Blessings from Maa Kalyaneshwari, running through the alluring beauty of Maithon Dam, Panchet Dam, and exploring the ruins of Garpanchkot in West Bengal, this is my first travel story of THE NEW NORMAL. Staying at home for more than 4-5 months at a stretch is becoming a tough job now since we all are done with binge-watching Netflix and desperately want to return to our normal lives or maybe start living our #thenewnormal lives. It is no different for me either. The tourist departments, border areas, and resorts at several places are slowly reopening and people are getting back to their regular lives.
For everyone who is stuck at home, this is just a detailed blog on my experience while traveling to the above-mentioned places so that you can have a rough idea about these places before planning for your own trip. I’ve certain privileges that made this road trip less risky for me like having a personal car, living with my parents, and most importantly living in the green zone (wood-touch!). For those who would be reading this blog, I beg you to be a responsible person and not to go on a tour without proper knowledge of the place you’re going to and without taking proper precautions.
I’ve researched for almost 2 weeks and made a list of a few places within West Bengal that are open for tourists now and are still COVID free zones (or very few COVID cases recorded). Most importantly these places are easily accessible by road and close to Kolkata i.e. you don’t need to avail of any public transport and you don’t need to stay there as well. Come back home after a whole day of fun and exploring. These are a few things I kept in my mind while traveling – wear a mask, keep using sanitizer, avoid eating from roadside food stalls (try to carry some packed food from your home), try to wear full sleeve clothes and gloves. Wash your hands, feet, hair, shoes, and clothes immediately after returning home (mask and gloves as well if they are washable/reusable).
Even though I’ve shifted to Kolkata for my studies, my hometown is Santiniketan, and thank God during these COVID times I’m staying at my home in Santiniketan. I’ll be explaining my journey from my home and also give the details of how you can do the same from Kolkata as well. The alarm was set at 4 am but the sheer excitement of being able to travel after 5 months kept me awake all night. I got up as soon as the alarm went off and got ready. Trust me I was in such a hurry that I almost forgot my phone, earphone, and camera as well. It was dark outside when we started (at around 5 am) and we stopped near a small village to witness an amazing sunrise while crossing the Illambazar forest. After 10-15 minutes we resumed our journey for Maa Kalyaneshwari Mandir (our first stop) which is 115 km away from Santiniketan (2hrs 30mins) and 230 km (4hrs 30mins) from Kolkata via Durgapur (Delhi-Kolkata national highway).