Our West Bengal Trip-(4)


The weather was cold. We all had a good night’s sleep. After many years I was getting up at 7.30 😊. I usually get up by 5.15. Sameer, one of the attendants gave us three mugs of tea without milk. We usually drink with milk. It was very refreshing. For breakfast we tasted the syrup made from the sap of the date tree. After breakfast Dipak took us to the adjacent plot. It is an open-air theatre and is called Natyagram. There are many date trees and a stage to one side. Many cultural activities take place there. Dipak told us he had conducted a workshop about natural dyes. A large group of Australians had attended it. The workshop ended on the 1st morning.

The people who make jaggery from date trees collect the sap of the tree early in the morning. We wanted to see them at their work but thought rising 5 o’clock was too early on a cold morning 😊.A slit is made on the trunk and a pot is tied below the slit. Sap collects in it the whole night. We tasted it. It is very tasty like tender coconut water. When it ferments it becomes toddy. This sap is boiled for hours. It thickens and is poured into moulds and when it cools it becomes hard jaggery. The syrup is heavenly. We ate it with toasted bread every morning. That is something to smile about.

Making slits in the date tree. photo from the internet.

In Natyagram we saw two trees as if in embrace; the date tree is held tightly by the Banyan tree. In the yard of our homestay, there are three intertwined trees- Date, Banyan and Pipal. This was the first time we saw such a phenomenon. It is fascinating.

After breakfast we got ready. Shantiniketan is the home of Rabindranath Tagore. He is still a living presence though he passed away in 1941. Dipak arranged for us to go to some places with Gupin in his toto. Toto is like an autorickshaw but smaller. We learnt that the driver does not need a license card to drive it!

A Toto

We first went to the temple of Goddess Kali in the temple town called Kanakalitala. This is a very important pilgrimage centre. Goddess Durga in her different forms is very important for the people of Bengal. This temple is a small one and we were in time for the afternoon prayers. There was a long queue of people waiting to make their offerings. In our place we offer coconuts, bananas and flowers. The priest keeps them in front of the deity and gives them back to us as prasad. Here it was interesting to see people offering red radish and other vegetables.

Dancing is a very important part in the lives of people here. In the temple complex we saw a group of people belonging to a local tribe dancing to the beat of a drum. They were singing too. Many people joined them. It was nice. In the following days we saw people dancing to the familiar rhythm in parks and in fairs. Sajal Dey later told us that this tribal dance is supposed to be performed only during certain festivals and not every day. But middlemen take advantage of the dancers to attract tourist money.

Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Date Palm Jaggery (Khejur Gur …


Santiniketan – Wikipedia


Rabindranath Tagore – Wikipedia


Kankalitala – Wikipedia


( to be continued…)


By Lakshmi Bhat

I am a person who believes there is not enough darkness in the world to extinguish the light of a small candle. We live in a small place in South India. I love reading, blogging, stitching, traveling, photography, listening to people and many other things which make life so very nice and interesting. Blogging is a fun experience, it has brought me into contact with people in different parts of the world and it is good to read about their everyday life. In spite of the differences there is a sameness which is fascinating. I have learnt and am learning something everyday. I have learnt to write haikus. I enjoy combining the thought and the number of syllables. I have always read books and I was happy to write short fiction. I had thought I would not be able to do so. Stream of Consciousness and photo challenges are fun too. Yes, there is so much in life that is sad and that hurts us. Many a time I wonder why life is so unfair to so many. We all have problems in life but the problems of many seems unbearable. This makes me feel so helpless. It is not possible to help everyone but we can do our bit, we can do something to help some in whatever way we can. Due to the pandemic I could not go to the Home for the mentally challenged for two years. I had been going there since 2011. I have started going again. I was happy that some members remembered me :) All of them are an important part of my life. There have been many challenges in life and we have faced them with a positive approach. Our grandson and granddaughter have made our lives richer.


  1. Getting up at 5:30 on a cold morning while on vacation…not for me. How wonderful that you are seeing, doing, and learning so much. I, too, love the idea of the hugging trees. We need to learn from them. Glad you are enjoying your trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The embracing trees are different species! Sometime we see something like that here, where a branch from one tree has grown lose to another tree, and the branches have actually fused. I don’t know how often that may work between different species. Down below at root level, trees of same of different species many be connected via mycorhyzzal fungi.

    Liked by 1 person

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