November 30, 2008

Genesis of Bande Mataram at Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay's Residence at Chinsurah, Hooghly

Indian national song "Bande Mataram" is claimed to have been composed by Bankim Chandra here at this house where he stayed for a few years. The building has been recently restored by Hooghly-Chinsurah Municipality with the assistance of Heritage Commission.
The house has been opened for the public by Sunil Gangopahyay on 30.11.2008.

Many people for many years tried hard for the recognition of this house as a heritage building.

One can find two beautiful pictures of Bankim Chandra and his wife painted by the artist Joydeep.

Besides these, a bust statue of the great thinker has also been placed there.

Huge number of people gathered at the function and their enthusiasm was noteworthy.

[How to reach: From Howrah by local train to Chinsurah railway station. From there by auto-ricksaw or any other vehicle reach Joraghat]

November 27, 2008

Excavation at Moghalmari Buddhist Monastery, Paschim Medinipur

A site at Monoharpur or Mogholmari in Paschim Medinipur (also known as Hanria Bhati because of mass production of crude wine from rice) has recently been marked and excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India.
We, two teachers went there with our students to show them a newly discovered site. We wanted to show them how excavation is done--vertically and sometimes horizontally. We saw a portion of the area vertically excavated and a round wall of red bricks very beautifully and carefully laid out.

The area is protected by wooden fence, but some local Santhal children who knew little and love people helped us by opening the gate.
Some of the students went down and inspected the wall. Our history professor explained things in details.

He said that many artefacts belonging to the Gupta Age have been discovered. The site is believed to have been once a big Buddhist monastery. It may be noted here that from the name of the place it is understandable that some battle took place here in the medieval period when some Moghols (Moghuls) were defeated.

The place is now inhabited by Santhals (Adivasi or aboriginals of Bengal) and on the very site a small village bazaar is also held. A Hindu temple is also erected on the very mound.

The people of the place are very enthusiastic about the outsiders and careful about the dignity of the place and I think they are also protecting the place, which has been left out without any official protection.

The beauty of the place is awesome. We reached there in the late afternoon.

With the slanting rays of the sun illuminating the whole landscape with mysterious historical feeling, we went round it and found the natural beauty simply awesome.

On the western side, we found a mysterious small pond beyond which lay the golden reward of nature stretched to the horizon.

There are two ponds—one small on the western side and the other big one on the southern side. I think this pond is one of the instances of the old Bengali ways of solving the problem of water by preserving surface water in the rainy season. In fact, one can find a very big pond, Sarashanka, believed to be dug up by Shashanko, the king of Bengal, seven or eight km from this place. The belief is strengthened by the huge size of the water body, which is in need of preservation. This pond (in picture) below is fresh and the water is used by the local people.

Greenery is abundantly there endowing the place with soft tender mood.

Finally, the calm of the place may help you to hear many footsteps of the past like ours of the present that trod around the place.

Update 1: Annexure-II

On 6th March, Director Goutam Ghosh came to Monoharpur to shoot the Moghalmari Buddhist site. He is making a documentary on the area. The site is now filled up, yet I think they came to shoot the surrounding areas which once contributed to the making of Buddhist culture here. I talked to the principal investigator Dr. Ashok Datta, of CU. He told me that another site has been marked out which promises to turn out to be a Buddhist monastery. According to him and his team, many a Buddhist monastery was built along the bank of the river Subarnarekha. He has published a book on the entire excavation:

Excavation at Moghalmari (2003-4 to 2007-08), Ashok Datta, Asiatic Society, Rs. 1200/

Last Picture Clockwise: Me, Goutam Ghosh, Dr. Ashok Dutta

[How to reach: From Kolkata or other place to Kharagpur. From Kharagpur bus-stand (taxi-stand) towards Sonakonia-Dantan route, get down at Monoharpur. From there you can go on foot.]

November 25, 2008

A Tree Kingfisher (Halcyonidae) of Bengal

I got this bird in the backyard of the house. There is a small pond which shelters a variety of fishes, insects and bird. I found this bird for the second day. Perhaps it has found this new place for feasting. Hope it will come again and, of course, closer so that I can get clearer images without zooming to the limit.

November 23, 2008

Water Hyacinth of Bengal

Since childhood we are habituated to seeing this invasive species of aquatic plant, which came, we were told in school, from South America. People in Bengal generally do not think well of this because of its invasion and exploitation of aquatic resources. But this can be also used for bio-waste disposal.

A View of a Village in West Bengal

When I got this view, I said to myself, "This is an archetypal picture!". I got down from taxi and shot this. You can find almost all the autumnal activities in the picture: cows grazing on the stubs and left-outs, white cranes coming down for rich meal, the fields left to themselves after a rich crop. People are busy somewhere with other fields. The rural Bengal is still beautiful, but I am sorry to say that the 'poets' of Bengal do not know this.

An Autumnal Landscape of Rural Bengal

This autumnal landscape in rural Bengal reminds me of Keats's Ode to Autumn. It is time for harvesting. After massive floods and many other difficulties, the year is going to a close with the rich reward of ripe golden corn. As I shot this I smelt a rich fragrance coming from the paddy fields. Does it resemble that which we get in our babyhood at our mother's lap? I cannot remember, but it makes me feel that there will be no hungry child whose father carries these stacks home.

November 15, 2008

A Village Sunset

I took this picture going deep inside villages. It was autumnal landscape, paddy fields slowly maturing.

November 14, 2008

A Smiling Santhal

We met this man belonging to Santhal or Sanotal tribe of West Midnapore. (Paschim Medinipur) He was bathing in a huge pond. As we sought his permission to take pictures from the place he was standing, he gladly invited us. He finished his bath and answered our queries in cordial manner. It seemed he was very happy to see us shoot. We requested him to stand in front of the camera and readily agreed. We captured his picture and showed to him in the LCD screen of the camera. He was as glad as a child.

A Municipal Cow

I went to visit my son away at his maternal grandfather's house at Chinsurah. At noon I found this cow quenching its thirst by municipal tap water. Later I learnt that this cow would do this frequently. I understood these dumb animals have also oriented their living towards easy ways.

A Drongo among the Green

It was noon and this (the forked tail drongo) bird was seen looking for something amidst the green and deep foliage. It was too tempting for me to shoot at. It was not flying away and allowed me enough time to bring out my camera and load it and finally take a few snaps. Can you recognize it? It is not cuckoo. It is called the "fighter bird".I have seen this small bird defending itself against big crows.

A Spider on My Briefcase

One evening I found this spider resting or waiting for prey on my briefcase. I was amazed to see such a beautiful one right in my room. I did not mind its presence and took this picture gladly. My camera went very close to it, but it did not move away. However, I do not know exactly its category in the nomenclature. If you know, let know it. Also zoom in to find its beauty.