Gangani Road Trip via Kamarpukur and Jairambati - Part 1
|Beauty of Bengal skyline on a gloomy day.|
When we started our journey for Gangani on a cool, rainy morning on a Sunday, we were a little apprehensive about the idea of hitting the road on such a gloomy day. We had planned Gangani as a road journey, so that we could stop on the way to explore and take pictures of the local people the beautiful landscape of rural Bengal. As we were to drive from Kolkata via Santragachi, Arambagh, Goghat, Kamarpukur and Jairambati to reach Garhbeta, we thought to drop by at Kamarpukur and Jairambati (two very popular pilgrimage spots in West Bengal), before reaching Gangani.
Starting early in the morning, we reached Kamarpukur around 11.00 a.m. By now, it had stopped raining; however, the sun was not out yet and dark clouds were still hovering in the sky.
Kamarpukur, a beautiful hamlet in Hooghly (West Bengal) adored with lush green paddy fields and large ponds, is the birthplace of Sri Gadadhar Chattopadhyaya who, in later years, became famous as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Born in the year 1836, Sri Ramkrishna, spent most part of his early childhood at Kamarpukur and began his spiritual pursuits from the solitude of the village, before becoming the priest of Dakshineswar Kali Temple in 1855.
|Entrance: Kamarpukur Math|
We did not spend much time in Kamarpukur; however, before we left we spent some quiet time at the Ramakrishna Temple, which was built in 1951 with the help of devotees and of the monks of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. The temple which is 45 feet high, houses a marble statue of Sri Ramakrishna made by Nandalal Basu. The house of Sri Ramkrishna where he had lived and the mango tree that he had planted are well preserved by the Kamarpukur Misson and Math. The drawing room is beautifully re-decorated and is open for visitors. The Ramakrishna Temple is open from 4:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and again from 3:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The place has managed to keep its ancient glory intact; many ponds and old heritage structures including buildings and dilapidated temples, still bear witness to its glorious past.
As our car left Kamarpukur for Jairambati, we were greeted with the hustle and bustle of the bazars, roadside vendors and numerous sweet shops. Jairambati is a busy town about 6 km from Kamarpukur and is the birthplace of the Holy Mother, Sri Sarada Devi.
Sri Sarada Devi, the wife of Sri Ramakrishna, was born in the year 1858 and the temple, Sri Sri Matri Mandir, has been constructed on the very place of her birth. Inside the temple compound, on the right-hand side of the main gate is the ancestral house of Sri Sarada Devi. On the opposite side of the ancestral home is a house which is relatively new. It was here Sri Sarada Devi stayed from 1916 to 1920. On the other side of the compound is the pond fondly known as “Mayer Ganga”. The famous temples of Shitala Mata and Sundarnarayan are located on the bank of the pond.
|House of Sri Sarada Devi (Jairambati)|
Both the temples at Kamarpukur and Jairambati are closed from 11.30 a.m to 3.30 p.m. Lunch is served at the temple dining rooms between 12.00 to 2.00 p.m. By now, it was well past noon and we were hungry. So, we headed straight to the coupon counter to get our lunch coupons.
There is no specific amount levied for the meal; it is up to you, you can contribute any amount of your choice into a “Donation Box”. No questions asked. Once done, you leave the room after collecting the receipt of your payment and head straight to the dining hall.
Before the food is served, everyone rises for prayers. It is a different feeling when a room of over hundred people sing in tune and sync with each other. The symphony it creates is magical. After the food is served, the room is filled with the delicious aroma of freshly cooked rice and dal. The food is hot, fresh and tasty. The vegetarian platter includes rice, dal, vegetable curry and a dessert at the end. It is usually the same menu every day, with some variations in curry and dessert on certain days.
After a satisfying lunch at Jairambati, it was now time to head to the final and main destination of the trip—the place around which this tour was planned, the place which is known as the Grand Canyon of Bengal and a place which is one of nature’s unique creations—Gangani.
Click here to read: Gangani Road Trip via Kamarpukur and Jairambati - Part 2
Note: Photography is mostly prohibited inside the temple compound. Look out for warning boards before you go clicking.