Reminisce 2015 – Welcome 2016 – Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2016

Another year is coming to an end, so wishing all our readers a very happy new year.

2015 had been quite an eventful year for us for both travelling and blogging. We travelled extensively during this year, explored some wonderful places and met a few inspiring and amazing people. In the beginning of the year we had doubt about the sustainability of our blog, but we have successfully completed a year of our blogging in October 2015.

A review of the year that had passed…

Our year started with the trek to Sandakphu and visit to our favourite destination – Darjeeling. Trekking is always rejuvenating and Sandakphu-Phalut trek is an awesome trek which gives the best views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. Doing the trek during January has its benefits – trekking on the snow covered paths and getting the grandest and clear view of Mt. Kanchenjungha and the Everest peaks.

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Kanchenjunga at the backdrop

And also we met our friends from our previous Chadar Trek! It is so good when you meet known people in unknown places like Garibas! Not only that, we made some beautiful friends. The Sandakphu trek is also special as my first article was published at Indiahikes.

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Meeting old friends at odd places is always great

The visit to Darjeeling during the January has become a ritual. It seems that our year of travel remains incomplete if we do not visit Darjeeling! All those who are intoxicated to Darjeeling or any other place for that matter will understand our predicament.

March saw us packing our backpacks to Andamans. Our family and many of our friends were surprised as we were not going to a mountain! Andamans had been a revelation. From the capital city of Port Blair, to the bustling Havelock Island and the serene Neil Island, the archipelago had been a breathtaking experience. But the best part was definitely the northern Andamans which is much less explored, but has unparalleled beauty. At Neil and Havelock Islands, we explored the islands at our own way renting a scooty.

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Enjoying the sun at Neil Island, Andamans

Each of the places we visited had taught us newer things. We scuba dived at Andamans. The underwater experience at Andamans was beyond words. For a person like me who is so fearful of water, doing scuba diving and snorkelling were exhilarating.

© Tale of 2 Backpackers
Diving together is fun too…

In between, we visited Gour and Adina at Malda and explored a beautiful hamlet called Maluti in Jharkhand. The specialty of this village is this small village is said to have 108 temples! Many of the temples are in ruins now.  Maluti has an interesting history and temples of archeological importance. This village had been lying in utter neglect if not for Sri. Gopaldas Mukherjee, who had been working alone for the upliftment of the village and its villagers. He is an inspiring person and also a compelling story teller.

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At Adina mosque, Malda

In October, Tunganath-Chandrashila-Deoriatal trek welcomed us. Enroute we visited Haridwar and Rishikesh. Even this time, the mountains were kind to us and we got magnificent views of the Chaukhamba peaks. At Tunganath, we met an interesting person who self proclaimed to be a Naga Sanyasi. He had enough anecdotes to tell us to keep us engaged during the cold evenings. He was a there with a joint in his hand, taking a puff now and then and then telling us some wonderful stories about his life as a Sanyasi.

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Baba Tunganath

Rishikesh was another milestone. We did river rafting! Rafting is not any bid deal for some, but for people like me, who is so afraid of water, doing scuba diving and facing the rapids of Ganges indeed helps to overcome the fright of water. We had wanted to go for bungee jumping, but this time it eluded us. It was raining that day and so jumping was not taking place.

Finally, the icing on the cake was watching the Ganga Arti at Haridwar. It is a spectacle and you not only have to see it, but feel it too.

Ganga Arti at Haridwar
The visual treat, Ganga Arti at Haridwar

After bidding goodbye to the mountains, we went to the city of Nawabs, Lucknow. We utilized our 2 days in Lucknow to the fullest. Watching the Imambaras, finding our way through the BhulBhulaiya, marvelling at the Baolis and bargaining for Chikans – we did all. And of course, being the foodie we are, we gorged on Kababs, paranthas and Biriyanis.

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At theBara Imambara, Lucknow

We always visit Delhi while going to many places, but never have the time to explore Delhi. This time, we stayed over and explored Delhi at our own pace. From the historical Red Fort, to the artistic Humayun’s tomb, from the exuberant Hauz Khas village to the colourful Dilli Haat, we explored Delhi like never before by metro and foot.

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The colourful Dilli Haat
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Jama Masjid, New Delhi

Finally, the last weekend of this year was spent exploring my own city Kolkata. Kolkata has so many places which we don’t know of. A visit to Bow Barracks and having cakes from Flurys during the Christmas is always refreshing.

Bow Barracks kolkata
Celebrations at Bow Barracks

2015 was rewarding year of travelling. Met so many new people and made so many good friends. I overcame some of my fears and explored places, cultures and cuisines. And the year ended with an encouraging note. An old friend from school messaged me after a long time after she read one of our articles. We met one of our readers who also happen to be a traveller. It was so heartening to know from him that our blog inspires him to travel more.

We take this opportunity to thank all our readers, friends and all those inspiring people whom we met along the way, all those who helped us and encouraged us. Wishing you all a very happy new year with a great year ahead. Please do follow your passion, be it travelling or anything. You will be a much enriched person.

Maluti – the hamlet with 108 temples

Maluti, a nondescript hamlet is situated near the Bengal– Jharkhand border at Dumka district of Jharkhand. What sets apart this village from others is the presence of as many as 108 temples clustered in a radius of about 350 metres.

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Temples of Maluti

The History:

It was during the reign of emperor Alauddin Hussan Shah of Gour (1495 – 1525) when the Sultan had camped with his entourage near Maluti. During this time, the Begum had lost her pet hawk (Baaj pakhi in Bengali) and was quite upset. The Sultan, to please his queen announced that anyone who finds the bird will be rewarded handsomely. As chance would be, a local shepherd named Basanta found the bird and returned it to the emperor. The Sultan was so happy that he awarded several acres of tax free land to Basanta. Thus Basanta became the first king of Baaj Basanta dynasty and marking the beginning of Nankar (non tax) region. Basanta came to be known as Baaj Basanta because of his tryst with the “Baaj”.

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Shiva Linga at a temple of Maluti

Baaj Basanta’s great grandson Rajchandra was defeated by the King of Rajnagar in the battle of Damra. His four sons fled and shifted the capital to Maluti in about 1680 and they started living separately. The house of Rakharchandra, the eldest son, came to be known as Rajbari (house of the king). The eldest son of the family was automatically given the title of Raja. The second son Prithvichandra’s house was called the Madhyam Bari (house of the second). Ramchandra, who like his brother got one-fourth share, and was called Sikir Bari (house of one-fourth share). The fourth and last son Madhavchandra had six sons, so his house came to be known as Chhai Taraf (house of six).

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Raas Mancha at Maluti

During this time, many terracotta artisans called “Sutradhars” travelled along the villages displaying their art. These craftsmen met the four brothers and under their patronage built several temples. The terracotta temples are of various designs and patterns. Most of the temples here follow the charchalla (four sloped roofs) form of architecture, the most common form found in Bengal. There are few temples following the Orissan style of architecture. Some of the temples have intricate terracotta designs depicting various Hindu mythological and religious events.

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The battle of Ram and Ravana depicted in terracotta works

There are intricate details of war scene between Ram and Ravana at the Madhyam Bari. These scenes are found in some other temples of Maluti  also. There is also the life stories of Sri Krishna depicted in terracotta panels as well as that of Goddess Durga.

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Devi Durga depicted by terraicotta works at Maluti

What surprised us was that the designs were also inspired by the current social scenarios. There is a carving of a Babu going for hunting in a palanquin.

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Babu going in palanquin

There is also a very minute carving of some soldiers – the first soldiers on horseback with sword followed by soldiers wielding guns. This showed the advent of East India Company in Indian landscape.

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Terracotta works at temple of Maluti showing the soldiers

Our visit to Maluti:

Maluti  is best approachable from Rampurhat station in Birbhum district of West Bengal. Maluti is just 16 km from Rampurhat. An auto has to be booked from Rampurhat. It is a 16 kilometers of pleasant ride which will even take you through a deserted air field. As we reached Maluti , we first visited the temple of Devi Maulishka. The deity only has a face and no body.

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The deity of Devi Maulishka

The village is a small one with almost 350 families. The descendants of Baaj Basanta had built around 108 temples in that small area. 36 of them could not pass the test of times and are now in ruins. The rest 72 now lies neglected. 8 newer temples were built bringing the number of temples to 80.

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Mahisasura Mardini at Maluti

Maluti had been neglected by the Government since long. But it is due to the lone crusade of Sri. Gopaldas Mukherjee that village is gaining prominence. Sri Gopaldas Mukherjee is an retired school teacher who had painstakingly researched about Maluti and worked hard to bring Maluti to notice. His hardwork and perseverance was not in vain. Now, this village has got noticed by the Central as well as Jharkhand Government and now funds are allocated to preserve the temples. Sri. Mukherjee has written a few books about Maluti too.

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Sri. Gopaldas Mukherjee, the lone crusader of Maluti

Maluti is thus a small temple town rich in history and culture. Visit this hamlet to see the beautiful terracotta temples and the story behind it. A visit to Sri Gopaldas Mukherjee will be an enriching experience.

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Intricate terracotta designs at the temple 

Some facts:

How to reach:

Take a train from Howrah to Rampurhat. From Rampurhat, an auto has to be reserved for visit to Maluti . The auto fare is approximately Rs.700/- depending on your bargaining capacity! The visit can be done together with Tarapith.

Accommodation:

There is a government lodge at here. But it is better to stay at Rampurhat or Tarapith.

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Temple of Devi Maulishka

Trivia:

It is said that Sage Bamakhepa had first attained his enlightenment at Maluti  in front of Devi Maulishka and then at Tarapith in front of Devi Tara. So Devi Maulishka is referred to as the elder sister of Devi Tara.

The trident and conch of Bamakhepa is still preserved here  in a temple named after him.

Most of the villagers stay at different places due to their job. But during the Kali Puja, all of them come to their visit to celebrate the Puja with great pomp and grandeur.

Acknowledgement:

We first came to know about Maluti from Rangan Datta’s blog – who has inspired us to explore the unknown Bengal.

We also thank Gopaldas Mukherjee for his vivid description of the history of Maluti .

Maluti
A forgotten village
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Temples