Back in 2011, I finally opted out my Kodak film camera, in order to switch to the digital world of photography. Mobile photography was something which I thought was an easy gateway to digital photography. I had my new HTC phone and was curious to photograph anything and everything around. My family planned to go out for the weekend, which eventually proved to be my first digitally documented photo journey. Beyond that, back then, I never thought I would be narrating my journey after 5 years, and my recorded photography would find its way here in a sophisticated travel blog.
Stretched on the banks of Ichhamati river, in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, Taki is a small hamlet, surrounded by date palms and banana trees serving as a wonderful retreat for the people of Kolkata who want to get themselves some fresh air over the weekend away from the humdrum of the city. 65 km of drive through a scenic highway from Kolkata, and 10 km further off-roading to get access, this village is of much worth as it also serves as an Indo-Bangla border.
Unfortunately, this place is less known to city folks in comparison to other famous destinations like Digha and Sundarban. Still, the village sees many visitors every month, says the army personal, who was on duty back then on 29th March 2011. He added, that army men do patrol the entire village day and night; at the village entrance check post, they register in and out for every visitor (with vehicle) into the village. To secure the process further, they ask for an ID card and keep it with them until you register out yourself from the village.
Having said that, this process does not prohibit one to stay for few nights. It’s just a way to keep a track of all visitors, as the area is highly sensitive due to the unfenced river drove international border. You would see Indian flags all over the village, including all small, medium sized boats which use to sail over the Ichhamati river for fishing purpose.
Prime occupation for people out here is to make baskets out of bamboo, handicrafts, fishing, and farming. However, the next generation is keen to study and shape their career. Taki has a govt Intermediate school. For further studies or technical skills, one has to venture out of the village. However, the village is not far back from being facilitated by modern electronic amenities to support day to day life.
Tourists, especially from Kolkata city come here to cut themselves off from the hush-hush of the city and enjoy the village stay which includes roaming around the village on an open cart (primary mode of transport for villagers). The cart for 5 persons won’t cost more than 300 INR, to get a village tour for around 3-4hrs. A small boat ride(3-4 heads) for an hour won’t cost more than 100INR; eventually costing 400-500 INR for a ferry ride of 10 persons for 2-3hrs. One can also engage in handicrafts with village folks.
It would be a lovely different experience if your kid who is from the iPad generation get their hands dirty with clay play and handcrafts. Strolling in lush green crop fields, balancing yourself on the divider on naked foot is yet another experience to be enjoyed. For those who love to visit ancient temples, Taki offers twin temples. Yes, both the temples (of Lord Shiva) are built like twins. Locals do call it twin Shiva temple, which is believed to be more than 200 yrs old. At the least, you won’t mind diving into any of the ponds (clean, if you must know) to feel what a bath in the village pond feels like. Trust me, it feels amazing!
As the sun sets in, sipping evening tea in one of the local tea shops is definitely not something to be overlooked. Take a sip or two as you sit on the Ichhamati river’s bank, legs soaked into the cool river water, and watching the setting sun on the horizon, is an awesome experience you can have, while in Taki. However, the fact to be considered here is Ichhamati river experiences both low and high tides every day, so being on the banks of the river after sunset may be a risk to life if you are not familiar with the ambient threats. Anyhow, the village folks are very cooperative and polite to their guests, and they won’t let you invite any such threat to yourself.
Now, let’s talk about the part a traveler eagerly looks out for when on the run. Local Delicacies! If you somehow have managed to land in this townlet, you should definitely taste the awesome fish prepared by the locals. One can devour on the fish of Ichhamati river from small roadside hotels in Taki. The border village, being so small, the roadside hotels barely cook dinner for 50, so you can’t afford to be late.
Your dinner would be served on banana leaves in traditional style. The abundance of banana trees makes it easy for them. A decent plate of hot rice and fish curry may not cost above 30-40 INR per plate, which is a great deal. Once you are done with the main course, don’t forget to ask formal pas, which is a very famous dessert, a sort of pancake in Taki. Sweet shops are in plenty, so you miss out on these puffy little pancakes.
There are a few small decent rest houses and hotels which offer night stay to outsiders. A decent guest house room for 2 may cost around 300-400 INR which couldn’t get any cheaper. Plus, there’s always room for negotiation. Despite the fact that Taki is a very small village, the guest houses in here offer the pleasant stay with all basic (at times luxurious) amenities. However, if your guest house can’t offer you a mosquito repellent, I would advise you to look for somewhere else. Personally, I would either love to put myself into my car or even drive back to home, rather than facing Taki mosquitoes.
Taki is a recommended weekend destination for people in Kolkata, who are busy spending their life between skyscrapers and concrete forests. Few hours of drive to this place would make them feel the real world, and make fall in love with nature. Being a lesser known place, city dwellers would be-be relieved to find emptier streets and lanes here. With delectable local cuisines, fresh air and verdant greenery, along with a wonderful village cart ride to breathe life into your city strained lungs, this little hamlet would remain etched in your memory for quite some time.