Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Business Line : Markets News : India's exposure ‘to stocks one of the lowest in the world'

The nation with 75 cr mobile connections, but less than 1.5 cr depository accounts.
Mr Akshay Agrawal, Managing Director, Acumen Capital Market India Ltd, has stressed the need to create more awareness among the public to invest in capital markets, as India's exposure to stocks in only a meagre 1.25 per cent against 35-40 per cent in developed economies.
“This is one of the lowest in the world as far as a developing economy like India is concerned,” he told students at the Sreenarayana Guru Institute of Science and Technology, North Paravur near here as part of delivering the Business Line Club lecture. “The stigma of scams and the general perception that investing in stocks is risky has kept Indians away from the capital markets,” he said.
He lamented that while India has over 75 crore mobile connections, the country has less than 1.5 crore depository accounts. This reflected the poor participation in the stock markets, and also reflected the tremendous growth potential the markets have.
According to Mr Agrawal, India has got the highest savings in the world with about 36 per cent. About 64 per cent of the savings in India goes to banks in fixed deposits while 6 per cent goes to capital markets. The ideal way to grow wealth is to invest in fixed assets such as properties and in other paper assets such as fixed income deposits, gold ETFs, equities and so on, he said.
The Managing Director of Acumen suggested that a young person, by virtue of youth and the prospects of a bright career ahead, has a higher risk taking capacity, and so can afford to invest a larger amount in assets that carry higher risk but also much better returns.
The presentation also gave students and the faculty members insights on the various factors that govern the movement of the stock markets and also how to avoid pitfalls and maximise returns.
He pointed out that the stock market witnessed five times growth from 2003-04 to 2008-09 as the Sensex went up from 3,500 to 21,000. In the last 30 years, the market was positive for 22 years and negative for eight years. It provided 60 per cent returns in five times, 40-60 per cent in five times, 20-40 per cent in four times and 0-20 per cent in 8 times.
Comparing the returns delivered by various assets like bank deposits, company deposits, equities, he said over the long terms equities have consistently delivered higher returns than all other assets.
Earlier Mr K.P. Narayanan, Assistant Regional General Manager, The Hindu, spoke about Business Line Club and its activities.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sonepur Ka Mela, Bodh Gaya and Nalanda - a study in contrast

We left for Patna on 25/11/2011 to see Sonepur Mela by Himigiri Express at 11.55 PM. We are six people – Gobindo, Ashis-da, Subir-da and Ashit-da and his wife with diverse background - all of us, hardcore traveller and suffer from wanderlust.....a great combination.

We reached Patna around 10.15 am. From Patna we hired/reserved an auto to go Sonepur (Rs 200 – which is little less than normal rate). Alternately one can go to Hajipur (@ Rs 20 per head) and reach Sonepur by taking another auto. There is a direct train to Sonepur station also from Kolkata, but the length of the journey is more – more than 14 hours. Our contact person is Mr. Ajay, System Administrator, (0 9430 828 188); he is with Bihar tourism. We booked 3 Tents on 26/11/2011 – the location of the tent is 2 minutes walk from the Sonepur Mela (near Sonepur Hospital) for 1 day @ Rs 525 per Tent. The location of the tent is very secured and convenient.

When the Mela started in November 10, 2011 (up to 9.12.2011) the rent was Rs 999. As the mela progresses the rent falls. There are some cottages also too at Rs 1100, which were initially around Rs 3000. I thought it is too pricey considering the facilities provided. (Bihar Tourism office is at 26 B Camac Street – few buildings away from Pantaloon,22 Camac Street,Kolkata. There is no infrastructure there, but Mr. Tapan Sinha (9830 04 52 35) gave some valuable information i.e. contact no. of Mr. Ajay.)

The Sonepur Cattle Fair or Sonepur Mela is held on Kartik Poornima (the full moon day) in the month of November in Sonepur, Bihar, on the confluence of river Ganges and River Gandak. It is also known as Harihar Kshetra Mela and it attracts visitors from all over Asia; till date, it is the biggest cattle fair of Asia and stretches on from fifteen days to one month. It has its origins during ancient times. Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges. The Sonepur Cattle Fair once used to attract traders from places as distant as Central Asia. Originally, the venue of the fair was Hajipur and only the performance of the Puja used to take place at the Harihar Nath temple of Sonepur.

However, under the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the venue of the fair got shifted to Sonepur. The temple of Harihar Nath is believed to have been originally built by Lord Rama, on his way to the court of King Janak to win the hand of Mata Sita. It is further said that Raja Man Singh later got the temple repaired. The Harihar Nath temple, as it stands today, was built by Raja Ram Narain, an influential person during the late Mughal period.
Billed as the world’s largest cattle fair, the Sonepur Mela in Bihar draws in farmers from across the country vying for top prizes for their animals. The Sonepur Mela is one of the largest cattle fairs in Asia where cows, sheep, elephants, camels, cats, dogs, pigs, monkeys. But over the years, the fair has become much larger to include several attractions, including motorcycle wall of death shows and dancer girls.
There are plenty of other attractions and entertainments on offer at this pulsating festival; visitors can simply browse through the stalls or regional food and drink specialties. You will find the variety of stalls selling almost everything under the sun from garments to weapons, furniture to toys, utensils and agricultural equipments to jewelry and handicrafts etc. You may also taste varieties of famous local delicacies such as Papdi, Khazoor, Halwa and much more. However it was no way different from any other village fair and loud music.
But when we went there, it is bit late and by that time elephants and camels have left. A huge disappointment for us. So it is better to go within 1st week. We rode the giant wheel and saw some magic shows.

However we saw horse, cow, rabbit, dog, birds. We were told the cost of a good horse is Rs 1 lakh. The jersey cows were sold at Rs 50,000 and ordinary cows were sold at Rs 20,000.We are told that jersey cows give 20 litres of milk per day and local cows give 8 litres per day ( and hence the difference).

When asked about the dancing girls we were told that “nautanki iska jaan hai. Yeh chala jaiga to mela bhi khatam ho jaiga!”
In the evening we went to beside the Gandak River and after spending some time we came back to our tent and left for dinner.


Today we left early in the morning to see the fair and went to the Gandak River and hired a boat (Rs 100) to go the other side and saw a Nepali temple on the other side of the river. There is a crematorium on the other side of the river. After spending some time in the boat, we decided to come back to hotel and left for Patna.


By train

The nearest Railway station is Gaya (16 km). From there you can take a bus or a three wheel taxi to Bodh Gaya. Three-wheel taxi price is extremely variable, depending on time of day, but should be between 80-120 Rs. You should bargain considerably, there is rarely a shortage of service.
The express train from Patna takes about two hours. One can also go to Gaya from Kolkata.

By bus
There is a main road connecting Bodhgaya and Gaya. The Bihar State Tourist Development Corporation runs daily deluxe bus services to and from Bodh Gaya.
Ashitda and his wife left for Kolkata (they halted some time in Patna at their relative’s house) and left for Bodh Gaya by taking the bus from Mithapur Bus station, Patna – which is 2 km south of Patna railway station. We took our lunch at Welcome restaurant beside the bus station.
The bus goes straight to Bodhgaya. It took around 4 hours to reach there. When we reached there, it is already 8.00 pm. Then we took an auto to reach our hotel – Shanti Guest House – 631- 2200 129 or Mobile 909 717 0075 or 9835 81 80 81 behind Kal-chakra ground. The hotel rent is only Rs 400. In fact we were lucky to see the brother of owner of this hotel in the bus itself! It was very good and highly recommendable. Since the tourist season starts with the coming of Dalai Lama to Bodh Gaya in mid December, we are still good 15 days away from that day and therefore hotels were quite cheap. It is in a very nice, peaceful location. According to the owner of the hotel, the rent can even go up to few thousands during the high season! : Shanty-guesthouse.com
We went to Mahabodhi temple complex – the temple is already closed (at 9 pm) and will open again in the morning at 4 am. We instantly fell in love with the place. It is unlike any touristy area in India, more like Khajuraho and not at all crowded.
Bodh Gaya is a village in the state of Bihar. As the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment, Bodh Gaya is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites. Bodh Gaya is essentially a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and all of its main attractions are related to this. The subsidiary tourist industry that has grown up around it (shopping, eating, and accommodation) is not really the main attraction. Perhaps unique to Bodh Gaya are the rather cheesy CDs for sale near the temple entrance that purport to be monks chanting Buddhist texts. You will know whether you want to take this home with you!
Whether you're a Buddhist or not, the main thing to do in Bodh Gaya is just to absorb the vibe of the place where the Buddha attained awakening: the vapour trail of that energy is still in the air!

We had our dinner at Green Fuji. The food was very good and price is very reasonable – it is 2.5 minutes walk from Mahabodhi temple. There are some other restaurants also.
Cafe Om. Excellent pastries, great food too. This is the place where everybody meets everybody.

There are some sleeping options too in Bodhgaya. Some of them with whom we had a talk are:
Deep guest house: 200/ 300 (2007) – now 500 / 600 Ph No. 0631- 2200 463
Bodhgaya Road; deepguesthouse@yahoo.com
Telephone +91 631 2200463

Kirti Guest House P.O Box No.21,Bodh Gaya 824231,Gaya, Bihar, India
            Tel. 91-631-2200 744 / Mobile 91 9431 223 016 / kirtihouse744@yahoo.com

Kundan Bazar Guest House, Bhagalpur Village, 824231 [http://www.kundanbazar.com], reservations@kundanbazar.com Single rooms to full-service apartments(Near Old Vietnam Temple), ☎ 9106312200049, Single rooms to full-service apartments, bike rentals, internet cafe, book, gift, and clothing shop, snooker bar, self-service kitchen, laundry facility, tour packages, and more

  • ££ Monastery guest houses offer a cheap option to hotels, though guests are expected to adhere to their house rules. They do not charge fixed nightly rates, but instead accept donations (ask other guests for the going rate). There is a whole string of guesthouses just opposite the park from the Mahabodhi Temple. All pretty much the same well maintained with restaurants on the ground floor.


     We hired a car for Rs 1300 to see Bodhgaya (around Rs 300), Rajgir and Nalanda.

The main temple complex houses the famous Mahabodhi temple/ Mahabodhi stupa and a descendant of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment.

Bodhi Tree - it is believed that this tree is a direct descendant of the one under which the Buddha Sakya-muni attained enlightenment, inside the Mahabodhi complex.
There is also a nice lake in the complex. After spending around 1.5 hours inside the complex we bought some souvenirs within the complex and had some good tea. Then we went to some other attractions.

We saw 80-foot Buddha Statue .

There are also temples or monasteries from many other nations with a Buddhist tradition. Most temples open from 6AM to sunset and close between noon and 2PM. The best thing is you can see temple architectures of various countries! They are all nearby. One can even cover them by walk or by cycle rickshaw (to save time) or by hiring a bicycle.

§ Japanese temple (Indosan Nippon),
§ Thai Monastery
§ Bhutanese Monastery
§ Tibetan Monastery

    We however did not see Bodhgaya Multimedia Museum, located next to the Mahabodhi Temple, due to scarcity of time. It is open all 7 days of the week. Museum provides the historical and Geographical context for the life of Buddha through a set of Multimedia films and 3D Animation movie.
We also did not see Barabar caves, the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India, mostly dating from the Mauryan period (322–185 BCE), and some with Ashokan inscriptions, located in the Jehanabad District, 24 km north of Gaya.

We then went to Fuji green to have our lunch (we had Momo, then-thuk, fried rice and banana and ordinary pan cake. All of them are very good and it is a real value for money. Then we went to our hotel to check out (12 pm) and left for Nalanda and Rajgir. On the way we got down at Myanmar or Burmese temple.

Get out
§ Rajgir – The site of Gridha-kuta (Vulture's Peak), where the Buddha stayed and gave teachings on the Mahayana (the second turning of the wheel), and Venu-vana, the first Buddhist monastery. Rajgir is also an area known for its hot springs, which are open to the public. Buses depart from Bodhgaya.
§ Nalanda – This Buddhist University was established in 450 AD. Currently, there are extensive ruins, but no inhabitants. Nalanda Museum is open 10AM-5PM daily except Friday.
$$ If you are coming from Bihar Sharif via Bakh-tiyarpur, then avail shared jeeps plying between Rajgir and Bihar Sharif (make a stop at the turnoff for Nalanda – which is in between these two). Rickshaws and other vehicles are available from there to the main gate of Nalanda; a distance of 2km. PWD operates a guest house near the gate.
§ Deo – Visit this place for a glimpse of Famous Sun Temple.
§ Patna - 130 km by Road, Deluxe Buses for Patna Available from BSTDC : Bodhgaya Hotel (7AM, 2PM daily), you can also go By Train from Gaya Junction

Nalanda is in the Bihar state of India and marks the site of the once famous Buddhist University also known as the Nalanda University. Nalanda was a Buddhist university established in 450 AD, and was the longest running university in Indian history and at its zenith accommodated over 10,000 students and over 2,000 faculties. However, it was destroyed by Bakh-tiyar Khilji, Turkish Muslim invaders in 1193, when the students and teachers were massacred and the massive university library was burnt down, and currently all that remains are extensive ruins that are spread over an area of 14 hectares. Though there was a small stupa constructed by Emperor Ashoke, there was no University there. But it was an important place for Buddhist for that.
Three kings of different era were instrumental in making this University – Guptas of famous Gupta dynasty, Harshavardana and Devpala of Pala dynasty. Hiuen Tsang travelled visited Nalanda first in 637 and then again in 642, spending a total of around two years at the monastery.
By train

The nearest important station is Bihar Sharif (about 15 km) - which is connected to Patna and several other important towns and cities of eastern India.
By car
Shared jeeps plying the route between Rajgir (15km) and Bihar Sharif (35km) make a stop at the turn off for Nalanda. Rickshaws and other vehicles are available from here to the main gate, a distance of 2KM.
By bus
Bus facilities are available from Patna, Gaya, Bihar Sharif and Rajgir.
It took around 3.5 hours to reach Nalanda by our auto. The road and landscape was indeed picturesque. We initially skipped Rajgir (which was on the way) to come back later. However we had some exquisite Khaja at Rajgir. Rajgir is very famous for Khaja. We bought some for our home. Gobindo did not allow me to make the payment for Khaja!
The Great Stupa. The remains of the stupa have terraces and smaller stupas.
We met a very good guide in Nalanda (probably the best I have seen ever). We were there for around 1 hour. We were told at its prime it used a cover an area of around 9 Km. We were late for the museum , as a result could not see the museum.
Nalanda Archaeological Museum. The museum houses a significant collection of Pala and Mauryan statues. 10AM-5PM daily, closed Fridays.
There is nice Garden Restaurant run in the Nalanda Multimedia Museum. However we did not go there.
Then we planned to go to Rajgir to see the hot spring. But it was already late- so we had to skip the idea to go to hotspring.There are many horse carts in Rajgir. There is a railway station near the main bus stand of Rajgir.
Rajgir was a favourite place of Buddha and Mahavir and its original name was Rajgirha. It was the capital of Maurya. Bimbisara was the first one to be converted to Buddhism and transferred the capital from Rajgir to Pataliputra (or Patna of today). Pataliputra was probably the largest city in the world in those days.
Many visitors to Nalanda prefer to stay in Rajgir as there is a greater choice of accommodation

Get out

Bodh Gaya (89km) and Rajgir (15km)

We were informed that train to Bihar Sharif is running late. So we decided to go to Rajgir to catch the bus to Bihar Sharif for a 1 hour journey. From Bihar Sharif (a major junction) we took another bus to Bakh-tiyarpur. Initially we were scared that the train is running very late. But actually it was around 1.15 minutes late. We had our dinner (Ganga Restaurant) at Bakh-tiyarpur railway station. The food was very cheap and good – though quite spicy. There are very few options near the railway station, though.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where are all the visitors ( to India) ?

Where are all the visitors?

KANTI BAJPAI Nov 12, 2011, 12.00AM IST. Times of Inida

Shanghai today has more hotel rooms than all of India combined. It used to be said, a few years ago, that Bangkokhad more rooms than all of India combined. Perhaps India has moved up in the world a bit. In any case, what a couple of melancholy statistics.

Here are some more statistics. While tourist arrivals in India continue to grow (last year was about 8%) and so do revenues from tourism, India hosted only 5.5 million tourists in 2010 and earned a fairly modest $14 billion from them. This accounted for less than 1% of international tourism and less than 2% of global tourism earnings!

To understand the context, let us remember that India is the seventh largest landmass in the world, has the second largest population, and is perhaps the fourth largest economy. China, our peer, got 55 million tourists and earned $45 billion in revenue (some think much more). India ranked 40 {+t} {+h} globally in tourist arrivals and 11 {+t} {+h} in the Asia Pacific (China ranked third and first, respectively). Ahead of us? Titans such as Singapore, Macau,Hong Kong, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Romania, the UAE, Syria, Tunisia and Morocco.

But perhaps tourism does not matter too much to our economy. Not so. Tourism is India's third largest foreign exchange earner, amounting to over 2% of our GDP. That is a solid contribution to our national wealth, but it could be much bigger. Estimates suggest that tourism numbers for India could be vastly bigger. It is not just a matter of foreign exchange earnings. Tourism generates employment, in the service sector but also in manufacturing, food and crafts.

Why do we do so badly in global tourism?

Let's begin with visas. Try to get a tourist visa from an Indian mission. Some embassies are efficient and helpful, but on the whole if you are a foreigner trying to come to India, you will weep before you arrive on our lovely shores. Indian friends say that this serves the foreigners right because so many of them make us Indian visa-seekers miserable. But two wrongs don't add up to a right, and it is simply not in our national interest to be so horrible about the visa process.

Then there is the infrastructure. It is not just that our roads, buses, taxis, trains, airports and air services are so appalling (one trip to China will show what can be done in a generation). It is our tourist software. Tourists need good signage on the roads to tell them where they are. They need good city maps. They want friendly information booths. They need places to exchange money.

If you get past these problems, there is the horrendous state of health and sanitation. For a people obsessed with personal and household cleanliness, we have the filthiest public spaces. You can get all the vaccinations and inoculations you want, but are you protected from diarrhoea, dysentery and dengue? Travellers can put up with all of these and do, especially on a long trip, but, on a short trip, India is a health minefield.

We are terribly angry in India these days about corruption and cheating. So are the foreign tourists roaming our fair land, who encounter both in less consequential ways, to be sure, but who deal with it constantly and annoyingly - from the taxi on arrival to the taxi that takes them to the airport as they exit.

In sum, travelling in India is more hard work than holiday.

In a globalising and integrating world, our attitude to tourism is grudging, complacent and unimaginative. Many regard tourism as something frivolous and unworthy of serious policy concern. We are convinced that India is intrinsically attractive and that tourism will take care of itself. There are even those who see tourism as dangerous. Encouraging tourism, i have heard it said, means that terrorists will have easy entry, that India's pristine culture will be debased, its economy distorted by foreign spending, and its environment spoiled by the terrible consuming ways of irresponsible foreigners.

Tourism is a money-spinner. It wins you friends and admirers. In a competitive world, these are vital assets.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Short tour to Galudih - window to Tribal India


We (Vidyut and me) left for Galudih or Galu-dihi (actually) by Howrah-Rourkela Ispat express (not Steel Express –which is different) from Howrah station at 6.55 am. There are other options too.
Get in – Ghatshila/ Galudi

* By rail - It is a railway station on the Kharagpur-Tatanagar/Jamshedpur stretch of Howrah-Mumbai track, 230 km from Howrah (apart from Ispat Express) one can avail Kurla/ Howrah Express or Howrah Jamshedpur Steel Express, Lal Mati Express etc. But Ispat express is the best option.

There are many Local Passenger trains connecting Jamshedpur and Kharagpur with Galudih/ Ghatshila.

For timings etc check with http://erail.in/

Nearest railway stations from Galudih is Ghatshila (8 kms) & Jamshedpur (44 kms). It is also possible to get down at Ghatshila (3 hours journey from Howrah) and then to Galudih by auto-rickshaw. (30 minutes/Fare Rs.80 approx)

$ There is a local train (Rs 2 !!) at 3 am to go to Ghatshila instead of taking auto from Galudih, if you take Lal Mati Express while coming back home.

* By road – It is about 240 km from Kolkata. Those travelling from Kolkata first have to take NH 6 to Bahra-gora and then take the road to Jamshedpur.Buses plying between Kharagpur and Jamshedpur pass through Ghatshila. Galudih is few stops after Kharagpur and few stop before Jamshedpur. By road Jamshedpur is 42 km away from Galudih.

It is much better to stay Galudih since it is lesser known, less crowded and all the sights which are accessible from Ghatshila can be accessed from Galudih also.

Get around at Ghatshila/ Galudih or Galudi
You have to hire an auto rickshaw to you around the places of interest. If you stay in Ghatshila then for movement locally you can contact Rashid Khan -: 9234 94 98 56 (auto driver) or from Galudih you can contact Subrata – 9239 25 60 62 (our auto driver)

Understand Ghatshila/Galudih

Ghatshila is located on the bank of the River Subarnarekha (the word ‘Subarnarekha’ means golden streak), and is situated in an undulating forested area. It has been a popular place frequented mostly by people from West Bengal, who have been going there for a change of place and climate. The noted Bengali writer Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay of Pather Panchali fame was a resident of the city.
Galudih (Mahulia in Google map), lies in small hills and attracts the tourist for its natural beauty with calm and quiet atmosphere. In the rainy season the hills, the jungles, the agricultural lands make Galudih green. Though the best season is July to March but actually tourist can visit Galudih throughout the year.
Geographically placed between two mountain ranges (Dalma Hills is a range in Chhoto-nagpur Plateau) with the Subarnarekha River separating them from kissing each other. You can find the rocky river flowing in between hilly & rocky terrain with patches of human habitants, painting an awesome landscape.
On one side of your view, you can find smoking chimneys of the Hindustan Copper factory suggesting the industrialization that en marks this fast growing township. People stay in a variety of modern & old houses.
In all if you love nature and want to feel it from inside, Galudih is one of the best choices to make.
Hotels in Galudih
We booked our hotel (Hotel Rajanigandha- Rs 500 including Tax- 5 rooms) in Galudih over phone. It is owned by Mr. Satyabrata Pal of Sovabazar- 9432 11 78 35 / 98310 477 09 (or his son Subho 9830 14 69 21).

The caretaker is Rajesh Bhakat or Bhakta. Like almost everybody in Galudih he speaks Bengali – the lingua Franca seems to be Bengali and he can be reached at 0 90971-52364 and 06585-262 806.

He (Rajesh) waited for us at the station and carried our luggage with his cycle. The hotel is only 300 metres from the station – eastern side (less than 5 minutes). It is on an elevated place and you can see the mountain, forest just sitting outside your room in a huge adjoining terrace/verandah. If you are not in a hurry you can sit there throughout the day in the midst of nature and even see the sunrise or sunset from there. Do not even think of staying anywhere else! It is basic, but you have everything you want – commode, commode shower, soap, pillow, towel, loft to keep your luggage, hanger, mattress.

There are luxury hotels like Galudih resort (eastern side of station) - http://galudihresort.com/
Here the minimum rent is Rs 900+ tax. (There are apparently some rooms of Rs 700 + tax, but under repairs). Do not make the mistake of staying there – it is nothing but a concrete jungle, overlooking a garden. Once inside the complex, you won’t understand whether you are in Galudih or Ahmedabad or Guwahati). However rooms in Galudi resort are better than Rajanigandha.
There is KD Palace owned by Prithwiraj Das (9830 67 43 20). It is on the other side of the station –western side. When I contacted them it was full. They have a saal forest inside their hotel. (One can stay at Marwari (Panchayat) guest house (eastern side) or Samiksha lodge (033- 2210 1036 / 2528 – 6807 or 9339 84 75 25 (1 minute from our hotel) too.
But Rajanigandha is a class of its own due to its location in a calm and quiet place yet very near to the station.
Hotels in Ghatshila
§ Bibhuti Vihar, +91 6585 226506 A.C. / Non A.C. Rooms Rs. 1000/-. Luxury rooms with hill view
§ Meridian /Anandita Lodge, +91 6585 225 624/0 9204 -05 65 59, Rooms Rs. 400
§ Hotel Safari, +91 6585 225 722, Rooms Rs. 350.
§ Hotel Snehalata, +91 6585 225 767, Rooms Rs. 350 – Rahul Bannerjee
§ Hotel (Suvarna Rekha) River View, +91 6585 226 603, Rooms Rs. 600.
## All the numbers are checked by me on 3/11/2011
Drink in Ghatshila

Notably, most tourists from nearby big cities like Kolkata are attracted to Ghatshila not only for its natural beauty but also to taste the sweet mineral water. At each pockets of the township, a public tube well or Chaapaa-kal can be found where you can taste fresh water. The water is said to have medicinal values. A glass of water is enough to fill-up your empty stomach.
After reaching our resort, we met a couple from Uttarpara at our resort – they were looking for a room. They have not booked the hotel beforehand. When they saw the location of the hotel, they decided to stay at the hotel. We decided to travel together since it will be economical for both of us. We made a great combination for next 3 days! He works in a bank and is on the verge of retirement.
He is an amazingly versatile person and quite a traveler! He is keen photographer with SLR camera – better than many professional photographer and very tech savvy. He is an expert mountaineer and trained people regularly in mountaineering. He is expert in electronics and writes software programme for some organization and does not take promotion lest he won’t get to leave for mountaineering. He is just my kind of person!
We quickly had our breakfast (Rs 30 each) – luchi, Parota in the hotel. Since the mother of the cook has died yesterday, it was difficult (they were asking too much because of that) for them to organize lunch or dinner. So we decided to have our lunch/dinner outside.
So we left for the locations, which I had decided before hand. We hired an auto from the auto stand – which is on the main road – NH 33 bisecting Galudih, for Rs 430 (Rs 400 later increased to Rs 430) for the day to see the part towards South - towards Ghatshila. We left at 12 30 pm.
Burudi Lake: First we went to Burudi Lake - it is 6 km south of Galudih, towards Ghatshila. The road is horrendous. It is really pristine and really nice. I would rank it above Nainital! It is surrounded by mountains and forest! In fact we were the only tourists there. We were told, we will find many picnic parties around that area during December. It is better to come here early in the morning. Few years back it was a Maoist infested area. Not anymore. Since were hungry we had some Omlettes, chips and tea beside the lake. We sat beside the lake for some time. They had Jhal muri too.
@@ I planned to go to Dhara-giri Falls from there. There is a water fall there - 20 feet high. But the auto driver did not take us there on the pretext that it is already late and roads are bad (in fact even today cars went there – we were told)

Phuldungri Hill

It is a small hill or hillock (tila). It is not worth going there. We were told Bibhuti-bhusan used to come here and sit here.

On the way we ate Kala-kand sweet from Ganesh Kala-kand, which is very famous there. It is the oldest Kala-kand seller is Ghatshila and according to them Bibhuti-bhusan used to eat from here! It looks black unlike the while kala-kand we eat here in Kolkata. I liked it, but the better ones which we get in Kolkata are better probably! THEY SELL ONLY KALAKAND!

Then we went to the house of famous Bengali writer Bhibhuti-bhushan Bandopadhyay. He used to work in Indian railways and died at the age of 56 only. It has no architectural significance though.

Pancha Pandav

It is 5 km north-west of Ghatshila, A stone is there bearing the figures of five men; the legend is that they are figures of the five Pandav brothers. There we met a Saint, resident of Behala. He pressed tutul Boudi with some predictions and she bought some rudraksha from him. There is very nice bank nearby and we saw a beautiful sunset from there with sunrays falling on the Subarnarekha River.

It was time for us to come back and go to Galudih. It is already 6.30 pm when we reached. We were late since we stopped number of times to take the snap. Mr. Asit Mukherjee went to Galudi resort for some information for their bank’s picnic at Galudih in January 2012. We in fact had our snacks and tea there and even our dinner. The price is quite reasonable and quality is very good. We had chicken curry (3 pcs) for Rs 75 and rice – which is enough for two people.

Today again we took the same auto (he came to our hotel to pick us up) to go to Satgurum and Duarsini and decided to pay Rs 300 (later he took Rs 350) for the trip.
We first went to Satgurum/ Satgurang. It is 12/15 kms from Galudi Resort. In fact one can go there by taking trekker which plies regularly in front of the Galudi Resort. The genesis of the name is 7 streams of the river encircle seven separate hills seven times; hence the river is named as Satgurum. Trekking to the hills through the jungle-path full of unknown trees and flowers are the best attraction here. Elephants may also be seen in the jungles.

Then we went to Duarsini, it is inside Purulia, West Bengal. Duarsini is located around 13 km from Bundwan town in Purulia district which marks the border of Jharkhand with West Bengal. Duarsini is a village of hills and forest. The nature grows beautifully with the tribals of jangal Mahal. The forest is made of shaal, pial, shimul and palash. and the river Satgurang is with them. At night you will hear the music of madol drum which is come out from the tribal village. They have lot of festivals all over the year. Duarsini has no electricity, accommodation except 3 cottages of WBFDC. . In fact we went to see the cottage. Unfortunately when we went there, we saw it is closed because of Maoist problem. We could have gone to Bhalo pahar, but we were told it is not worth going there.
We got down to the river and took bath there. Then we had our lunch (fish Rs 10!) there and climbed the hills. We saw a bungalow apparently blasted by the Maoist long back.

It was time for us to come back and go to Galudih. It is already 3.30 pm when we reached. We were late since we stopped number of times to take the snap. We went to Galudih resort for snacks and tea.
Then we went to our hotel to see the sunset from our hotel (!) and went to Subarna-rekha River and spend some time beside the river. For that we had to cross the rail station (towards western side) and along the way we even saw an old age home.
Subarna-rekha River: Suvarna-rekha means the golden line. One can easily make a morning-walk to reach the river. Barrage on the river is also another attraction here. But the most interesting venture here is to cross the river by bullock-cart to reach the hilly village other bank of the river.
After spending some time there we went to Galudih Resort to have our dinner. Today we had Chicken fried Rice (Rs 60 – enough for 1.5 person) and chilly chicken (Rs 85 – eight pieces- enough for 2 person). It was quite good considering the place: real good value for money. Our dinner was over by 9.15 pm and left for our hotel which is around 8 minutes.
Today we got up early in the morning and took a local train (fare Rs 2) to go to Rakha Mines (owned by Uranium corpn. of India) station. The train stations are like this – Ghatshila – Galudih – Rakha mines – Jamshedpur. There are two trains to go to Rakha mines between 7 am and 7.30 am. It took around 5 minutes to reach there. From the Rakha Mines station we reserved an auto to Ran-kini Ma Temple for Rs 80 (I thought it is more than the real fare). From Jaadu-gora the auto takes right turn to reach the temple.
It is located in a nice location. It is surrounded by forest and mountain. It was not at all crowded. After they offered prayer (in fact they were doing day excursion just to go this temple from Howrah for quite some time!) we sat there for some time and took a trekker (there are buses also which are plying there) to go back to Jaadu-gora (@ Rs 7 each – real fare is Rs 5 though) and from Jaadu-gora (it is an important junction) we reserved an auto (Rs 40) to reach the station.
There is a train to go back to Galudih at 9.30 am. The next train is at 3 pm! We could have gone to Naroa Forest which is not very far from Jaadu-gora – but we were told it is nothing great and also we have a train to catch too. We could have come here by hiring an auto from Galudih – but going by train is a cheaper option. In fact we were told cock fight take place every Sunday at Rakha Mines and according to the Auto driver the aggregate bets crosses even Rs 1 crore!
Dha-lbhum-garh – there is a king’s palace or Rajbari there. This is the only place where we did not go. It is near Ghatshila. We were told there is place in Ghatshila where cock fight is held during Sankranti. There is a haat in Ghatshila every Sunday, we were told, it is treasure house for souvenirs - local Santali handicrafts.

Binda Mela - This fair is held in the month of Ashwin (mid October) at Ghatshila proper for 15 days. It was initiated from time immemorial by the fore fathers of the Raja of former Dhal-bhum estate. It is a very popular, particularly for the Santals. We could not see this one also.

After coming back to Galudih, we went to our hotel to arrange our bags (since we have a train at 3 pm to go to Ghatshila, to catch our train Lal Mati express from Ghatshila) and then left for a tribal village – to the right side of our hotel. We walked quite some time (and saw that arrangements have started for haat or weekly tribal market: will start at 2 pm - 3 minutes from our hotel). You can feel the village life with cows & chickens roaming here and there and housewives smoking the traditional chulhas (burners) with intoxicating smells of burning cow dungs. you can see a lively village life with tribals engaged in their daily rituals.

After walking for more than 1 hour, we went back to Galudih Resort to have our lunch. Today we had Chicken fried Rice and sweet and sour chicken (Rs 100 – eight pieces- enough for 2 person) and left for our hotel. It was already 2 .10 pm.
Vidyut and Tultul Boudi took some rest, while we went to see the haat. It has already started. I bought 15 lemons for Rs 5 (yes Rs 5) and one tribal broom for Rs 5. We saw the staff which you don’t see in an urban market. We saw people selling pork (@Rs 80 per Kg), live chicken, sickle, boxes/jhuri, and haria – local tribal alcohol etc. It takes place every Friday and Monday.

It was time to go back since we had a train to catch at 3 pm. We took a local train (Rs 2) to go to Ghatshila (it is also possible to go by road – but roads are very very bad and also a comparatively expensive option) and finally catch Lal Mati express at 5 pm from Ghatshila and reached Kolkata at 8.45 pm.

Chronological order