Kolkata has a lot of places within the proximity of 4-5 hours that could be considered as ideal places, for thoroughly enjoying weekends with total peace of mind far away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded city. One of them is the Mandarmoni beach which is around 180 KM from Howrah and is arguably the longest drivable beach in India. Located very near (within 30 KM) to the famous Digha beach, Mandarmoni is very easily accessible and reachable from Kolkata.
On the eve of Christmas in December 2009, we made a plan to drive down to Mandarmoni. We had a group of 3 families. Apart from me, my father and mother, the other 2 families of 2 of my uncles, we finalized the plan. Accordingly each one of us has to take our own car to drive down to Mandarmoni, to accommodate all. What turned out later was a beautiful unforgettable experience.
Initially though we planned to stay in a resort in Mandarmoni, but later because of personal reasons we modified our itinerary to return on the same day. There is absolutely no hustle in staying there for a day or 2. One can easily enjoy the days there.
So in our case, we ultimately returned late on the same day.
Kolkata-Mandarmoni-Kolkata road review
Note 1: Please check for the updated highway numbers as per the re-numbering of the National Highways across India, wherever you see NH in this article.
Note2: Google Maps is the best resource for guidance on highways. Take the most of the usage of Google Maps for highways, it’s just wonderful.
Mandarmoni seaside resort village and beach situated around 180 KM from Kolkata. There are two routes to reach the beach. One is the Diamond Harbor road, for which one needs to go through Behala in Kolkata. The other one is through NH6 (in Kolkata they call it Bombay road since it’s the highway that leads to Bombay). Always advisable to take National Highway 6, instead of Behala, because Behala Is always very congested and also Diamond Harbor road Is just 2-lane, and very busy. On the other hand NH6 or Bombay road is wide 4-lane, and one can really enjoy driving through the road because of the natural scenic beauty right throughout the highway.
The drive to Mandarmoni starts after crossing the Vidyasagar Setu through Santragachi station with taking on the Kona Expressway (NH 117).
There is a slip road ahead that will merge you to NH 6. Be cautious till the time you take this road. If you somehow miss the slip road, you will move into NH 2 (Delhi road), which will be a completely wrong direction and have to make a long drive before you can make a U. While we drove, we interchange photos of the other cars from self vehicles while driving.
Once in NH 6, another 70 KM of continuous and beautiful drive, passing through Dhulagori, Alipur, Uluberia, Bagnan and finally reaching the Kolaghat turn. Kolaghat is a major town situated on NH 6 on the banks of Rupnarayan River, which is famous for its Thermal Power Station managed by West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPCL). The Rupnarayan river side is also a popular picnic spot if one wants to visit.
From Kolaghat there are two options:
1) Keep moving straight in NH 6 only and catch State Highway 4 through Kharagpur bypass and NH 60
2) Take a left in Kolaghat and catch NH41.
The 1st option is longer but may be slightly better. However it is advisable to take the second route, as it is much shorter compared to the 1st one (it almost avoids 50 KM of extra drive). The road condition is not so bad either. Accordingly we also decided to take the 2nd option only. From Kolaghat it’s another 83 KM through NH 41 to Kanthi.
1. MPG (NH 41 from my cousins car, in front is my car)
Kanthi is the junction where SH 5 (first route) merges with NH 41 and SH 4. Another left turn from Kanthi into SH 4 (also known as Digha-Contai Road) for 15 KM will lead to Chawlkhola crossing.
As already mentioned in one of my earlier posts, even the state highways in West Bengal are in a quite good shop. So normally there are no problems driving through them.
Continuing into the Digha-Contai Road will lead to Digha. Off course do not take this route, unless you want go to Digha.
Instead we need to take the Chawlkhola Mandarmoni road (cut from Chawlkhola in Digha Contai road-straight) and this will lead us straight to Mandarmoni (another 5-7 KM). The State highway and the Chawlkhola-Mandarmoni road are not in top shape as the construction work was going on during that time (no idea as of recently) and also is a congested area. Additionally there are few under breakers (instead of speed breakers). So be careful with the car. Another little information to share is, there will people asking for chandas for various Puja. Just pull down your mirror and ignore them. Let them talk whatever they say and just continue. This road will lead straight inside the Mandarmoni beach and you drive inside through the beach to find a suitable place and park your vehicle.
For more information on directions, one can search his appropriated road by putting his criteria in Google maps:
Here is a high level map of the driving direction.
View Larger Map
The way back to Kolkata is the same. If you are planning to return in the same day evening, be a bit careful as it becomes dark and in the 2-lane state highways, the state transport buses come towards you in full speed and in high beams. Keep your eyes wide open. The same road (from NH6 onwards) will straight lead to Vidyasagar Setu and down into Kolkata.
Basic Amenities/food hubs on-way
NH 6 or Bombay road is almost not devoid of any food hubs on way. Apart from small small food amenities, NH 6 before Kolaghat has few almost very popular hotels and restaurants.
- Ludhiana Hotel: Around 25 KM from Vidyasagar Setu onto NH 6. Good descent hotel and covers almost any kind of dishes (both veg and non-veg) and also liquors if someone is interested in. Good for lunch and dinner.
- Azad Hind Dhaba: At a distance of around 40 KM, just after crossing a place called Uluberia. Lovely Hotel with a beautiful picnic spot. Well known hotel chain in Kolkata, servers veg/non-veg at a very very descent rate. Very good for lunch.
- Shere-punjab Hotel: In Kolaghat (at a distance of around 70 KM). Quite a big hotel with wonderful preparation of veg/non-veg and refreshing facilities. Reasonable rates too. Very good for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
On way through NH 6, there are not many toll plazas. The first one would be meager 10 Rs of Vidyasagar Setu and then 2-3 (much less compared to NH 2 as I mentioned in the other post) toll plazas with toll taxes ranging from 25-70 rs. Advisable to keep the toll receipts with you
Overall experience: excellent
Distance covered: approximately 360 KM
Mandarmoni in brief
Mandarmoni is a sea beach with its own uniqueness and beauty. It is probably the longest drivable beach in India (almost around 18 KM). You can almost invariably drive from the one end of the beach to the other and enjoy a ride. We reached Mandarmani around 11 AM and parked our cars at a vacant place.
It was then time to go the sea and enjoy a dive. We had also carried a small water ball with us, and we all cousins had a lovely time playing with the ball, until I missed a catch and the ball went on sailing through the sea, and vanished within few minutes. We almost enjoyed around 1 and half hour in the salty waters of the sea.
We had bought our lunch packed. After enjoying sea bath, it was time to get dried ourselves and enjoy the lunch. Our vehicles provided a good support for soaking our wet clothes. In between one can enjoy some beach food also if needed along with tasty coconuts worth trying.
After having lunch, we had a nice walk around. Few of us (including me), also went for a short nap in the car itself. There is a small village in back with small tomato farming. My mom accompanied by mausijis, went there and got some fresh tomatoes and vegetables.
I really have nothing to write about the beach but just sharing the photographs. Around the beach there are ample amount of resorts/guest houses, which one can easily book a room for in descent amount and spend a nice lovely weekend enjoying here. Other option is to come out of the beach and booking a hotel room in the city itself. Also present are numerous beach shops where one finds ample options of trying different varieties of food and numerous types of fish preparations.
If you are going to Mandarmani driving, before you return, do not forget to experience the drive through from one end of the beach to the other at least once. Go to the other end, park your vehicle, roam around for few minutes and then move back, it’s amazing how wonderful it’s driving through a beach.
That concluded our visit to the awesome Mandarmani beach. We never stayed in the night the same day. But one definitely can have a cool 2-3 days stay in the beach and could make an ideal weekend out of it.
We enjoyed our Christmas to the fullest in the beach through a proper family get-together. This has been one of my most memorable family trips (although small) of my life.
Another thing worth mentioning here is that one can simultaneously make a plan for both the Mandarmani and Digha for a 2-3 days plan. Digha (as I will be writing a separate post on that within few days), is a completely separate experience. Since either of the beaches is very near, one can have a nice short family outing in both the places.