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.
Good to know about a new place Sarmistha, nice pictures too.
Never heard about this place.
Thanks for sharing.
Nice to see ‘my place’ again in ‘our place’. I have such a wonderful, sweet memories around these places.
The first time we went there in 1980’s and our love affairs with this place continues since then. It was so near to the place where we were living. The journey was not that easy that time and there were very few hotels (mud houses). In the last decade, there are some developments and now there are many hotels…some are good, including WB Govt. Tourism Lodge – last year we stayed there for two days – nice place.
One can also stay in Henry’s Island – there are three guest houses/lodge ‘Mangrove’, ‘Sundari’ and ‘Bani’ with good restaurants and a paradise for non-vegetarians, adjacent to the Watch Tower (actually ‘Bani’ has a Watch Tower from where you took the pictures. On a clear sky, one can see Bangladesh from there as well. The name of the beach is Kiran beach…and yes, it is a photographer’s delight. The walk through Casurina trees or through the beach from Frazerganj to Bakkhali (7-8 Km) is a wonderful experience for us for so many years.
It was a memorable drive for me last year from Gurgaon to Bakkhali and I wish to go there again…and the barge experience is awesome…how long did it take for you to get into the barge?
Thank you for taking us there.
I know Amitava that you are from this place and before starting for this trip I had read your travelogue on Bakkhali which was extremely helpful. The barge experience was unique and first time for me. While going to Bakkhali we had to wait for about an hour but on our way back it took us only half an hour to be on the barge. But I do not complain about it because during that one hour I saw huge fishing boats, how the fishermen unload the piles of fishes from them and mostly how tough earning their daily bread is to them.
The mangrove forest of Bakkhali has inspired me for a trip to Sundarbans this winter perhaps. Our van driver showed us the ‘Hetal’ tree which the tigers use as a hiding place on their hunt. I have no idea how the tribal people there go for crab hunting in these deep mangrove forests. Best part was that we also saw a small hut inside which a teacher was teaching a group of children…hats off to these people …so strong…so pure.
beautiful post,very good pics.colors of some pics especially of beautiful beaches could have been better.
Thanks Ashok. It was dusk when we were taking the photographs of the beach. Perhaps that is why the colours have not come that good.
Your post made me remember Amitava’s post which I had forgotten :-). I looked for it and putting the link below, incase readers are interested in knowing more about the region. The below log has more photos of the carrying vessel and ships.
I guess in East, there are a lot of places which has a good connection over a water-way. We have been discussing about making a network of water-ways (river water sharing etc) for a long time. With the kind of water (in terms of richness) we have available we should have done a better job at it. When I first experienced a ride on a vessel and was sharing deck with Innovas and Scorpios and a file of motor-bikes, I was surprised to see the power of water-transport.
Mid of this year, I visited Isle of Weight (a place close to London) and in that vessels they must had at least 250 cars, if not more and probably 500+ people and what not. Ok, enough of my blabbering.
The log is very useful for those looking for a good nature-ful break from Cal. Thank you Sharmi. Also, please get a profile pic, it would make your author page look good :-)
Yes Nandan, I had gone through Amitava’s post before setting off for Bakkhali. It is loaded with information and is very helpful. It is good to know that vessel service is also operative in the west, though on a much bigger scale.
Bhakkali, Henry Island both these places seem to be “hidden gems” so near Kolkata. Thanks for introducing these spots to Ghumakkar, Sharmishta. The snaps of the fields post monsoon look so lush and inviting.
Yes Venkatt, staying in a busy city we rarely get to see such greenery. It is wonderful!
This has made me nostalgic. During college days we went for 7 days trip to Bakkali, Sundarbans via Canning.
We were fortunate enough to get a steamer boat only for ourselves. We were on the water for all those days passing thru all those narrow lanes of water in Sundarbans, where you cannot sit on the open deck of the boat fearing the tiger can catch you….
Quite an experience that was.
Thanks Sharmistha for bringing back all those memories…
Even though I am born and brought up in Kolkata, I still have not had the luck to visit the Sunderbans. Sundarban Tourism has developed drastically over the last few years. Super luxury resorts have even come up there. I hope I can do that trip this winter and can share it with my fellow Ghumakkar friends.
DEAR MADAM-I AM A NEWCOMER TO THIS GROUP.TOMORROW WE ARE GOING TO BAKKHALI BY CAR FROM KOLKATA,WILL BE STAYING OVERNIGHT.AFTER RETURNING I WILL SEND PHOTOS ,GOODBYE
Thank you for bringing Bakkhali to us, Sharmishta Ji…it was wonderful to know about it. The photographic impressions are just great conveying the real flavour of this place…keep sharing the saga of these lesser known gems!
Thanks a lot Vipin. I don’t know why but of late I have become more interested in exploring the off-beat places.
Awesome place waiting to be discovered with equally awesome photos!
It seems south of Kolkata is full of these pretty places. Though I would love to go to the central parts of WB to discover Battle of Plassey like places.
The beach photos with the meandering sand (soft like feathers!) patterns are amazing. This post reminds me of my time off Kakinada coast in AP with island and red crabs. Maybe I will write about it sometime.
Thanks for sharing!
Nice to read this weekend getaways from Kolkata. I have gone only to Digha. That photo of all those red crabs is great!
We were in the Henry’s Island for two nights and 3 days. We visited Bakkhali which is 3 – 4 km away from there and though we had plan to visit Jammu Dip, frzergaunze but we cancelled it because we were spending a quality time there in Henry’s Island. Foods were good specially fish recipes, desi chicken,mutton etc.
I will recommend this place if you are looking a less crowded place with some good views (sea with rain forest trees made bit different from regular sea beaches moreover Fiddler crab’s presence in the beach played a roll like ornaments on a beautiful body) or if you are looking a place where you can spend some quality time with your friends like having lot of gossip without creating any disturbance to others, having party time or bit adventurous (from Mangrove resort one muddy road goes to left hand side if you will keep going one river will come. There is a tiny forest on the other side of the river. To reach to the river you will have cross a muddy very very tiny forest ( :) ) if tide is not there at that time. But be careful of snakes, hetal kata etc.. )time. If full moon is there I will suggest to dare a bit and go to beach at night (9 – 11 pm) but don’t carry any valuables with you and be aware of tide because during tide some are of the road gets floded. I am sure it will be heart throbbing experience and a memorable one.
You can go with you family too specially if you are surrounded with small kids who can play in the beach which is 2.5 – 3 km long and they can touch water very safely BUT NOT DURING TIDE. I am sure they will enjoy a lot.
If you are going with family then I will suggest to stay at Sundari but if all of the members are male then stay at mangrove and after having party sit at the lounge of the cottage (if it is free to you ). Good luck and happy, safe journey
I am planning to go this December. But only to Henry island as I heard it is less chaotic. Is there any travel accommodation here.
I would like to ask that are the hotels in Bakkhali safe for unmarried couples if I want to spend some quality time with my boyfriend?
Your article is vary short and nice. I can see that you visit lots of places,it increase my hunger to explore the world. I also go to Bakkhali and put all the relevant information to my blog details in http://www.holidaystory.in/bakkhali-tour/ . Please check it out.
Ruma Dey Baidya
thank you for the pictures and information, I’m actually going to Sundarban and would like to visit Bakkhali via waterways from Sundarban, if such transport facility operate? please let me know if you have any idea about it