Original 1937 book cover
|Translator||Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri|
|Cover artist||Satyajit Ray|
|Publisher||Signet Press (Original Bengali version), Katha (English translation)|
|Published in English||1 July 2002|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||175 pp (Eng. trans. edition)|
|ISBN||NA & (Eng. trans. ISBN 81-87649-30-5)|
Chander Pahar (English title: Mountain of the Moon) is a Bengali novel written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay in 1937. Chronicling the adventures of a Bengali boy in the forests of Africa. It is considered to be one of the most important adventure novels written in the Bengali language.
It is the story of a young Bengali Boy(SANKAR) adventures in Africa in the years 1909-1910. Shankar Roy Chowdhury, the protagonist, is a 20 year old man, recently graduated from college and about to take up a job in a jute mill of shyamnagar, a prospect he absolutely loathes.
He yearns for adventure, wild lands, forests and animals. He wants to follow the footsteps of famous explorers like Livingstone, Mungo Park, Marco Polo, all of whom he has read about and idolizes. By a stroke of luck, he secures a job as a clerk in Uganda Railway through a fellow villager already working there and goes to Africa without a second thought.
There, he spends a few months laying rail tracks but soon encounters the first of many dangers of Pre-World War I Africa—man-eating lions. Later he takes up a job as station master in desolate station. Here he encounters the another hazard in Africa: the poisonous black mamba. He also rescues and looks after the middle-aged Portuguese explorer and gold prospector, Diego Alvarez. The encounter with Alavarez influences him deeply. Alavarez tells him of his earlier exploits and adventures, how he and his companion Jim Carter had braved deep jungles and mountains of Richtersveld to find the largest diamond mine. However, they were thwarted by the legendary Bunyip, a mythical monster which guards the mines which killed Carter.
Shankar gives up his job and accompanies Alvarez as he decides to venture out once more and find the mines again. They meet with innumerable hardships, a raging volcano being the greatest challenge. Eventually they get lost in the forests where Alvarez is killed by a mysterious monster, the same that had taken Carter’s life, the Bunyip.
Shankar sets out to reach civilization. He finds the Bunyip's cave and the diamond mines by accident. He enters the cave but eventually gets lost. With great difficulty, he gets out, marking his way with "pebbles" and taking some back with him as memento, not knowing each is a piece of uncut diamond. He finds the remains of the Italian explorer, Attilio Gatti, and learns that the cave he found earlier really was the diamond mine. Gatti, as Shankar learns from a note by him, had uncut diamonds in his boots. The note said that whoever reads the note can take the diamonds as long as he buries his skeleton, with Christian rites. Shankar does so, and keeps the old diamonds. He becomes lost in the deserts of Kalahari and nearly dies of thirst. Fortunately he is rescued by a survey team, and taken to a hospital in Salisbury, Rhodesia, from where he sets sail for home. He ends the book saying that he will return to that cave one day with a large team, and continue the legacy of Alvarez, Carter and Gatti.
Characters in "Mountain of the Moon"
- Shankar Roy Chowdhury - The hero of the story, a young Bengali man from a village in Bengal. He is a smart, brave person who has a penchant for adventures.
- Diego Alvarez - A Portuguese explorer. He acts as a friend and mentor to Shankar, and together they try and explore the deepest reaches of Richtersveld for the Mountain of the Moon.
- Jim Carter - A British explorer, Alvarez's companion in his previous expedition. Alvarez revealed to Shankar that Carter was killed by the "Bunyip" while he and Carter were exploring the Mountains of the Moon.
- Attilio Gatti - An Italian explorer. He discovered the diamond mine caves in c. 1879 but dies in a cave (later discovered by Shankar) on his way back, in the hands of his traitorous followers.
It is worthwhile mentioning here that Bibhutibhushan never traveled outside of India . His detailed and realistic portrayal of African grasslands and jungles is totally based on travel-magazines and guide books about Africa that he had read . In the light of this fact, his mastery over prose and description of nature assumes greatness of a higher level.
A film based on the novel, directed by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee is slated to go in production sometimes in the year 2013. The film will be produced by Shree Venkatesh Films and will be shot on locations in Africa. The film is reportedly being made with a budget of nearly 1 Crore INR, which is roughly equals to 2.4 million USD - thus making it one of the most expensive movies ever made in Bengali film industry. The film will reportedly incorporate CGI and visual effects at par with Hollywood and Bollywood standards.Dev will play the main protagonist, Shankar. Shooting for the film is expected to start from March, 2013. Most of the other cast members are from South Africa, actor Gérard Rudolf will play the role of Diego Alvarez.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chander Pahar.|
- Sunīlakumāra Caṭṭopādhyāẏa (1 January 1994). Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyaya. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-81-7201-578-7. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
- "Film on Chander Pahar - Times Of India". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- "Kamaleshwar Mukherjee's Trip To South Africa For Chander Pahar, Starring Dev". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 9 January 2013.
- "Kamaleswar's African safari". The Times Of India.