Rakhaldas Bandypadhyay or R. D. Banerji as he is known, is credited with the discovery of the Harappan ruins of Mohenjo Daro; and also celebrated for tracing the origin of the Bengali script. His ancestral home stands some kilometres from the city of Kolkata.
The Bongaon area of North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, India, has given us eminent Bengali personalities (including Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay) like Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay, author of Pather Panchali (later adapted for an award winning film by Satyajit Ray) among his other renowned pieces of work in Bengali literature; and Dinobondhu Mitra, an eminent Bengali dramatist of the nineteenth century.
This place is sacred with the footprints of Haridas Thakur or Yaban Haridas, disciple of Chaitanya Mahapravu and a prominent Vaishnava saint of the fifteenth century Bengal. It is also an important India-Bangladesh border checkpost, called Jayantipur Petrapole. Thousands of trucks transport goods to and from India and Bangladesh.
Being an explorer at heart, a sense of humility and awe engulf me as I enter the house of the discoverer, the man I have wanted to meet since I first read about Mohenjo Daro in my school History book.
The Durga Mandap (a covered structure with pillars reserved for the annual prayers to the Goddess Durga) inside the house transports me to the late eighteenth century, when Mr. Banerji himself may have led the prayer proceedings.
Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay’s statue (closeup view) at the entrance of the local high school named after him.
The dilapidated front portion of Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay’s house (seen from the inside) cry for more attention.
While two more mansions that Mr. Bandopadhyay owned are destroyed now, the bricks of those the ruined houses were used to construct a High School named after Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay, a fitting tribute to the man who changed the history of our civilization through his discovery. Here’s a picture of Chhaygharia Rakhaldas High School, named after the man.
Dakat Kali Bari is another unique attraction of the town. Literally translated as the Abode of the Goddess Kali of the Dacoits, this temple is well-known for being a place of worship for all the armed robbers in the area. Care for a quick conversation with the worshipers here?
Saat Bhai Kali Tala – The Kali Temple of Seven Brothers, offers lovely photo opportunities to the shutter lovers.
The rail over-bridge at Saat Bhai Kali Tala is another great place to sit back and soak in the ambience.
I spent about one and a half days to capture the essence of this sub-divisional town, but I should acknowledge that I was able to capture only a fragment of the rich heritage. I yearn for another opportunity to come back to this place to document and present more insights of this place.
Ask Alpaviram for a day-trip to this lesser known destination from Kolkata with me, if you want to come along.
– Text and images by Goutam Dey