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Sunday, September 29, 2013

To Dhupguri and Back- Part 1

A three nights and two day train journey will take you to the furtherest part of India you would like to go. Since my brother Jonty decided to move to a tiny little town called Dhupguri (situated in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, about 75 km from Siliguri) it was inevitable we make a trip.

After an overnight journey from Miraj to Mumbai, we boarded the Guwahati Express at Kalyan Junction the next morning.Day one took us through much of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Thanks to the great monsoon this year, the land looked green and absolutely beautiful. Since there were no other passengers in our cubicle, we could stretch out our legs, cozy up in our blankets (the Air Con was super cold), drink lots of tea and watch the scenery go by.

Day Two brought us to Uttar Pradesh, Mughal Sarai. My mother has fond memories of this station as my family lived in Varanasi for a while and my brother Jonty was born there. UP looks like the quintessential India you often seen in pictures; tiny little villages, green fields all around and not very developed.

We then entered Bihar and traveled through the entire breath of Bihar; green paddy fields, overflowing rivers that looked like the sea, little villages, not many cities, but more about our Bihari adventures later.

Day three: We arrived in Dhupguri at 7am; the train was two hours late, not bad all things considered. My lifelong perception of Miraj as a dusty little town has drastically changed after visiting Dhupguri, West Bengal.  I can’t help but wonder why this strategic corner of India is so neglected.  I say strategic because, as anyone who has traveled to the North East knows that this little district of Jalpaiguri, is the gateway to the North-East of India. It is this tiny strip of land squashed in between Bhutan and Bangladesh that leads to the rest of North East India. 

There is not much to say about Dhupguri as a town, it is underdeveloped and in great need of a good school and hospital, but more importantly a road to get to Siliguri. As far as I know, there is no NH 31D and SH 12A. They say such a road exists; it must exist because it says so, but since I was unable to see any road, I say there is no road. A person must therefore learn the subtle art of flying to get from one place to the other (*see hitchhikers guide to the galaxy for more on how to fly) or else have every bone in their body and nut and bolt in their car rattled and shaken and tossed about like a rag doll until you reach your destination covered in dust and grime. I think there must be little bits of me scattered about across Jalpaiguri, so forgive me if I have rambled on.

The only remarkable thing about Jalpaiguri, apart from its strategic location, super flat landscape, endless paddy fields, enormous rivers, tin houses on stilts, endless tea gardens and millions of fireflies, is that on extremely clear mornings (and mornings are an hour earlier than the rest of India) one can get a clear view of the KanchanJunga Himalayan mountain range. The  snowy white peaks in the distance at first may look like white clouds and the dark hills of Darjeeling and Bhutan look like large dark clouds, but slowly the longer you look, you begin to realize that they are in fact mountains… rather amazing! 

Pic courtesy: Ashish Naik (Sorry I didn't ask for your permission)

Stay tuned for part 2- Bhutan, Kalimpong and Bihar adventures...

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