Punpun is a small town ten km. south of Patna, capital of Bihar, India. The town is located on the right bank of river Punpun. This place is world famous as the first ‘pindadan’ shall be done here and the second pindadan shall be performed at Gaya, Bihar (as told to me by the Pandas). Pindadan is a Hindu religious ceremony performed to liberate the soul of the ancestors from the cycle of the Universal bondage and for a peaceful journey to the heaven. The story goes that during ancient time seven great sages namely, Sanak, Sunandan, Sanatan, Kapil, Aasuri, Bodu and Panchsikh performed rigorous penance for development of the Universe as advised by Brahma, The Creator. Brahma satisfied with their tremendous effort appeared before them and all the sages touched the feet of Brahma. After that they desired to wash the feet of Brahma and drink the holy water. But as there was no water available nearby so they collected their sweat in a Kamandalu. Brahma extremely pleased asked them not to waste their sweat and keep the Kamandalu aside. Luckily the Kamandalu fell down. Brahmaji picked it up and kept it straight. But again it fell down and again Brahmaji picked it up. And when the Kamandalu fell down for the third time of its own; Brahamaji uttered spontaneously ‘PUNA: PUNA:’. The moment these words were pronounced, a river emerged from the Kamandalu and started flowing towards the earth. All the sages worshipped the ‘Puna:Puna:’ river. And then Brahmaji blessed that, “Whoever will perform the pindadan ceremony on the bank of this river here at Punpun will always remain blessed and their ancestors will be free from all worldly bondages and will have a place in Heaven.” Although I am in doubt but still I think the story is a good one.
HOW I REACHED?
I wanted to enjoy the downstream journey of river Punpun. So from Patna Railway Station, I followed NH 30 and then at Bari Pahari More (7 Km) turned right towards Beriya (10 km). Crossed Sampatchowk Bazar (12 km) and then at Gourichowk (19 km) turned right again to follow the lean potholed street till NH 83 (Patna-Gaya route) at Punpun Ghat More (29 km). During the last ten km. stretch of the journey, river Punpun gave me constant company and this segment was really refreshing. A slim serpentine river in winter, mile after mile lush lavish mustard green fields, farmers in dhotis threshing the paddy yield on makeshift wooden cots, occasional boats collecting the river sand, rows of palm trees as far as mind can see, babul acacia tree canopying the narrow uneven pitch road, giggling village girls going to school in groups, careless herdsman with mindless goats (I almost slipped off the road for one such herd), sudden non-electrified human settlements and the morning fog with occasional drizzle kissing my windscreen were tempting enough to open the cork but anyway I resisted. Pindadan and picnic on the same location were very much possible but I kept both for the future.
THE TOWN AND THE PEOPLE
In Magadh Country there were four religious places namely Gaya, Rajgriha, Devkund and Punpun. Mention of Punpun is also found in Garud Puran. After reaching the town I crossed one small road bridge and then turned right and went down to reach the bathing ghat where the pindadan ceremony is performed. A small pandal was erected for the fair that happens twice in a year for about one month, once just before Dussehra and again before Makar Sankranti in January. I preferred a walk down the locality. It is a normal Indian town with small markets, dingy colorful lanes, a railway station and a railway halt of same name, a British made railway bridge primarily used by local pedestrians, two- three story pucca colourful buildings with few khapra-kuchcha ones, primary- high schools, a small not so well maintained Marwari dharamsala near the Punpun Halt, tractors, buffaloes, mustard fields, dense rows of palm trees, mango orchards and simple looking people. Basically the town, not so clean is a rural setting moving towards urban culture. But the land prices are zooming towards sky, courtesy ‘Brand Bihar.’ Bachchu Prasad Singh who owns a PDS shop offered me a cup of tea of pure buffalo milk and informed that many of the residents own two or three shops at Patna but have houses here: ‘for fresh air.’ But the town has no motel or hotel for the visitors and the nearby city Patna is only ten km away. So a night stay at Punpun may better not to be considered. Patna being the capital city will be the only option.
THE VISITORS AND THE PANDAS
While travelling from Gaya to Rajgir, Gautam Buddha stayed here for few days. Even today lakhs of Buddhists visit this place. Besides family members of Nepal kings like Homevir Vikramsah, Leela Shamsher, Bhim Samsher and Vasundhar Veer Vikram Sah, numerous other Nepalese visit this holy place every year. People from Srilanka, Burma, Bangladesh and Tibet are regular here. While travelling to Baikhunthapur, Raja Man Singh stayed here and inspired for the construction of Siv temple at the ghat. Visitors from Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh do also come here for pindadan.Binoba Vhabe of Bhudan fame also spent some time here. When I arrived at the Punpun ghat around fifty Nepalese were performing the last rituals with the help of the local pandas. The pandas or priests were very lively lot and always eager to help the visitors. Two of them Rajesh Kr. Mishra (Mob: 09308630510) and Madhusudan Kr. Singh (Mob: 09199019795) were very friendly and accompanied me for another round of Punpun tour when I covered the Puneswarnath Prachin Siv Mandir, Arya Samaz Mandir, High School and the Maszid Bazar. And not to forget Bachchu Prasad Singh (Mob: 09430935089).
A GOOD PICNIC SPOT
Towards Gaya, just left of the beginning of Road Bridge on NH 83, opposite to the Punpun Ghat (embankment) is a verdant orchard of uncountable small and big Palm, Mango, Bel and Date trees. The river Punpun, said to be older than river Ganga and sometimes referred as ‘Adi Ganga Puna:Puna:’ has taken a left turn here; the water receded leaving the bank for wild growth to decorate it with greens. The orchard floor, carpeted with soft green grasses allowing a free fall for local boys playing gully cricket and few splendour bikers were testing their riding skills among the palm rows dexterously managing the machines. Punpun otherwise also are blessed with the village serenity and greenery that are common in this plain. A perfect, may not be great picnic spot for stressed Patna. I also enquired the crime situation in this area from Bachchu and the reply was: Peaceful very peaceful. He also mentioned smilingly that, “We are lively, peaceful and religious people.”
THE RETURN JOURNEY
This time I took the simple and straight route. Just look 12 o’ clock and drive 11 km from Sahid Lala Gop Setu, Rasil Chowk, Punpun and you will be at Patna. On the way I crossed Punpun Ghat More, Beldari Chowk, Parsa Bazar, Eitbarpur and reached Sipara. At Sipara, turn left at the level crossing and then turns right to climb the flyover and then turn left and you are at Patna Central Railway Station. Any way this driving was also interesting as I got regular company of the railway line going to Patna, few petrol pumps, dhabas and metro Patna. Incidentally I have to go back to Punpun again for the ‘Pindadan’ of my grandfather, grandmother and my 33 years old brother and also for a picnic for my children. What about you? At least for the sake of your own Mukti!
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