Sometimes we prefer a weekend trip with old friends, being unshackled, childish and naïve, instead of going out for a weeklong tour in a group of family members. Such kind of short trips recharge ourselves, when we do get tired of urban life. So when one my old school friend Anjan was toying with an idea of going on a weekend tour to Digha sea beach, I immediately consented, though we went to Digha for countless times. For those, who yet not know about Digha, I would like to mention that Digha sea beach faces Bay of Bengal, comes under Dist. East Midnapure, WB.
The area, where we find Digha in modern era, was once named as Beerkul in British India. Warren Hastings described the area as “Brighton of the East”. An English businessman John Frank Snaith used to live here in 1923. Later, after independence, he pursued the then West Bengal Chief Minister Dr.Bidhan Chandra Roy, the maker of modern Bengal, to develop this place as a beach resort. The good result of the endeavour and far sightedness is evident today. Inspite of beaches like Mandarmanai, Shankarpur and Tajpur, which are not far off from Digha, still today it enjoys unparallel popularity, as compared to any other sea beach in WB.
LOCATION AND ACCESS
But why to go to Digha again? It is the most popular sea beach near Kolkata. Being less than 190 km from the pandemonium of the metro, it takes apprx. 3 hr-3hr 30 mnt by three express trains running daily from Howrah (Tamralipta Exprs-12858, Duronto-12848 and Kandari Exprs-18002) and less than 5 hours – if one prefers the road journey. Plenty of Govt and private non-AC and AC busses do ply daily from Kolkata and other places of South Bengal to Digha. But we wanted to see the place, after it has been given a new look by the administration in recent past.
While going by car/bus through Bombay road (NH-6), after crossing Rupnarayan river (Kolaghat bridge), one has to take diversion from Nandakumar, then to Narghat bridge to Kanthi to Chaulkhola (for going to Mandarmani, take left turn from here) to Balisai (for going to Tajpur, take left turn from here) to Ramnagar then to Digha.
On 31st of October 2015, Anjan and I started from Garia (Kolkata) by Govt AC bus service at 7.10 am. Fare was Rs.360/- per head. Though it was a weekend and slight overcast with less humidity and pleasant temperature, but the AC bus was less than 50% filled up.On way, we made a small stopover at Kolaghat to have morning snacks. Just say, 1 km before old Digha, we crossed the newly made Biswa Bangla gate. Then we reached Digha at 1.15 pm. We put ourselves up at Hotel Tilla Villa at old Digha, which was within 5 minutes’ walk from the beach. Tariff was Rs.900/- for double bedded AC room, after considering off season discount. Immediately we went to the beach. The sky was cloudy and gloomy. There were many hutments in the beach who were selling freshly fried fish and beverage. You can choose raw fish from the stock they were having and order them for making the fry. Many tourists were having hot fried fish and green cocoanut water. We took more than one hour long bath. After a long time, we had such kind of bath and enjoyed like a young boy.
Hotel Tilla Villa is situated at the top of a tilla. The hotel had their own restaurant down the tilla. We took a complete Bengali cuisine with prawn malaikari and mustered Hilsa with other regular dishes. We ate beyond our capacity due to extra appetite arising out of sea bath and had an automatic nap after the late voluminous lunch. In the evening, we walked along the beach. A new walkway from old Digha towards New Digha has been made, which was fully illuminated. At many places, mini sound boxes were hanging from lamp posts, which were generating pleasant music for entertainment of tourists. A safe, aesthetic and enjoyable atmosphere was prevalent, supervised well by local administration. Within half an hour, drizzling started. We had to walk fast to get into our hotel. Gradually, the downpour turned into a heavier one. It was already 8pm. We sat in the half round shaped veranda facing the road and put the lights off. We played some timeless classic compositions of R.D.Burman inside our room, kept the door of our room slightly open and started enjoying the atmosphere. It rained for more than an hour and put the temperature further down. The silence of the rainy night uttered a lot to us. Sound of crickets, sound of falling raindrops on tree leaves and roar of waves coming from the distant beach overwhelmed our heart. We submerged into the musical heaven created by God for a pretty long time. Thereafter, we had light dinner and went into the world of dreams after the memorable day.
Next day morning we made it sure to have the sea bath in the morning. We visited the sea beach in the early morning, had pleasant morning walk and local tea. At 8 o’ clock, when we were getting into the sea, no tourist was there. Those, who arrived early in the morning to see the sunrise, already returned. There were no local photographer, no hawker, nobody else. Only some fishermen were pulling their boat from the sea into the beach, after completing their fishing trip. Once they departed, we became absolutely alone. So we decided not to wait for tourists, but to start taking bath. It was a repeat show of yesterday with childish enjoyment. Had there been any of our family members with us, the ecstasy would have been limited. So we had it full and then returned to hotel. We had breakfast and went out for local trip.
It was partly cloudy partly sunny day. At old Digha sea beach, a small park has come up recently with the Biswa Bangla theme. The famous Biswa Bangla icon with the globe was installed inside the park, surrounded a by fountain. Entire area was stone covered with touch of greenery here and there. It looked very nice amidst world of sand. This park was not there earlier, which surely enhanced the grace of the beach. We visited the beach shops who sell from mementos to books/maps to dry fruits everything. Bhelpuri, local Jhalmuri and tea were there for the tourists alongwith hot fried veg pakoras.
From the beach we went inside the town and booked our return bus ticket. Then went to new Digha by local rickshaw van (fare Rs.40/- for both of us). These types of vans are abundant in Digha, which is an improved version of a cycle rickshaw seen in old cities. Auto rickshaws and Totos (battery operated silent rickshaw) were also available. Distance between old Digha and new Digha is apprx. 2 km. We went straight to Amaravati Park, as other tourist attractions, like the famous aquarium [The Marine Aquarium and Research Centre (MARC)] was under repair and science museum was closed that day.
Entry fee at Amaravati Park was only Rs.5/- per head. It was a small park, but completely green with variety of flora and fauna. There were separate enclosures for birds and rabbits on one side with a lake at the centre of the park. We took a paddle boat at Rs.40/- for both of us for 25 minutes. We boated across the lake, went through the bottom of a wooden pool and finished the trip safely. As nothing else was to be done, so went back to our hotel. We had another elaborate lunch and caught our bus to Kolkata. It was a trouble free, nice and refreshing trip which will be remembered by us.
For lodging purpose, there are plenty of hotels of different grade available at both old Digha and new Digha. Tourists can also try Digha Tourist Lodge (phone no.03220-266255), run by West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.
A suggestion : Those who intend to make a visit to Digha, can consider for a 3 day trip to cover following areas, that are not far off.
Lord Shiva Temple at Chandaneswar
Only 8 km away from Digha the century old Temple of Lord Shiva at Chandaneswar, near Bengal and Orissa Border. Nearly half million people and pilgrims visit the temple at Maha Vishuva Sankranti or Gajan Mela towards the end of Chaitra. Tourists, who do not bring their own vehicle, can avail auto / Toto service.
Udaipur, West Bengal
This is a spectacular beach, almost virgin, 2 km west of Digha, in West Bengal Orissa Border. One part of this clandestine beach is in West Bengal and the other in Orissa. One enters this beach just walking or driving along Bengal-Orissa border. This beach has not been explored so far. The vegetation, typical of slopes in Eastern Ghats and the great Casuarina atmosphere, makes this beach, a one of a kind experience. The nearby delta, where the mighty Subarnarekha merges into the Bay of Bengal, is an additional attraction.
The name Talasari is derived from the two words Tal (meaning Palm) and Sari (meaning row). The palm trees surrounding the place give such a name to it. Talasari is one of the less exploited West Bengal beaches. Talsari is located close to both the Subarnarekha river and the sea. It is some 6 km from Digha, near the Orissa-Bengal border and is a small delta. The Talsari beach is not as frequently visited by the people as Digha. The waters of the sea at Talsari beach are not turbulent but calm and peaceful.
Shankarpur is a beach village in East Medinipur district of West Bengal, about 185 km from Kolkata. Shankarpur, is a virgin beach as yet. It is a twin beach of Digha, around 14 km from Digha, along the Digha-Kanthi Road. Shankarpur has to its credit all the advantages of Digha, minus the crowd. Casuarina groves by the side of a gentle sea and good climate round the year make it a popular beach destination.
Junput is 40 km. from Digha by bus, with a change at Contai. The place offers beautiful sea-view and lines of casuarina trees. The beach is unspoilt. Brackish water fish cultivation and research are done here by the State Government Fisheries Department. After independence, Junput was overlooked for development as a beach resort, Digha being chosen instead. Later, Junput was harnessed for scientific research and industry. A centre for studies in marine biology is the nucleus for the area’s sea-fish research and shark oil extraction. Junput also has a farm for breeding ducks.