Basirhat impact: Tourists vanish from popular riverside destination of Taki
Hotels, eateries, boatmen are all eagerly waiting for the return of tourists.kolkata Updated: Jul 11, 2017 14:39 IST
The communal flare-up in Basirhat town has driven away tourists from the favourite weekend destination of Taki on the banks of Ichamati river, and locals apprehend they won’t return for some time to come.
Taki is barely 70 km from Kolkata, but tourists have to pass through Basirhat to reach Taki.
It is a small town on the eastern bank of Ichamati river that is a natural border between India and Bangladesh in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. Tourists throng the place round the year except during the height of summer.
Though the riverside town escaped violence, thanks to a combined effort by both communities of the locality, owners of hotels and eateries lament that tourists have vanished from one of the most cost-effective getaways of the Bengalis.
“On an average, I cater to 60 to 70 customers day. It rises to more than 100, and at times 150, during the weekends. But throughout the last week, the number has varied from zero to five. If this continues for some months, I have to close down my business,” said Bimal Chandra Dey, the proprietor of a popular eatery opposite to the state government tourist lodge at Taki.
“We had booking for 10 of our rooms on July 8 and 11 rooms and a dormitory on July 9. All were cancelled. Though it is completely normal now, we have not got a single booking. I have no idea how to run the place if it continues for a few weeks,” said Tapas Chatterjee, manager of Suhashini Guest House in Taki.
Similar apprehensions gripped boatmen at Taki ghat, who take tourists on trips down the river, including a visit to Machranga Island, close to the Bangladesh bank on the east. Sukur Alam, a boatman, told HT that his average daily earning has come to virtually zero since July 2, 2016, when violence started in Baduria and spread to Basirhat town the next day.
“Although Basirhat town calmed down from July 7 night, Taki remained a no-go for tourists. On Saturday June 8, I did not get a single customer, and the next day I got only one family,” said Alam.
This small town has become especially famous for the immersion of Durga idols on Dasami when boats carry idols from both India and Bangladesh and immerse them in the river, with citizens of both countries exchanging sweets and pleasantries. Thousands gather on the banks on each both side to take part in the festivities on this day.