Bijoy Dibos or the Victory Day is commemorated every December 16 in Bangladesh and India, to observe victory over Pakistan in War of 1971 for the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. This year, it is the golden jubilee. The end of the war also resulted in the unilateral and unconditional surrender of the Pakistan Army and subsequent secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh. On this day in 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the allied forces consisting of Mukti Bahini and the Indian Army, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora in the Ramna Race Course, now Suhrawardy Udyan, in Dhaka after their defeat in the war.

I was recollecting, my closest sight of Bangladesh from India. During one of my recent visits to my ancestral place in Basirhat, we visited Taki, the nearest border town from Basirhat, about 15 kilometers from there.

The Bangladesh (Satkhira) side of the river bank as seen from Taki

Taki is a town and a municipality under Hasnabad police station of Basirhat subdivision in North 24 Parganas district in the state of West Bengal. Taki also has the root of General Shankar Roy Chowdhury, the former Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.

We also have one of our ancestral places in Taki. Taki is the paternal hometown of my grandmother — the mother of our father. They were the zamindars of Taki (sadar) town. But now no one is staying there after the sad demise of my cousin a few years ago. I had visited them several times with my parents during my school and college days. I still have faint memories of ponds, coconut trees, mango grove, Chandi mandap, etc. Taki is the land of a number of zamindars. Most of the zamindar baris (their palatial buildings) are in a dilapidated state or converted to tourist resorts.

Jagrata, Badal, Tota, Soumya, Dadubhai and I went to Taki in our car from our ancestral house in Basirhat. Taki is on the bank of Ichamati river that flows down from Nadia via Basirhat.

Ichhamati River in Basirhat
Ichhamati River in Basirhat

Ichamati river (ইছামতী নদী) is a distributory of the river Padma and joins Kalindi river near Hasnabad. It marks the international border between India and Bangladesh at Taki.

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Ichamati river: The river marks the international border between India and Bangladesh here
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The far-side is Bangladesh
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If you look at this image you would think this is just the shores of a river. Yes it is that of River Ichamati, but what is unique here is the river that divides two countries. The far end of the river is Bangladesh and from where this image was shot is India.

As Ichhamati river in Taki separates two countries, the boats on this river have to carry the national flags of their respective countries mandatorily.

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The Indian boats carrying the Indian flag

There are many Border Security Force (BSF) watchtowers to monitor and prevent unwarranted cross-border traffic/movements besides protection of our national boundaries.

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A watchtower on the bank of the river

As we did not have much time because we had to return that day to Kolkata for our visit to Gangtok next day, we just went to the bank of the Ichhamati river bordering the countries.

Gamchha

Taki is famous for its gamchha. Gamchha is a thin, coarse, traditional cotton towel found in India, Bangladesh as well as various parts of South and Southeast Asia and is used to dry the body after bathing or wiping sweat. Gamchha is the local term for a sweat towel. It is often just worn on one side of the shoulder.

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A Gamchha-seller is trying to sell gamchha (thin, coarse, traditional cotton towel weaved in Eastern India). Weavers of Taki-Basirhat area weave the best gamchhas.

We had some snacks and cold drinks there before returning home via our ancestral house at Taki. We did not go inside the house for paucity of time. Maybe, we will visit there during our next visit to Taki. I would love to go there again.

6 comments

  1. We too have roots in Bangladesh… The ancestral village being Ujirpur in Jessore district where I am told we had large tracts of farm land though not Zamindar in that sense but the only items that were bought from the market were Salt and Mustard oil. Everything else, the rice, pulses, milk, ghee, veggies were all home grown.
    I had a desire to visit the place but then I have no clue about the location of our ancestral home, so abandoned the idea.

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    1. You may not, or perhaps cannot, find your ancestral home now, but you can surely visit the place to have a brush with your family roots. I googled and found that it can better be travelled by road and the place is not much far from Petrapole-Benapole border, near Bongaon, North 24 Pgs., WB.
      Let’s make a plan and drive down to Ujirpur. It will be a fun. 🙂

      Like

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