A short trip to Rajabhatkhawa
India,  Travelogue,  West Bengal

Rajabhatkhawa- Where Jungle Starts

After a refreshing trip to Dima the previous evening, we had tasty home cooked chicken for dinner at Saurav’s place. Then we retired for the night with a plan to go on a short trip to Rajabhatkhawa the next day.

The morning began with a bowl full of Maggi at Top Tea House, a small but popular tea stall at Alipurduar town. After that, Mr. Bhaskar Roy, Saurav and I started for Rajabhatkhawa on a motorcycle. Rajabhatkhawa, though one of the weirdest names a place seemed to have got, has actual historical significance. Many folklore are associated with the King having meal at this particular place, but I found more authentic information at the Rajabhatkhawa Nature Interpretation Centre. It said that once the king of Bhutan arrested the King of Cooch Behar and upon his release, everyone in the convoy had meal; especially rice, at this place. Thus, the name Rajabhatkhawa.

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A short trip to Rajabhatkhawa
The Road to Rajabhatkhawa

We meant to have a leisurely trip to Rajabhatkhawa. I was curious to visit the Rajabhatkhawa Nature Interpretation Centre; more commonly, the Rajabhatkhawa Museum. On both sides of the road were jungles, the buffer zone of the Buxa Tiger Reserve; and the ride seemed thrilling. At the entrance of the museum, we stopped to experiment; basically photographing toy cars. To photograph Toy Cars in the backdrop of the jungle was my long awaited desire and finally both Saurav and I managed to get some perfect shots while in this trip. You can find my experiments with Toy Cars in the post Toy Car Photography at Rajabhatkhawa.

Entry to the Rajabhatkhawa Nature Interpretation Centre was absolutely free. I wondered how they managed such a serene and beautiful place without charging a dime from visitors. Here we found various dead animals preserved, mostly elephant calves killed by trains. There were dead remains of bats, eagles and other birds, as well as their eggs. Foetuses of various animals were also at display. They had also bottled and preserved many types of snakes. There were tusks of elephants, skin of leopards and teeth of Royal Bengal Tigers, all stuffed to the walls and ceilings. We were in the middle of so much of wildlife but sadly, they were nothing more than lifeless pieces of art now. In the museum, we also found a great deal of history, from Bhutan to Cooch Behar and places in between.

There was a lady, most probably her fifties, who worked at the museum. I asked her how old the museum was and she said, “I don’t know. I have been seeing this place since I was a kid”. As we finished seeing the displays, the person sitting at the reception counter asked us to note down our experience. We appreciated them for maintaining this amazing place. Then the lady who was talking to me earlier, asked me to go and look at something by the side of the exit door and when I looked, it was a mirror and on it some phrase was written, which though I cannot actually remember at this moment; read something like, “I am the worst form of wildlife on this planet”. “That’s true”, I said and it felt great that still there were people who deeply loved nature.

After coming out of the museum, we had two plans; either we photograph trains passing through Rajabhatkhawa Station and the adjoining stretch or we go to a nearby village and click some portraits. As the heat of the sun was difficult to bear, we decided to ride back towards Alipurduar town.

We stopped on the way to have ice-cream and suddenly saw a few boys in their mid teens playing by a pond. They were climbing trees, and from the treetop, were jumping into the pond. I was not able to get the close up shots with my Canon 50 mm Prime Lens, so I approached the kids and started complementing them for their amazing skills so that they feel comfortable. Once they got accustomed to me and my camera, they started posing and jumping into the pond one by one. It felt great photographing them. You can find my photographing kids in the post Portrait Photography- Kids of Rajabhatkhawa. After spending an hour with them, we rode back to Alipurduar town having enjoyed this trip to the fullest.

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