Colour was definitely the first thing which struck me when I visited Phulia for the first time 15 years ago. Phew! Was it that long ago? It’s still quite fresh and clear in my mind, my first visit. Bright, vibrant shades of colour was almost everywhere I looked. The cool green of the mango orchards, the refreshing pistachio of the paddy fields, the bright yellow of the mustard fields, , the turquoise blue of the cotton threads or even the reddish tinge of the muddy tracks where we cycled seemed to drench the canvas of this little census town with splashes of colour.
Located at a distance of 80 km from Kolkata, Phulia falls within the district administration of Nadia in the Indian state of West Bengal. Known popularly among fashion connoisseurs as a haven for Tangail and cotton sarees, Phulia to me was always home as it is where my husband’s ancestral house is located.
Following the tumultous years of the Partition, Dhaka (currently the capital of Bangladesh) witnessed an exodus of several skilled and talented weavers. Most of these skilled artisans migrated to neighbouring West Bengal and settled down in its numerous nooks and corners. A large portion of these weavers moved to Nadia district’s Shantipur (around 10 km from Phulia) and to Ambika Kalna of Bardhaman district. Consequently, with government support and encouragement, the entire region comprising Shantipur, Phulia, Samudragarh, Dhatrigram and Ambika Kalna emerged as one of the largest belt inhabited by weavers. In time, they began to churn out few of the most exclusive collection of Tangail saree collection adorning the wardrobes of fashionable women all across the globe. The rolls of multi-hued yarns left to dry in the sun that dot my memories of the place are a proof of the importance of the weaving industry in Phulia.
Phulia (also pronounced as Fulia) is the birth place of Krittibas Ojha (also known as Kirttibas Ojha), the famous medieval Bengali poet whose translation of the great Indian epic of Ramayana into Bengali was a significant contribution to Bengali literature. Whenever you land in Phulia, every face will light up with pride when you ask them to show you the Krittibas memorial. Situated at one corner of a huge football field the memorial overlooks one of the oldest educational institutions of the region – the Phulia Krittibas Smriti Vidyalaya. Located close by is the Krittibas Library and museum housing some rare books and artefacts.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of being in Phulia is to walk down the road bordering the majestic Ganges. As the cool, placid waters of the river flow innocuously, it hardly seems to have any semblance with its ferocious form which has been eroding away its bordering lands furiously over the past few years. I have spent many a sunset watching as the smoky blue of the waters blush a flaming red as the sun swooped down to kiss its surface, as the birds crooned to their mates to come back home soon and as the fishermen pulled in their nets to ferry back home to their beloveds. Often during these moments I have realised the insignificance of my hectic urban existence when life is all about going where the heart belongs. Visit Phulia to know what your heart wants.