Monday, 1 July 2013

Hartaal and Neya at Dhupjhora Elephant Camp by Debojyoti B

Guest post by Debojyoti Bhattacharya

The Dhupjhora Elephant Camp, Gorumara Reserve Forest can be reached after travelling about 75 kilometers from Siliguri, India through the nostalgic Doors road.


Road through Dooars
On our way there, we took a break as usual at Malbazar. We are always on the lookout small road-side eateries and more often than not, have managed to find little gems hidden away from the eye of the world where the d├ęcor may be lacking but hospitality and great food may be found in abundance. With plenty of fish and mutton consumed with profuse glee, we leisurely traveled the remaining distance after taking the state road leaving the national highway.





Tree House at Dhupjhora Elephant Camp
We reached Dhupjhora around 3 pm and immediately fell in love with the camp as it spread out in front of us. Once we certified ourselves at the reception, we were asked to follow a tall and thin fellow towards our destination - "Teesta", a Gachh-Bari or Tree House.


The tree house where we stayed


He is Hartaal (meaning strike) - why no one knows, but he is comfortable with that. Hartaal greeted us once we arrived at Gachhbari in the Dhupjhora beat. A thin, tall man with charming smile and watery eyes announcing that he is Hartaal, took all our bags at one go and moved towards the farthest corner of the campus, where a lone tree house - Teesta stood, our accommodation for the duration of our stay here.

We were looking for some of tea when Hartaal came running and asked us to go to the dining area for the same. We went, sat and along came Neya - the deceptively small, lazy and ridiculously funny pariah puppy - adopted and christened by Hartaal as Neya.

It's funny how both Hartaal and Neya were similar in enjoying their respective lives. At probably the bottom of the chain of command at the camp, both of them moved about as if they owned the campus and treated the rest of the staff as their employees. One cannot move an eyelid without their approval - either before hand or post facto.

Hartaal – is it only water that he is drinking? Neya - who gives her food? No one seems to bother with the answers.
Meghlal walks into camp
Surya enjoying his bath
But when Meghlal and Surya - both pachyderm of enviable sizes, walk towards Murti for theirdaily bath - Hartaal and Neya will definitely keep sharp eyes to protect the poor pachyderms from any evil.


Don't worry, Hartaal in here: Hartaal with a young guest at camp
Hartaal keeps a keen eye as we bathe the elephants
The guide Bhupesh or the guards are unable to assess the proprietorial responsibilities of Neya and Hartaal and disapprove of their presence most of the time and lamely try to whisk them away unnecessarily and unsuccessfully. They persistently remain with the visitors, providing as much entertainment as the elephants bathing.

Hartaal and Neya - possibly the most enviable assets of Gachhbari at Dhupjhora beat.

Hartaal and Neya still strongly invade my thoughts, luring me to run to Gachhbari, sit with them on the Murti bed, drink local with hot and spicy meat fry, slowly entering into their world of peace!!!!!!!!


Murti River


About the author:
Debojyoti Bhattacharya is many things, he is by profession an engineer, by passion a traveler and at heart, an ever young wanderer.He is also my father. It is from him and my mother, I have imbibed the joy of travelling. In him I see a true traveler, not a mere tourist who passes through places but a traveler who sees things that all else misses, whose joy at seeing a new place is so infectious that it affects all those who travels with him.
I hope he writes for this blog the innumerable travel stories he has collected from his years of travel, both work related and personal and I wish him many many years of travel still to come.