It will be hard to find someone who can help you with some information on Ramnath Biswas. Yes if we google it,there will be few information’s about him some website said :”Bengali traveler who traveled around the world on his bicycle,few of his books cover page photos and after our write up in Trino magazine at 2015,Wikipedia took our write up and wrote about him.so it was difficult to get access to the information even through we are living at the time when Wikileaks exists.No,Ramnath Biswas was not someone who will slip from our global knowledge called internet nor from Wikipedia. This story is all about a Bengali traveler who traveled around the world between first and second World War and our great noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore give him an autograph before he started his adventure tour.
The East has many legends on traveling.Since the birth of Atisha Dipankara till today,may be not always by any native but yes,traveling from the world.In that sense if we say the Ganges delta could ever produce a traveler,then certainly Ramnath Biswas is one of the shining stars of all time.nd very surprisingly he traveled the world on his bicycle back in 1931-1940 for long time nine years in three phases and he started at the age of 35.
Ramnath Biswas was born in the year of 1894 on January 13.His father was a strict Brahmin and gained respect for his notable social work and his mother used to be spend most of her time at the neighboring temple of Shiva,.Even today if we visit his birthplace,we can find the temple and his ancestors in the village called Baniachong,the largest village of Bangladesh(and also of the world)but never heard of Ramnath,s name after the village.
Historically Baniachong will be in the district of Sylhet of Bangladesh.Even at the time of Ramnath,s birth,Baniachong had 40 thousand inhabitants along with large Hindus and minority Muslims.
Ramnath Biswas lost his mother at very early of his life,when he was only two and suffered from typhoid and diarrehoea due to improper childhood caring.He became weak physically at that age.During early days schooling he lost his father.So this unexpected death (after his mother and father within very short time of his birth)everyone started blaming him.So he never could gain love after his father,s departure .Since then he learnt to survived as -you came to the earth,alone;live alone.
As we knew Baniachong was having a large community of Hindus and Muslim and like hundred years back,both of the religion has a tension in between and were very strict on their religious norms and casts.But Ramnat Biswas used to mix with everyone,he even got habituated with Beef and Pork which was impossible even to think at that time.So it was very likely society ditched him.He got abandoned from both sides at his village.
During the time of WW1 he started his life as an Officer at Bengali Labour core.But he could not survive long as he was not physically fit for long time race.He got discharged as he was below 100 pounds.But he never left hope of joining the core again.He got back and joined in commission core in 1917.
Ramnath Biswas experts say,it was the eye opening year for Ramnath Biswas when he was in the military.He had to travel extensively in Afghanistan and Pakistan.It was 1918 and we can imagine the road condition of those unexplored territories when no aero plane was there to lift heavy artillery .They had to march almost 30 miles a day on a regular basis.But he was enjoying it as the scope of seeing the new.h e got fascinated with that,even though his health deteriorated and caused of malaria again.This time he returned home with a strong desire of travelling the world in September of 1924.But life pulled him in another direction for living.He became a miner in Singapore later on a supervisor of a marine court as his knowledge on English,Malaya,Chinese and Hindi language were fluent.This is true he was never an explorer or a traveler by genes but seeing marine life and its diversity in Singapore port,he started admiring it.with the passage of time his admiration started to gain at the level of fascination.He quit the job at the age of 35,by that time he could save some money to jump into travelling on his bicycle.
A day to celebrate!
July 7th 1931 and it was Tuesday Ramnath will depart from Queens street(it was one of the oldest street in Singapore and at present It is located between Arab Street/Kampung Glam and Little India and also serves buses to/from Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia Right next to the bus terminal is a taxi stand where you can hire a taxi to JB).so in front of Bengali mosque there were hundreds of thousands of local spectators where gathered to the voyage.He never thought it will pull such a crowd instead of few of his very close!according to Ramnath,”It was like an humming in the air”Allah Akbar”more lauder than “Vandemataram.”He enjoyed it and gave him courage to travel hard while his cycle was holding a triangular banner having written”Hindu Traveller”.He learnt his lesson from the crowd.Nothing but the person and achievement is important than any other thought like religion!
At that time no one ever thought of starting such adventure.There is hundreds of reason but almost certainly finance was an issue.More over,from India,visa or travel permits was hard since the visa or travel permits was hard since the visa system indented.So it was not smooth for him either even through his voyage as a mentoring one.A book for autograph,a mosquito net and long cloths were in his box fitted on the rear wheel rack.Actually it was a wooden box along with some very pragmatic bike repairing tool.And yes no money either!!
He believed a philosophy,if he had money;he will be bound to meet people for his own survival.On the philosophy he has written a book too round the world without money!Out of his travelled countries,he loved China more than anywhere else.In 1931,after crossing over Malaysia and Thailand he followed Indo China towards China and then Peking .This city was on his favourite list.From Peking he pedal through Manchu Mukden and boarding city.Antong reroute to Korea then he sailed to Kobe,Japan from there on September 5,1932.
Written By : Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal and Muntasir MAMUN.