I myself have been fortunate to have walked a couple of times to Tarakeshwar. On those occasions, we travelled by train from
However, last Sunday’s scheduled trip to Tarakeshwar was bound to be special. First, I was going to Tarakeshwar after a good two years. I was waiting rather eagerly for making a trip that I have made innumerable number of times. Second, the ‘adventure’ bug had bitten both, me and Chatur (my good buddy Prashant Chaturvedi) and we wanted to do things slightly differently.
I guess it all started when Dada put the idea of travelling to Tarakeshwar on his bike. Although he said he couldn’t make it, he had absolutely no qualms about me taking his bike. With that idea, I’d called up Chatur. Chatur was immediately gung-ho about the whole idea, but there were speed breakers ahead.
One, Dada’s bike has a
Two, Chatur’s sister’s friend also wanted to come along. Chatur’s sis, Vandana, had already said she wanted to come with us. That made five of us: Chatur, Bulla (another great friend, whose real name is
Hence, we decided to chuck the bike-ride idea and had almost convinced ourselves to a more conventional 7:25AM train to Tarakeshwar on Sunday morning. That was till Saturday evening.
Chatur gets a brainwave around 6 on Saturday evening and asks me if we could ask my Dad to allow us to drive to Tarakeshwar in our Santro. “Not bad,” I thought. I convinced Dad and I called up Chachu to ask for directions. (‘Chachu’ is our family driver; he’s been with us for almost 30 years now. I’ve never called him ‘Driver’ or even ‘Driver ji’. It’s always been ‘Chacha’ until around class 9 when I decided ‘Chachu’ sounded cuter. :D ).
The next morning, the skies were clear and the cast had gathered at my house for what turned out to be a beautiful outing. As luck would have it, Vandana’s friend couldn’t make it due to some reason.
We drove past the Vidyasagar Setu (the second
We had left my house at 7 and we reached Tarakeshwar by 9:15.
(The entrance to the temple)
We met up with the local priest who has been helping my family conduct prayers at Tarakeshwar ever since I can remember the place. We washed our hands and feet at the ghat and were then led inside the dark and extremely crowded sanctum sanctorum. The place was chaotic with all the shouting and chanting of Sanskrit shlokas. Add to that the smoke emanating from the ‘agarbattis’ (incense sticks) and the smell of fresh flowers offered to the Lord, and the picture of the place is complete. Somehow, serenity and calmness engulfs you even in the midst of all this.
We offered our prayers at the Shiva Linga the temple and then at Kali Ma’s mandir right next to the main temple.
(From left: The priest, Bulla, Chatur, Vandana, Me)
Puja completed, the hungry quartet headed for the local shops where we treated ourselves to hot samosas. Our angry stomachs quietened down a bit and we headed back home. Somewhere on the highway, we stopped to quench our thirst at a street-side vendor who offered freshly extracted cane juice. Little did we know the kind of delight that crushed ice in a glass of cane juice can bring on a hot summer afternoon. :)
We were back on the Palsit-Dankuni expressway, and this time I decided to check how high up I could take the needle on the speedometer. As I glanced around and saw that we had a completely empty stretch ahead of us, I pushed the accelerator as far as I could. Absolutely confident of the safety factor, I kept pushing well past the 120 km/hour mark (my previous fastest ever) and eventually managed 140 km/hour. Woohooo!!
(A great capture of the Vidyasagar Setu that Chatur took on his cell phone. I'm actually using this as my desktop wallpaper currently.)