Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rambha, Chilika: Soak in a salty lagoon's lap.

Courtesy :

The rain lashed the window pave of the AC compartment as our train was whizzing past inconspicuous stations on the Howrah-Chennai track. We were, actually, heading for a lesser known town south of puri and the gateway to Chilika, Asia’s biggest salt water lagoon on the Bay of Bengal.

Next morning we got down at Balugaon and headed for the OTDC Panthanivas at Rambha. The Panthanivas is a sprawling compound facing the lake with AC cottages, AC and Non AC DB rooms and a conference hall and a beautiful garden. Fish lovers can have a treat here with the variety of both the species and the menu which includes items of prawns, lobsters, crabs and a host of sea fishes.

Being clustered in the city our souls long for open space. We wasted no time but headed straight towards the jetty connected by a straight road inside the lake. The jetty is a makeshift fishing harbour from where you can ire a boat to take a short trip. But for sight seeing tours it is advisable to opt for the OTDC packages.

Next day early morning we headed for the Kalijai Island It has the famous Kalijai temple where thousands of devotees throng during Makar Shankranti.. OTDC arranges a boat if there are ten or more heads and they charge a total of three thousand bucks for Kalijai and back which takes six hours. One can see the Bird Island, Nalbana, Breakfast Island, Honeymoon Island, Ghantashila hill island en route. These places are a bird haven where Siberian birds flock in during winter.

But the most attractive part of this tour is a visit to Rishikulya Beach 18 km away, where Olive Ridley turtles visit for nesting and hatching. The turtles come in February for nesting and in April and May for hatching. One will have to get there at midnight to see the nesting when the turtles dig holes using their flippers to lay their eggs and floats back. During harvesting season one has to visit Rishikulya in the early morning during the harvesting season. Due to illegal killing of these turtles in the vicinity, one may come across a few carcasses and have to endure the stench. Its better to have precise knowledge of the timings of the visit of turtles at Rishikulya, as the window is slim, a week at the most.

Sunset at chilika

The evenings are pleasant and one can stroll in the beautiful garden in the premises while see the children play. Its time for a cup of tea with pakodas, or a bottle of beer to chill out.

Amitava Chakrabarty

Navigator: By train to Balugaon and then by Auto or Car to Panthanivas Nearest Airport is Bhubaneswar from where Rambha is roughly 130 Km.

Phone: 06810-278346, email: 
Bookings at Kolkata : Utkal Bhavan, 55 Lenin Sarani, Calcutta. Phone 22651195/ 22654556 ...

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

If Dreams Were True

“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.” 
Langston Hughes

Courtesy: Ron Leishman
Yesterday I dreamt a dream. Subconscious, they say, play an important role in its origin. But it was a consciously subconscious dream. I was flipping the web pages to gather information about the city of Melbourne just to try and write something worthwhile to submit an article on Melbourne in IndiBlogger. Soon the information cluttered up my brain and the bawl within gradually subsided when I let myself leave the idea of scribbling a story. Rather, it was easier for me to seek recluse on my sofa for a catnap. It was then when I dreamt the most colourful dream of my life.

A race course- all in black, white or shades of grey. A horse was running. I know him. He was the icon of a country reeling under the Great Depression preceding  World War-II. He is the famous Phar Lap, the champion thoroughbred racehorse. Each of his muscles expanding in exuberance of the race; each turgid veins throbs in victory’s own blood, upon the turf where he is winning one of the 37 races that he has won. The race faded out. I saw him encased in a glass case in the Melbourne Museum, cold, still and breathless. The woody ambiance has its sheen but somewhere spews deep sad sighs- sighs from the lungs fed by the 14 lb heart that is still preserved in Canberra National Museum. His heart stopped on 5th April, 1932 in America, where he ran his last race and was poisoned by a lethal dose of Arsenic. The window of hope was closed suddenly in the island continent thousand miles away.

The green race course suddenly changed into a stadium. I have seen this arena. It’s the MCG. I saw Steve Waugh walking down the pitch, collars up, with an aura of restrained flamboyance. One of the most successful captains the Aussies have ever produced. But I adore him for a completely different reason. It’s his philanthropic works down here in Kolkata. His NGO, UDAYAN, has been instrumental in setting up of a Leprosy Center for the girl child here in Nepalgunj, at the outskirts of the city of joy. A blind school has been set up two years later by him. An invisible bridge was built by this magnanimous soul which connected my city to the one which can boast of having the oldest sporting club in Australia; yes the Melbourne Cricket Club (Estd-1838). Tagged to it were interactive shows of National Sports MuseumEast Melbourne ( ). The 3D theatrical experience  of Shane Warne’s “Cricket found me” was flippantly passing through my eyes where I could see his ominous googlies but couldn’t comprehend what he said in the Australian accent.

 The MCG has somewhere merged with the Eden Gardens, The Hugli has meandered its way into the Yarra River; the “tom-toms” of Kolkata trams has merged with the sounds of the suave Yarra Trams; the Victorian Arts Centre at the South bank precincts finds a strange companion in our own Academy of Fine Arts, The Melbourne Theater Company stand cheek by jowl with our own Rabindra Sadan. Both being the cultural capital of their respective countries, I found a strange undertone of similarity that exists in visually dissimilar periphery.

A boat cruises along the Yarra and seeing the ships moored in the piers in the dockyard at Williams Town with vessels plying to and fro in the Hobsons Bay as I walk upon the Beach street has a strange resemblance with my frequent stroll  upon  our own Strand Road.

The known chime of the doorbell brought me back to the hard real world, which escaped for a few moments upon the soft sofa. I looked through the window and the urban ennui slapped my drowsy vision. 

Moments before Melbourne didn't seem too far from my own city, but now it seems far-far away.

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