Best places to visit:
SAGAR MELA AT SAGAR ISLAND : (Ganga Sagar)
Sagar Mela is the famous festival in Sagar Island. At this time, the isolated island becomes the centre of attraction. Preparations are started one month in advance. Temporary reed huts and shops are set up over 3 acres of land. The festival is held at the time of Makar Sankranti and the mela is formed on the coastal premises adjoining the temple, seven days before and after the Sankranti. Lakhs of pilgrims from all over India come to bathe in the water at this special day—to take a dip in the water at the point where Ganga meets the sea, in the dawn on Makar Sankranti. Bathing at this point is considered as holy as performing an Ashwamedh Yajna. At this time Govt. takes care of the pilgrims. Temporary tourist colony, hospital, drinking water and sewage systems are specially built by them. Govt. also takes some mandatory precautionary measures to check the unwanted occurrences among the lakhs of pilgrims. During the fair, inoculation and cholera vaccination certifications are to be produced by the people at the check-post. At this time, lights of power-generator are available at Sagar from 1800 to 22-00. The Light House and Panchali of Sagardwip and the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram at Manasadwip may also be visited from here.
However, the island is also famous for the Ashram of Kapil Muni. Earlier, the Ashram was located at the confluence. The sage meditated here and attained fulfilment. For this reason, the island became a religious pilgrims centre. The name of this island was also mentioned in Puranas. It says that the 13th forefather of Ramachandra, the king Ayodhya, Sagar, prepared the 100th Ashwamedh Yajna at this place. But, Devraj Indra captured his Yajna horse, out of jealousy and tied it in Kapil Muni’s Ashram. King Sagar sent his 60,000 sons to search the horse and they found it in the Ashram, assuming that the sage was the culprit. They abused him and disturbed his meditation. This made the sage angry and he cursed the 60,000 sons by turning them to ashes. Then Ganga came down to the earth in seven streams from the heavenly abode and freed those sons from the curse by making them alive. Three stream namely Suchakshu, Sita and Sindhu are flowing to the east; Haldini, Purbani and Nandini are flowing to the west. And the main stream Ganga came to this place following Bhagirath and merged herself into the sea, after giving back lives to those cursed sons. However, the past Ashram of Kapil Muni does not exist today. Instead, a new temple has been built in 1973, at some distance from the seashore crossing the sand dunes. The deity of Kapil Muni, sitting in a posture of Yogic meditation, was brought from Mithila. His right hand is raised holding a rosary, while the left holds a kamandalu. To his right, four armed Goddess Ganga rides on the mythological Makar (an aquatic animal), with Bhagirath on her lap. To the right of the goddess veer Hanuman is there, holding a club in his hand on the left side of Kapil Muni is King Sagar. To the left of Sagar is light-armed goddess Vishalakshi riding on a lion and god Indra with his black ear horse. The priest of the temple is appointed by the Akhil Bharatiya Pancha Sree Ramanandiya Nirbahi Akhara of Ayodhya.
HOW TO REACH
- From Kolkata (128 km) CSTC, SBSTC, Surface Transport and private buses are available to reach However, all these buses reach either Kakdwip or Namkhana. From there one has to cross the river to reach Sagardwip. During the Mela, special arrangements are made for crossing the tourists from Namkhana and Kakdwip. There are also arrangements of special buses from Kolkata’s Outram Ghat and Howrah Station.
BAICKHALI : 132 K.M. from Kolkata
Situated on the Southern bank of the Bay of Bengal, amidst green tamarisk grove, Bakhali is the second sea-resort of West Bengal. The calm and quiet atmosphere is really attractive during the Sun and the Moon. However, this beautiful beach is only to enjoy the natural beauty, sea-bathing like Digha is not safe here because of stumps of trees, lack of sand and sticky soil. But, one should visit the place to take a charming view of the mangrove forest, which starts after the tamarisk grove. There are also other things to watch at Bakhali. One of them is a datepalm tree with 16 shoots in a single trunk, which stands still to the right of the bus stand. Apart from that, there are temples of the goddess Ganga, Goddess Vishalakshi on tiger and Banbibi (Goddess of forest) in the wooded Amarabati village. One may also visit the reserved forest area and Engine canal by crossing the bridge behind the bus stand. Since, the place is not much favourite among the tourists, the Bakkhali Development Authority has been formed to develop the place. However, the pleasant atmosphere of Bakkhali is ideal for a short vacation.
2 km away from Bakkhali, Frazerganj is the twin-beach of Bakkhali. Earlier, the place was called Narayanitala. Andrew Frazer, the then Deputy Governor General of Bengal, fell in love with this island and hence, it was renamed as Frazerganj after the name of Mr. Frazer. He took the initiative to turn this place into a sea resort and health resort. One may visit the ruins of his bungalow, to the left of the beach, towards Bakkhali, However, the shops, roads and health resort are no more today, everything has been lost in the sea. Still the place may be visited because of the attractive beach and pleasant atmosphere. Red hermit crabs are also visible on the beach. The fishing harbour at hay market and the temple of Goddess Ganga are also noteworthy.
On the S-West of Bakkhali, Jambudwip is a small and isolated island amidst turbulent waves of blue water, with plenty of natural beauty all around. In the lush green forest of this island, hetal mangrove etc; different types of wild animals like wild boar, cheetal, sambar, chausinga and various snakes like Sankhamuti, Karatiya, Cobra, Gokshura, Pythone etc. are seen. A wide range of birds is also noteworthy. On the beach, numerous red hermit crabs are seen. During Oct to Jan the island becomes the colony of fishermen. Dried fish are also processed here. The temple of goddess Vishalakshi and Banbibi are also there. A little away, the abandoned Light House may also be visited. From bakkhali, one may reach Jambudwip by motor boat.
HOW TO REACH
- The nearest railway station is at Namkhana (25 km). From Kolkata, Sealdah Lakshmikantapur-Kakdwip-Namkhana local trains are available for Bakkhali.
- Bakkhali is 130 km away from Kolkata and 82 km away from Diamond Harbour. From Kolkata, CSTC and SBSTC buses are available for Namkhana. From there, crossing the Hatania – Doania river by boat, from the other side by a private bus or trekker Bakkhali may be reached.
SUNDARBAN NATIONAL FOREST
Names after the ubiquitous `Sundari’ trees found there in large numbers, Sundarban is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The forest covers around 10,000 sq. km. of which a major portion is in Bangladesh, while the Indian Portion is estimated at around 4264 sq. km. The area was declared as Protected Forest in 1878 and as Reserve Forest in 1928. Apart from being a unique largest Mangrove ecosystem of the world, the Sundarban has the world’s largest deltaic mangrove forest and is also home to the famous Royal Bengal Tigers along with a variety of birds, reptiles and invertebrate species, including the salt-water crocodiles. Formed by the confluence of the three, rivers — The Ganga, The Bramhaputra and The Meghna — The Sundarbans are a parts of the world’s largest delta situated on the lower end of West Bengal. It is also the world’s Largest estuarine forest criss-crossed by hundreds of creeks and tributaries, intersected by a network of tidal waterways, small island of salt-tolerant mangrove forests and mudflats. The interconnected network of waterways makes almost every corner of the forest accessible by boats or rafts. The forest was declared as one of the first nine Tiger Reserve under the Project Tiger scheme in 1973. A part of the Tiger Reserve was approved as the `Sajnekhali wildlife Sanctuary’ having an area of 362.33 sq. km in 1976. The core area of the Tiger Reserve was declared as the Sundarban National Park in 1984 and the National Park area was procured as a Natural World Heritage site in 1987. The Sundarban Biosphere Reserve was recognised as a Global Biosphere Reserve in 2001. The forest has also been enlisted amongst the finalists in the New 7 wonders of nature. The temperature here is between 33°C and 20°C. Monsoon cruises are spectacular here. A large variety of flora and fauna are available in the forest. There are 64 species of plants, which are able to survive in estuarine, conditions and saline inundation on account of tidal effects. Among them the most common are -Hetal, Genwa, Dhundul, Kankra, Champa, Garan, Garjan, Keora, Golpati, Sundari trees. In this dense forest a large number of tigers, Fishing cats, Chitals, Wild-boars, water monitors, estuarine crocodiles etc. reside. Some endangered species like River Terrapin, Olive Ridley Turtles, Gangetic Dolphins, Ground Turtles, Hawks Bill Turtles, King Crabs etc. have also found shelter in the forest. Apart from these, a large variety of birds, fishes and reptiles are also available here. But most popular of them The Royal Bengal Tigers, which are only found in the Sundarbans. Usually they are man eaters and can swim in the saline waters. More than 250 tigers are inhabited in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve. November to March is the Best season to visit this National Park.
HOW TO REACH
- The nearest aireport is the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport at
Kolkata (112 Km). From Kolkata, Sunderban can be reached in 3 hours by in 2 hours by boat.
- The nearest railway station is at Canning (48 km). From Sealdah (south) local trains to Canning are available at regular intervals. It takes 1½ hours. From Canning, shared vans are available to reach Godhkhali Jetty, the starting point of the boat journey to the
- From Kolkata, buses are available for Namkhana (105 Km), Sonakhali (100 km), Raidighi (76 Km), Canning (64 Km) and Najat (92 km), which are all nearest the Sundarbans and have easy access to waterways.
- One can also hire a cruise in the riverine waterways from different places covering different stretches like Namkhana – Bhagabatpur – Crocodile Project – Sagar Island – Jambudwip; from Sajnelthali – Sudhnyakhali – Buridabri – Netidhopani – Holiday Island; from Sonakhali – Gosaba; from Raidighi – K
WHAT TO SEE
Sajnekhali Watch Tower :
- Sajnekhali is the Head Office of the Forest Permission to enter the Sundarban Tiger Reserve is required to be obtained from here. The Sajnekhali watch tower is the most popular among all watch towers because of its proximity to most of the resorts in the Sundarban area. The watch tower has the capacity to host 20 persons at a time. From this tit tower, one can have a close look the wild life.Therc is also a Crocodile nd. Tortoise pond, Kamm Pond, a Impost Interpretation centre, a Rano -hi Temple and a Nature Observatory ire in the Sajnekhali ‘watchtower plcx. The Sajnekhali sanctuary is for its rich bird population. A variety of birds like seven colourful of the kingfisher, white bellied sea le. Plovers. Lap-wings. Curfews. rel Sandpipers and the creassional are viewed In the sanctuary. The Bengal Tourism Departments ration’s Tourist Lodge is also at Sajnekhali. Ph (03218) 214 09732509925, Price D/B Its 1400. Booking Tourism Centre. 3/2 Bag, Ku – 1, Ph – (033) 2243 7260. 2659. The Bird Sanctuary of is located between Pecchkhali ti Rivers. It is Possibly the only ere tourists can take a walk. ‘4-s of land without any anyakhali Watch Tower : place worth visiting is the watch tower on the hank Sudhanyalthali, 45 nuns away ali. One may rake a dose most of the tigers from this tower. r wildlife like axis Jeers, wild crocodiles may also he seen -watch towers. In the middle of pint below the watch tower. water pond where animais thitk water. Behind the pond where one can sight animals This watch tower has a ion 25 persons at a time.
- Tower . This Watch .me with a unique nguildlile from its
- canopy walk. This canopy walk is about 112 km long and at a height of about 20 ft. from the ground. There is also a sweet water pond and chiral deer as well as Brahmin’ Kites are very often sighted here apart from the liger.
- Netidhopani Watch Tower : This is another in the series of seven,’ watduowers and is associated with the legend of Behula and Lakhindar. Legend has it that BehuLt• while accompanying her dead husband on his last journey on the boat, was passing the bank of what is now called Netidhopani, saw an interesting thing. A woman was washing clothes and a child was continually disturbing her. Annoyed, she sprinkled some water on the boy and he became lifeless. The woman finished her work and then again sprinkled some water on the boy, chanting some mantras. to bring him back to lifc. Behula felt her ro he the one who could bring her husband back to life. She reached the bank and asked the lady (Netidhopani) to teach her the verses. The lady was instrumental in bringing hack her husband’s life. In fact Behula reached heaven from this Chat. Toclay this watch tower of one a view of die ruins of a 400 year old Shiva Temple. It is also believed that Mere is a road on the exneme right of the forest which was built by King Pradapaditya to guard the coastal arca. However, it is now covered with earth. There is also a sweet water pond. This watch tower has a capacity to host 20 persons at a time.
- Buridabri Watch Tower : The Buridabri Camp is famous for its watchtower, a mud walk and mangrove age trail leading to a viewpoint known as Rainumg.d View Point. This Watch tower has a capacity to host 10 persons at a time. Apart from these watch lowers, there arc also Haldibari, Choragajikhali Watch’t’owers at Sundarban.
- Kalasdwip s Covering an area of 24845 acres, Kalasdwip, the kingdom of tigers, is the last island of the Thahrun river way. near the Bay of Bengal. This island can be reached after crossing the river Vidya and Matta. Apart from the tigers, Kalas is also the nestling place of the Olive ridley turtles. A sweet water lake Is there to quench the thirst of the tigers. The sunrise and Sunset are also very beautiful at Kalasdwip. Sundarban biosphere reserve has arranged to stay in tents. 31/2 hrs. from )(alas and 51/2 hrs from Canning. on the water ways, there is a watch tower at Bonny Eco Camp. For night stay there is an ethnic cottage, price Rs. 800 suite (Bohol. Goran, Hetal) each is 750, 10 bedded Dotmi Rs. 100 each. AB: Forest Officer. South 24 Pa rganas, 12 Biplabi Kanai Bhattacharya Sam’, 5th floor, Kol – 27. Ph (033) 24799032. to the right is a magnificienc sand dune, ideal for Plauc Holiday Island : On the N-East of Kalasdwip, is situated the Reserve Forest on the Holiday Island. Covering an area of 5.95 sq km, this island is famous as It is the last retreat of Barking Deer in India.
- Gosaba: An early settlement colonized by Sir Daniel Hamilton, Gosaba was the ideal village of the past. In 1916, Sir Hamilton started a Co-operative as village uplift *gramme in Gosaba. From Gosaba Ferryghat, 3 kms away by van rickshaw is the Pakhiralay Village. From
- there, not so very far is Tushar Kanjilars Ranybelia, an Ideal village of the Tagorts1 Society for Rural Development. The daily activities of the village are going on by co-op system. Different types of co-op, products are to be bought from their sales; counter. Accomodation is available at their Guest House. There are also this Bunglows of Bacon Sahib at Gosaba and Hamiltongunj. Bhagabatpur Situated 20 buns by water from Namkhana Bhagabatpur is famous for having a breeding farm for Estuarine , crocodiles and gharials. In this crocodile project, one can have a look at the crocodile from their egg stage to hatching to 3-4 years old. A fisheries Project is also there at Dhanchi Forest, Shrimp Cultivation is taking place on these island. To visit the crocodile project, Passenger motorboats are available from Namkhana. During the winter holidays these boats are frequently available,
- Sundari Kati Eco-tourism Centre : 30 km away from Bhagabatpur, one may reach Sundari Kati Eco-tourism Centre through the mangrove forest. Watch tower is also there. In the museum, one can know about Sundarban through its picture and writings.
- Lothian Island : This island, 38 sq. kms in area, is situated on the banks of the river Saptamuldil. The prime attraction of this island is the Sca Crocodiles. In the Mangrove Botanical Garden ofthis is island bine, keora, garan etc. trees and chiral, wild boar and migratory blatant available. From Namkhana, one may reach Lothian by the Patharpratinta water transport. Known as the gateway to Asps, Piyali Is about 72 kiss from by road and is close to Saptekhall. ‘timpani and Sudhanyakhali by . , The Piyali river flows through en paddy fields and joins river A dani is here on Piyali River. yos 20 tuns away from Canning, by or motor boat, on the bank of river Isthe beautifid place Dabu, Shaded amarinds, Coconut. Paint, Babla, lypt IL% trees. There is the egation ow to stay at Dabu.