If you suddenly open your eyes to the sound of a rooster’s call…how different would it feel from the usual sound of buses or rickshaws honking that greets you every morning? Well…different is an understatement…the feeling takes me back to my roots…where I actually belong…something tells me I have a connection to this place…and I guess I do…everything seems so familiar, everything beckons me with a strange sense of familiarity that I hardly get in any city!I love to believe that I must have been a village girl here some time…in another life…The day dawned on us pretty early as a glowing sun lit up the darkness, that had been all we could see of the place last night. I called the number I had brought from Kolkata and booked a car that was to come in about an hours time to take us to Kankalitala…one of the 51 Peeths of the Hindu Puranas. The way through the village roads is a treat by itself as it unravels the true village of Bengal to us urbane souls…and though I had been through these roads innumerable times now…they appear new and fresh everytime…
The car, a Grey Indica, comes and honks in about an hours time as we get ready for the trip tucking in last minute essentials into the bag, not to forget the camera. It’s funny…every time I come here…I take snaps and every time they appeal to me with the same intensity! The vast green fields, the blue sky interspersed with white fluffy clouds, the distant date trees lining the horizon with a few village huts like one of those line drawings we have grown up seeing in the Sohoj Path…the line of Santhal men or women going for work in their traditional dresses – men in short dhotis and a gamcha on their shoulders and women with cotton sarees worn traditionally to a height a few inches above the ankle, their dark complexions and chiselled physiques glowing as if chiselled by some master craftsman.
We started off with the spring sun shining brightly on the landscape. There was a slight chill in the air as the last strains of winter insists on clinging back to this beautiful place for as long as it can. Spring is the time to come to Shantiniketan with the much talked about Basantotsav round the corner. But the choice to come a week before was just to avoid the crowd and get the real feel of the place, though missing the festivities is sure to be a reason for grief!
About 8 kilometres from home, the temple of Ma Kankali stands quietly by the Kopai River. The myth goes that when an enraged Shiva was started his Tandav to destroy the world, with the corpse of Sati on his shoulders, Vishnu had cast his Sudarshan Chakra to stop him. In the effort the body of Sati had been sliced into 51 pieces and scattered around the place. Her various remains fell in various locations, each one later recognized as a peethasthan.Kankalitala, which has a Kunda (pond) where one of the pelvic bones of Sati (Kankal) lay immersed is one such peetha where a temple has been constructed by the Kunda. The quiet of the place is only complimented by the rows of baul singers singing songs. After offering puja at the temple we wandered towards the back of the temple through where Kopai river silently flows through…a few quiet moments by the river left us at peace with ourselves looking at the local people engaged in working at a brick kiln on the other side of the river. We left after a while to start our trip visiting the many enchanting locations of the city…remains of an era that had seen the best of the great poet at his best.