This Festive Season, Go Footloose and Discover South Bengal
Come autumn, the drifting white clouds across bright blue skies make us fall for our wanderlust. Yet, with the global pandemic restricting movement in general and international travel in particular, the best way to indulge the traveller in you is to go local. If you are residing in South Bengal, explore the regional treasures and discover this part of your own state like never before!
If you’re wondering about the what-where-and-when, here’s a list of 6 options to start your trip plans this season.
Beach. Rivers. Food. Forest. Culture. Heritage. These six elements come together in south Bengal to offer destinations where you can relax and rejuvenate, recharge and reconnect with yourself and nature.
The waterfront: White sand beaches of Bakkhali, Mandarmani, Digha, Shankarpur, Udaipur, Tajpur, Falta, and Junput can be your next weekend destination for a carefree holiday with friends and family. Sea, sand and surf with lots of seafood, freshly caught and fried for your lunch and dinner, make for a memorable getaway.
If you like an idyllic break, consider riverside resorts such as Raichak on Ganges, where nature and leisure make the best of friends with you and your loved ones.
The woods: While the entire world has to put their plans on hold to visit the Sunderbans because of the pandemic-induced travel restrictions, if you are in Bengal, this is your chance to explore the world’s largest mangrove forests. Stay on boat houses or forest bungalows, watch the tides come and go, feel the chills as the sun sets over the horizon while the forests get abuzz with wildlife calls. If lucky, spot a Royal Bengal Tiger or a crocodile, only to come back and tell your adventure tales to friends.
Heritage Stops: South Bengal is full of historical places, waiting for you to discover your heritage and cultural roots. Begin with Kolkata. A weekend is not just enough to cover all the monuments steeped in history. Be it the Sovabajar Rajbari or the Pathuriaghata Thakurbari, or the Indian Museum and St, John’s Church – you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to heritage tourism in Kolkata.
Move out to the districts. Plan a long drive along the Ganges, exploring the colonial stops along the Hooghly riverbank such as Serampore with its Danish heritage, Chandannagar and the French history, Chinsurah the erstwhile Dutch settlement and the Portuguese bastion of yore, Bandel. Or travel overnight to Murshidabad and rediscover the enchanting legacy of Bengal’s Nawabs.
Many ancient royal palaces have been converted to hotels and resorts all across. Take your pick from the popular choices like the Bawali Raajbari or the Itachuna Rajbari, or go for the less explored ones such as the Surul Rajbari, Jhargram Rajbari, Mahisadal Rajbari, Cossimbazar Palace and the likes. Relive the days of royalty while enjoying the coolest of modern hospitality.
You can opt for temple tourism at Bishnupur in Bankura, or Ambika Kalna in Purba Bardhaman, the temple towns of south Bengal.
Feast of Festivity: Bengal, with her rich history as a cultural melting pot of so many global communities over the centuries, is home to some of the best street food in the world. If you have a sweet tooth, then the mishti map of Bengal will leave you happily sugar high. Travel to Birbhum and Purulia to sample tribal food, or settle down with a delicious Vaishnav thali at Mayapur.
Culture Calling: Of course, Tagore’s Visva Bharati and Santiniketan top the chart, but that’s just the beginning. Explore Bengal’s famous Patachitra village at Pingla, Midnapore. Witness exquisite silk sarees being woven, or shop for brass and bell metal artefacts in Murshidabad. Pick up intricate dokra and terracotta crafts from the village fairs of Bankura and Birbhum. Listen to Baul and Fakiri songs of Birbhum. Watch Mayurbhanj Chhau dance in Purulia and don’t forget to collect one colourful Chhau mask as the central piece on your living room wall. Visit Nadia and Shantipur for that prized Dhonekhali saree or an artisanal piece of Kantha.
Off-Beat Getaways: Bengal indeed has more than what meets the eye. Travel to Gongoni in Paschim Medinipur and witness Bengal’s very own Grand Canyon along the Shilabati river. Or, take in the sights and sounds of a tribal village in Burraghutu, a hilltop hamlet near Mukutmanipur, Bankura, with a breathtaking view of Kangsabati river. Visit Taki, and enjoy the Durga Puja immersions while enjoying a panoramic view of the Bangladesh borders on the horizon.