If you are a resident of Kolkata, planning a short/weekend trip might prove to be challenging at times. Quick trips mostly are limited to the various Bay of Bengal beaches — Digha, Mandarmani, Shankarpur, Chandpur and many other ‘purs’ that tend to become monotonous after a while. The closest hill station is Darjeeling, which is nearly impossible be covered in two days.
So, we decided to go for neither sea not mountain, but something little out of the way. Maithon is a small town in the West Bengal-Jharkhand border. I did not know much about the town except that it has a dam built on the river Damodar, and a huge hydel power station. Truthfully, I was not very excited about seeing a dam and had already pegged the trip as boring.
Anyhow, we started had booked the 6:40 pm Agnibina Express from Howrah to Asansol (Kumardhubi is the closest station to Maithon but transportation from there is uncertain). The journey took around 4 hour and was pretty smooth.
When we reached Asansol, it was already around 10. As it was the month of August, we were greeted with light drizzle, which was very refreshing after a hectic week and train journey. Our hotel had arranged for a bus to pick up us from the station.
Asansol to Maithon took about an hour via NH 60. I had never travelled on a national highway at night as it always seemed scary. But this ride was something memorable. The light rain, the smooth road, the gust of chilly air almost made the entire experience surreal.
As we were closing in on our destination, the further from civilization we seemed to go. The signs said we were in Maithon, but the only things we could see at first were trees and lots of trees. The intermittent street lights also seemed dim. After a while the hotels came into view. Oh my my, who had ever though that Maithon would have so many hotels. It was then I realized I might have underestimated the place’s tourist appeal a bit.
Our hotel was pretty decent, spread over quite a big area, and the best thing – just next to the dam, which obviously we did not realize just then. The rooms were pretty big, clean and well furnished. After gorging on a homely meal of rotis/rice, chicken/fish, we called it a night, ready to explore nature the next day.
The light drizzle continued the next day as well. This was actually a blessing in disguise as the alternative of heat and humidity would have been a challenge to the day we had planned. After a hearty breakfast of puri and sabji, we went to visit the dam. With the vast stretches of blue water and the surrounding greenery, the dam is beautiful. We walked up to the banks of the river damodar, which was filled to the brim. The river is notorious for its devastating floods and the hundreds of accidents, especially during the monsoons. We could see several boats docked on the sides, but not a single one in action.