Sunday, October 30, 2005


Sevoke. Will I ever be able to actually grasp the aura of the place? The place beckons me again. And the beckoning brings back all those wonderful memories I have of that place.

The forests.
The river.
The mountains.

The road.
The bridge.
The army trucks.

The tea.
The plate of steaming momos.
The bhutta.

The chatter of friends.
The speeding car.

The sense of solitude and company together.

And me....

Everyone has a place, where when they visit, experience something which inspires them and gives them a sense of peace with oneself. Growing up in a place like Siliguri enables one to view Mother Nature in her full splendor. Whether it is the mighty Himalayas or the enchanting Terai forests or even the fickle rivers, it’s a place which entices the human mind and body. Every time you go, you discover something new. Something more beautiful. For the umpteenth time your convinced that this will be the most beautiful thing you will ever see, only to be proved wrong on your next visit.

Sevoke will always hold a special place in my heart. It might not be the most beautiful place I have been to, but it has some strange stranglehold over my senses. When I am there it seems my life has come to a still. I never want the moment to end. It seems as eternity has set in and nothing can go wrong now…

The drive to Sevoke takes about thirty to forty minutes depending on how fast one drives. Negotiating with the impossible traffic of Siliguri is a challenge I always enjoy. The traffic in the city, like in most Indian cities has absolutely no regard for rules. Yet there is an amazing sense of order in the chaos. As soon as we begin to leave the city limits, one begins to notice the drastic changes in the immediate environment. Houses made of wood on high stilts. Traditional Nepali attire replacing the otherwise predominantly Bengali clothes one sees in Siliguri. More Buddhists monasteries than Hindu temples. This sudden change within a few kilometers make one seem as if he has crossed over in to some other country. But it’s just the suburbs of Siliguri, filled mainly by Tibetan refugees, Nepali laborers and Bhutia immigrants. The nature of siliguri and its surrounding areas is truly very cosmopolitan. Inspite of being the second largest city of Bengal, the city is not predominantly Bengali. Nepalis, Marwaris and Bengalis are the main communities with healthy percentages of Sikhs, Sikkimese and Bihari. All these diverse cultures give the place a unique feel.

As soon as we are out of the city, the omnipresent army camp comes. Siliguri, thanks to its strategic location is surrounded by army camps. It is impossible to leave the city without going through any one of these camps. By the time one weaves through the camps, he will realize that the redoubtable Terai forest has engulfed the area.

The Terai truly is a standing proof of the axiom that the most dangerous things in the world are also among the most beautiful. Driving along the empty road with towering Sal trees on your either side, dense foliage hiding the secrets of the jungle is an experience one has to go through to realize the sense of thrill. On most of my visits I stop the car at one side and listen to the sounds emanating. The pregnant silence interspaced with the clamor of the cicadas. A silence so full of imminent possibilities that you feel like waiting there for ever for something to happen. After a spending a few moments I embark again toward sevoke.

The drive through the forest is a long one. Surprisingly, the road here is always in an excellent condition irrespective of the time of the year. So it makes the drive all the more enthralling. Just when you begin to think that the forest will never end, there emerges a sudden downward slope, the forests clear away as if magically, the Himalayas till then hidden behind the high trees emerge from nowhere and before you lies the most enchanted river you will ever see- the Tista. The sight springs up so suddenly that for the first few minutes a first-time visitor will be struck dumb. Even for a regular visitor it’s not something unattractive. This was the place which we call Sevoke.

Sevoke is placed in an amazing setting. It’s the point where the Himalayas end and the tista makes her first foray into the great plains of north Bengal. There is a railway line running right along the mountain edge and an exquisite steel girder bridge running over the river and connecting the Terai to the Dooars region. A little behind the railway bridge, someway off is the road bridge, also popularly called the coronation bridge. It was considered an architectural wonder when it was first built in 1930 because of the single arch holding the bridge together.

Now something about the great Tista. The Tista is undoubtedly the biggest and most fearsome river in north Bengal. Having its origins in the formidable glaciers on the Sikkim-China border, it winds its way through narrow gorges and valleys in Sikkim before emerging in the plains at sevoke. From their on its gathers in size and goes on to Bangladesh to join the brahamputra.

to be continued.......

1 comment:

palarambarujje said...

darun likhechish - ma ke dekhash kokhono - naa tale abar shuru hoye jabe je tuilikhte parish kintu na likhe likhe nijeke noshto korchish.