Thursday, November 5, 2015

A liitle place in this world, Bankura and Mukutmanipur

Bankura is a district town in the State of West Bengal and that is where my mom in law lives. Unpolluted, you can still enjoy the little fish varieties from the local catch, and the freshwater molluscs, which make a truly yummy curry. The air so clean and the fields so green! And I had an opportunity to visit this little place a few days back

On the way to Panchmura, a village known for several households that have kept up with traditional pottery for which the district is known

A pond heron
A forest lodge

Shambhu has his workshop in the front portion of his house, and there are several room-fulls of  these products of his wheel. Most of them are made to order, such as a clay chandelier (!) and the typical clay horses, some of them more than ten feet in height and used as decorative pieces, outdoors.

I wanted a set of clay panels with images in relief but these were not ready. The bull looked lovely though, and I bought a few clay tiles and this baul singer (mendicant and folk singer)

The next day, me and junior went on a day trip to some dense forests which were until recently, almost out of bounds for the insurgent threats. There has been some improvement in the situation with roads, power, schools and colleges but even then, the roads are heavily patrolled and shut down with the sun going down. And then, the dam at Mukutmanipur, which is one of the largest earthen dams at 11 kms, providing irrigation facilities to drought prone areas in several districts.

 There was hardly anyone at sight. Not even waterfowl but then, the tribals are known to be especially fond of all things that move in the forest! As soon as I could get a signal, I got frantic calls to be out and begone immediately, so then, a hasty retreat, but not before catching one lone greater coucal foraging, and this bird does not taste like pheasants, definitely

On the way to Mukutmanipur, the road passed by a number of ponds where waterlilies bloomed in happy profusion.

The dam is on the Kangsabati or Kansai river which often flooded in the fifties, near the confluence of Kansai and Kumari rivers where there is a riverine island, now turned into a deer park

The other side is now an enormously huge reservoir, and there is a pavilion on a hilltop from where you get a view

Steps to the pavilion are being done up at the moment, flanked by huge posters of the Bengali primer Sahaj Path, written by Tagore and illustrated by Nandalal Bose. The first book one reads in the Bengali language as a child. These posters have been painted by local artisans, without the help of computer prints or digital blown ups 
 Powered boats are available for a round trip, such as this one on its way to the deer island
Another hilltop has an open air shrine, originally a Jain place of worship and meditation. Later days have seen some additions as you can see; the Jain image on the right
A number of tiny stalls have now come up near the entry gate, selling various artefacts. They were all reasonably priced. I got a woodcut of Ganesha from Mr Show, who appeared to be a altogether a most reasonable man as you can see!


  1. Wow! Tagore is the first author one reads as a child! No wonder your culture is so advanced. Ours is Dick and Jane and See Spot Run, so boring, LOL! I love all the photos, especially the amazing bird with what looks like a wooden wing. I also love the pottery, especially the wonderfully Eeyore looking bull. But felt anxious for you till you sped away from possible insurgents. Yikes. This was a very entertaining post! Thank you for the trip!

  2. Wouldn't say advanced, Sherry. Anyway, these forest tribals have community dancing in certain nights, with cowhide drums beating beside the fire and the mahua flowing, a heady concoction brewed from the flowers of the mahua tree and that is what I really missed!

  3. Wonderful post. How nice to find clean air and greenery! The forest lodge looks quite nice, too.
    Too bad about the insurgents, though. How long has there been trouble in this region?
    The clay artist is quite talented. Seems as though you find talented local artisans wherever you go!

  4. Bishnupur has a rich social past, and a lot of this is obvious in the engineering and unpredictable handiwork that the town gloats of.
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