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A weekend ride to Mukutmanipur, the crown of Bengal

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  • A weekend ride to Mukutmanipur, the crown of Bengal

    This is my first travelogue in xBHP!

    During the Work from Home mandate, the idea behind riding Gulaabo, my RE Thunderbird 350x from Bangalore to Kolkata was to explore the places in West Bengal. It's a shame and sad story at the same time that I, being a Bengali haven't explore my home state enough. Had nothing much to do during Diwali and Kali pujo and this WFH is becoming frustrating by the day with the work life balance getting skewed everyday. I was dying to breathe in some fresh oxygen and thought this was a perfect opportunity. The mercury had started to drop and hence the rides are bound to be more pleasant.

    I started coaxing my best friend for a road trip on the Diwali weekend and he finally gave in to my pestering, thinking it could be a good break from the monotony of wfh and we agreed to ride to Mukutmanipur on the morning of 14th November.

    Plan-wise, my friend arrived on his Vespa at 8 on that auspicious morning. Warming ourselves with the dose of morning tea, we could finally start the ride by 9. Navigating through the busy morning markets of Mogra, we could hit the Durgapur expressway only by 10.30. Just before hitting the highway, we stopped by a roadside Mishtir dokan and had a hearty breakfast of kochuri-torkari, tea and pantua.

    After satiating our hunger and taste buds we continued our journey. We made a stop in every hour or so, so that Basanti, my friend's Vespa could cool herself off. Around 1, we left the smooth tarmac of Durgapur Expressway and took the diversion towards Durgapur-Purulia-Ragunathpur road. Soon the road started to worsen. The road via Durgapur Barrage-Beliatore is quite bad and we found quite few potholes. What took away the prize though were SBSTC buses! After Dhaldanga, the road conditions improved and so did the views. After taking the diversion towards Bankura, my Gopro couldn't wait and started recording the beautiful roads through its eyes. The fragrance of "khejurer gur", the 2 o'clock sun, the beautiful greenery around - everything was so perfect!

    By 3, we entered Mukutmanipur, leaving the main highway. There, we saw the huge dam, the almost setting sun reflecting on the water in all its glory - it seemed like love at first sight!

    Gulaabo and Basanti moved on lazily along the mysterious winding roads and finally we reached our abode for the night, Charulata Resort. The resort is set up on a beautiful, serene location on top of a hill. What's more - it has an amphitheatre which offers a panoramic view of the dam. We quickly checked in and rushed to the amphitheatre. The riot of colours we saw in the sky was mesmerising. We were so engrossed soaking in the beauty, we got late and could not reach the dam in time for the sunset. We still ventured out, and rode towards the dam. There's a 10 km stretch of motorable road built on the dam which we chose to ride out.

    There's a stretch on the other side for people who love to walk too! It was already about 8 when we could finally return to the resort. Due to COVID, the resort was empty and the restaurant wasn't operational. Nevertheless, we had booked it just for the view on offer. After a decent dinner, I tried to click the star-lit sky but the absence of my tripod was dearly felt. After another hour of chitchatting, we finally dozed off! I was sleeping peacefully when my friend vehemently woke me up at 3! It was a toad which jumped on him! The idiot was hiding in a corner with no intentions of leaving the room. Sleepy us kept on pursuing it to leave, and finally after half an hour of relentless effort, we could kick it out of the room. Fortunately, rest of the night was uneventful!

    We woke up lazily next morning with the thought of riding over the dam road again but discovered that a moderate fog has engulfed the dam. Giving up the idea we went up to the amphitheatre instead to have our morning dose of tea while soaking in some Vitamin D. Spending some more time experimenting with our cameras, we proceeded to checkout.

    The route plan was to take the more scenic Ranibandh-Jhilimili road, visit Talberiya dam and then return to Kolkata via the forests of Belpahari-Jhargram-Salboni. We started riding around 9.30, the fog and the light winter breeze set the perfect backdrop. In no time, we were riding through the Jhilimili 12 mile jungle, one of the most scenic routes of Bengal. The curvy roads laden with lush greenery, the cute hamlets perched at the right places, the ever smiling tribal people - Jhilimili is beautiful!!

    There's another trail that goes to the jungle of Sutan which we could not cover, but it will certainly call me back to this place in the future.

    About 11, we reached Talberiya dam. This place still unspoilt by the regular tourist is postcard perfect, the chirping of birds and the perfect ripples of water crashing on the shore added to the charm of the place. We spent some more time there, clicked some more photographs and hit the road again. Soon we crossed over to the Jhargram district where the forests full of towering trees continued to greet us. We made a stop for tea at Jamtalgora CRPF camp in Belpahari. We met a Jawan from the camp, exchanged few words, saluted him for his hard work and continued our journey.

    The road leaving Belpahari till Narayanpur passes through villages and some small markets, and the quality of the road isn't great. In fact, at places, there's no road at all and there were some bucket sized potholes. Also, construction work is going on in this entire stretch which slowed down our pace. We continued along the Bengal-Jharkhand border and at about 2.30 pm reached the Jhargram Forest Range.

    Though We were a bit pressed for time and a lot of miles were left to cover, I couldn't help stopping at this enchanting forest and signalled my friend for a halt. The sun's rays peeping through the dense deciduous forests - it was a sight to behold. This forest range is home to elephants but we weren't lucky to cross paths with a herd.

    The void of the trip coming to an end grasped me as soon as we hit NH 16. The forests and the pretty roads were now replaced by wide highways frequented by trucks. We made the final stop at Kolaghat to grab some late lunch before reaching Kolkata.

    I must say these regions of Bengal are quite underrated and treasured at the same time. There are more to do in this region and I came back from this trip with the desire of going back again later. Let's see when that happens!

    I really liked the location of Charulata Resort and the amazing view that one gets from there. The drive through the jungle mahal was amazing with the only drawback - non-availability of petrol bunks in the entire stretch of Ranibandh-Lodhashuli, which might be tricky for scooters. There are however bottled petrol sold by the roadside in regular intervals.

    I would have never known the beauty of this region, if it was not for this trip!

    Till next time, Adieu!

  • #2
    Nicely put!
    A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.

    Weekend Rides Around Kolkata
    My Ride To Sunderbans -
    Hemnagar & Samsernagar
    Saagar Kinare - Bakkhali Calling


    • #3
      Sounds nice trip. Is it me or the video isn't working?