“Laal paharer deshe”… a jungle lore from the red-soiled hills of Bankura

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A long vacation away from the mountains and friends was enough hardship for me only to be compensated by home made food. Apart from that, nothing was exciting when I decided to go for a trip to the jungles of south Bengal. These jungles once were deadly infamous as the main hub of Maoists’ operation. Merely 5 years ago people would think of you as a gone case had you been planning a trip that time. Although in recent times, their activities have been curbed down to a great extent but a few still believe of their existence deep in the wild.

There are more than one forest ranges in south Bengal, Sutan forest being one of them. this forest is essentially connected to a larger and wilder landscape of Dalma which extends towards Jharkhand. The whole region is also known as the elephant corridor.

Jhilimili is a famous tourist spot situated in Bankura near the border of Bankura, Purulia and Midnapore dist. At a distant of 78 km from Bankura town, the drive to Jhilimili offers a pleasant journey through picturesque landscape.

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The time being just post-puja days, villagers from many villages clad in traditional tribal attire were performing some ritual dance on the roads, sometimes as a part of their celebration and sometimes to get some donations. On reaching Jhilimili, we came across a rain water filled lake surrounded by dense forest and lower hills. the road itself goes through a hilly terrain and offers a magnificent view of the valley below.

The road that leads to Jhilimili, at one place, bifurcates to Sutan forest. But one can take a more adventurous jungle trail from Jhilimili to Sutan as well. This road is chilling in every sense with no human habitat nearby, no mobile network and a dangerously beautiful forest wrapped all around you. We saw the remains of the buildings set by the military which was destroyed by bomb blasts by Maoists attacks. There was an old forest rest house as well. I wondered if it still was operational. The thought of spending a night there came to my mind with indescribable spine-chilling horror but what an out-of-this-worldly adventure that would have been. The watch tower just in front of the rest house also has gone through the rage of the Maoists.

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After spending quite enough of spine-chilling time deep into the forest, we headed for Mukutmanipur, famous for its second biggest earth dam of India situated at the confluence of Kangshabati and Kumari. The landscape is beautiful here. Vast waterscpapes surrounded by an undulating hilly terrain attracts quite a few tourists through out the year.

The whole trip turned out to be quite an amazing one. We travel distant lands but often ignore the ones in front of our doorstep. There are many such spine-chilling forest experiences around this place which is often considered less attractive but actually is not experienced properly. These places offer not less to see, but definitely more to experience. The heat, the smell of raw red soil and green dense forest, the chirping of numerous birds and if you are lucky (or unlucky!) enough, you can also catch a glance of the elephants crossing the roads that goes through the forests.

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