If one wants to spend time amid nature, then the beauty surrounding the Panchakot hills in the north-east of Purulia, situated between the borderland of the Burdwan district and Jharkhand is hard to miss.

One May afternoon, we found ourselves in the stipulated bungalow of the West Bengal Forest Development, after a scintillating ride through the lustrous boulevards, extending to nearly 15km from Burdwan. Our lodging stood in the delectable chain of the Panchakot hills and the east wore the untamed expanse of the Panchet waters.

Just outside the gate of the rest house, on the left, lay the BIT office. A small path from the gate led to our picturesque bungalow. To the balcony adjacent to our room was presented the vista of an abruptly rising moorland, pierced by the vast Damodar.

In Baghmara area of the Panchet hills is situated the Garhapanchakot Fort. A warrior race from the Dhara region of Madhya Pradesh founded the Panchakot dynasty in the early 18th century. The Garhapanchakot fortress was built to impede the Britons from filtering into Panchet. Now, curtained behind the mantle of thickets, a critical architectural vestige from historic India withers in oblivion.

Another principal attraction was the Pancharatna temple. The juxtaposition of several modes to engender a newer form, yet with a discernible trace of ancient Vaishnava architecture, left our minds perplexed enough. The terracotta artefacts embossed on the temple walls had tarnished, but it showed that the terracotta architecture prospered in India in later centuries. The entrance, with two pillars on either sides of the gate, added to the mysticism of the place. Beside the temple, a road seemed to have lost itself near a huge cluster of boulders, whereupon the whole jungle had leaned as if only to seize it away from sight.

Here lay a minaret and an arch, strangely acting like a makeshift staircase, mounting to its peak from both sides. Numerous other ruined temples speckled the distant slopes. A sojourn upward ushered to us in their dying glory, a horde of Jain temples amid cedars and deodars. On their walls were rock engravings of Jain gods and goddesses. The entire tract was enclosed by a moat and dotted by a well.

The next morning we left the bungalow for the temple of Birinchibaba . The woods had chosen to bow consistently on the jagged road. Leaving the Damodar and the water treatment plant behind we reached Gobag ganj. Three kilometres from there, we found an unmetalled clay road to the temple. The road traversing farmland ended in the rear of the Panchakot hill, at the southern precipice. Here, at a little height stood the white temple. A chaste tributary of the Ganges adjoined the region.We declined to move further as the temple proved to be our final excursion.

However, with the help of some forest officers and prior consent of the authorities one may even indulge in trekking and exploring newer zones of the wild or unveiling unknown myths of the Damodar.

Arup K Chatterjee

Arup K Chatterjee

Arup K Chatterjee is a recipient of the Charles Wallace fellowship, 2014-15, to UK. He received his PhD from the Center for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is the author of The Purveyors of Destiny: A Cultural Biography of the Indian Railways (Bloomsbury, 2017), apart from numerous other prose or poetic works and opinion articles published worldwide. He is Assistant Professor of English at the Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, and the founding chief-editor of Coldnoon.