07-Sep-2008 -- I and Kashinath Sahoo started from Bhubaneswar on the afternoon of the 6th Sept, hoping to complete three confluences visits within the next day.
Our first point was Sukinda ( 21 N 87 E ) , which is just 120 kilometers from Bhubaneswar. We intended to finish by the evening and then proceed to Baripada for the next two CP’s. The trip up till Chandikhole went smooth. Just a few kilometers after we had ascended the Express Highway to the mining sector of Sukinda, there was a cloudburst and the rain came down in torrents. Visibility was done to five metres, and with our headlights switched and the flashing indicators on, we crawled towards Duburi. There were some spectacular lightening strikes and I took over a hundred photos with my digital camera until the memory was full to try to catch one – but unfortunately didn’t succeed in capturing even one.
The skies cleared by the time we reached Duburi, and we navigated towards the CP. The CP lay directly about 900 metres from the main road after the Duburi Junction, the point being near the wall of the steel works of Neelachal Ispat Nigam. We dismounted near the rice fields, the rains having turned the ground into a swamp. The village kids were all out, looking for the disoriented fishes that were floundering about after having got washed out of their pools in the torrential rain. We could view the area of the CP at the distance, and advanced towards it. We had hardly gone a few hundred metres, when a few farmers came and told us not to venture forth, as the place was infested by snakes. They asked us to be careful as the fields were full of vipers, cobras and rat snakes. However we were foolhardy to still keep going, but very soon had our first encounter with a six foot long Cobra. We there and then decided to call it a day, and comeback someday later.
We went forth and reached Balasore late in the night. The next morning, an early start saw us in Baripada by 8 A.M. We took the turn at the National Highway No 5 crossing and drove on the single road towards Suliapada. The primary activity of the people of the area is to make sabai grass ropes and all along the road village folk were busy in spinning the long strands and drying them out in the sun. About 20 kilometers from Baripada we reached Kostha, from where the CP lay just 10 kms. As we neared the spot, the road meandered thru the forest, the tall teak and sal trees loomed in all directions.
We soon reached an intersection from where the GPS indicated only 2.5 kms to the north. We had to leave the vehicle and walked towards the point. We soon reached Badabanogaon (literally meaning big forest village in Oriya), a small hamlet of around 20 dwellings. Our arrival did not go unnoticed, and soon we had a gathering of 30 persons of all ages, giving us directions to places that they imagined we were looking for. Most of them presumed that we were surveying for the site of a Canal that had long been promised to them by their local member of parliament.
The village madman appointed himself our bodyguard, keeping the children and dogs at bay with a big stick and terrifying verbal grunts. He directed us to the end of the village, while the other villagers advised us against it, pointing to the north (they wanted their canal to run near their fields). It was sheer bedlam, villagers arguing amongst themselves, the mad man dragging us to the place he wanted us to go, the village dogs snapping at each other, and the temperature was well into the 30’s with the sun directly overhead.
I soon realized that we were standing near a small school, and asked one of the villager where the school master was. As it was a Sunday, the school master had gone away, but another villager, who spoke pidgin English soon made his way out from the crown and introduced himself as Kanhu Barda, who too taught in the school. I tried explaining to him the matter of latitudes and longitudes in Oriya, but soon realized that all this was over his head. However he was patronizing and pretended that he understood all that I had said. I pointed to the direction as indicated by the GPS and explained him that we wanted to go to the spot. While he did not understand our purpose, even after much explaining, he was very helpful and agreed to take us to the CP. He was fascinated by the GPS and our digital camera when he saw the pictures that we had taken on the spot.
We walked towards the CP, with the crowd gradually swelling behind us. The mad man had soon given up the futile task of appointing himself as our bodyguards. The walk to the CP was thru the fields where the grass cover was quite low, the myriad small grasshoppers jumped out as we disturbed them. The walk was relatively easy, and soon we reached the point where we got our desired coordinates. The confluence was surrounded by native vegetation and numerous small anthills. The clear skies and no overhanging forest clear gave us clear reception from 12 orbiting sats. The accuracy was within 6.7 metres. The elevation of the spot was 52.70 metres.
We took our required photographs, after a lot of crowd control as everyone wanted to be in the frame. The site of the CP is a small grass land belonging to Mangal Soren. The land is used for growing sabai grass, as rope making is the only occupation. The land towards the east had a single middle growth neem tree; the west had an outcrop of laterite stone with scattered anthills. The north and south directions are all flat grasslands with intermittent stunted trees and clumps of grass. The scenery is pretty consistent all around.
Our return trip was made by a short cut that took us to the village. There were quaint huts, with children and adults all engaged in rope making. The twisted rope lay in strands on nearly every open space. Small girls deftly rolled the strands of dried grass in the little palms. We shook hands all around, and still had to answer some questions about when and where the canal would come. From hereon we left for Jashipur, our next point of call of confluence hunting.
- Duration: 2.20 hours (until we were back on our route)
- Distance of car parking: 3 kilometers
- GPS height: 52.70 meters
- Description: Nearly flat grassland with outcrops of laterite stones protruding intermittently in places, a few stunted trees and anthills dot the landscape.
- Given Name: The Third Confluence of Orissa
- Time and date at the CP: 10:30 AM 7th September 2008
- GPS accuracy: 6.70 meters
- Temperature: 32°C