This is just half part of my first trip. As this blog post was getting longer, I decided to publish this blog in two parts. Moreover, forgive me for my poor English. You are most welcome for your reviews and suggestions.
The day was the 11th of May, 2017. My second-semester exams were over the same day. Everyone was returning home. I didn't book a ticket to go home. I had something else in mind. My friend Subodh and I were thinking of going somewhere to visit. We didn't have a plan in mind but we were sure that we were going somewhere. It was 5 o'clock in the evening when he came to my room and asked - “Where are we going Aadi?”
I said - “I don't know. Let us see on the map where we can go.”
And so I opened google maps. I looked for either forests, hills, or mountains nearby. I found two places to visit. One was Chandil range and another was Ajodhya Hill Forest Reserve. I said to him that we can visit either of these two places. But as we searched, we found that Ajodhya Pahad was more suitable to visit, but still, we were not sure. We decided to decide this on our way.
Now let me tell you about myself a bit (for people who don't know me). My name is Aditya Anand and I am from Hajipur, Bihar. At present, I am a student at the National Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur (batch 2k16-20). I pursued engineering as I loved science (Of course it is the society that pushes you to pursue a career in engineering or medical, but we can talk about it later). But another thing that attracted me from my childhood was nature. From my childhood, I used to think that someday I'll start to travel around the whole world, but I didn't know when. While taking admission to college, I thought that maybe after college, I will start traveling. But soon I realized that that day would never come. This was the time when I decided that I have to start traveling, anyhow.
Moreover, I am an adventurous kind of guy. You will find this out in my blog. One more thing, I just don't want to travel to new places, I want to discover the places, know about the people and their culture. I want to taste local foods. By the way, I learned the latter while traveling.
What was it then, I set out on my journey. The things I carried on my 1st journey were very limited. Of course, we knew that we were going on an adventurous trip, but it was new for both of us. We didn't have any experience, but still, we had a mixed feeling of excitement and fear. We didn't know where we were going exactly or when we would return. But still, we were so confident. We took a bag, one pair of extra t-shirts, one water bottle, one matchstick, one knife and a pair of towels for both of us. I also downloaded the offline map of both areas. Since it was our 1st journey, I kept ₹400 cash with me along with an ATM for emergencies.
So we had two places in our minds. I googled every possible thing that came to my mind before going, like which types of animals are found there, is it possible to stay in the jungle or do we need permission for that, etc. By the way, we decided to enter the forest area anyhow. If the permission to enter was denied then we decided to go in some other way (like through the fence if needed).
Finally, we had our dinner and left to go for our 1st adventure. The interesting thing was that few of my friends were still in college who were asking where we were going. We said that we were not sure. Some of them said that we didn't want to tell, whereas the truth was we literally didn't know! Few were mockingly saying that we were going to die 😅. It was 11:30 p.m. when we left our hostel.
The nearest railway station to our college is Adityapur railway station which is about 2 km away from our hostel. We reached the station by 12:00 a.m. approx. We decided on our way to go to Chandil first because it was nearer on our way. If we liked the place, we will visit there otherwise we will go to Ajodhya Hills. At approx 12:30, a local train arrived at the station, which was on the other platform. As soon as the train started, Subodh told me - “Aadi, ye train to Tatanagar hoke hi na jayegi?” (Aadi, wouldn't this train go via Tatanagar?)
I said - “Haan haan bilkul. To tum kehna kya chah rhe?” (Of course, but what do you want to say?)
There was a silence for a while when we both smiled at each other. Immediately, I said - “Let's go then!”. We ran along the other side of the platform by jumping the tracks. You must know how quickly local trains catch speed. Both of us went for two different doors, and in a matter of seconds, we were on the train. And this is how our real journey started.
Tatanagar is the next station to Adityapur. This is comparatively a bigger station where we can find trains for all areas around Tata. Around 2 a.m. a train arrived which dropped us till Chandil. At 4 o'clock, we reached Chandil. It was still dark and the next train to Balrampur (nearest railway station to Ajodhya Hills) was at 6:55. So we decided to rest at the station. It was so cold but still, we managed to sleep on the bench. In one and a half hours, someone woke me up. I saw a man in the banyan standing near me. I woke up Subodh too, but we were still half asleep.
He asked - “Hey, kahan ja rahe ho tum log?” (Where are you going?)
Neither of us responded, instead we were watching each other's face. We did not know what was happening nor did we know the man. He repeated the same question 2-3 times but still, we didn't say anything. I don't know what happened to me, but it seems like we were still dreaming. I said something that I don't remember, maybe I mumbled something. Whatever it was, the man went away. In a minute or two we came to our senses.
It was already dawn and things were visible. Subodh stood up and turned to me and said shockingly - “Bhai wo dekho, kitna sundar lag rha!” (Bro look, how beautiful it is!)
I turned back and a range of small hills was behind me. At that time, in the dim sunlight, that scene looked beautiful. I had traveled through that station multiple times but never observed this one.
I said to him - “Hum log ko chalna chahiye kya ispe?” (Should we go on these hills?)
Subodh said - “Jrur bhai, chalte hain. Agar train bhi pakadna hua to dedh ghante me to ispr se ghum ke aa hi jayenge.” (Sure, We should. Even if we have to catch the train, we will be here in one and a half hours.)
So we went to the hills. While leaving, we saw the same person, who woke us up, chatting with someone. He was an officer of the Railway Police Force (RPF). We understood because he was dressed now. We smiled at each other and walked away.
It was a bushy but an easy climb. It took half an hour to reach the top. While climbing, we saw several trucks were parked a few kilometers away, perhaps they were being used to carry coals. A local lady was also climbing the hills with her goats, don't know why but she didn't climb till the top.
We rested on the top of the small hill for some time. On the other side of the hill, there was a pond. We would have gone to the pond too, but there was nothing more to discover there. And going to the pond meant to leave the train. So we returned from there till 6:40. The train came and it was on time.
According to our information, Balarampur station was just two stations away. We gathered this information from the internet and asked various people on our way. But after crossing two stations, there was no Balarampur. Instead, the name of the station was Barabhum. We were like - “What's the problem, the next station will be Balarampur, maybe we were mistaken about the number of stations.” A local passenger, who was sitting next to us, was listening. As the train started, he asked where we needed to go. We said that we were going to the Ajodhya Pahad. He said - “if so, you should get off the train now.” We said - “But this is Barabhum, not Balarampur”, upon which he replied - “Barabhum is a part of Balarampur, there is no separate station as Balarampur.”
We ran and got off the train quickly. Fortunately, the train was not running so fast.
We came out of the station and were searching for a bus or any other public transport to reach our destination. The Ajodhya Pahad was about 30 km from the station. Someone told us that the bus goes this way which would lead us to the hills. We waited a few minutes and decided to walk on our feet and would catch a bus on our way. The sun was too strong, so after walking half an hour we started feeling tired. Anyhow, we got a lift from a biker. He left us to a place where we easily found the bus.
We rode the bus and it left us to a place where we had to walk for around three km. Here, we decided to eat in a hotel for the final time before starting the adventure. We ate and set out ourselves.
We were nervous but had a feeling that we could do it. Of course, starting a new thing is always challenging, but as Einstein said - “The only source of knowledge is experience.” So we had to experience these things.
To reach Ajodhya Hills, we had to cross a local village. The sun was getting stronger as it was the month of May and the time was about 9:30. There were no trees on the way where we could rest, so we moved on. Around 10:15, we got to where the village was ending and the forest was starting. We were sweaty, so we decided to rest near the tree before entering the jungle. We both climbed a tree and slept.
After a while, I heard some people shouting. When I looked under the tree, I found out that they were shouting at me. I was shocked. They were speaking local Bangla. But what I understood was that they were scolding me for something. Soon they realized that I was not understanding their language. One of them said - “Hindi or Bangla”. I said Hindi. There would be approx 10-11 people there.
Now one of them who was wearing a red shirt, asked - “Tum yahan kyon aaye ho aur ped pad kya kar rhe ho?” (Why did you come here and what are you doing on the tree?)
Another one said - “Bhaag ke aa jate hain ye log ghar se! (They come running from their home.)
Again someone shouted - “Are ye log ladki se dhokha kha kar aa jata hai marne!” (These people come to die after being cheated by girls.)
I was flooded by their questions. I was a little scared too. One of them realized that they should let me speak. He said - “Are ise bhi bolne do thoda.” (Let him speak a little.)
I tried to make them understand that I am a student of NIT Jamshedpur and I just came here to visit. But still, they were questioning me as if I literally have committed some crime. Fortunately, one of them had lived in Jamshedpur for a short period of time and I was wearing a college T-shirt. But before he could say anything the man in the red shirt shouted - “Agar tum ped par se gir ke mar gye to naam to hmlogon ka lagega.” (If you fell from the tree and died, we will be blamed.)
Someone asked - “Achha agar tum sach me ghumne aaye ho to apne papa ko phone lagao aur hamari baat karwao.” (Well if you really come to visit, then call your father and get us talking.)
Now this was the problem. Our planning was very short-termed. Moreover, I was not sure if my mom would allow me to have such an adventurous trip. So, speaking in one line, I did not inform at home. Yes, I did tell my elder brother that I was going somewhere but not exactly where, because even I didn't know then.
Hence, I was confused about what to do. Well, I finally called my father. He is very supportive. He has that much trust in me that I will not do anything wrong. So he quickly said - “Ok, I will talk!”
Then I put my mobile on speaker and he assured everyone that I was there for visiting only. Further, that man who had lived in Jamshedpur, wearing a white t-shirt, asked few things about Jamshedpur, not in the sense of verifying but in general (at least it seemed to me as he was looking convinced).
Now, as soon as I thought the problem was over, one of them said - “To, tum akele ho?” (So, are you alone?)
I again was in a dilemma about what to say. Since Subodh was still on the next tree, but he was not visible from the ground. At that moment I had so many questions in my mind - what if Subodh came down? What should I tell them about him? Should I say I was alone? However, I told them that I was not alone and my partner had gone to market for some things. My heart was beating so fast. But soon the crowd dispersed and the man in the white t-shirt started talking to me. I asked him about that place and took several suggestions about that place. We were slowly walking while talking. We reached near the next tree when I saw the shoes of Subodh under the tree. As soon as it was seeming that the problem was over, the new one was in my way. But slowly, by distracting him, I managed to slide the shoes on the other side of the tree. Later on, he went away.
When I realized that the problem was over, I called Subodh. He responded slowly - “Kya hua? Baki log chale gye?” (What happened? The others left?)
I said - “Yes”.
He came down and told me he woke up very late and watched me tackling myself. So he remained on the tree and waited for me to call.
Finally, we were ready to enter into the forest.
To be continued...
Assagao is home to many beautiful Goan/Portuguese heritage homes in Goa. Some of which have been converted int boutiques, cafes, art stores, etc. We shall ride through the entire stretch, taking in the architecture, culture and history, past the tree-covered lanes, spot popular restaurants and shops in between, experience the way locals snack,