Yesterday we travelled out of the city after nearly one year! It was a sudden plan made last night as I just wanted to escape somewhere we hadn’t been before. So we ended up traveling to Taki via Dhanyakuria. It was a short approximate 12 hour outing yet what a wonderful trip it turned out to be!
I had heard a lot about disney-isque mansions of Dhanyakuria. It felt surreal to see them for real after the long car drive. We couldn’t meet any caretakers, but we got a good glimpse of fairy tale castles/mansions made by once prosperous local landlords. What intrigues me most is, what must have inspired them to build such huge mansions in European style – stucco work, Corinthian pillars, human figures and motifs? One can’t help but wonder about the architects and the builders who pulled this off 200 years ago!
Taki too has interesting small and big mansions/ zamindar houses dating back to 200 years or more. The rivers, the confluence and river border with Bangladesh on the other side – it made the place magical and poignant. A country that we could see, perhaps take a boat across is not accessible. It seems so near, yet is very far! Our local guide regaled us with many tales. He also showed us spots and houses where famous Bengali films were shot. One of them was the mud house where Bisarjan was shot! I don’t think there is any other film that can depict emotions of being at Taki border – estranged from country of ancestors, from a land visible yet inaccessible. Ichamati – a river that separates…also connects. And then there was confluence of three rivers – all flowing through the time bearing silent witness to storms that have changed destiny of land and people.
It felt a bit Herzogian to walk through the many brick kilns where poor labourers were busy making bricks with hands and smiles on their faces in the heat. The sun had almost set but they went on with their work. We don’t even realise – bricks that build our homes are made of clay from the river banks and they are set in mould, dried and fired by human hands of poor villagers who earn 500 rupees per thousand bricks. Our homes that we flaunt is not just made of our sweat – there is much sweat of all kinds of labourers. They work hard with a smile, they pose, they vote too and then they become invisible…
Our local Toto driver urged us to visit during Puja to see the spectacle of goddess immersion from both India and Bangladesh sides in the center of Ichamati river connecting the two banks. It is the day when the goddess and joy transcends borders. He added, “you have seen the Durga Puja festival in the city but come here next time – I promise it will be something very different.”. I asked his name. He smiled brightly and replied, “Abdul”. Once again I felt reassured that this land cannot be divided on the basis of hate and prejudice.
PS: We also walked through Golpata forest trail(known locally as Mini Sundarban). We followed all the covid protocols. Please wear masks and carry hand sanitizers.
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