In the 1960s, Lachan Kumari, a queen of the Santal tribe which inhabits West Bengal’s Purulia district, donated a large chunk of her land to the Indian Railways for the upliftment of her people, and enhancement of the region’s connectivity with other areas of the state. However, the project ran into unforeseen trouble in 1967 when the station master, upon having spied a woman in a white saree on the tracks for the first time, died the very next day. It was then that the station became known far and wide as one that is haunted, making it one of the most popular ‘ghost tourism’ destinations in Bengal.
According to the villagers of Begunkodor, (also called ‘Bagun Kodar’) a woman had once died there in the railway accident, after which many paranormal incidents have been sighted. The station was subsequently closed as trains stopped making halts there due to its haunted reputation. In the late 1990s, the villagers formed a committee and urged the state officials to reopen the station. In 2007, local villagers wrote to then-Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee and CPIM leader, Basudeb Acharia, who is an inhabitant of Purulia and was a member of the parliamentary standing committee on Railways at that time. In 2009, Mamata Banerjee reopened the station and dared many in the state to visit the place.
“It was three ladies — the Santal queen, Mamata Banerjee, and the ghost — who turned the fortunes of this station around in the past five decades,” says Narayan Mahato, a local from the nearby Baamni village.
However, Begun Kodar today looks nothing like it did in the past. Even though there are still no signs of human life evident for miles, making the station and its building look as strange and forbidding as it did before, the lives of people in this quaint village in Purulia has evolved. Mostly dependent financially on travellers from other districts of West Bengal, the locals have capitulated on the Begun Kodar myth and turned the area into a resource for ghost tourism.
Swapan Kumar, who sells food and several other essential items inside the station in a hand-pulled cart, says that his livelihood depends on the travellers of the five trains that stop there.
“At least 700 to 800 passengers descend on this station on a daily basis, despite all the scary stories,” says Kumar.
Even though Kumar himself and other locals claim that they had never seen a ghost there, the railway employees posted there tell a different story.
“Not just one, but several railway employees claim to have seen a ghost here,” says Kailash Sahesh, one of the many commuters.
However, he believes that it is probably because nobody wanted to risk their lives working there since Begun Kodar is a Naxal heartland. The station lies at the edge of the thick forest range that forms a part of the “red corridor” — areas affected by the Naxalite insurgency and is believed to be the gateway to Bengal for Naxals from Bihar and Jharkhand. It is also probably because of this that the station has no full-time railway employees, thus posing a great hurdle for the place to rise from the status of being merely a halt station.
Myth Buster: In 2017, a group of rationalists from Bengal, on spending a winter night in the obscure railway station found a few locals trying to scare them away. They spotted no paranormal activity at all.
1) Since passengers are reluctant to come to the station after 6 pm, the last train here is at 5.45 pm.
2) The building hosts pictures of various Hindu Gods to ward off evil.
3) Dalu Mahato, a temporary ticket-seller, enters the station only after a daily puja.
4) You will find ticket cards dating back to the 1950s still in use here.
5) The temporary railway staff here get merely Re. 1 as commission for every ticket sold here.
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