Mountains Of The Moon (2013)
Faced with the prospect of a dim future in his impoverished village, young Shankar bids farewell to his family in rural Bengal and makes a journey to the fabled "Mountain Of The Moon" in search of gold and diamond mines.
Chander Pahar is the journey to the fabled, 'Mountain Of The Moon', in search of gold and diamond mines, up against threats as vivid and varied as lurking snakes, pouncing lions, poisonous flora, the fury of an active volcano and a seemingly, almost supernatural mythical horror 'The Bunyip' the guardian angel of the diamond cave. However it is also the story of grit and determination, a story of following one's dream against all odds and emerging victorious, a story about a young lad called Shankar who faced with the prospect of having to make a living as a factory worker in his impoverished village, bids farewell to his family in Keutia, Rural Bengal and through his aid Prasad Das Banopadhay who happens to work for the Uganda railway head office sets sail to the Dark Continent to work as the station master in Nakuru station, it's a dream come true for Shankar who has always envisioned himself as a Expeditionary and holds good knowledge in world geography and map reading.
Chander Pahar is the journey to the fabled, 'Mountain Of The Moon', in search of gold and diamond mines, up against threats as vivid and varied as lurking snakes, pouncing lions, poisonous flora, the fury of an active volcano and a seemingly, almost supernatural mythical horror 'The Bunyip'
- Chander Pahar is the story of a young Bengali man's adventures in Africa in 1909-1910. Shankar Roy Chowdhury (Dev), the protagonist, is a 20-year-old man, recently completed his First Arts graduation and about to take up a job in a jute mill, 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 station master in a desolate station in Uganda Railway through a fellow villager working there and goes to Africa without a second thought. One evening Shankar is chased by a man-eating lion and luckily he reaches his cabin and locks the door. The next day he asks the head stationmaster to provide him with a Springfield bolt-action rifle and carbolic acid as a day before he encounters another hazard in Africa: the poisonous black mamba. He miffs the black mamba with his torchlight. The next day he gets these things from another fellow Indian, Tirumal Appa, who is serving the British Army.
They quickly strike a rapport and Tirumal visits him often. One day Tirumal becomes victim of the same man-eating lion. This rages Shankar and he decides to end this peril. He poses as bait by pouring blood on himself and scatters meat chunks. He tempts the lion out of his cave and eventually shots him down.
He rescues and looks after the middle-age Portuguese explorer and gold prospector, Diego Alvarez. The encounter with Alavarez influences him deeply. Alavarez tells him of his 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 who guards the mines and 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. The first is a raging volcano which forces them to halt their expedition. One night they were attacked by the monster Bunyip. Eventually they get lost in the forests where Alvarez is killed by the monster, in an effort to save Shankar's life. Desolated Shankar mourns the death of Alvarez deeply. He buries him with all rites and sets sail towards the mountain of moon.
Shankar sets out to reach civilization. He finds the diamond mines by accident. He enters the cave and 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 an uncut diamond. He finds the remains of the Italian explorer, Attilio Gatti, and learns that the cave he found earlier 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.
While crossing the jungle, he comes in contact with the Bunyip's cave. Filled with revenge, he devises a plan to get rid of Bunyip. Shankar collects sticks from the jungle and sharpens their tips into spears. He fences the entrance with sharpened wood and waits for the Bunyip. The Bunyip turns up and, seeing its prey, jumps at it from height. Shankar moves out and the Bunyip gets pierced on the wood and dies.
Shankar tries to move out by following the compass. 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. When he recovers he sells four of his diamonds and gets lots of money. One diamond he sends to his parents with a note to sell it and help the villagers with its money. Next, he sells his sole diamond and buys a steamer boat to continue his exploration.
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.