visit Bangladesh year 2008 (part 3 of 3)

continuing from part 2

some distant church bell lazily announces that it is an hour to midnight. for dinajpur, that deep dead into the night. at around half past eight, i was out for pre-dinner walk around town cum window shopping. but surprisingly, not only were the shops closed, even the roads were almost deserted apart from a astray dogs playing around and health conscious elderly people walking a mile after dinner.

its been a long day for us. earlier in the morning, after two bus changes (including an hour-long ride standing) and two hours of bore-some waiting, we finally reach dinajpur at an hour before dawn. the morning azan (call for prayer) is still due, yet shops and restaurants are lighting on their bulbs and opening up for another day of business. later in the evening, i discover dinajpurians are not only early to rise, but early to bed too.

having failed to find ourselves a hotel room, we decide to set out exploring the place right away. driving out in our rented 1962 model series 60 nissan patrol, I can sense adventure pulsating up in myself. we are in a old four wheeler passing through an old little town, and our destination is the three hundred years old kantanagar temple. it felt like we had traveled back a few decades in time.

completed in 1752, this hindu temple - a magnificent exhibit of the exuberant terracota art - took thirty years to built. the temple was greatly damaged in a devastating earthquake in 1897, but substantially restored in early 20th century by the then maharaja. sadly, much of the beautiful artwork adorning its walls is slowly getting damaged due to lack of the proper attention and delicate care that this kind of antiquities require. (more about the temple)

next point of interest is the huge man-created tank ramsagar dated back to around the same time as kantanagar temple. i say created because this 1000 m-by-300 m lake was actually dug by people, 1.5 Mil of them. legends say the then ruler ordered digging of this huge water tank to supply drinking water for the drought-hit locality. initially no water rose in the tank. a priest prescribed sacrificing the young prince ram and throwing him into the tank to remedy the situation. hence the tank was called ram-sagar (sagar means sea in bengali). the water now is no longer drink-able, but ofcourse bath-able, so without a second thought we opt to enjoy the tank from within.

kanta nagar and ram-sagar sips away the little energy we had left after our long and tiring journey last night, and by the time we step into our hotel rooms, the welcoming bed is all what we can see.

we will return to dhaka tomorrow after visiting shwapnapuri, a theme park cum shooting spot (shwapnapuri literally means dreamland, which is rightly reflected in the theme park's eye-catching design). the direct train to dhaka was sold out, so we will instead be taking the night bus from rangpur, the neighboring town which is two hours journey from here.


visit Bangladesh year 2008 (part 2)

continuing from part 1

my scenic Bangladesh

yes, the bus ride to kushtia is grueling and tiring, but no way near boring. in a country of poets and music-lovers, you can well expect to find a good number of them in a group of sixty. throughout the ride, we are showered with live in-house entertainment of songs, poem recitations (including self composed), and jokes among many others. we have a historian on board, so we are even lucky enough to have lectures briefing us on the historical heritage of every area we are passing through. this includes the famous 'chalan bil', the largest wetland of the country, which cover 368 sqkm continuous sheet of water in the rainy season. other notable points of interest on the way are the jamuna bridge and the picturesque natore countryside, home to the famous banalata sen of poet Jibonanda Das.

laloner majar and robindronather kutibari

lalon's majar (tomb) is on the way to our lunch-place, so we decide to drop in. baul is a type of traditional folk music with a spiritual touch, and lalon to baul is as elvis presley to pop. the place is not just a simple tomb as the name suggest, rather i find there a huge complex housing a music (baul) school, an impressive auditorium, and home to well decorated graves of many of his companions and followers, including his wife. there are also many souvenir shops outside selling all sorts of stuffs (including pipes for smoking pot - which often goes hand in hand with baul music). a local proverb says 'even sweet words sound bitter when the stomach is empty'. so i am not too sad spending merely 15 minutes at a place like this, where otherwise i would probably laze a whole evening away.

our last point of interest in kushtia is tagore's kutibari (resthouse) in the banks of river padma. the resthouse itself is now a mini bungalow-turned-into a very poorly maintained museum. yet it surely is the biggest attraction of kushtia, as i see hundreds of tourist and picnic-goers hanging around. people are gathered here and there in groups and i find last breath of smoke from make-shift stoves and maids lazily cleaning dishes. there are even a few small cottages up for rent around the place. with a tight schedule to meet, we are brisked away back into the bus before we get to absorb the air and dissolve ourselves into the atmosphere. but then something is always better than nothing.

this is the end of the study tour, but two other friends, myself and a stranger decide to spend the next two days exploring dinajpur in northern part of bangladesh. we bid farewell to the rest and separate ways at nine pm, which is dead night for this remote part of highway from where we are to catch the next bus.

[to be continued]