KPR's Blog

Winter of 1981 – conclusion

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on August 8, 2020

The next morning started late as holiday mornings usually do. A heavy mist hung around the bungalow. It was a huge mansion which showcased the lordly lifestyle of Bihar aristocracy. Spacious rooms, wide verandas, and massive columns. Agarwal could not have used more than a fraction of the facilities there. He had a whole family of servants for the upkeep of the mansion. We had thought that Agarwal could kick off the next day with a wake-up knock in the morning. But he was not seen till all of us got out of bed. To our surprise the host was seen standing at the arch gate. There he was waiting for the meat vendor. He wanted to surprise us with some non-vegetarian dish.

After lunch he took us to Pokhran forest nearby for a trek. It was widely believed that the Pandavas had stayed there during Vanavas. We were taken to the pond where the Pandavas used to bathe when they stayed there. The land was rugged and hard with bushes growing here and there. No human habitation was sighted. On the way we met a couple of tribals who were known to our host. Here and there we noticed clusters of what appeared to be dark stumps of trees. Coming into closer range they were discovered to be vultures sitting still. We returned after taking a dip in the pond. The pond looked a pool in the paradise with hundreds of water lilies smiling from it in that golden evening.

We had just one more day on hand. And there were two more places to visit – Konar dam and Surajkund hot springs. We got up early for we had a minimum of two hours’ drive to the dam. Unlike yesterday the road to Konar dam wound thru scenic landscapes mostly velvet green at that time of the year. There were no other visitors around to interrupt your enjoyment of the place. We had one more place to visit before sunset – Surajkund hot springs which was some way off. Again, it was a ride across unpeopled countryside with clusters of bushes and green mounds all along. Sahu left the highway and took a country road as directed by Agarwal. It looked a desert place, rough and rocky. In a few minutes we were there. The car stopped under a big banyan tree which stood like an umbrella above a small temple. There was nobody, no human dwelling anywhere within my visible range.

We were already standing before a steaming hot spring. Surajkund is a sulphurous hot spring its waters having medicinal properties. The main spring was steaming water surging from a four-inch hole in the rock. You could get a bowl of rice cooked there in 20 minutes said Agarwal. It was too hot for your bare hands. The water ran in to a square pool close by and to a few others in sequence. We entered the third pool which itself was hot. It was a wonderful experience immersing in a hot sulphurous water as if in you were enjoying in your private pool. We were as fresh as reborn. There could not have been a better time for the poories, and potato curry our host had brought for our outdoor meal. We sat around where we got a square foot of flat surface and enjoyed it like a banqueting family. We were not sure if we could return home before nightfall. We packed up quickly and boarded the car. Agarwal did not forget to collect the spring water in the two ten litre cans he had thoughtfully kept in the dick.

The last day in Hazaribagh. By now Agarwal had become a part of our family or vice – versa. He was an indulgent patriarch to our children and the women folk. He accompanied us upto about 25 miles and took a long, lingering, and reluctant farewell. His benign and beaming face as he stood waving when we drove on remains undimmed in mind even after four decades.

We headed straight for Ranchi located in the southern part of the Chota Nagpur plateau. We had a spot to cover on our way – Hundru falls. It is one of the highest falls there. Unlike other places visited there were enough people at the falls to make it noisy and vibrant. It was already late in the afternoon and we were to wind up the holiday trip in Ranchi that evening. We stayed one night at Ranchi and returned to Calcutta the next day.


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