As part of Travel Photography, this is the special experience essay of the author on Jamespur – Sundarbans’s unexplored beauty. As it is one of the most beautiful villages.
Sunderban. What comes first in your mind when you hear the word Sunderban. “Tiger”! Right? Bengal tiger. When I told my mother that I was going to Sunderbans, in her reply, the first word was a tiger. Even I was expecting to see the tiger in the very beginning of my exploration, but as thinking out of the box is what I do, here also in-spite of wasting time in seeing the tiger(which is very rare), I did some extra brainstorming and went to explore the villages which are inside the Sunderbans forest. And then I was stunned by the beauty awaiting me. It’s an old village without the least infrastructure like electricity for which the government is to blame.
The name is “Jamespur”
Yes, it is one among many villages in Sunderbans which are not yet explored. Villages in these days are developing in all fields, as it is also losing its originality, which we really are going to miss the beauty of the calmness, pure environment, that delighting smell, and the culture. Well, one side we need to develop all villages, but who wants to lose the beauty of that?
In this article, I would like to share my experience of a visit to this amazing village highlighting the people, culture, place, and environment in sunderbans. Their lifestyle is simple. As I saw, they have no liking for luxury. They manage with very small houses and few clothes. Most of them are field workers, I mean their major earnings are from agriculture. They take part in fairs and festivals which are conducted in a very simple manner which is most noteworthy. They attend a folk dance and open-air dramas.
The Morning Scene
The Morning scene of the village is completely unforgettable. A glimpse of village morning can make anybody obsessive to praise its beauty. I went for a walk and the amazing scenic beauty of the village refreshed me. The Villagers rise early in the morning. They feed their cattle and clean their sheds. They have their decent breakfast and move out towards their fields for work. I saw farmers plowing their fields. I could feel the cool breeze of the morning as I walked along the road.
If you ever got a chance to spend some time in the village, I insist not to follow your daily routine. Rather, you can go to bed early and rise early in the morning with the welcoming song of birds. Then you can see the beauty of the sun rising from below the horizon, can smell the fresh air, and free from smoke which is the curse of the city life. And can watch the villagers feeding the cattle.
The houses in this village are built of bamboo with thatched roofs. The bamboo walls are plastered with mud. Wall and floor are painted by a mixture of dirt, grass, and cow dung. Before and after rain, these houses need maintenance every time. They have shed for cattle, sheep, and goats. Some of the houses have poultry also. Roads here are very narrow and muddy. This village is very less populated compared to other neighboring villages. Every house has a big open area at the front and a vegetable garden in the backyard. Some houses have flower gardens in front of them. This school is made of bricks and plastered with cement. Villagers are free from pollution. The natural beauty of the village soothes the senses of its habitats. Neighbors in the village live like a family. They help each other in the hour of the need.
There is no much traffic near the villages. So it is very calm and peaceful. Since it is an isolated island with no proper transport system, boats are the only means of transport which are not always dependable. Even that boat experience amazes you, by a cool breeze, sounds of waves of the bay of Bengal ocean, and the green and beautiful Sunderbans forest around. But, I felt bad about the roads, as they are narrow and littered with rubbish and filth. There is no proper drainage system and it might cause flood during the rainy season and the streets become the breeding ground of mosquitoes, which may lead to an unhealthy environment and can cause diseases. Moreover, there are no ways or facilities to educate them about such and unhealthy living.
People here are very simple. They not only dress simple but also show simplicity in their meals and work life. They were very friendly and cooperative to me. The only slight problem I found was the language. As they spoke only Bengali and couldn’t even understand Hindi. Yet I managed to have a conversation with them. One elder of the village showed me around the village. Children were very shy to talk, but not to pose. Maybe because of their curiosity about the camera. If you’re here not only to visit places but also to learn about the culture of the country, you should definitely think about staying in an Indian village.
God and Blind faith
You may have seen many, I mean so many atheists in your life, but cannot find one in the village. Because their life depends more on believing God. They think high because they think in terms of God and religion. The village temple maintains its social and moral upkeep. But at the same level, blind faiths have made their life rusty. I saw so many black magics performed and avoided the capturing caged idols of goddesses and dried lemons around the trees.
In rural areas, agriculture is the main occupation of the people. They depend on the prosperity of their crops and the fertility of the soil. Unfortunately, the present condition of Indian agriculture is extremely deplorable, so much so that for the last many years Indians have been suffering from food shortage. Our agricultural machinery is out of gear. The old method of plowing the land is neither fruitful nor productive of much good. But in this village, I found they are using both conventional and mechanized processes for their work.
The productivity of agriculture is very low.
Farming depends mainly on monsoon rain. Most of the production comprises food crops. Farmers own small pieces of land where they build their houses and grow crops primarily for consumption and work in other’s agricultural fields for their bread. Even storage facilities for crops are inadequate. This has helped in increasing yields per hectare as well as the total production of different crops. There are many reasons responsible for the low productivity of agriculture. About one-third of land holdings is very small less than one hectare in size. Due to the small size of landholdings, they cannot use the modern way of cultivation. Government support for these isolated islands is not clear.
Well, every experience teaches one or the other thing.
The visit to this beauty was astounding. I got to feel the pure environment touching my soul. I wonder, what happens if this village gets developed and gets all the facilities as our cities. On the one side, electricity is necessary but, it leads to the television, telephone, the internet and you know what happens after the Internet enters this village. I need a village to be developed. People in this village should get an education. But I don’t want it to lose its a charm, the smell, it’s the purity of the magical environment that I experienced there are not attainable in the city we live in. Probably, those 3 days were the best days of my life in Sunderbans. No network, no calls from anyone, no traffic sounds, nothing were there that would remind me of my city life.
So, the conclusion is,
Exploring this “Jamespur” was one great experience. It taught me how a man can lead a great life in a simple manner. But it seems like, their happiness is limited. I mean, they don’t see the amazing things that exist outside of their village. I always dreamt about seeing each and every corner of this world and still I want to. My question and my curiosity is, is it OK to have a very simple and happy life within some limits? or is it really necessary to experience the feel of each and every corner of this world? Anyhow, one should experience village life at-least once in a lifetime before these real villages are eaten by a monster called technology.
Photographs & text by Vijay Raj.
Vijay Raj, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
All the photos and text in this post are copyright of Vijay Raj. Their reproduction, full or part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.