I usually go to fetch my requirements of fruits,vegetables, and meat from Dinati Bazaar twice or thrice a week a stones throw away from my home. I saw a hand painted signboard in Bengali which translates into “ Conducted tour by luxury bus to Gilgilihit three days and two nights with all meals at Rs.5000/- leaving Dinati Bazaar crossing on 3rd April . For booking contact xx124578xx “ The stall on which the signboard was put up sold potatoes, onions, ginger and garlic. After buying some items from the shop I asked Bumbababu if he knew about the matter. Bumbababu gave me quite a lot of information and asked me to telephone Subhashbabu for more details.


I telephoned Subhashbabu and discovered that he lived less than a kilometer from my home. I made an appointment and went to his residence. “ It is a 10 hour journey. We depart at 9 p.m and arrive at Gilgilihit next morning around 7 a.m.We shall put you up at a decent lodge. Local sightseeing will be visits to old temples for the first day. The same night the bus would be parked overnight in the middle of a wildlife park where we could spot many wild animals. The next day we would visit a lovely riverside where we could swim and bathe along with a boatride. That very afternoon we’d be on our return trip and be back at Dinhati Bazaar by 9 p.m.”…… “ Won’t it be a little tiring for an hexagenarian like me ??!! “ I queried. “ Not at all !! The bus is fully air-conditioned and a Volvo !! “….. “ For three family members do you offer any concession ?”… Subhashbabu grinned and said that since I belonged to his para (locality) a concession of fifteen percent could be made. But the entire money would have to be paid 24 hours before the departure. I refused the cup of tea which he offered me because it was very hot at that time of the day.


3rd April 2016. Two oversized duffel bags and three of us (my wife and daughter & me) arrived at Dinhati crossing at 8 p.m. feeling quite filled after the heavy dinner of rice & fish curry. The “Volvo AC Bus” arrived at 8-45 p.m. Although the words “Volvo Luxury” was painted prominently on its front & rear it WAS NOT A REAL VOLVO !! Subhashbabu was nowhere to be seen. I had requested seats in the front half of the bus but the “conductor-cum-guide”  led us to aisle seats. No amount of complaining did any good. Subhashbabu too wasn’t picking up his cellphone ! It was quite hot inside the bus though tiny fans were whirring noisily near the shut glass windows.


“When will you turn on the AC ?” I asked Gullu the conductor. “ After all the passengers have finished boarding. Do you think we’d spend diesel for 15 passengers ?!” came the curt reply. Around 9-15 all the seats were full & the driver clad in a half-pant and sweaty singlet sat in the drivers seat. The bus rolled out and a rattling noise ensued. “What’s the noise ?! “ we all chorused. “Aww… I have just turned on the AC .Wait for a while “ Even after travelling for full half hour, the old antiquated AC was able to cool the interior by 6-7 degrees. It was quite stuffy inside & the smell of old naphthalene & mosquito killer filled the bus.


After an hour or so, the AC rattle was less pronounced & there was a feeling of cool comfort. The sweat on my neck & face dried up & I felt a little happy and in a few minutes time my eyes became heavy & I dozed off listening to the steady whirring of the window-side fan & movement of the bus.


I awoke with the acrid odor of “beedi” smoke pervading my nostrils. Opening my eyes I saw the driver happily puffing away with his hands on the steering wheel. It was a difficult situation indeed. Somehow I hoped that his puffing would soon come to an end. A prominent glow-sign of “No Smoking” were obviously meant for the passengers only & not the driver. I held my handkerchief to my nose & patiently waited for the smoke to abate. In a short while I again dozed off.


Oh God !! how my waist and limbs ached !! I looked at my watch which showed 4-30 a.m. So… the horrendous night was going to be over soon. In an hour the bus stopped at a wayside resthouse cum restaurant. We hapless stiff passengers alighted and wobbled to the wash basins and rest-rooms. My legs felt rubber-like & my lower back felt like a thawed brick.”This isn’t what I expected !” My wife,daughter & all other passengers queued up for making ourselves as clean as possible followed by a refreshing cup of sweet “elaichi” tea & two biscuits.Gullu announced that we would be arriving at our destination in another hours time. I saw a signboard

“Gilgilihit Welcomes You”.


The bus drove along a graveled side-road to a large bungalow shaded with tall trees. We took long cool showers and I personally felt much better & looked forward to a hearty breakfast. Hot “luchis” with hot,spicy “aloo dum” followed by a large sugary sweet & rounded off with sweet milk tea. After breakfast we all wanted to stretch ourselves. We did so on bare thin-mattresses and hard flimsy pillows. It was only when Gullu knocked loudly we woke up & had a delectable lunch. Gullu proclaimed that we had to get ready for visiting the famous old temples for which Gilgilihit was famous.


The old temples were really marvelous !! We all clicked our cameras profusely taking memorable “shots” One temple was made of red stone and a monolithic one. It was in a dilapidated condition. Yet the carvings & sculptures were sharp as ever depicting tales from the epics. “Where did the descendants of the artists go ?!?” I wondered. Gullu said that the temple was excavated only in 1990 & it was the temple which drew the most tourists. In all we saw about half a dozen temples. I wondered why the piety had given way to highrises & multiplexes without a shade of ancient Indian art !!


By sundown we were back at the lodge for high tea & some idle talk watching the local TV news channel. Dinner was “chapattis” and “ baingan ka subzee” followed by a tall glass of cool “lassi”. “Tonight we shall see the wildlife park which is 15 kms away “ In about half an hour we were in the middle of the thick Gilgilihit Jungle.The lights inside the bus were switched off, the doors were bolted & locked and we all sat in silence throughout the night. No… I didn’t see any wild animal except a jackal which looked more like a stray dog. Most passengers slept soundly till the bus began its return journey to the lodge. A two-hour nap was followed by tea , “kachoris” & “jalebis”. “Pack up your belongings.We’ll be going to Gilgilihit river now & from there we shall return to Dinhati Bazaar.”


Gilgilihit River was very nice even in the late morning. Those of us who knew swimming swam while the others took lazy boat-rides in the swift-flowing river. The river looked as if the ripples were sprayed in shiny gold. One memorable snapshot I’ve enlarged & framed for my bedroom. Gullu had taken a packed dry lunch & soft drinks which we had under the shades of trees beside the river bank. It was a nice experience munching at semi-cold “parathas” & “parval-aloo” curry followed by two “motichoor laddus”.


The return journey was fitful sleep full of hope for a soft bed at night after we arrive. But that was not what God had planned !!! The bus had engine trouble on the way which took more than two hours to set right. We loitered around the bus slapping at mosquitoes & gazing at the mocking moon.” What about dinner ?” we asked Gullu. “Sorry Babu… that is not included “ We arrived tired,thirsty & hungry well past midnight at Dinhati Bazaar crossing.


This is bishutherubbishstoryteller writing for Astromate. It was only because of the fairies we were safe back home & in bed.



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allets's picture

Enjoyed The Trip

The temples and art must have been beautiful making the discomforts worth enduring. Thanks for sharing ~ Stella