It was another weekend when we and our hungry-for-holiday souls set out in search of a weekend hideout from Kolkata. This time we chose Bakkhali-Henry Island-Frazergunj. Bakkahli is a sea side in South 24Parganas of West Bengal. It is approx 130kms. from Kolkata. A close observation of the map of Bengal will show that innumerable deltaic islands are spread across Southern Bengal, most of which are part of the Sundarbans. Bakkhali is one of those islands which open up into the vast expanse of Bay of Bengal. We set out early morning at 6a.m. taking the Tollygunge-Joka-Amtala-Shirakol-Kulpi-Namkhana-Bakkhali. The NH-117 which connects Kolkata with Bakkhali is a real pleasure to drive. As soon as we left Amtala, the lush green fields on both sides of the road was a real treat for our eyes.
With only a single tea- halt at Diamond Harbour, we reached Namkhana Jetty Service at 9.30a.m. delayed by about 1hr. due to the morning local markets. Here we were to cross the ‘Hatania-Doania’ River.
But there is no connecting bridge. What we experienced here was something amazing and unique. A huge barge operates between the banks to transport vehicles. We drove our car to the barge, sat inside it and the barge took us to the opposite bank. Huge size lorries and buses are also transported in the same manner. It was a memorable experience sitting inside the car and floating on the river.
Once you cross to the other side of the river, you have to drive another 25kms of smooth ride through the NH117. This stretch is so smooth that we could drive at almost 100kmph.
There are ample accommodation facilities in Bakkhali. But the best ones are Bay View Tourist Lodge and West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation’s Bakkhali Lodge. But sadly, none of the hotels in Bakkhali have a sea view because of the abundant growth of casurina trees along the beach. We chose the former as I am a bit sceptical about the cleanliness of Government accommodations. It is a decent hotel with well furnished and maintained rooms. Post lunch we set out for the Bakkhali beach. A five minute walk will take you to the Bakkhali beach. The beach is not at all crowded. Even if you find a few people on one part of the beach, you will definitely find a lone corner in another part. The sand of this pristine beach is white in colour and is feather soft. The sea faces high tides in the morning and low tides in the evening forming beautiful designs on the sand during low tides.
One can save on traveling and hotels by making use of information avail on net.
You will find a number of sellers selling green coconut water at every corner. You can just have a quiet and relaxing time on the beach sitting on chairs and sipping on coconut water. Also, lots of sea food is available here to snack on.
In the evening we set out for Henry Island. For a change we decided to avail the local motor-vans to reach there. It takes about 30-40mins to reach Henry Island by van. Our van driver was a very jolly guy who kept guiding us all through explaining each and every tree, landscape as well as the life of the local people there. A picturesque village road (Kachha Raasta) with mangrove forest on one side and mud huts and Fishing Ponds (Fishing Bheris where pisciculture is done) on the other. It was a ride to remember. The van driver explained us each and every Fishing Bheri- Bekti, Prawns, Hilsa and more.
The rural people go for Crab hunting in these mangrove forests.
On the way our van driver took us to a watch tower, the view from which blew away my mind.
Finally we reached Henry Island Beach.
The pristine beach with white sand is the house to thousands and thousands of red crabs. I just cannot forget the scene created by these red little beauties.
The beach of Henry Island is a photographer’s delight. The crescent shaped beach gave me the peace and serenity I was craving for so long. The photos speak the rest.
Next morning we visited our last destination Frazergunj, a mere 1km from Bakkhali. Sadly it was high tide at that time so we could not enjoy the white sand beach of Frazergunj which it is famous for. Apart from the beach, Frazergunj has a windmill.
Frazergunj is also a prime hub for pisciculture in the country. However we had to omit visiting the fishing harbour due to lack of time. That didn’t matter much given the wonderful weekend trip we had.