that we paused our journey in the mid of river. Captain stopped the engine & our vessel was only floating calmly above the water. The chill breeze was lulling our nerves, I recalled my childhood when I had some visions about nature, storm, wind which I miss no doubt after so many years. we noticed a crocodile was peeping its head & swimming across the river, a dolphin, some unknown fishes. The day was no doubt a successful one.
Slowly the darkness was engulfing the nature, as the day light was stepping back after the full day’s effectiveness. we were now on way back to the bank, where our hotel was booked. The day passed so dramatically that we even started to forget that even we lodged a hotel. All the fishermen boats were sailing towards their home – may be they have earned enough credits for the day’s work or may not be. But one happiness was there on faces, a natural smile which could not be brought in coins .
What completely out of our wishlist was the dinner. Finally that was included perfectly among the fun. It was decided that we’d buy meat, spices, vegs to captain & he’d cook our dinner in boat & we’d have dinner altogether on boat, undoubtedly in the middle of Baitarani river. The fnal plan simply turned into a magical charm. Everyone became so active as well as energetic for the final round. Yes I carried my guitar this time & we were present around 9 PM on boat. The cooking had been started & me, soumyadipta was creating a traditional folk environment around as with acoustic guitar & Bongo. Just feel the ambience under the open sky, in middle of river & perfectly on a vessel with musical environment. Chicken preparation was so delicious that we forgot about the quality of kolkata’s any branded resturant. The weekend was just loaded with surprises & all those appear one after another like a fairy tale, It was a big part that tomorrow morning we’d be back to our regular life & hectic schedules. Bhitarkanika National Forest would always keep an impression in our heart .
Souradeep, Soumodipto, Ujjwal, Preetraj, Tanmoy
Idea & arrangement:
Soumodipto & Tanmoy.
Please share your feedback in comment about the journey, also you can ask anything.