About weekend getaways from Kolkata
Kolkata, or the City of Joy as it is more popularly known, is the second largest city in India and the capital city of West Bengal. The city’s historical colleges, Victorian architecture and beautiful gardens have won the hearts of many visitors, time and again. Kolkata is also India’s third-most populous city and pollution is a major concern for its residents. If you’re looking for some quality time away from the hustle and bustle of Kolkata, do check out the getaways on your list – you’re sure to find something that suits your tastes, budget and interests like none other.
Famous for its several terracotta temples and signature Baluchari saris, Bishnupur’s artistic legacy dates back to the 17th Century. Most of the temples were constructed during the reign of the Malla kings, and are known for their exquisite architecture and design. The town also has other attractions of historic significance, including Rasmancha – a pyramid brick structure where deities from the other temples are brought during the Rasa festival and Dalmadal Canon that purportedly protected the town from Maratha looters. Bishnupur is also known for its rich classical music tradition, and concerts are conducted regularly here. Before you leave, make sure to shop for the Bankura terracotta horse, which is an emblem of the state’s thriving handicrafts sector.
Located in the neighbouring state of Orissa, Chandipur is a sea resort town that is best known for its unusual tidal activity – the water recedes up to 5 km during the ebb tide, spawning a rich and diverse ecosystem in this region. Expect to bump into horseshoe crabs when the sea recedes. Not too far away is Balaramgadhi, where the Buribalam River meets the sea. In addition to its glorious sights, Chandipur is known for its affordable and extensive seafood.
An immersive trip to the Sunderbans – West Bengal’s vast tidal mangrove forest – ranks high on the wish list of just about every Nature lover. If you are eager to explore the many species of flora and fauna that are indigenous to these wetlands, look no further than the Sunderbans National Park, located in Southeast Bengal. The sanctuary is one of the largest reserves for Bengal tigers and is home to several bird, reptile and animal species, including saltwater crocodiles, foxes, leopards, Olive Ridley turtles and crocodiles, who you can meet while on an exciting jungle safari. The park also has a number of snakes including pythons, king cobras, rat snakes and kraits. Other popular locations for wildlife spotting include Hiron Point, Tin Kona Island, Kanak and Holiday Island. In addition to wildlife, you can also view several historic sites at the Sunderbans, including Netidhopani’s 400 year-old temple, and interact with the locals to understand their way of life.
This town is most famous for being the location for Viswa Bharati – the university founded by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Over the years, the university has produced several prominent personalities – former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and economist Amartya Sen are among its alumni. Visitors to Shantiniketan must stop by the Rabindra Bhaban Museum that contains several original manuscripts, letters, documents, medals and certificates belonging to the university’s founder. The frescoes and sculptures by Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Binode Bihari Mukherjee around Kala Bhavana are very impressive. Shop for cloth, leather, batik and handloom souvenirs at the Amar Kutir and view natural sculptures made of driftwood, dry wood and rocks at Prakriti Bhavan, India’s only Nature Art museum. Try to visit during the Poush Mela in December, which is celebrated in Shantiniketan with exquisite cultural performances.