To the land that was plundered by Bargis
Around 7am in the morning, four of us set off on our journey. Leaving Dankuni Toll Plaza behind, we continued down Durgapur Expressway. The scenery on both sides makes it hard to look away even for a moment. The ever-changing beauty always has an intoxicating effect on me. After having a sumptuous buffet breakfast at Durgapur, we carried on.
Right before Asansol, we diverted from NH2 and went left on to the road that leads to Asansol city. We continued on Asansol-Chittaranjan road to Asansol-Purulia road. The amazing picturesque highway that mesmerised me so far, changed to a dry,almost lifeless expanse of land with unassuming houses, poverty-stricken people are all that greeted us on our way till we reached Sarbari Mor. From there we took a right turn and a little way down the road we reached the West Bengal Government’s Garpanchkot Bungalow.
Nestled in the arms of Panchet Hill, lies what used to be the fort of the then King of the land. Almost 266 years ago, Maratha ruler Bhonsle made his way to Bengal via Panchet and plundered everything in sight. This is known as the Bargi attack as per Bengal’s history. The Bargis took anything and everything of value from the fort, not even the subjects were spared from this ruthless plunder. The ruling king’s wives, in order to save their dignity embraced death. Since then the fort has lain barren. There is a Bengali saying “Bargi elod eshe, khajna debo kishe.”We explored the ruins of the fort. A strange emotion overtook the ruins and left me with a melancholic feeling. We cannot uphold our history. A roughly 250 year-old-history now lies on the brink of being erased. Our next generation may not even have the pleasure to gaze upon the proof of the historic Garpanchkot.
Hopping into our car and onto Sarbari More, we continued through Barakar-Purulia road till Subhash More. One left turn and a small village called Ramchadrapur later, we reached Baranti, a cozy little hamlet adjacent to the Muraddi Lake. Nestled between Panchkot Hill on one side and Bhaioanath Hill on another, the surreal Baranti is inhabited mostly by ethnic groups. The lake had invited a thousand birds, who were now retreating to their homes as we saw the sun shying away behind the hills. Gradually, night fell. We came back to our resort. We chatted over dinner and then went off to sleep.
Our next destination was Panchet Dam. Built on the Damodar river, the Panchet Dam in Jharkhand is the fourth of its kind. After spending some time around, our car led us towards Maithon Dam, situated on the Barakar River, at the border of West Bengal and Jharkhand. On reaching we feasted on chats and ice creams from local vendors. On the way back, we paid a visit to the Kalyaneshwari temple. After darshan of the Goddess Kali, we came back to our resort. After an early breakfast the next morning, we packed our bags and started our journey towards Raghunathpur through Purulia Barakar road till we reached the thin lanes of Annapurna Pally. However, what lay at the end of the lanes surprised us. Suddenly, in the midst of the congested locality, there lay in front of us, huge piles of rock forming hillocks- the Joychandi Hills.
The Joychandi Hills constitute the last leg of the Chhotanagpur plateau. Aspiring rock climbers are trained here due to the peculiar rocky terrain. It was an exquisite place ---- the red soil, grey rocks, lush greenery, blue sky ---- all added up to compose a beautiful scenery. I sat there relishing the silence while my family left their footprints on the hills. It was time to return back home. We took the Raghunathpur Chhatna road, crossed Chhatna, Bankura, Bishnupur, Arambagh before finally reaching Kolkata.