For the story of how I reached Raghunathpur , Read my ROAD TRIP TO AYODHYA HILLS


Around 15 kilometres straight ahead of Raghunathpur on the Purulia-Barakar Road ( later known as the Asansol-Purulia Road ) lies the road that leads to Garhpanchkot .

We turned left into this road . 


Around 300 meters into the road , the road branches off into two directions . 

One going straight , one going right .

We waited for someone to come along so that we might ask them for directions . 

People were few and far between . 

After waiting in vain for a definite answer from any passer-by , we decided to hit the road on the right as a few cars went past us in that direction .

The afternoon was slowly turning into dusk . 

We had to find a place to stay before it got dark . 

On the way we met a few people who confirmed that it was indeed Garhpanchkot and all we needed to do was drive straight and we would find hotels and rest houses ahead .

So we drove on , through narrow lanes and curving roads that wound between bushes and agricultural fields on either side . 

The road was so narrow that it was a task to let even cycles pass through .

But anyway , we went deeper into the depths of Garhpanchkot until finally , we came upon a big field with some dilapidated architectural structures and a temple. 

We asked some locals and learnt that it was indeed a renowned temple and people came from far and wide to visit  . 

There was a fair of some kind going on in the grounds . 

Though I am always game for anything interesting , it was getting late and we were worried about finding an accommodation . 

Remember , we had faced lodging issues the previous day at Ayodhya . 

Reminder : this was Dol Purnima , a state holiday , date the 21st of March 2019. 

And so far we had not come across a single place to stay even after coming so many kilometres inside Garhpanchkot . 

We asked around and were directed towards a resort of some sort . 

I sent Souvik to make enquiries inside as he was a bit finicky about accomodation and food .

Souvik was gone more than 15 minutes , and there was no sign of him . 

So I sent Sumit after him . 

After around half an hour , they came back , together.

This is what Souvik told me : Because of  Dol , there was no room available in the resort . 

The owner of the resort himself had told him that the resort remained perennially booked at least 3 months in advance , even more so during holidays and winter / spring seasons etc.

He had also advised Souvik to go back as there was no chance of us getting any rooms anywhere .

There were very few places of accommodation in Garhpanchkot and all would be booked . 

Souvik was extremely worried and asked me to turn back to Kolkata or at least the closest town , Asansol .

Now I am a person who is ready to sleep on floors or streets , no issues . 

I have done that countless times before and here we had my full sized Endeavour with us .

We could easily sleep inside the car , all three of us , no issues , with even the luxury of the air conditioner . Sumit got excited at the prospect .

But my friend Souvik was adamant about going back home . There was no way he would be sleeping in a car . 

I did my internal math .

It was around 6.30 . Evening . Dark . But we still had time .

We would try to find some decent accomodation , and if we failed , we could always turn back .

Asansol would be an hour’s drive , and I had my uncle’s place at Durgapur , max 2 hours drive .

And we could always go all the way back to Kolkata . Five hours away . 

We could always go back . So we tried getting a room .


It turned out that most of the hotels and resorts were located on the other road which we had left behind when we took the road on the right .

So we drove back to where we had started from earlier in the evening , where the road branched off in two directions . 

This time , instead of taking the road on the right , we took the road that went straight in .

And just 50 metres in , we found a resort .

Sumit went in to enquire . No room .

We drove another 100 metres , another resort . This one was also fully booked .

A few more hundred metres , same story .

That day we must have gone knocking into at least ten different hotels , and none of them had any rooms .

We were all losing hope .

Souvik was fuming at not having booked the accommodation earlier before coming .

Sumit said nothing but I could feel his dejection . 

I was feeling desperate .

Souvik had come with us at my insistence .

And now if we could not even find a basic accommodation , it would be really disheartening .

Every time a hotel rejected us , we would find another board or marker on the road leading us to another hotel further ahead .

And we drove further in .

Soon we had entered the forest .

It was dark and there was no light .

The road was extremely narrow and the traffic was sparse .

Only once did a car come in from the opposite side and we had to back up a little for it to pass through .

Even in those jungles there were a few hotels – jungle resorts of some kind .

But all seemed to be full .

And we were driving further into the jungle .

We had never been in those jungles before and we did not even know what lay ahead . 

How deep would it be ? 

Were we getting lost in the jungle ?

 What kind of wild animals would be there in the jungles ? 

I was sure there wouldn’t be any tigers or lions , but foxes or bears would definitely be there .

What if we could not find our way back and had to live in the jungle for the night ?

I was ready to sleep inside the car , there was sufficient fuel for even running the ac but I would also have to ensure the safety of the other two .

Even if we stayed inside the car , someone would need to go out for attending to nature’s call . In the darkness !

All these thoughts were swirling in my head . 

Normally I wouldn’t have bothered . 

I am okay with living in jungles . 

I have done that before a few times , and that too in the open , under the stars , no tent , no car . 

But Souvik was getting restless and I was getting bothered .   

And the worst part was that I couldn’t even go back the way I came . 

The jungle here was so dense and crowded on to the narrow road , that there was no way I could back up to reverse directions . 

I had to move ahead . 

But to be honest I was enjoying it . 

The thrill of it all , the drive through the narrow roads with the trees leaning in , super exacting as well as super exciting . 

A road for those who love those twisties, this one wound through the forest. 

With only the headlights lighting up the road ahead , like a tunnel of light amidst the darkness . 

It was sheer dopamine , adrenaline , whatever chemicals that make life exciting . 

Sumit was enjoying the drive but I was worried about Souvik .

This went on for quite some time and I was slowly resigning to the idea that most probably we would have to stay the night in the car . 

When suddenly just like that, as I turned a corner, there was blinding light . 

The whole road ahead was ablaze , awash with light . 

All three of us were struck astounded . 

Was it a wedding reception in the middle of the jungle ? 

Or had we stumbled upon some dark secret deep inside the forest ?

As our eyes adjusted to this sudden brightness in the midst of all the darkness , 

we realised that the whole road had broadened in front of us and six powerful floodlights were flooding the road . 


It was a hotel . 

In the middle of the forest . 

I somehow felt we had a chance . 

I remember praying to God that we get some place for staying , anything , as long as it was okay with Souvik .

So I sent both Souvik and Sumit to check up on the availability of rooms  . 

After 5 minutes , Sumit came out dancing – they indeed had a room . 

I parked the car outside and went inside to check . 

It was quite a big property , huge. 

Very well decorated . 

Banquets , restaurants , bars , a swimming pool , the whole shebang , and what hit me was all this in the middle of a forest ! .

It turned out that a customer had cancelled a booking and that’s why they could provide us with the accommodation . 

Otherwise they also were completely booked . 

Anyway they didn’t have a normal room . 

Instead they provided us one of those fancy white tents . 

The tent was air conditioned ,  large enough to fit in the three of us with spare for another three ,  with a full king sized super comfortable bed , a concrete bathroom and warm running water . 

It was great and Souvik was happy . 

So was Sumit . 

And that made me happy .

We all freshened up , had been  travelling the whole day .  

And then went for dinner . 

For dinner they had a restaurant on the ground floor .

But they also served on the rooftop where there was a bar . 

We spread out on the rooftop and ordered a grand dinner .


A Chou Dance performance was going on in the field beneath . 

We could see the entire performance from the comfort of the rooftop .

The Chou dance was an extremely colourful dance with performers dressed up in gaudy , shiny , over-the-top outfits enacting stories from the Ramayana . 

It was filled with action and a lots of amazing back flips and front flips and somersaults and double twists in the air and what not , equaling in energy any dance form anywhere .

Yes , if you haven’t seen one , I suggest you go watch a Chou performance live . 

It amazed me that we had this super acrobatic dance form here in our very own state , yes Bengal , all of our lives resigning to the fact that we Bengalis are lazy and slothful . 

Most of us hardly have any idea about it . 

Trust me , you will see these performers in a different light altogether once you have seen one performance . 

The cultural diversity in our state is truly awe-inspiring .

It will make you feel proud . 

Having stuffed ourselves over the awesome fare on dinner , we went for a stroll. 

The hotel in fact also owned the property on the other side of the road , remember the floodlit road ?

Here there was a row of two storied villas around a central water body with a fountain in the middle .

The compound was facing a hill slope .The fort , the “garh” was located on top of the hill .

One could go visit the fort through some roads in the jungle .  

We marvelled at the forest , the hill and the full moon night .

It was a peaceful , beautiful night .

Next day , we woke up late . 

The bed was super comfortable and so was the fluffy blanket .

Took all my effort to get out of the bed . 


Rushed to the breakfast room as breakfast time was almost getting over . 

Simple fare – eggs , bread , jam , butter , bananas , tea , coffee …

The hotel guests were departing one by one and the hotel that was overflowing just the night before had now started looking empty .

We had the swimming pool all to ourselves and had a fun time thrashing around .

And then we packed up and left the hotel .