Offbeat

Mawlyngot – where tea changed the lifestyle!

Tea has brought a lot of changes in our life. – Riba from Mawlyngot said thoughtfully. We were a little surprised. We love our cups of Darjeeling Tea, but tea plantation in Meghalaya was new to us. (We know so less, there is so much to be seen and known!) And then Riba told us about her place, her village. The story of Mawlyngot is like that of a phoenix. At about 45 km from Shillong lies this somnolent village in the East Khasi hills of Meghalaya. The locals believe that the people from the Indo-Bangladesh border had migrated...

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Tusu Festival at Purulia

As our quest for all things traditional that are losing themselves to the chores of time continues, we decided to head towards Purulia this year to witness the Tusu festival. Tusu Festival or Tusu Parob is a harvesting festival celebrated in the Chhota Nagpur region of Eastern India that includes Purulia, Bankura, Medinipur in West Bengal and parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha. The last days of the Bengali “Poush” month always call in for a great feast of “pithe” and “patisapta”. The month-end also called the “Makar Sankranti” also calls for a number of celebrations across rural Bengal....

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The Diamond Triangle – Buddhist Heritage in Odisha

Whenever we talk about travelling in Odisha, we usually think about the Golden Triangle of Bhubaneswar, Konark and Puri along with the Chilika Lake. But Odisha is also quite rich in heritage and archaeological sites. We are talking about the Diamond Triangle of Odisha, excavation sites that are rich in Buddhist relics and heritage. Odisha is one such place where Buddhism had flourished quite well.  Infact, the first ones who had become lay-disciples of Lord Buddha were two merchants from Ukkala (Utkala, Odisha). It is also well known that the Mauryan King Asoka had played a major role in...

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Bunkulung–an unexplored paradise

Our wanderlust to visit the offbeat weekend destinations surely takes us to places that are so unique and beautiful. We have always believed that West Bengal has such beauties in her that simply cannot be described by words. Bunkulung near Mirik is one such place. It is a small village with picturesque scenery and of course the peace that we were looking for. We came to know about Bunkulung by chance. I think a lot of things are happening by chance with us. A few days back, we visited Jagjivanpur on our scooty without any plan. You can read...

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Jatar Deul, the Horse Race and the Fair

Traditions and culture have always fascinated me. So when I heard about the Horse Race at Jatar Deul, I could not resist myself to witness the event. A horse race in rural Bengal – this was enough to make me visit Jatar Deul in the middle of April. Jatar Deul is located at Kankandighi near Raidighi in the South 24 parganas district. After a train, auto and motor van ride of around 4 hours, we reached the Jatar Deul. Please read my earlier post to know more about Jatar Deul and its interesting history. On the second day of...

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Jatar Deul – History Unexplained

The name ‘Jatar Deul’ itself invoked a keen interest in us. And on hearing about it, we were much more inclined to visit the place. A towering brick temple in the midst of nowhere in rural South Bengal – this piece of information was enough to pique our interest! So when opportunity came to visit Jatar Deul, we just had to grab it. So on 16th April (also the second day of Baisakh, the first month of Bengali calendar) we accompanied Uttara Di, Rangan da and Debika to a visit to Jatar Deul. The date of our journey was...

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Offbeat Weekend Destinations from Kolkata to beat the heat

The summers are coming with its scorching days and you have already started planning your next trip to the hill stations. Some of you must have already booked your tickets to Darjeeling and Gangtok. What I suggest is this time leave aside the conventional destinations and tread a few offbeat places. Here is a curated list of weekend destinations from Kolkata where you can pay a visit. And yes, Tale of 2 Backpackers recommends these. Weekend destinations from Kolkata: 1. Bagora Misty hamlet, simple villagers, great views of the mountains and complete seclusion from the city life – that...

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Mongpu – Revisiting Tagore

Mongpu was the last place where Rabindranath Tagore celebrated his last birthday on May 9, 1940. He was 80 years then. He enjoyed staying at Mongpu and used to enjoy looking at the ‘Malatilata’ flowers. The tree is still there. For us Bengalis, Rabindranath Tagore is like god. We have all grown up listening to his poems, learning his songs. I think there is very few Bengalis who would say that their child did not learn to sing Tagore songs and their little girls did not dance to the tunes of Rabindra Sangeet. Yes, as a child, even I...

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Rangaroon – A place where Darjeeling meets Kanchenjungha

There is something so tranquil about Rangaroon that you are bound to forget everything and get immersed in the beauty of this little village. And the best part of this hamlet is that you can see both Darjeeling city and the Kanchenjungha range in the same frame! See the pictures if you don’t believe me. Rangaroon is situated just at the foothills of the famed Tiger hill from where you can see the gorgeous sunrise. Naturally, there is a trek route to the Tiger Hill. Rangaroon is situated at a height of about 6000 ft and the weather makes...

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Mukha, the Kushmandi masks and the art of mask making

Kushmandi block of South Dinajpur is the home of the wooden mask makers better known as Kushmandi masks or in colloquial terms “Mukha”. The makers are mainly concentrated in the village of Mahisbathan where a handicraft hub has been developed as a part of rural craft hub initiative under the MSME department of Government of West Bengal and in collaboration with UNESCO. The Kushmandi Masks: The Kushmandi masks are generally objects of devotion very devoutly crafted by the villagers. Thus these masks also called the Gomira masks catered to the needs of the Gomira dancers and to the villagers...

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Gomira Dance – an ancient dance form of rural Bengal

Gomira dance is a rural dance form mainly practiced in the Dinajpur district of West Bengal. The dance is usually performed by the villagers to please the gods to usher in the ‘good forces’ and ward off the ‘evil forces’. Very obviously, this dance form is a part of varying traditions and the rich cultural history of Bengal. So when the opportunity came to watch a Gomira dance performance, we were more than happy to seize it. Origin of the Gomira Dance Gomira dance is actually a masked dance form. The word Gomira has been derived from the colloquial...

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Takdah – the land of mist

A dreamy place where the sun and clouds play hide and seek with glee and mist descends at its own will, the foggy trails, the blooming orchids and the majestic mountain views – if all these are making you want to leave your desk just now, then Takdah is just the right place for you. Takdah is merely 28 km away from Darjeeling and stands at a height of 4000 ft. Takdah is also called ‘Tukdah’ that is a Lepcha word meaning mist. So you can easily imagine why the place remains foggy for most of the time. Takdah...

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