Mandarmoni – Kolkata’s Sea Watch (Jun 2010)

It was a plan – conceived (craftily) & debated (doggedly) & executed (expeditiously) at the shortest notice. During the summer holidays, while we suffered a humid and torrid Cal [i.e. Kolkata, the erstwhile Calcutta; thank God the politicians changed Calcutta to Kolkata, but there was no such repulsive diktat for changing ‘Cal’ to’ Kol’ – so we may go on using ‘Cal’, leaving it to Debosh’s next generation to figure out why Kolkata is fondly termed CAL by old timers], Adityo offered an exciting opening in the otherwise drab setting – a weekend (or whatever was left of it on a Saturday afternoon) trip in his affable Santro. The list of volunteers quickly added up to 05 viz, Debosh, Sharmi, Adityo, their Mother and self, all rearing to go.



Options around Cal were quickly weighed, viz Kachua (Baba Loknath’s dham – total religion), Mayapuri (ISKON’s setup – religion with bountiful Ganges along side), Digha (no religion but too trite), etc. Finally, we settled for Mandarmoni sea-beach, a well-known destination on a Calcuttan’s weekend horizon, situated 180 kms south of Cal. A few phone calls to some hotels indicated that rooms may be available for the same day. We started from North Cal, near the airport at around 3.45 pm. Our departure coincided with welcome spells of rain, which abated the harshness of the climate.

Mandarmoni is situated at the southern tip of West Bengal coastline, almost at the state border with Orissa. It offers abundant sea/sun/sand in a relatively secluded setting. It certainly lacks the commercial streaks of Digha, but unadulterated solitude compensates for that.
We took the Nibedita Setu (new bridge alongside the old Bally bridge, overlooking the famous Dakshineshwar temple) to get onto Kona Expressway, by-passing Cal proper.

Route is as follows:-

1. Kolkata (Kona E-way/Bombay Highway) – Bagnan – Kolaghat/ Mecheda [70 kms].
(From Kolaghat/Mecheda, turn left to take the road towards Haldia/Digha).

2. Kolaghat – Nandakumar [60 kms].
(From Nandakumar circle, turn right to go towards Kontai/Digha).

3. Nandakumar – Kontai (a by-pass avoids Kontai, keep a lookout for the right turn before Kontai) – Chawalkhola [45 kms].
(Turn left from Chawalkhola, a small village, which can be missed if inattentive).

4. Chawalkhola – Mandarmoni [10 kms].

The National Highway till Kolaghat is superb. Kolaghat to Nandakumar stretch is witness to widening of road, so drive is often restricted to one side of adequately broad and metalled road. After Nandakumar, its single laned but well metalled road, barring small patches.
For people coming by bus (any bus from Kolkata to Digha will do), Chawalkhola is alighting point from where local vehicles/ jeeps take you to Mandarmoni. We were at Mandarmoni by 6.30 pm on Saturday.

Some reports may indicate that Chawalkhola-Mnadarmoni stretch is unmetalled – that isn’t a fact any more – a brand new road has been made operational from Oct 2009 to ensure continuous & smooth road connectivity till Mandarmoni.
Mandarmoni:-
Actual Mandarmoni lies about 04 kms beyond the end of metalled road. And its only approach is a drive through the beach !!! Isn’t that unique? Usually, driving your two/four wheelers on a beach may not be permissible in other places as a rule, in view of ecological considerations.
So anyone ever desiring to enjoy long unrestrained drive across third longest beach in Asia (info courtesy – Masara Beach Resort website), and probably the longest DRIVABLE beach in India, – Mandarmoni is the place (and better done early, because a road is supposedly under construction – after which the beach drives will no more be permitted). Flip side, though is that the route is open only during low water periods. During high water, the drivable portion gets inundated.

Mandarmoni became tourists’ destination during last 4-5 years, when a number of mid/high-end resorts cropped up in this secluded area viz Sana Beach Resort, Rose Valley, Sonar Bangla, Masara Beach Resort etc, offering alternative to more congested and stereotyped Digha.
Mandarmoni gradually extended westwards and presently the stretch of hotels/resorts start right from the point where the metalled road ends, about 5 kms short of original Mandarmoni. This place is called Dadan Patrabad.
Stay:-

We stayed in ‘Resort Dream Hut’, located bang on the end of the metalled road (Dadan Patrabad/Salimpur). Accommodation is provided in hut-shaped independent cottages. Best part is that it has a direct view and exclusive access to the sea, which is not the case with many other hotels in this area.
Due to lack of regular electricity in the area, almost all hotels have their own generators catering to various needs including AC’s etc. There is a mandatory no-electricity period everyday (01 hour each in morning and evening), dedicated to maintenance of the generators.
We were at Dream Hut by around 7.00 pm. The package of two non-A/C rooms till noon the next day (Sunday) was offered at Rs 1800/- (900×2).

Other hotels in the area charge a similar tariff of 1000-1500/ per day. Contact details of some of the hotels are as follows:-
Draem Hut – 03322257143, 03340078155, 9800337967
JP Resorts (an impressive looking place but access to beach is 100 mtr walk across the road, tariff being Rs 1500-2000/-) – 03325472060, 9051987390
Samudra Sakshi – 9836534537
No sooner had we placed our luggage in the rooms than we started towards the beach front. Soon, despite the darkness (cloud had devoured moon/star light) and faint drizzle, we were excitedly romping around across the beach, letting the oncoming waves onto our feet.
Will cover the next day in the second part.
Thanks guys for reading through.
Auro

12 Comments

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Aurojit Dada

    Khub Baloo !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing some of the new places around the Kolkata.

    Draem Hut pictures are beautiful.

  • travellers says:

    Thanks Mahesh,

    Nice of you for going through and liking the post.

    Auro.

  • nandanjha says:

    Driving on the beach and as much as 4 KMs. That doesn’t sound routine. Guess we are still quite away to be in a template , replicated in all cities like USA, and its best to enjoy each unique experience till it lasts.

    Well crafted beginning and a marvelous introduction of Mandarmoni. Thank you.

    Ghumakkar doesn’t have too many travel tales of this part of India, so I believe it would be interest to lot many.

  • nandanjha says:

    And Auro, please get a gravatar for yourself. Essentially a picture, which would be displayed before the title of the story and in the comments section when you make a comment.

    Here are instructions – http://life-inspires.blogspot.com/2010/04/displaying-your-picture-along-with-your.html

    • travellers says:

      Thanks Nandan.
      The drivable beach is more than 10 kms – and its real unique experience.

      Thanks for your gravatar suggetion. I will soon work towards a picture that relates to my story/comments (though neither may be worth either).

      And I agree with you on templates. In fact our diversity, I would guess, will never (thankfully) lead to templating. And this sustenance, on face of diversity, is what makes one feel glorious.

      Once in Gujarat about 10 years back, I saw a motorcyclist who, unable to get his way across the slow moving traffic which also consisted of a camel cart, suddenly swept from under the legs of the camel and then zipped across !!! (believe me, it happened).

      So you see, templates would be hard to come by.
      Thanks again.
      Auro.

  • Sahil says:

    Hi Mr. Aurojit ,

    Thanks for taking us to Mandarmoni. What a drive it would be , driving for 4 kms just besides the sea…great…

    Sahil

    • travellers says:

      Hi Sahil,
      Thanks for your comments.
      Drive is actually more than 10 kms on the beach, and yes, it is a different experience.
      Thanks agian.
      Auro

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Aurojit Bhai,

    Honestly speaking, I was not aware of Mandarmoni before I read this post.

    The four Km drive through the beach must have been a splendid experience.

    Thank you for introducing us to such lesser known places. even

    • travellers says:

      Mr Ram Dhall,

      Thanks for going through the post.

      The Cal crowd became aware of Mandarmoni only about 5-6 yeras back. I heard the name during the last year.

      By the way, it has a nice ring (Mandar relates to heaven/swarg, if I am not wrong, and Moni is mani/jewel).

      Thanks again for your comments.
      Auro.

  • Great travelogue Auro.

    As we are planning for our summer vacation in May-June, I was searching some information and landed to this post….very informative and useful. Last time we went to Bakkhali and let’s see what is in store for us this time, only time will tell.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Amitava,

    thanks really. This was summers ’10 and now I feel equally tempted to be there…

    thanks,

    Auro.

  • travelkoyela says:

    Hi Auro, driving by the beach must have been an exhilarating experience. But now the WB government doesn’t allow vehicles to rip up and down the beach. I have really enjoyed reading your article. Looking forward to more such write-ups from you. There are many hidden gems in and around West Bengal that needs to be explored.

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