2018 is filled with long weekends in almost every month of the year. Everyone needs to spend some time amidst undisturbed nature. And there are some amazing places in the nooks and corners of our own state West Bengal which are perfect for relaxation. So here are few offbeat places which inspired me as an enthusiastic traveller the most.
South and North 24 Parganas: Rendezvous with awe-inspiring getaways.
Whether it is Uttar 24 Pargana (North) or Dakshin (South), when it comes to fascinating tourists both stand first. The destinations mesmerise all travellers, and especially those for whom photography is more than capturing random moments. Calm and serene, tourist spots scattered in different corners of this part of Bengal let the globetrotters get mingled with bare nature.
CHANDRAKETUGARH: A long-lost city unearthed through excavation
50 km from Kolkata City, Chandraketugarh is a historical site on the bank of Bidyadhari River in South 24 Pargana. More than just a simple getaway for fun lovers, this excavation site is the foundation of serious study for many historians. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, the relics excavated from this site date back to the days before the establishment of the Maurya Dynasty and some of them are even 3000 years old. It is believed that the city used to be a flourishing one during the Pre-Mauryan to Pala Dynasty period. The excavation has revealed a temple spreading across 45 sq km and dating back to 700 to 600 BC. Other significant relics collected from this site are Buddha stupas and images, coins of Jataka stories, decorative designs of Pala period, terracotta sealing and plaques and number of earthen utensils and showpieces.
BAKKHALI: A Quiet Retreat for Sea Lovers
Very close to Sundarban, Bakkhali, a World Heritage Site, is a tranquil getaway for tourists planning to head with family. Less noisy and completely detached from the bustle of the city life, this destination lets the visitors enjoy the musical sound of the rolling waves. The temple of Banbibi is located inside the Casuarina forest. Apart from spending time on the sea beach, tourists can have a glimpse of attractions like the windmills of Frasergunj along with the crocodile propagation center.
TAKI: An Instance of Mystical Beauty of Rural Bengal
Located in Hasnabad, 80 km from Kolkata, Taki is a picture-perfect village that can introduce city dwellers to the simplicity imbibed in the natural beauty of rural Bengal. Rinsed by River Ichamati, the village enthralls the tourists who are seriously looking for a break from the artificiality and clamour of cities. A Bagan Bari (Rest House) located on the bank of the River Ichamati downs many exotic resorts built artificially. Tourists can go for a boat ride on the Ichamati River where the rural boatman might sing a melodious folk song that will let one feel nostalgic.
Dooars: The Gateway to Pure Tranquility
The grandeur of the ever charming Dooars has always been the centre of attraction of West Bengal tourism. Dooars is located 632 km north of Kolkata in the district of Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar. Eastern Himalaya stands at its northern outskirts and wide stretches of dense forests boast the ambiance of this bewildering getaway. The dense forest is interwoven with deep green tea gardens, magnetic streams rolling down the hills, exotic wildlife and cascading rivers which generate a soothing feel and invite the tourists to spend a long vacation in the lap of nature.
BUXA TIGER RESERVE: Way to Get Closer to Nature
A depository of elusive varieties of orchids and medicinal plants, Buxa Tiger Reserve is 150 km from Siliguri. One of the most fascinating places to visit in Dooars, the reserve forest is mainly located in Alipurduar sub-division of Jalpaiguri district and extends up to the international border of Bhutan. The alluring River Jayanti flows through the reserve forest. Buxa fort, Mahakaleshwar Temple, Mahakal Cave, Pukri Mai Pond are the major attractions of Buxa. A watchtower deep inside the jungle brings the opportunity of sighting the Bengal tiger, 3 varieties of pythons, wild elephants and many varieties of migratory birds.
Midnapore: A Quiet Retreat for Seclusion Lovers
Located at a distance of 139 km from the metro city Kolkata, Midnapore or Medinipur alone is capable of rejuvenating one’s strenuous mind. A number of historical remains, sea beaches, lakes and reserve forests present opportunities to spend time amidst the undisturbed natural splendor.
JUNEPUT: Refreshment on the Lap of Mother Nature
Spending a few hours on the sea beach of Juneput will be of great value. The beach is only 40 km from Digha in Midnapore district and attracts those visitors who want to enjoy the vacation in an isolated place. Wide stretches of this sparsely crowded beach is mainly lined with Casuarina trees and enhance its scenic view.
Purulia: The Land of Bewildering Greenery
A picture perfect getaway on the far western district of West Bengal, Purulia is a sleepy village located at a distance of around 250 km from Kolkata. Incredible green coating over its undulating hills, century-old remains of forts and palaces and age-old temples mesmerize the tourists in search of peace and tranquillity. Chau dance is the pride of this district.
AYODHYA HILL: Abode of Untouched Forest
An ideal retreat to captivate the senses of forest lovers Ayodhya Hills is located on the boundary of Purulia District and Jharkhand at a distance of 40 km Purulia Railway station. The hill is around 700 m high and the winding path leading to the top of the hill offers sites of charming lush green vegetation. Beginners can take up mountaineering or rock climbing to make their vacation more interesting. Freshwater springs and streams rolling down are a real feast for the eyes.
Bankura: Where the Environment is painstakingly painted by Nature Goddess
A popular hotspot for tourists seeking peace and tranquillity, Bankura is a small city in West Bengal. Located at a distance of around 172 km from the mainland Kolkata this tourist spot presents oodles of attractions starting from temples to stunning natural view. The district constitutes a part of the eastern Chhota Nagpur Plateau and is bejewelled with scattered streams, small hills and remains of age old monuments.
MUKUTMANIPUR: Necklace of Kangsabati River
55 km from the central town of Bankura, Mukutmanipur draws the attention of the tourists towards the beautiful necklace like dam constructed at the confluence of River Kansabati and River Kumari. An undulating greenery enriched terrain runs along the southern edge of the Kansabati Water Reservoir. Cobalt freshwater body is lined with an emerald green landscape which mesmerizes the lovers of serenity.
Darjeeling: Head to Explore the Unheard Attractions
Being in the limelight for its manicured tea gardens, undulating terrains, and salubrious weather, Darjeeling is popularly known as Hill Queen of Bengal. Avid travellers know about Darjeeling very well and chances are high that the hill queen has mesmerised not only local but global tourists as well. So, I am sure they will not consider Darjeeling as an offbeat getaway until I propose the names.
LEPCHAJAGAT: Peace Lovers’ Paradise
19 km from Darjeeling, at an altitude of 6956 ft, Lepchajagat justifies its name presenting matchless natural beauty. Home to a couple of indigenous species of animals and birds this tranquil land offers the best views of all the five peaks of Kanchenjunga. Witnessing sunrise at dawn is an extraordinary experience as the golden sunrays brighten up the five peaks covered with thick layers of snow. Ghoom Monastery, Jorepokhri, Mirik Lake, Kurseong are the major attractions near Lepchajagat.
SAMSING: A Landscape coloured with Green and Orange
An untouched rural corner in this district, Samsing is located at a distance of 82 km from Siliguri. The mid-altitude undulating hills of this village are coated with lush green tea gardens and dense forests are habited by small indigenous animals and birds. Exempted from the harmful effects of commercialisation, this sleepy village also serves as the gateway to the Neora Valley National Park which is 18 km from this village. The village is covered with bright orange orchards that boast the grandeur of its scenic view impeccably.
Nadia: The City Blessed with the Divine Presence of Sri Chaitanya
There are certain moments when the luxury of materialistic world appears fake and dull. Then a shattered mind seeks shelter at the feet of the supreme soul, often with blind faith and sometimes with a skeptical mind. But, Nadia district of West Bengal is such a destination that can make a restless mind calm and composed even if one is a non-believer. 123 km from Kolkata city, this sacred destination attracts a significant number of foreigners for housing the headquarters of Gaudiya Vaishnava belief, ISKCON temple.
KRISHNANAGAR: The Town of Clay Dolls
The ancient capital of the kingdom of Raja Krishnachandra, Krishnanagar is a culturally enriched town. This small city is known across the country for beautiful clay dolls. Mainly the dolls are made in a place called Ghurni in Krishnanagar. The Palace of Krishnangar glorifies the magnificent craft and architectural excellence of the artists of the bygone era. The palace is endowed with antiques of the bygone era.
Well! These are all about the places that emptied me of all superlatives while making a virtual tour through them. But, the soil of Bengal will never go barren of such unrecognised and lesser known places where a city escapist can look for retreat. The peace and tranquillity concealed in each of these places can easily overwhelm the opulence of luxurious resorts crafted with heartless bricks and jewels. Here the day starts with the sweet chirping of unknown birds instead of worlds’ most annoying sound of an alarm clock…morning does not mean reaching the metro station/bus stop before dot 8.39 in the morning…and the sun sets with a bright face without reminding us to wind up the assigned tasks before 6 ‘o’ clock in the evening.