Sankranti treats on tourist platter
Traditional Bengali sweet dishes prepared on the occasion of Makar Sankranti celebrations left tourists delighted at a state-run accommodation in Alipurduar on Sunday.
Guests at the tourist lodge in Madarihat near the Jaldapara National Park — the largest rhino habitat in Bengal — were served with puli, pithe, patishapta and more in the morning.
“It was excellent to enjoy the traditional sweet items after years. I had never thought that I would have the chance to savour the delicacies,” said Surajit Chatterjee, an NRI based in Melbourne, Australia, who is on a trip with his wife Leela.
In the morning, as tourists reached the dining hall, the dining staff offered them patishapta (a light crepe filled with kheer or a mix of coconut and date palm jaggery), dudh puli (rice flour dumplings cooked in milk), malpua (pancake with wheat flour, jaggery or sugar, with the flavour of cardamom powder), bhapa pithe (steamed rice cake made of rice flour) and payesh (rice and milk pudding).
Surojit, who is in his early sixties, reminisced about his childhood days when he would relish these traditional delicacies made by his mother.
“But as we settled in Australia, we gradually forgot about Sankranti celebrations. We must appreciate the management of the tourist lodge who took the initiative to serve these traditional delicacies on Sankranti,” he said.
Marla Rose, also from Melbourne and accompanying the couple on the trip, was equally elated.
“I had not heard of this festival (Makar Sankranti) so far. It was nice to relish the variety of sweet dishes on a chilly morning,” Rose said.
Sources in the tourist lodge said that there are 34 double-bedded rooms at the property.
There was 100 per cent occupancy on Sunday.
Niranjan Saha, the lodge’s manager, said January usually witnesses a steady flow of tourists who come to enjoy the elephant safari and car safari in Jaldapara.
“Earlier, on a number of occasions, we heard our guests say they were missing traditional Bengali Sankranti items which they otherwise could have at home. That is why we thought of making these items so that tourists staying here can get a feel of Sankranti celebrations this time,” said Saha.
Even on Monday, tourists can have these sweet dishes, he said.
Like Chatterjee and his wife, others staying at the lodge also appreciated Saha and his team.
“It was a lovely experience to have the Sankranti dishes sitting in the lap of nature away from home. We were expecting a normal breakfast like every day but these items made the festive morning delectable,” said Suparna Basak, who is from Hatibagan of Calcutta.