Sunday, 26 March 2017

Taki: The lesser known hamlet

 Story Published: 23rd March

Back in 2011, I finally opted out my Kodak film camera, in order to switch to the digital world of photography. Mobile photography was something which I thought was an easy gateway to digital photography. I had my new HTC phone, and was curious to photograph anything and everything around. My family planned to go for a place for the weekend, which eventually proved to be my first digitally documented photo journey. Beyond that, back then, I never thought I would be narrating my journey after 5yrs, and my record photography would find a place in highly sophisticated travel platform. 

Stretched on the bank of Ichhamati river, in North 24 Pargana (west bengal), Taki is a small hamlet, surrounded by date palm, and banana trees, and a wonderful gateway to people of Kolkata who want to get themselves some fresh air over the weekend. 65kms of drive through wonderful highway from Kolkata, and 10kms further off-roading to get access, this village is much of worth as it also serves as Indo-Bangla border. Unfortunately, this place is lesser known to people of Kolkata in comparison to other famous gateways like Digha, Sundarban etc. Still the village see many visitors every month, says the army personal who was on duty back then on 29th March 2011. He added, that army men do patrol the entire village day and night, and at the village entrance check post, they register in and out for every visitor (with vehicle) into the village. To secure the process, they do ask for a ID card and keep it with them until you register out yourself from the village. Said that, this process does not prohibit one to stay for few nights, but It’s just a way to keep a track of all visitors, as the area is highly sensitive due to the unfenced, river driven international border.  You may see Indian flags all over the village, including all small, medium sized boats which use to sail over the Ichhamati river for fishing purpose. Prime occupation for people out there is to make baskets out of bamboo, hand crafts, fishing, and farming. However, the next generation is keen to study and shape their career. Taki has a govt Intermediate school. For further studies, or technical skills, one has to venture out of the village. However, the village is not far back from being facilitated by modern electronic amenities to support day to day life.

Tourists, especially from Kolkata city come here to cut themselves off from the hush-bush of the city, and enjoy the village stay which includes roaming around the village on open cart (which is the primary mode of transport for villagers). The cart for 5 persons, won’t cost more than 300 INR, to get a village tour for 3-4hrs approx. A small boat (3-4 heads) ride for an hour won’t cost more than 100INR; eventually 400-500 INR for a ferry ride of 10 persons for 2-3hrs. One can also participate in hand crafts with village people. It would be a lovely experience if your kid who is from the iPad generation, get their hands dirty with clay play and hand crafts. Going out in crop fields, balancing yourself on the divider on naked foot is yet another experience to be enjoyed. For those who love to visit ancient temples, Taki offers twin temples. Yes, both the temples (of lord shiva) are made like twins. Locals do call it twin shiva temple, which is believe to be more than 200yrs old. At the least, there are enough of clean ponds in village where one can soak in.

Photograph by Kallol Chatterjee

No matter what, the evening tea in one of the local tea shop is not something to be overlooked. Sipping up tea, sitting on the Ichhamati river’s bank, legs drowned into the river, and watching the setting sun on the horizon, is an awesome experience one can have while in Taki. However, the fact to be considered here is Ichhamati river experiences both low and high tides every day, so being on bank of the river after sunset may be a risk to life, if you are not familiar with the ambient threats. Anyhow, village people are very cooperative and polite to their guests, and they themselves won’t let you invite any such threat to yourself.

Photograph by Kallol Chatterjee
If you are in Taki, you should taste the awesome fish prepared by the local villagers. One can get the fish of Ichhamati river, from small road side hotels in Taki. The border village, being so small, the road side hotels barely cook dinner for 50, so you can’t afford to be late. Your dinner would be served on banana leaf, in traditional style. The abundance of banana trees makes it easy for them. A decent plate of rice and fish curry may not cost above 30-40 INR per plate, which is a great deal. Once you are done with the cuisine, one should not forget to ask for malpua, which is one of the very famous desert, prepared in Taki. Let’s say this way, that Taki is known for delicious malpuas. There are many sweet shops around, and there’s no specific shop to ask for. The magic is in air I believe.
There are few small and good rest houses and hotels which offers night stay to the guests. A decent guest house room for 2 may cost around 300-400 INR. There’s always a room for good negotiation. Despite the fact that Taki is a very small village, the guest houses in there, offers pleasant stay with all basic (at times luxurious) amenities. But, if your guest house can’t offer you mosquito repellent, I would advise you to give a second thought to your stay. Personally, I would either love to put myself into my car, or even drive back to home, rather than facing Taki mosquitoes.

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