10 Weekend Destinations Near Kolkata That Aren’t As Bad As You Think

Most people think that travel destinations in Bengal are very limited to either the beaches or the hills of Darjeeling. What they are unaware of is that the State has a number of destinations offering diverse interests that are perfect for weekend trips and getaways. Wondering where to travel to from Kolkata to spend your weekend holiday? Here are some destinations that you may look out for to plan your upcoming weekend trip.

1. Kulik Bird Sanctuary

Kulik Bird Sanctuary
Inside Kulik Bird Sanctuary now known as Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary; Picture Courtesy – Flickr

The second largest bird sanctuary of India is situated on the banks of the Kulik river, a tributary of the Mahananda river near Raiganj, 73 km from Malda district. Thousands of species of birds from South-East Asia migrate here to build their nests and breed between July – October. This vast water body extending over an area of 140.22 acres is a paradise for birding. In 1985, this sanctuary has been entitled as Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary.

How to Reach:

Radhikapur Express departs from Kolkata Terminal around 7 pm in the evening and reaches Raiganj at 5 am next morning. Kulik is only 3 km from Raiganj which can be reached by taking a rickshaw. There are also a lot of trains from Howrah and Sealdah that go via Malda. Get down at Malda and hire a car to reach Kulik (73 km). There are also buses from Kolkata to Raiganj.

Where to Stay:

There are many private hotels apart from West Bengal Tourism Department’s Raiganj Tourist Lodge, North Dinapur Zilla Parishad Bungalow and Sech Daptar Bungalow.

2. Garpanchkot

Garpanchkot scenery
The green hills of Garpanchkot; Picture Courtesy – Flickr

Garpanchkot is a testimony to the reign of Panchkot dynasty of ancient East India. Ravaged by time, the remains of various historical sites, temples and fort showcasing the ancient sculpture and architectural style are worth visiting. The dilapidated Pancharatna Temple holds an interesting similarity with the temples of Bishnupur. The scenic beauty of the place surrounded with serene green hills is a wonderful plus point of this place.

How to Reach:

There are a number of trains from Howrah and Kolkata Terminal to reach Kumardoobi station. From here, hire a car or an auto rickshaw to go to Garpanchkot, 20 km from Kumardoobi. You can also hire a car from Kolkata and reach Garpanchkot by road via G.T. road.

Where to Stay:

Garpanchkot Forest Bungalow is a good option to stay that provides both AC and non-AC rooms. There are a few private hotels too.

3. Tajpur

Red Crabs at Tajpur beach; Picture Courtesy – Tajpurabijit

An amazing tranquil beach with tawny sand, beautiful sea view, attractive forests of ‘jhau’ trees or coastal she-oak trees, series of colourful fishing boats and swarms of red crabs nestled far from the maddening crowds and noises of Digha, Shankarpur, Udaipur and Mandarmani. Adventure water sports are also available like parasailing, river crossing, coastal cycling, paragliding, kayaking, rafting, etc. There are no hotels exactly on the beachside. Hotels, guest houses, lodges are all built a few steps away to give the tourists an amazing walkway through the ‘jhau’ forests to the beach.

How to Reach:

You can get trains from Howrah to get down at Ramnagar station. From here, you can hire a car to reach Tajpur. There are bus service to Digha as well from Kolkata. If you take a bus journey, then you will have to get down at Balishai and then hire a car to Tajpur. The journey can also be very convenient if you hire a car from Kolkata itself. Just before Balishai, take a left turn from Alampur Fisheries More to reach Tajpur, just 5 km away.

Where to Stay:

There are numerous hotels and resorts in Tajpur. Some good options would be Sonar Bangla, Tajpur Nature Camp, Lake View Hotel, Resort Green Earth and Tajpur Retreat.

4. Piyali Island

Piyali Island
The serene Piyali river at Piyali Island; Picture Courtesy – Tirtha’s Travel Blog

This is a popular weekend destination located in South 24 Parganas, about 75 km from Kolkata. Piyali is also known as the gateway to the Sunderbans. The small river Piyali forms a confluence with the Matla river here. It’s a great place to hang out with your buddies amidst the wild. Take a boat ride to Jharkhali and enjoy the wildlife from the watchtower. Go angling and make the most of the trip.

How to Reach:

It’s best to take the journey by road from Kolkata. The road goes through Baruipur-Gocharan-Dhosa. It takes about 2.30 hours to reach Piyali.

Where to Stay:

There is a resort and a tourist lodge in Piyali.

5. Bakkhali

The beautiful tranquil beach of Bakkhali; Picture courtesy – CrossIndia Tourism

For sea lovers and those who are looking for a quiet respite over a weekend, Bakkhali is now a rage. The sea is very tranquil on this side without its typical big waves. It’s a nice place to opt for if you want to spend some time away from the maddening crowds. You can walk through the beach and reach Fraserganj, 2 km away. The fish harbour of Fraserganj is a must-watch. Fish auctions are carried on throughout the day. The harboured fishing boats with colourful sails create a beautiful sight in the backdrop of the sea. Don’t forget to appease your taste buds with the sea food delicacies at Benfish in Fraserganj. From Fraserganj, adventure lovers can also go on to take a boat trip to Jambudwip. Apart from the beach, other places of interest can be the nature park, Ganga Mandir, Banbibi Mandir, Bishalakkhi temple and the infamous Henry Island.

How to Reach:

Bakkhali is well connected by road from Kolkata. There are bus services from Esplande to Bakkhali and the journey takes approx. 5 hours. Buses from Dharmatala are also available but till Namkhana. From Namkhana, one will have to cross the Hataniya-Doaniya river and then again avail a bus to reach to Bakkhali. Local trains to Namkhana are available throughout the day from Sealdah and it’s the most cost-effective transport. However, the most convenient way to travel to Bakkhali would be to hire a car from Kolkata.

Where to Stay:

West Bengal Tourism Department’s Bakkhali Tourist Lodge near Bakkhali bus-stand and the beach is a good option to stay. There are also many private hotels and lodges.

6. Baranti

The mesmerising Baranti; Picture Courtesy – Flickriver

For a different kind of experience amidst small hillocks and hamlets of ‘Adivasis’ or tribals, head off to Baranti. The river Baranti on which the Ramchandrapur Dam is built passes alongside the tribal hamlet. With green hillocks, red coloured soil, dense forests of Mahua (Madhuca longifolia), Sal and Sishu around, this place provides a picturesque frame. For those acquainted with Satyajit Ray’s film, “Hirok Rajar Deshe”, Baranti is sacred because the shooting took place in Joychandi hill, 21 km from Baranti. Explore the hamlet, the lifestyle and handicrafts of the tribals, visit the sericulture farm in Raghunathpur (19 km), Joychandi hill, Panchet hill (12 km), Panchet Dam (22 km), Kashipur Rajbari or Palace (30 km), Susunia hills (30 km) and the Chhinnamasta Temple near Muradi. Baranti is also a great place for birding.

How to Reach:

Get down at Asansol via trains from Howrah or Sealdah. From Asansol, take a train to Adra and get down at Muradi. From Muradi, hire a car or a rickshaw to reach Baranti. There is also Adra-Chakradharpur passenger train from Kolkata Terminal which reaches Adra early morning. From Adra, you will have to take a local train to Muradi and reach Baranti as stated above.

Where to Stay:

Two best options are Baranti Wildlife & Nature Study Hut and Akashmani Resort near the Dam.

7. Bankiput

Sunset at Bankiput beach; Picture courtesy – Rupasi Bangla

Want to experience the appearance and disappearance of the sea? Sounds weird? Go to Bankiput to believe. Amidst the windy encounters of the ‘Jhauforests with the quiet beach, the hide and seek of the sea during the tides is a pleasant welcome. The sight of enormous ships and fishing boats with colourful sails on the sea is magnificent from the uninhabited lighthouse of the British era which is located about half kilometre away from the resort. Visiting the remains of the historical Kapalkundala Temple is worth it. Take a rickshaw or a car to visit the site which is now under the management of the archaeological department of India. However, a replica of the dilapidated temple of Kapalkundala has been built at the entrance of the village. Get a beautiful view of the entire area from Dariyapur Lighthouse. A few distance from the lighthouse is the Deshapran Fishing Harbour of Petuaghat from where boats and trollers to Bakkhali are available.

How to Reach:

Hire a car from Kolkata to Bankiput via Junput. By rail, you can take a train to Digha and get down at Contai station from where you have to hire a car to reach Bankiput.

Where to Stay:

Very few hotels with basic and inadequate amenities are available at Bankiput. You may consider staying at Jhinuk Residency. However, keep your staying expectations low to enjoy your Bankiput trip.

8. Bishnupur

The terracotta temples of Bishnupur; Picture Courtesy – West bengal Tourism

Bishnupur requires no introduction because it is popularly known for its ancient terracotta temples. These beautiful temples are scattered throughout the town and are still capable of leaving you awe-struck with their magnificence and craftsmanship. The main temples of interest are Madanmohan Temple, Radhagobinda Temple, Jorbangla Temple, Shyamroy Temple and Radhamadhab Temple. Another significant thing to see here is the Dolmadol Cannon, which according to folklore and belief, was used by the deity Madanmohan to sway away the Bargi invasions. The amazing art work on the wall of the pyramid-structured ‘Rasmancha’ is splendid. The creation of the popular Baluchari sarees is also another point of attraction. Visiting Panchmura village is worth mentioning for it is famous globally for its terracotta art.

How to Reach:

Trains from Howrah and Shalimar to Bishnupur are available. The journey can be commenced by road as well. The distance from Kolkata to Bishnupur is 132 km.

Where to Stay:

Numerous private hotels are there to stay put. Apart from private hotels, Bengal Government’s Bishnupur Tourist Lodge is safe bait.

9. Murshidabad

The biggest Imambara in Bengal; Picture Courtesy – Group Outing

This historical city still attracts a lot of tourists across the globe. The city of the Nawabs is best explored by riding a tonga. The infamous heritage site Hazarduari, designed by Sir Duncan MacLeod, is the premium attraction of this city. This city also has the biggest Imambara of Bengal, built under the patronage of Nawab Nazim Mansoor Ali in 1848. Visit Katra Mosque – the tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, Jahan Kosha cannon, the farmhouse of Jagat Seth also known as ‘Kathgola Bagan’, Nasipur Rajbari, the tomb of Azim un Nisa, the daughter of Murshid Quli Khan and the tombs of the Mir Zafar’s family at Jafarganj Makbara. Also worth visiting are some sites on the opposite bank of the river Bhagirathi like Shaktipeeth Kiriteshwari Temple, Charbungalow Temple of Rani Bhavani of Nator, the tomb of Siraj ud Daulla and Nawab Alivardi Khan at Khoshbag.

How to Reach:

Board a train to Murshidabad station from Sealdah. There are bus services from Dharmatala to take you to Baharampur from where you will have to take a car or rickshaw to reach Khoshbag (10 km).

Where to Stay:

Many private hotels are available.

10. Massanjore

The captivating Massanjore Dam; Picture Courtesy – IndiaMike

Surrounded with hills, greenery, and the mesmerising Mayurakshi river, Massanjore is a nice place to spend your weekend. The dam is built on the river between the two hills of Santhal Parganas in Jharkhand and is built touristy. Also worth visiting is Lampa, a hamlet inhabited by the tribals, the ancient Damodar temple and Tilpara Barrage. It’s perfect for those weekend getaways with your friends.

How to Reach:

By train, reach Siuri and then hire a car to Massanjore. Best option is to travel by car from Kolkata.

Where to Stay:

There is a youth hostel and for a comfortable stay, you can opt for Mayurakshi Bhavan.

So where are you heading to this weekend? Pack your bags and make your weekend memorable! Do you have some other weekend destinations in your bucket list? Do share in comments below.

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Creator & Writer at Mango Lady Diaries
Madhurima is a digital marketing specialist, editor and content marketer. She is also a published writer on the web. When she is not working, she is either travelling or writing her travel stories to share to the world. She believes in inspiring people to travel and shares her travel diary on her travel blog, mangoladydiaries.com.
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