Gava High School, the pride of Ghosh Dastidar clan

Setting foot on my ancestral land – Gava Schoolbari, Barisal

International, Story By Jan 25, 2018 26 Comments

On my second ‘Blogiversary’ I thought of writing a post on something which is very close and personal. I would like to dedicate this post to my Jethu (paternal uncle). I always love listening to stories. One of my best childhood pass time was to listen to stories. Be it a fairy tale, stories from Panchatantra, Thakumar Jhuli, adventure stories, ghost stories or the most interesting stories of my ancestors narrated by my jethu.

The road towards Banaripara

The road towards Banaripara

My close relatives knew my love for stories. Every time either my parents, my aunts or my uncles and even my cousins had to meet my request for stories. I had no complaints against repetition. I was not lucky enough to see my grandparents as they had expired long before my parents’ marriage. So I used to bother my jethu the most with repeat request for certain stories. And among them were the stories of my ancestors too.

Now before going into further details, I shall give a brief introduction of my family name – Ghosh Dastidar. It is said that any Ghosh Dastidar in the world belongs to the same family and its root is in a village in Gava in Barisal district of Bangladesh. Our family house had their own school in that time and so our house was named as ‘Schoolbari’. The school was made by my great, great and a lot of great grandmother Late Bindubashini Ghosh Dastidar.

Gava High School board with the name of the founder - Bindubashini Ghosh Dastidar

Gava High School board with the name of the founder – Bindubashini Ghosh Dastidar

This was the short history of the Ghosh Dastidar family and their village. Now coming back to my jethu’s stories. My jethu, my father and all my paternal uncles and aunts were born in the Schoolbari in the Gava village. My grandparents left their house, soil and all the property for the partition related disturbance and settled in West Bengal long back. At that time my father was a toddler and he has little to no memory of his birthplace.

Farm and greenery all around

Farm and greenery all around

But my jethu had the picture in his mind. He often used to tell me the stories of his childhood. He used to give a vivid description of every part of the village and I used to visualise the picture. He used to say that all the Ghosh Dastidar stayed in the same village and every subfamily had their house named differently. As our house was Schoolbari the neighbouring house was Billobari, some were named as Sobuttarerbari, Uttarerbari, and so on.

The remains of some bari, the house of a sub family

The remains of some bari, the house of a sub family

My jethu had a wish to go to Bangladesh and visit his birthplace and see the house in its present state. He used to say that there was a ‘lohar pool’ (iron bridge) on a canal and crossing over the bridge, by the side of another canal was the Gava village, my ancestor’s land. Acres of land with trees and ponds intercepted by narrow canals. At the end of one such narrow canal which was the branch of the wider canal that runs below the Lohar pool, was the home of my ancestors – the Schoolbari.

The backyard of the school and the pond

The backyard of the school and the pond

The school of the Schoolbari was just beside. In the backyard, there was a pond generally used by the women for their bathing and other household works. There was another pond bigger in size on the other side of the house. In front of the house, there was the ‘Durgadalan’, a roofed platform in the courtyard where the Durga Puja used to be held every year. There was a Mansha mandir (a temple dedicated to the snake goddess Mansha).

The Durgadalan within the greenery

The Durgadalan within the greenery

Country boats were the fastest means of transportation. The canals throughout Barisal were interconnected so sailing through them one could reach their destination conveniently and fast. I heard stories of marriages of the daughters our family being held in a grand way. The Baratis (family and the invitees from the groom’s side) arrived in the boats and the bidai (farewell ceremony of the bride) too took place on boats. Boats were loaded with precious gifts and jewellery for the groom’s family. It went like a caravan of boats on the canal after a lavish wedding.

A country boat tied by the bank of the narrow canal

A country boat tied by the bank of the narrow canal

I heard stories how my granny used to perform rituals at the crossroad near the Lohar pool during Makar Sankranti and Poila Baisakh. I heard stories of wealth, property and harvest in abundance. I heard stories of how my ancestors lived the life of Zamindars. My childish brain fantasised these stories painted the scenes in even brighter colours. It all seemed like some fairy tale where my grandpa was the king and my granny the queen with their children the prince and the princess.

The new version of the no more Lohar pool

The new version of the no more Lohar pool

We belonged to the family tree of the Late Mrityunjay Ghosh Dastidar. The elders of my family take great pride to be the member of this family and so do I. My jethu had always wished to go to Bangladesh to revisit his birthplace and see his home in present condition. But in the early day due to various reason he could not and later his health condition did not permit.

The old temple that still remains and is the household temple of the present residents

The old temple that still remains and is the household temple of the present residents

I too had a wish for a long to step into my ancestral land and see my fairyland by myself and compare it with the picture in my mind. And at some corner of my mind had a deep-seated desire to give some relief to my jethu showing him the pictures of Gava village. But again due to a various reason, I could not visit during his lifetime. Even on his deathbed, he used to draw the layout his village.

The V bridges which once used to be the Lohar Pool

The V bridges which once used to be the Lohar Pool

Now when I finally made it to Gava my jethu was no more and I only had his layout drawn in his diary. I visited Bangladesh along with my parents with just the name of Gava village somewhere in Jhalokati in Barisal. The Google map did not show Gava neither did anyone in Dhaka had heard of Gava village. There were few blogs on Ghosh Dastidars of Gava written by some distant relative of mine, might be my Ghosh Dastidar brothers or uncles. But there was no proper direction.

Crossing the narrow Lohar pool

Crossing the narrow Lohar pool

I reached Barisal. Finding my ancestral village was like a treasure hunt for us. No one in Barisal too was able to say anything about Gava. Someone who was the resident of Jhalokati said that there was no such village in this subdivision. After all enquiry through every possible way and from every person we met in Barisal, we had the same thing to ask for. Finally, our rescuer came in the form of our hotel staff. He stays in the village beside Gava village in Banaripara. He also knows the Gava high school, which we supposed to be the same school of ours.

The main building of the Gava High School

The main building of the Gava High School

When we came to know that Gava still exists we were sure to find the Schoolbari. For all the Ghosh Dastidars who are in search of Gava I give the direction here. From any place in Barisal head towards Banaripara. After few kilometres take the left turn just after crossing the 42 no Eksarapara Government Primary School. Again after a few kilometres of drive take the right of the fork to the narrow dirt road. Then there is the twin V bridge over the canals. Take the one on the right and you are there in Gava. The other side of the other bridge is Jhalokati.

The nearest landmark to reach Gava

The nearest landmark to reach Gava

We reached our destination and the Gava high school was on the right. Here we met a gentleman who interrogated us, our intention of the visit and our whereabouts. After all the introduction episode we found that he is the member of the present generation of the sole Ghosh Dastidar family residing here. He was elated to have us here. He cordially brought us to his home. He stays there with his wife, brother, his brother’s wife and their adorable little daughter Adhara.

My newly found big brother guiding us to their house. The new school building is under construction on the right

My newly found big brother guiding us to their house. The new school building is under construction on the right

They belonged to another subfamily of Ghosh Dastidars and so they had a different house. When we asked about the Schoolbari they showed us the guard garden laden with fruit. They said that in course of time our deserted Schoolbari was in ruins and finally they demolished and cleared the ruins to convert it into farmland. We were disheartened to know this. They showed us the acres of property full of orchards and farms.

This is where our Schoolbari once used to be

This is where our Schoolbari once used to be

The ponds are still there. There are samadhis of many of our forefathers. The Durgadalan exits too and every year the Durga Puja is also held as per the rituals. The Mansha Temple is not there. Neither any other structure that my jethu narrated or had drawn in his layout exists. Only the canals and ponds remain the same way as it was before. The school has grown to the big Gava High School and lot more buildings are still under construction within the school premises with the intention of further growth. The Lohar pool has turned to concrete bridge and once a lively village of many houses of Ghosh Dastidars has turned into a vast green area with the sole existing Ghosh Dastidar family staying amidst and taking care of (presently) their huge property.

The pond remains the same

The pond remains the same

It was a strange feeling of discomfort even in this contentment. I was able to show my father his birthplace even though he does not remembers a bit of it, just the stories as heard from his parents and elders. I felt fortunate enough to step on the soil where my forefathers used to live and roam. I felt the pride and honour to see the creation of my ancestors, the Gava High School. My jethu from his heavenly abode must be happy to see us fulfilling his wish but sad at the same time to know that his Schoolbari is no more.

Barisal at a glance, with travel information.


  1. joshi daniel says:

    That’s a great feeling and what a beautiful place 🙂

    1. Yes absolutely 🙂 Thanks Daniel.

  2. Bijoyeti Ghosh says:

    I am a member of the Ghosh Dastidar family too though even my father didn’t see his village. I have a huge interest in my family genealogy can you please help me with that?

    1. Thanks, Bijoyeti for stopping by. My blog post says everything I know about Gava. I do not have more information neither do I have an elder in the family to say anything about the exact information (or rather the genealogy) you want with the names of the family head and all. My father was a toddler when he stayed there so he can neither help. I am sorry for that.
      The best way you can gather some information is if you can visit the Durga Puja of Gava Smmilani in Kolkata which is organised by the members of Ghosh Dastidar family of Gava. You can go through this link:

      1. Arup Ghosh Dastidar says:

        The Gava Sammilani Durga Puja is held at Bhawanipur Girls School, near Jagu Babu bazaar. Easy to find on Google Maps.

      2. I know my parents have and other elders from the family have been there a couple of times.

  3. Subir Ghosh says:

    I am a Ghosh dastidar and visiting B’desh 22 to 26 Dec 2018. Desire to make a trip to Gava and back from Dhaka. Which will be the fastest way to do it !
    Subir Ghosh

    1. Hi,
      Welcome to my blog. The best and the fastest route from Dhaka to Barisal and back is the Greenline ferry service during the day time. It takes around 5-7 hours depending on the tides. From Barisal jetty you need to board a bus, auto, or any vehicle on hire to reach Gava. I went to Barisal by road and retuned back in ferry. You can check the details in where I have mentioned about my journey to Barisal.

      Wish you a happy journey and a pleasant stay there.
      Thanks 🙂


    I Pradip Kumar Ghosh, 26th Generation of Ghosh Dastidar family, Late Digendranath Ghosh Dastidar was my Propitamaho son of Late Haracharan Ghosh Dastidar son of Late Madan Mohan Ghosh Dastidar. I came to know from my Baba ( Late Aloke Kumar Ghosh) that ‘ Puber Madhyer Bari’ was our residence in Gava Gram.

    Please help me for more information about our family members. I proud of my Family.

    1. Welcome to my blog. Glad to come across another Ghosh Dastidar. 🙂

      You have a good amount of information about with the names of so many generations.

      With my father and my Jethus settling in India at a very tender age they did not remember that much of information and with my late Jethu not with us now I have very limited information. All that I can say is I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be in my ancestral village and I belong to the family of the School Bari.

  5. Chinmoy Dey says:

    Hi very impressive write up and thanks for taking so much of efforts , my mum belongs to same blood line and my grand Father name was Prabhat Chandra Ghosh and they used to live in a house called Kailash Nivas In Gava. In case if you have any further info on the house or other relatives please share .

    Chinmoy Dey

    1. Thanks Chinmoy, glad to know that you too have a family link with the Ghosh Dastidars. I am sorry, I do not have much information other than what I have on my post. After my jethu passed away I do not have any senior to help me on this. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Arko Ghosh Dastidar says:

    Please tell me what is the name of your jethu?

    1. My Jethu’s name – Late Kamal Sankar Ghosh Dastidar.

  7. Arko Ghosh Dastidar says:

    My grandfather was born at school bari in 1931.He died in 15th Feb,2017.

    1. Sorry to hear about your loss. May his soul rest in peace.

  8. Arko Ghosh Dastidar says:

    He was the son of Mahendra Ghosh Dastidar.

  9. Arko Ghosh Dastidar says:

    Mrittunjay Gh.Dastidar was the grandfather of my grandfather(Monoj Kanti Gh.Dastidar)and the father of Mahendra Narayan Ghosh Dastidar.Mahendra Gh.Dast. was ur jethu’s jethu.Isn’t it right?

    1. My jethu’s grandfather was Srinath Ghosh Dastidar and his father was Mrittunjay Ghosh Dastidar. If you can tell me your father’s name then I can get a better understanding of the present generation and if my father can help on it.

  10. Tanushree ghosh dastidar says:

    I am a member of ghosh dastidar family.My father’s name is Shib brata ghosh dastidar and my grandfather’s name is Late Amrendra Nath Ghosh dastidar.I have heared about these places from my father.I am proud of my family.

    1. Ah, that’s great, so good to known that. 🙂
      Welcome to my blog. Thanks for sharing. We Ghosh Dastidars are proud of our family.

  11. Arko Ghosh Dastidar says:

    You can’t track by my father’s name and there are many family trees in School Bari. But Mrutyunjay Ghosh Dastidar is my grandfather of my grandfather.

  12. Shyamal Ghosh (Dastidar) says:

    I am Shyamal Ghosh Dastidar,(25 Parjay, Darogabari), went to Gava with my wife few years back. We flew to Dhaka, stayed overnight in a hotel. Flight to Barisal was cancelled due to fog. The driver of Toyota, air conditioned taxi, who brought us from hotel to the airport, agreed to take us to Barisal and back. It was a risky decision. My wife agreed and we took off. We got the name of Hironbhai, a local influential person, from our friend in NY. We reached Barisal, Alaikanda, in the afternoon and stayed in a hotel overnight. Thanks to the help of Hironbhai everything worked out smoothly. He even provided one of his staff to accompany us to Gava as a guide. We will never forget the hospitality of this wonderful family, whom we did not know before, and since then lost touch.We visited the Gava High School, where my father studied, and saw the house of Rabi Ghosh, amongst others. We met the only and adorable Ghosh Dastidar family, living there (love to get their name, if possible).We have so many fond memories of that trip.

    Gava Sammilani published a book “ Ghosh Dastidar Paribarer Bangsabali” which includes the names of our ancestors, starting from Makaranda Ghosh (1), Raghunath Ghosh Dastidar(14), Ramkrishna Ghosh Dastidar(15 Gava) to my grandson, SYAN(27). The cost is Rs 250/. Kanchan Ghosh Dastidar, the Secretary of Gava Sammilani, was the key person to edit and get the book printed. He was kind enough to provide me three copies ( two for my sons) of the very informative book.

    1. Thank you, for sharing your personal experience in Gava. Presently I do not remember the names of all the members of the only Ghosh Dastidar family living in Gava. I just remember the name of the young brother of the family (Subrata with the pet name of Nantu) and his cute little daughter ‘Adhara’.

      1. Thanks for your feedback. says:


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