The plan of going on another long drive had been popping up in my head for quite some time. I was yet to venture out to an unknown destination with my little Sparky (Chevrolet Spark) in the year 2018. Leaving apart travel related to work, I was desperate for a break and a drive is all the heart needed to rejuvenate. After a quick planning, we finalised our destination. We had planned to visit Garh Panchkot, a ruined fort, located in Purulia district of West Bengal. The place is surrounded by hills and this fort in particular is located in the foothills of the Panchet hill, in Purulia.
The place holds historical significance in the history of Bengal and quite unfortunately not much is documented about this beautiful place’s history in our history books. Coming back to our trip, we had planned on a 4 day trip from Kolkata and the places to visit as per our itinerary would be Garh Panchkot, Kalyeneshwari Temple, Maithon Dam and Baranti Dam. Accompanying me in this road trip were my fiancé, her mother and her brother.
We left for our trip on the 16th of June 2018 (Saturday). The distance one way from my home in Sodepur to our hotel in Gar Panchkot would be approximately 246 kms. We had booked the Charulata Resort in Gar Panchkot. The route taken by us was via Dunlop and from there we took the Belghoria Express Way and after paying the first Toll after Nivedita Setu, we headed straight towards SH2. This road is the Kolkata exit of the Golden Quadrilateral, and one needs to exercise a bit of caution as there are 2 turns one heading towards Delhi and the other towards Mumbai and Chennai. It’s a fairly simple route passing through Dankuni, Shaktigarh, Burdwan, Panagarh, Durgapur, Raniganj and Asansol towards Jharkhand.
Our first stop on the trip was for breakfast at Shaktigarh at my favourite eatery Balajee Food Plaza, the directions to this place can be found in my earlier TL
(Trip To Shantiniketan & Bolpur
The distance from my home to Balajee Food Plaza is of about 90 kms and thankfully even after starting an hour behind our scheduled time at 7: 30 am we managed to reach Shaktigarh within an hour. After a quick south Indian Breakfast of piping hot idlis and dosas, we decided not to stop anywhere else and head straight to our destination.
We had clear roads ahead of us and apart from a slight drizzle near Durgapur, we didn’t encounter any rains throughout the trip.
Note: After crossing Asansol, head straight towards Jharkhand border till Dendua – Neematpur Four point crossing. There is a flyover that heads straight to the border, do not avail the flyover, take the service road beside it and take the left turn onto Asansol – Chittaranjan Road that enters into Purulia.
This is the exit from the highway and the scenery changes quite a bit as you drive through a small village into Purulia district via NH 19. Driving for about 4 kms, brings you onto the Asansol-Barakar Road Junction and you have to take the first right within 100 m. After that you take a left from Bajrangbali Mini Bus Stop to get on Asansol – Purulia Road. The distance from the Dendua –Neematpur Four point to the resort is about 27kms and the road is quite good. After driving for about 15kms, we could finally see the outline of the Panchet Hill and we were overjoyed looking at the lush green scenery all around us. After about 23 kms on this road, you come to a crossing that has a sign marking towards Gar Panchkot. From here the road passes through a village and one needs to be extra cautious for this stretch of 3.1 kms as there are people as well as livestock on the road. It’s a narrow village road that heads straight onto Gar Panchkot Eco Resort or better known as Charulata Resort.
Situated amidst the ruins of the old fort, this place is a beauty and treat for the eyes. Lush greenery all around, the resort offers 9 AC Cottages and 2 Tent Houses for accommodation. The cottages are comfortable and spacious and the view from the balcony is beautiful.
We finally checked in to our rooms at around 12:30 in the afternoon and after freshening up we proceeded for lunch. We had placed our lunch order while still on road in order to have the food ready on arrival, being a Saturday we relished a sumptuous veg lunch comprising of Bengali delights such as Posto Bora (Poppy Seed Cutlets), Sona Mug Dal (Lentil), Rice and Dhokar Dalna. Post lunch, I took a good nap and in the evening we headed out to a tea stall nearby for snacks.
We were really lucky, to meet Mr. H Dey, the owner of the tea stall, who welcomed us warmly and upon chatting with him got to know about the history of the place. We got to know that there was a Krishna temple by the name of Rash-Mandir nearby and we chose to visit it on foot. After about 2 hours there, we returned back to the hotel and after an early dinner decided to call it a night.
Day 2 (17.6.2018)
The next morning we had planned to visit Ma Kalyeneshwari Temple and Maithon Dam. After a hearty breakfast we left for the temple. The distance to this temple from our hotel was about 35 kms. We had to go back till the exit on the highway that we came through and upon coming on the highway drive for about 7 km towards the Bengal-Jharkhand border. Just about a km before the border check post one needs to turn right onto Barakar- Kalyeneshwari Road. From there it’s a 3-4 minute drive to the temple. There is adequate parking facility there and after spending 2 hours for darshan we left for our next spot, Maithon Dam. As it was already past lunchtime, we decided to have lunch at the WBTDC Maithon Lodge which is about a 3 km drive from the temple.
Post lunch, we visited Maithon Dam, the deer park and then started our 50km drive back to the resort. On the way, I had planned to visit Baranti Dam to view the sunset as it was claimed to be a beautiful sight by our local guide.
Baranti is also a Dam and is situated on the foot of the Baranti hill. It was about 10km away from the resort and passed through a village, hence the roads were not good and even being only 10kms away it took us about 45 mins to reach the spot. Sunset in Purulia happens later than in Kolkata, we witnessed a beautiful sunset and after a photo session there, we headed back to Mr. Dey’s tea stall for evening snacks. It was here that we came to know that in 600ft above the hill beneath which our resort was situated, there was an ancient temple and we made impromptu plans of trekking and visiting the same the next day. We headed back to our rooms eager for the last day of the trip.
Day 3 (18.6.2018)
The last day of the trip was going to be eventful, for the trek that we had planned, in spite of planning to get an early start, we had to reschedule our plan by an hour or so as our guide hadn’t reached the hotel yet. We started on the trek at about 9 am in the morning and climbed up 600 ft into the hills to visit the ruins of the fortress and Raghupati Temple situated above. After the 3 hr trek, we came back to our resort famished and tired due to the extensive heat outside. The rest of the day was spent indoors with board games and chatting with my family.
Day 4 (19.6.2018)
With a heavy heart, we packed our bags to return back home and back into the hustle of everyday life in Kolkata.
This trip was a beautiful one with my trusted ride giving me extensive driving pleasure, a beautiful mileage that allowed us to complete the round trip of 600+ kms in a single tank of fuel and lots of memories that would keep me going till my next drive.