From my Blog : www.ghuranchandi.com/simultala-tourist-spot
Myself and and my friend Kallol's activities on ghost-research started from 8th standard. However, the research activities was limited to the extent of going to the Nimtala crematorium in the evening on vacations from the coaching class and searching for souls in the smoke of the burning furnace, avoiding the eyes of the guard of Bagmari cemetery sitting next to a grave or trying some plachette with burning candle in a dark room.
Meanwhile I made the mistake of reading a book of Mr.Probir Ghosh named "Oloukik noy,Loukik" and some other books on self-hypnosis. At the thrush of the rationalists, our inner irrationality almost vanished. The bug showed its face again when he came in contact with Ayanangshu while studying in City College. Conversing with him, it seemed that the boy was a ghost expert. He has travelled many places and had good inventory of ghostly experiences to impress the dormant bug in me! They had a house at Simultala.
Simultala of 1995 was very less populated then. Next to their house there was a big field with a rug and an ash tree in one corner of that field. It was said that some villagers had committed suicide by hanging from the branches of the tree. It was a strange experience to go to Shimultala of Ayanangshur that year. He was there for three days. He got two people from the village, one a cook and the other to do other household chores starting from the market. The incident happened on the day they returned. There was no trace of the cook or the other person anywhere.
Meanwhile, honest people like Ayananshu's father can't return without giving the lumsum money to the people as he committed beforehand. They searched everywhere and even in a distant village. When the villagers of that distant village heard about the name and appearance of the cook & housekeeper, they told that two years ago these two people committed suicide by hanging from the highest branch of that ash tree! Whether it is a story or an incident I don't know, but the name Simultala came to my subconscious mind after hearing it. However, due to various circumstantial situations I could no make any visit to Simultala at that time.
1995 to 25th November 2018. During this long period Simultala stayed in my subconscious mind with some fragmented pictures. Sometimes it is a small Shiva temple standing alone in the plateaus, sometimes it is a few palm or palm trees on a high and low plateau, sometimes it is a single tree in a corner of a large field, sometimes a round veranda and garden of a very old abandoned house. The opportunity to put all these fragmented pictures together came when 3 of my office colleagues agreed for the Shimultala trip on 25 th November 2018.
At 4.30am in the morning, the Bagh Express dropped the four of us off at Simultala station and left. Sitting in Kolkata, I did not realize that the shawl given by my mother would be so necessary. Even after wrapping myself up with sweater and shawl, I was shivering in the cold. We saw three people sitting on the side of the platform surrounding around a fire.
All four of us joined them and started warming ourselves in that fire first and regained some life to our chilled bones. In the meantime, suddenly a question flew to us in bengali "Where are you going?" Lina grabbed that question and cut the ribbon of our Simultala expedition. The questioner is the auto driver, Rajkumar Yadav. He was also sitting around that fire with us.
There is no point in looking for a guest house before 7am in the morning as no one will be available in this wee hours. We spoke to Rajkumar ji and decided to take advantage of the time. First we would go to Dharara Falls, 17 km away. By then the daylight shall come out. After that we shall go to Chhati hill to see the streams and then shall find a guest house with Rajkumar ji. Myself, Lina and Bidisha were in the back seat and Bahubali Snehangshu in the front seat. With 4 of us, the prince took his chariot around the station and came to a tea shop in front of the station. An earthen cup of tea in that chilling cold was really a life saver for us.
Everyone ate two cups at a time and then we left for Dharara. A little further on, the faint fluorescent lights overflowing from the station grounds faded and faded. And with that, the warmth from the two cups of tea also faded. Even after wrapping my head in a shawl and muffler, whatever part of my body is left out, suffered the painful bite of cold. We continued to cruise through the pitch black darkness. From the swaying and shaking of the auto I realized we had taken the semi-paved road of the village.
In the light of the dazzling headlights, I saw a dilapidated house that had almost collapsed. Almost at once our mouths came out with "Is that it?" Leena got excited and asked, "Well, is there a ghost?" "Bhut kaha rahega didi, aadmi rehane ka jaga nehi hein.", was the answer from our driver. Our chariot has been running through rural Bihar for the last half an hour. In one place I saw a woman and a child burning a fire in front of a slum house. The shades of light and darkness caught my eye and I stopped Rajkumar ji for taking a photograph.
We continued our journey for another half an hour and found the first light of the day showing its glimpses. In that first light, the newly awakened Shimultala matched its wide horizon in front of us and gave the first introduction of its natural reserves.
The light came up a little and the auto stopped on a huge wide mound. Rough and dry, this barren land is surrounded by trees on both sides, as if someone has made a beautiful fence with Shal and Piyal trees. A concrete structure exists at the right end, but there is no way to understand now what it actually was.
At the other end is a Shivling and a temple. The road down to Dharara Falls is through the gaps in the jungle scattered in front. As soon as I got out of the car, I noticed the sound of murmuring water from that side. I saw Snehanshu with his camera was photographing the temple from different angles. I could not wait any further. The reddish tones of color in the sky was proclaiming that there is not much delay for sunrise.
Unable to resist the urge to watch the first light of day play in the stream of falls water, I started descending straight to where the sound of water was coming from. After a while I discovered the stream. However, it is better to call it a river than a fall. The Telba River flowing through the land of Simultala falls into the rocky crevices of the Chhotanagpur Plateau and brushing against the white, yellow, dark blue boulders creates this wonderfully charming valley.
The river water is now just knee-deep. That water is so clear that all the pebbles below are clearly visible. The river descends from the rocks in two or three levels or streams. I have seen in Kolkata also on hearing the word "river"Lina gets overjoyed. And here is a whole river like a waterfall in front of her eyes. No one in the world can stop her now! I saw a pair of shoes thrown on a rock and madam hurried down into the water to find the source of the river! In the meantime, Snehangshu got busy in taking pictures and Bidisha slowly climbing down keeping an eye on Lina. For a while we embraced this beautiful creation of nature as per our own choices.
We climbed up and and after taking some more pictures proceeded towards Chhati hill.
Spending a lot of time with Dharara, its now about 7am in the morning. In the light of day, I found the fragmented pictures of my subconscious mind have started to take a complete shape already. The Shiva temple in the barren land , the plateau and the palm trees scattered randomly over it and the dry barren lands with the harshness of winter...all resembled those fragmented picture.
"Stop here," cried Lina suddenly. I glanced at her and saw her running towards one of the red bushes in front of her shouting "Kudrum, Kudrum". The other three of us are still unfamiliar with the word or even if we are, our minds are wandering. Therefore, we relied on Lina's information that this Kudru fruit is great for making sweet chutney! But even though the words are not familiar, I did not forget to capture the vermilion red beauty of Kudrum against teh green context.
Leaving the plateau, we took the village road. We reached Chhati Pahar after witnessing the picturesque village and several pairs of curious eyes of that remote village in Bihar. The hill is low in height , but the base is much wider. An unnamed stream of water is flowing through the bottom of the hill and the reflection of the hill is in that water.
But what's there! What is that footprint on the clay of the dried river bed? Impressions diffused into the river step by step. Only one animal can have such a big and deep footprint, and yes - I was right. Asking Rajkumar ji I learned that those were the footsteps of an elephant.
Since last evening, nothing has come to our stomach except this morning's tea and biscuits. Whether it was the bite of a winter bite in the morning or the joy of a plateau expedition, we had not felt the hunger for so long. But now its high time. On expressing this to Rajkumar ji he took us to Bablu Misthanna Bhandar in the station area. Bablu Da was just pouring the kachuris in the hot oil.
After eating hot kachuri and gram curry in a beautiful bowl made of shawl leaves, Bidisha's question was, "Will we go out to find a house after this?" The counter-question came from Bablu da in Bengali, "Have you booked a house?" Snehangshu had earlier told Rajkumar ji to see three or four places for us for staying, whichever he liked we would stay.
"We will stay in a little old house where ghosts can be seen," Bidisha said. On hearing this, Bablu da reacted as if none in his dynasty has heard of a anything called a ghost. However, realizing our need for a house, Babluda and Rajkumar ji both took the name of "Yashoda Bhavan". Within five minutes we appeared in front of Yashoda Bhavan in Rajkumarji's auto.
Peeping from the high black iron gate itself I liked the house. From the gate, through the garden on both sides a gravel road ends at the wide veranda of the house. Fertilized fern trees adorn both sides of the gravel road. The huge red and yellow house stands on several thick pillars.
This Yashoda Bhavan resembles the same picture of the garden house of the old Bengali babus of Simultala which came in my dreams. At the call of Rajkumar ji caretaker Bajrangi came out and showed us two rooms. Only 400 rupees rent per room. Snehangshu and I took the outside room with Lina and Bidisha in the inner room. These two rooms are in the left half of the house and similar two exist in the right half too. Ceilings of the rooms are of old patterned houses and are of huge height.
The house has everything from a TV to a small sofa and all the necessary furniture. There is a passage next to our room which leads to a separate bathroom and toilet. There is no scarcity of water. Even if you don't have a geyser, you can get hot water in a bucket if you want. The front porch is so wide that it can comfortably accommodate 4-5 more rooms. This extended veranda surrounds the entire front front part of the house. Even the back portion of the house also has an extended veranda which opens in a small courtyard and have staircase at one end. Across the courtyard is a mini forest of large trees spread over few acres of land.
The location of the rooms for the wide verandah at the front and back is such that the windows are towards all the verandas and so the sunlight does not reach inside the rooms. All in all, the house is a perfect fusion of primitiveness and abundance. The arrangement of food has to be done through Bablu da, because there is no such arrangement here. After freshening up, we 4 came and sat on chairs in the veranda. Leaning my body on the chair in the sun and lost in chit chatting for quite a while,I suddenly noticed that the clock has already turned to 2pm.
In between our chats, Snehangshu tried to record an interview of Bajrangi on "ghosts of Simultala" but that turned not much fruitful for our story collection. So we left the ghost thing for the night. Meanwhile, Bablu Da came with rice, pulses, onions, potato fry, vegetables and tanned meat curry. "Oh! Can't we get a lemon?" On hearing this from Lina Snehanshu jumped on the garden and came back picking 2 lemons fresh from the tree. But after dissecting those he sadly expressed, "Oh my God! These are oranges!" Honestly, I have also never seen such small green oranges like lemon before.
Days in winter are short. After lunch without further delay we went out on the way to Lattu hill so that we don't miss the sunset time. Lina had already told Rajkumar ji to come by 3.30pm. After 15 min of ride the scenery again changed to barren lands and the dirt road. We spotted an old fort from quite a distance.
And on the other side of it is the Lattu hill. In the soft light of the day-end, this yellow clad fort at one end of rural Bihar stands like a magical world. The specialty of the fort is that it has open stairs right in front part that go straight up to the second floor. Although the outer structure is still standing, there is almost nothing left inside.
The original name of the palace was Naldanga Rajbari. There is no house within 1 km radius of Rajbari. On the opposite side, Lattu hill stands at a stone throw distance. In this lonely plateau, it seems that the palace is whispering with the hill till eternity. Before the sun set, we set our foot for Lattu hill. The mountain of red soil was then reddened more by the reddish sun. Within a few minutes I was at the door of the temple atop the hill.
Much of Simultala can be seen from above of this hill. Seeing the lonely palace in the barren plateau region from the top of the hill gives a strange feeling. On our way back, Rajkumar ji took another road. A little further on, Lina spotted an abandoned house on the right hand side and we parked the the auto there. The house is on a high mound. I climbed the weed forest and went a little closer and realized that although one part of the house was almost destroyed, there were people living in the other part.
Later we came to know that this house is "Patna Palace", which is in this condition today. Ghosts and humans are less likely to coexist in the same house, so came down and continued with our return journey. The light of day has completely faded by now and it has covered all around with a bluish tinge. The road turned narrower from this point. We are rubbing against the weeds in the side. Suddenly I saw another abandoned house in front of us. The walls are painted in white and red. Light green arched doors and windows are engraved on the walls. The door is still intact but locked from outside. But most of the windows are broken.
All four of us went ahead. The house is surrounded by weeds all over, but strangely the front yard from where the stairs lead up to the door is relatively clean. Clean Approach Way, Locked Doors...is it hinting someone uses this house? But is he/she a human or something else? With these questions in mind, I went up to the door and started pushing. "Arijit Da, it is not right to do these things at this wee hour of evening.
Let's move out from here. ", Bidisha's plea came with Hanuman Challisa in her hand. In fact the place did not seem to be very safe for any of us. So we came out. "I will visit the Ramakrishna Mission, and will return only after that." At Lena's roar, Rajkumar ji drove through the narrow road for a while and stopped in front of a house with a temple next to it and a few cows tied in a barn on the opposite side. However, when in spite of many calls from us no one came out , it was not clear whether it was the Ramakrishna Mission or not.
Even today, I have not been able to explain the experience I had after returning to Yashoda Bhavan that day. When I came out of the bathroom fresh, I opened the latch and pulled the door and saw that the door was not opening. I looked up and saw that the latch is still locked on its place. But I remember clearly that I lowered the latch by myself just 2 seconds ago. An eerie feeling cropped up. Might be it was illusion... hallucination... or something else?
I still haven't got the answer. Lina and Bidisha were a little frightened when I narrated the story. Without further ado we went into the chat. In the meantime there was power cut. "Arijit Da, let's take a look at Simultala in the dark of night." Everyone agreed with Lina's words. When we went out, we found that the iron gate outside was locked. On expressing our desire to Bajrangi, with wrinkled eye brows he said, "Its not at all safe to roam about in this darkness." "Brother we won't go far. Will just walk 100 meters to left & right and then shall be back. "- Lina assured Bajrangi and he agreed.
Leaving the gate, we took the left-hand side of the road because on the other side was the station road. A few feet away, a pitch black darkness engulfed us. Bidisha has already begun to squeal with fear. Nothing can be seen even two feet in front. As soon as we stopped talking, it seemed as if someone other than the four of us was walking with us. Whatever is dark, so is fear.
Suddenly we saw the bright light of a motorbike coming straight towards us through the darkness. Coming closer, it slowed down a bit and the two riders perhaps measured us with their eyes and left. I couldn't take any more risks as there are 2 ladies with us. Whether there are ghosts or not, antagonistic people exist everywhere. Somehow I forcibly dragged everyone inside the gate.
A helper of Bajrangi locked the gate as soon as we entered. We were moving towards the house. Suddenly I noticed a bike coming and standing near the gate. The faces of the two riders are covered with mufflers in such a way that only the eyes can be seen. When we went ahead towards them they asked, "Where is Bajrangi?" "So gaya hoga." Ignoring Lina's answer, the people shook the iron gate and shouted, "Bajrangi... oye Bajrangi." Seeing the frightened gaze of the other three members of the group, I went straight to room with them.
After a while we heard the two men arguing with Bajrangi. The sound is now coming from the front porch. By the time I found Snehangshu and Lina were checking all the doors of our two rooms to see if there was any gap or not. Even though an uncomfortable feeling was building up in me also, I was confident that no matter whoever they were... they would not harm the tourists because if they had that intention they would have attacked us by now. After a while everything calmed down. After a tiring day, we too fell asleep fast.
In the next morning after waking up Lina,Bidisha and myself went to the roof and finished the tour planning of the day enjoying the morning the sun.
Snehanshu followed us after a while. We started calling Rajkumar ji over phone from 8.30 am only to get his repeated replies "Bas, aa raha he". We were all ready by that time and watched the butterflies sitting on the colorful flowers of the garden eating honey and frequently looked at our watch.
There is only one issue about time... today our return train Mokama Fast Passanger is at 3:59 pm in the afternoon, which means we have to get to the station by 3.45 pm. Limit of our patience broke and we started walking out on the way to the station, with a mind of fixing some other auto from there for our today's sightseeing .We observed several old houses on this road while walking.
After walking for a while,we saw Rajkumar ji roaring and running with his auto towards us. It was about 10 o'clock. I sat in the car with all my annoyance and said, "Pehle bablu ka dukan chaliye, bhuk laga o bahut jorse."
We got the news from Bablu that as some repairing works are going on in the railway lines at Jhasidi, all the trains are closed till 4 pm. In other words, our Mokama will not enter at 4 o'clock in any way. Babalu's guessed it will not enter before 8 pm. With a lot of time in hand, I was a little relieved that there was at least no more tension of time factor but parallel to it was a little skeptical about how safe a secluded station like Simultala would be for women at those hours of night. Anyway, without further ado we started our journey for Haldi Falls.
After reaching a four-lane crossing on the way to Yashoda Bhavan from the station, we took the left from there. A little further on, we saw a haunted house on the left hand side and stopped Rajkumarji immediately. A small field hosts this ruined garden-house at one end of it. As we approached, the name of the house written on the head of the house became clear. "Oh great", came out our mouth almost simultaneously from Lina and myself. The name plate read in Hindi script "Dulari Bhavan, Bangawan Simultala" !!!
This is the same Dulari Bhavan, which is viral in YouTube ranking as one of the many haunted places in India. There are stairs to the front porch of the house and a lot of ruins at the back. Out of every crack and ruin there are wild trees coming out, as if a green giant octopus had encircled the whole house.
As myself and Snehangshu were about to climb the stairs we noticed that Bidisha had already taken out Hanuman Challisa and started chanting. The front door is locked. However, as I proceeded to the left through the veranda, I observed that the window sills of the house were broken. There are several red hand and footprints on the outer wall next to the window. However, it is much smaller in size than an adult hand. At least in the broad day-light I didn't mind calling them ghost hand-prints (but in the darkness of the night I guessed what a terrible effect this impression could have on the heart in the light of a torch or candle). We broke into the room through the broken bars of the window.
There were spider webs spread all around. It was so dark even even in the day time that I had to bump my camera ISO to 1000 to get some shots. As the decibel of chanting of Hanuman Chalisa by Bidisha increased, we said goodbye to the paranormal of Dulari and boarded the normal vehicle of Rajkumarji. Within next 2 km the pitch road vanished and we were in village road with rural life overflowing in it.
Somewhere on one side of the road men were busy threshing paddy, somewhere a group of children sitting in the middle of the road sunbathing and somewhere group of children running behind our auto. Meanwhile we were on a bumpy muddy road with dense bushes of yellow "bundish" flowers on both sides brushing against our auto. At one turning of this road Lina asked - "Is this Lattu's brother Tattu (pony)?". A hill can be seen in front, but the name is given by Lina from her own geographical dictionary. Rajkumar ji parked the auto a little further away on a high mound region.
In front, we saw the low-height "Tattu Hill" of Lina covered with forests of shal, teak, shimul and palash and a narrow serpent road disappearing through those bushes. The rest of the way will have to be walked, said Rajkumarji. "Aap jaoge hamare saath?" - Lina's question. "No. I have to guard my auto here? "- Rajkumarji.
Two or three year children were playing nearby. Rajkumar ji said to them, "Hai bachhelog! Sahab logo ko bariya se ghumake le aa. Aagr wo khush huye to tumko chocolate ka paysa mil jayega. " After hearing this the children agreed. Sahil, Abdul and Afridi, our little guides guided us along a narrow two-foot road disbursing the dense bushes with their hands.
Some places are so dense that sunlight is not reaching the ground properly. On the way, more than a dozen of children joined us in the hope of getting chocolate - just like the story of that Pied Piper. After walking for a while, we reached an empty place. Suddenly, it is as if someone has eaten away the jungle from there. We reached a horizontal trench, crossing which we shall reach the Haldi Falls.
When Snehanshu left in the morning, he told me to take some good pictures of him. Seeing this long trench, a picture came to my mind. Standing in the correct position with the camera, I told Snehangshu to run and jump over the trench and got some worthy pictures.Seeing our activities the children also started jumping over and we all enjoyed the game for a while capturing that glory in my lens!
Finally we appeared in front of the Haldi Falls. But alas !! We found only a narrow stream of water flowing in a single stream. This is Haldi Falls! We consoled us with the words "The journey itself is the reward. Not the destination. " And really it is so. This green winding path of the Haldi Falls seems to quench all the thirst for adventure. Added to it we got the company of these lovely innocent children.
We set off on the way to Saketia Ashram. We drove past the Yashoda Bhaban and took the road that we strolled over last night in the dark. A little further on is the hilly dirt road of a village. We came in front of a ditch and Rajkumar ji dropped us off and took the auto across the ditch to the other side with the two ladies.
Snehanshu and I crossed on foot. After going some distance, Rajkumarji parked the auto and started walking with us through the jungle of Shal and Teak. We came in front of an old two-storied house through some scattered houses here and there, the villagers carrying stalks on their heads and the dense greenery all around.
All the doors of the house are closed and it looked like a small school house. This is the Saketia Ashram. There is not a trace of people in the house. It is said that this ashram and its surrounding areas were once inhabited by Maoists. After hearing Rajkumarji's repeated whispers - "Aur kuch to he nehi inha pe" , we realized that the locals are still scared of this place. It was about 2.05pm on the watch. The live running status of the train says that our train has not left Mokama yet. So there is still plenty of time. As planned, we started for next destination - Lilabaran Jharna.
Leaving the plateau region behind, we took the Kotria State Highway. This road is beautiful. Somewhere on either side are rough barren lands and somewhere other cultivated lands.
Rajkumar ji stood in front of a small grocery store on the side of the highway. There is a railway line is on the other side of the road. Following Rajkumarji, we crossed the railway line and entered a village.
I don't know what Rajkumar ji said to a man in the village , but saw the landlord tell his little girl to go with us - "Nargis, ye saab logoko thora nadi par tak tak le ke ja." We understood Nargis is our guide for Lilabaran. Leaving the alleys inside the village and crossing the steep path of the plateau again, we reached Lilavaran Falls after about ten minutes. The calm greenery is flowing at its own whim, pushing against the crevices of the black stone.
However, it is difficult to say how calm it is in the rainy season. As soon as I went down the slope of the rock, I saw that the top of the wide stones were quite flat. A woman was washing clothes while sitting on it, later I came to know that she was Nargis's sister-in-law. A group of youngsters were catching small fishes by dipping an aluminum bowl in the green water in the gap of the stones.
Nargis had fun with them for a while. In the middle of rugged lands of Bihar, this greenery flowing through the gaps of the smooth big stones is like an under-stream narrating the stories of Shimultala for years. As we climbed up the rocky stairs and proceeded on a somewhat steep path following Lilavaran, we came face to face with another form of it.
Here, as a mother she has brought fertility in the midst of roughness. In one place, I saw some villagers fishing in the water of Lilabaran by throwing nets across the river. It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon by then.
We didn't had anything in stomach after that morning breakfast so far. Meanwhile, the live train running status still says that our train did not run from Mokama which was supposed to leave at 12 noon. Therefore, along with the stomach our forehead also started to wrinkle by that time. We decided to go to the market adjacent to the station area now to buy some local snacks for home and then after giving order to Bablu da for our dinner we shall go back to Yashoda Bhavan for packing.
We went to the station and asked Babluda to prepare roti and egg curry for dinner... we would pack it before boarding the train. I told Rajkumarji to pick us up from Yashoda Bhaban and drop at the station as soon as we call him in the evening. It's now 5 pm. Simultala is a 4 hour train journey from Mokama, which means that if the train leaves now, our train will reach Simultala at 9 pm.
According to the plan, we bought some local snacks (chanar murki) and went to the room to get ready. Train status is still showing "not left" from the source station.... Meanwhile its 6.15pm on the clock !! As time was passing by, Lina's face was becoming pale. Snehanshu started playing "Antakshari" to deviate our minds out from the tension. Finally, at around 7pm we received an update that the train had departed from Mokama a while ago... so it would be 11 o'clock at night for it to reach Simultala.
On requesting Bablu da, he delivered our dinner at Yashoda Bhavan itself. While having dinner we asked Bajrang about last night's incident and he replied in a cool manner, "Those people are my friends.Yesterday night they had a party but I did not go as I was not feeling well. So they came back again at night seeking for my company. "
After dinner we packed up and Rajkumarji at 9.30 pm and went to the station because there was no point in bothering him till late at night. Right next to the station there is a seating area under a peepal tree. There we spent the rest of the time chatting among ourselves. Even though the four of us were sitting alone at that wee hours of night, Lina's pale face or Bidisha's Hanuman Challisa recitation or Snehanshu's fear of last night...nothing was there. Is then fear just an unknown alley in our minds for where we have never set our foot before? Maybe so. Or maybe not always? Whatever it is, Simultala will remain in Simultala forever holding all his known and many unknowns in our minds.