From the whitewater rapids of Sikkim to Sagar, in the Bay of Bengal. A journey to be made in a month. A group of 10 adventure-loving youths, including two girls, leave the city on Friday to begin their expedition, named ‘Mountain to Sea’. The team is made up entirely of students of Sea Explorers’ Institute, at Outram Ghat.
The institute, which functions as a centre for maritime training, research and exploration, has organised this raft-cum-kayak expedition in collaboration with the state government’s Academy of Adventure Sports. After reaching Sikkim on March 15, the participants — in the age group 20 to 28 — will undergo a five-day training in rafting, before setting off.
Sheuli Chatterjee of the institute said the voyage will be taken up in two phases. “First, there will be a rafting expedition from Dikchu, in Sikkim, to Coronation Bridge, near Siliguri. This stretch, via Samdong, Tarkhola, Melli Bazar and Teesta Bridge, will be a seven-day trip,” she explained.
The second phase will be a kayak expedition, which will start from Farakka and end in Sagar. “It will be a 20-day journey, via Hazarduari, Kalna, Barrackpore, Calcutta and Diamond Harbour,” said Chatterjee. “The package will take more than 30 days because of the changeover from raft to kayak.”
The team of 10 was trained by the institute for over a year-and-a-half. The members had already been on a number of small expeditions and voyages. “Of 500 students, we have selected these 10 because they are mentally and physically fit. They have also been given a training course in medicine, so that they can take care of themselves,” said Chatterjee.
An institute spokesman said that both the West Bengal and Sikkim governments had extended help and support for the expedition, which will cost Rs 2 lakh. “We had requested the state government for a lakh. It assured us that our proposal would be considered. For now, the institute is funding the voyage on Central aid,” said Chatterjee.
Team leader Tapas Chowdhury said he had participated in several such expeditions. “I just keep going on these trips round the year. This time, too, we shall achieve success,” Chowdhury added.
Chatterjee said her institute had planned an expedition to Bangladesh, too. “We got all the required clearances from the Central and state governments. But permission is yet to arrive from Bangladesh. We had applied three years ago. Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers promised to provide us with a vessel for the journey and the Central Inland Water Transport Corporation said its personnel would escort our team. But Bangladesh has yet to flash the green signal,” she added.