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Travel: 10 weekend destinations around Kolkata

Last updated on: September 13, 2012 17:17 IST

Travel: 10 weekend destinations around Kolkata

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Aditi Bose

Life in the metros can be more taxing than you can imagine and nothing is more welcome than a weekend getaway. Aditi Bose lists out her favourite places around Kolkata.

There are plenty of options for those looking to take a break from the mundane. Whether it is birdwatching in the Sunderbans or a trekking trip to the foothills of the Himalayas or visiting the terracotta temples of Bishnupur, there is something for everyone. Here are my top 10 favourite weekend getaways around Kolkata.

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Tarakeshwar (58 km from Kolkata)

Tarakeswar, located in Hoogly district, is a renowned place of pilgrimage for the Shiva sect. The main attraction is the Taraknath Temple built by Raja Bharamalla in 1729 AD.

Pilgrims visit the temple throughout the year but the best time to visit is in February - March during Shivratri, with the fair being a major attraction. July – August, the month of Shravan is also a good time to isit.

Monday are considered an auspicious day to visit the temple. Legend has it that a bath with the water of the Dudhpukur Tank located near the temple helps fulfill all wishes.

One can also visit the Buddha Temple of Deulpara located 6 km away from Tarakeshwar.

The Tarakeswar Tourist Lodge is the only accommodation here. The rooms are clean but don't expect anything fancy. The network coverage in the region is also negligible.


Photographs: Sankha Karfa/ Creative Commons

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Kamarpukur (90 km from Kolkata)

Kamarpukur, on the banks of the River Damodar, is the birthplace of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

The main attraction of this place is the temple of Sri Ramakrishna built in 1951. Other than a marble statue of the saint, it also houses a library, a dispensary and a school. It also conducts yoga and meditation sessions and runs a small jute mill for training the youth.

One can also visit Yogi's Siva temple and Raghubir Temple here. Try and visit the deer park as well to see many varieties of deer and also for a nature walk.

The best time to visit Kamarpukur is during October- February. Relax Lodge located near the temple is the only accommodation here.


Photographs: Alan Perry/ Creative Commons

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Tarapith (225 km from Kolkata)

Tarapith, a village in Birbhum district near the Dwaraka River is known for its tantric temple dedicated to Goddess Tara. There are two images of the Goddess inside the temple – one is the stone image of Tara in a maternal form and the other, a three feet metal statue. This statue represents the Goddess in her fiery form. Adjacent to the temple is a tank, the water of which is considered have healing powers.

This place is also famous for Bamakhepa who lived in the adjoining cremation ground and dedicated his entire life to the Goddess. His ashram is located near the temple.

The best time to visit is during November - March. The two staying options here are the Hotel Sonar Bangla and Yashoda International with the former being the better one.


Photographs: Munita Prasad/Creative Commons

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Mandarmoni (165 km from Kolkata)

Mandarmoni in East Midnapore district, is located on the Kolkata - Digha route. If you are travelling by train then the nearest train station is at Contai, around 26 km away.

This seaside hamlet with its 13 km long driveable beach is arguably one of the longest motorable beaches in India. Although its waves are considerably more gentle than those in Digha, do check the high tide timings before you begin your drive on the beach.

The three best accommodation options here are Rose Valley, Debraj Beach Resort and The Sana Beach with a private sunbathing area on the beach.

Also read: Miles & miles of virgin beach...


Photographs: Joydeep/Creative Commons

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Bishnupur (150 km from Kolkata)

Bishnupur in Bankura district is famous for its terracotta temples and baluchari saris.

Travel around by cycle rickshaw here to view the impressive architecture of the temples. Most of these temples were constructed during the reign of the Malla kings. Some of the most well known temples are:

Shyamrai Temple (1643) one of the largest temples here was built King Raghunath Singha. The terracotta carvings in this temple mainly depict Lord Krishna's life.

Jorbangla Temple (17th century) was built by King Raghunath Singha Dev II. Look out for the traditional Bengal architecture of 'chala' style roofs.

Carvings on the walls of the Madanmohan Temple (1694), built by King Durjana Singh Deva depict scenes from the two epics and the Puranas.

You can also visit the Rasmancha in Bishnupur. This old pyramidal structure is the place where deities from all other temples are brought to during the Rasa Festival.

Shop for baluchari saris, the wooden Bankura horse, terracotta artefacts and conch shell beads here. Some of the shops that you could visit are New Krishna Cloth Store, Terracotta Crafts and Maa Durga Sankha Bhandar.

Bishnupur gets quite hot during the summer months and is best avoided then. Some of the decent hotels here are Hotel Laxmi Park and Bishnupur Lodge run by the West Bengal Tourism.


Image: Temples in Bishnupur
Photographs: Amartyabag/Creative Commons

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Krishnanagar (100 km from Kolkata)

Krishnanagar, located in Nadia district on the NH4 highway in the southern part of the Jalangi River, named after Raja Krishnachandra (1710-1783) is known for its culture, art and literature. In fact, the clay artists in Ghumi locality are a major attraction as htye make statues of Hindu gods and goddesses and other art work.

The best time to visit is during Jagaddhatri Puja which is celebrated with a lot of pomp and grandeur.

If you are visiting in July-August then don't miss the Jhulan Mela that is celebrated at the Royal palace.

Krishnanagar also boasts of a Roman Catholic Church that has twenty-seven oil painting depicting the life of Christ.

A must-do on the list when visiting Krishnanagar is to taste the sweets prepared by the local 'moyras'. The most famous are the Sarbhaja and Sarpuriya.

Functioning since 2005, the best choice of stay here is Hotel Haveli.


Photographs: Susantab/Creative Commons

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Bakkhali (125 km from Kolkata)

Bakkhali is to the south east of Kolkata. Drive down till Namkhana after which the car will need to be ferried across the Hatania-Doania creek. This seaside resort has an 8 km long beach that stretches till Frasergunj.

While here, don't miss the experience of travelling by a motorised boat to Jambu Dwip, a reserved forest island. It is a 40 minute boat ride from the Frazerganj Fishing Harbour.

Another attraction is the Watch Tower from where you can see the entire forest of the Sundarbans and the crocodile park. You can also visit the Bishhalakshmi temple.

If you have a car then you can drive to Henry's Island known for its mangroves and wildlife. It is just 10 minutes away and the Fisheries Department of West Bengal lodges offers accomodation.

Accommodation options at Bakkhali are at the Ananya Hotel, Hotel Deepak and Hotel Amarabati. For the more budget conscious there is the Hotel Bayview or the Bakkhali Tourist Lodge.


Image: Sunset at Bakkhali
Photographs: Rup Chatterjee/Creative Commons

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Sajnekhali (130 km from Kolkata)

To reach Sajnekhali (in the Sundarbans) you can drive till Sonakhali which is around 90 km away (2.5 hours) and then take a 3-hour ferry ride to the Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge.

This place is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and numerous birds. The watch tower here gives the complete view of the forest. Adjacent to the Nature Interpretation Centre is a crocodile and a turtle farm and also a shark pond.

You can also catch a ferry to the crocodile breeding farm in Bhagabatpur, to Kanak to see the olive ridley turtles or to Halliday Island to watch the barking deer.

The best time to visit is during September - March. The most popular accommodation here is the Tourist Complex run by WBTDC.


Photographs: Peter Andersen/Creative Commons

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Gadiara (90 km from Kolkata)

Gadiara in Howrah district is located at the confluence of three rivers - Damodar, Rupnarayan and Hoogli.

Tourist attractions include the Fort Mornington, built by Lord Clive which can be seen during ebb tide and a small lighthouse. Also enjoy the sunrise and sunset on a boat over the Rupnarayan River or a picnic in Mayachar, a sandbank on the river.

You will find shops here that sell flowers made of coconut leaf. Take a few back with you as souvenirs.

The best accommodation options here are the Rupnarayan Tourist Lodge and the New Chalantika Tourist Lodge.


Photographs: Dwaipayanc/Creative Commons

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Mulkarkha Lake (North Bengal)

Mulkarkha Lake or the 'wishing lake', situated at an altitude of 7000 feet above sea level on the foothills of the Himalayas, is best-known for the reflection of the Kanchenjunga Mountain on its placid water.

The trek to the lake is fairly easy and still quite untouched. You will come across waterfalls, jungle patches, Buddhist monasteries and even views of the Kanchenjunga on your way up.

The trek starts from the hamlet of Lingzey (104 km from Siliguri, 4 hours by car) which is known for the Sanskrit Vidyalaya that stocks rare and old books on Hinduism. Lingzey also has a natural hot sulphur spring.

For a shorter route, you can drive up to Chota Ramitey after which it is a 2.5 hours trek. The entire trekking trail is dotted with plenty of homestay options.


Photographs: Anirban Biswas/ Creative Commons

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