Mandarmoni – Kolkata’s Sea Watch (Part II)

Standing on the shores he said,
‘O Great Sea! Ye conveyed me across the eons, from nothingness to fullness, across the origin of all that is – you are my vessel to the Eternity’.



The first Part covered the route to Mandarmoni, 180 kms south of Cal. We started at 3.45 pm to arrive Mandarmoni at around 6.30 pm.

The really long beach (10 to 15 kms, probably one of the longest beaches in the country, if net info is to be believed; certainly though one of the longest motorable beach) here is clean, devoid of rocks and the usual debris sighted on any tourist place. The beach comes with a very gentle gradient, thus rendering it quite safe and enjoyable. Thanks to the gradient, the sea recedes to about half a kilometer during low waters – opening itself for a roaring driving time on the stretch.

The receding water also brings another spectacle –red crabs. Innumerous red crabs tend to fill up long stretches of the beach, laid out like red carpets. Reason for their abundance in a place where crab is a delicacy probably lies in the fact that the red crabs are not eaten by locals due to its sour taste.

One important point about Mandarmoni is that there are limited eating options, due to lack of commercial amenities. All hotels, however, have their own restaurants, which provide reasonable fare subject to the condition that orders for meals are placed well in advance. A food joint worth a try is Ma Kaali Restaurant located on the Saana beach. The restaurant is primarily a Goa-type shack, serving rice with combination of veggies, fish/chicken. We had a filling and extremely tasty lunch there. The rule of ordering in advance, however, helps here too. We had to wait for more than an hour for the pomfret/prawn malai kari dishes, since our order was impromptu and add to that the fact that we were there by very late afternoon.

While strolling on moonless beach late on the first night, I heard a melodious male voice, probably a worker in the nearby shack winding up after the day’s work, singing soulfully a bong song which generally implied:-

‘Come close, again, dear, for my sake….
Every time you are close, it’s only to get farther away…
So do come this time, not to go away….
Aaabaar Kaachhey choley esho.. aaro kachhey
(Do come close once again… closer still).’

We departed from Mandarmoni by around 5 pm to reach Cal by 8.30 pm. The feel of sea – salt laden winds, the euphonious billows; however, remains with us.

Abaar aashbo (will come again).

Auro.

17 Comments

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Dear Aurojit Dada,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    Thru your post, first time I saw the Ray Fish & Red crabs.

    Driving on a beach must be a good experience?

    Keep traveling , keep sharing.

    • travellers says:

      Hi Mahesh,

      Drive was fantastic. Though it was Adityo who was driving and I was having the fun with camera.

      Actually, even I saw ray fish for the first time. And it was a massive size (weighing probably not less than 20 kgs)

      Thanks.
      Auro.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Aurojit Babu,

    Your beautifully written post has almost etched Mandarmoni in my mind and has created an urge to visit the beach during my next visit to Kolkata.

    I wonder why no one talked about this Goa of the East, during my several visits to Cal.

    Thanks for taking us to Mandarmoni.

    • travellers says:

      Hi Mr Ram Dhall,

      Actually Mandarmoni is a new phenomenon, and due to other options also being available to Calcuttans, its taking time for Mandarmoni to get into tourists’ lexicon.

      Thanks a lot for liking the post.
      Auro.

  • vibha says:

    I have been to several beaches of the west coast but to none on the east side, atleast not when I was old enough to remember. I would love to go though because I feel that all seas and oceans have their personal character. I wonder how different Bay of Bengal is when compared to the Arabian sea.

    Regarding your post. You say few words that mean a lot. Very nice post and pictures.

    -Vibha

    • travellers says:

      Hi Vibha,

      yep I also guess every coast has its personal character – defined by tangible factors like gradient, wave pattern, expanse and vegetation on the beach, physical attributes etc,
      and then there would be intangible factors, like, some people want to go to only particular beaches.

      In fact, I don’t know how true it is but I heard somewhere that an experienced mariner will be able to tell you the general area of the sea/ocean if he were shown middle of the sea (when coastlines are invisible) – this he does roughly by looking at water pattern/colous etc and he would tell you the location more precisely if it was night and he cpould see starts/moon.

      Thanks for your nice comments.
      Auro.

  • nandanjha says:

    Red crabs almost look like creatures from some outer world, mostly because of red color.

    My sisters lives at Dhanbad and few times we thought that we should do a weekend Kolkata trip but it never happened. If it happens now, I would be really motivated to reserve a day/night for Mandarmoni. Thanks again.

    I do not think I would have known this place ever, if not for your write-up.

    • travellers says:

      Hi Nandan,

      Red crabs are truly outlandish. Notice those white eyes – they have antennas on them (like that of cockroach, I suppose) and when the crab is active/alert, its antennas become upright and eyeball also get erected. In sleep mode antennal falls sideways (in fact, I just noticed, the two crabs in the pic above have displayed the eyes in both formats).

      Dhanbad – Kol roads are now fantastic. Something unimaginable just about 7-8 years back. So Go ahead, finish that long pending agenda of visiting Cal. You will enjoy it.

      Thanks
      Auro.

  • nayan says:

    hey…..east has several beautiful beaches like…..gopalpur-on-sea, chandipur, toshali sands, puri, digha, bokkhali…….the list is really big.

    • travellers says:

      Hi Nayan,

      True, there are many beach options available to Calcuttans.
      In fact, Bengal boasts of one of the widest arrays of turist offering viz sea, himalayas(North Bengal/Darjeeling), Ganges, jungles (Sundarbans), heritage (Bishnupur,bankura,Murshidabad) apart from heavy doses of religion and culture.
      It is sad that despite all that, tourism of state continues to languish.
      Adds to the looong list of things that have gone wrong in last few decades.
      Thanks
      Auro.

  • Adi says:

    ummmmmmmm…its tooo gooooood….auro you explained every bit of it as if i was a part of the trip too…. your red crabs look good…. and probably you have enjoyed the food at Maa kali with pomphret and chingri maach…. your snaps are too describing. Keep posting like this.

    • travellers says:

      Hi Adi,

      You know! Pomphret and chingri maach were soooo good, it was worth all the wait (in fact, he had actually gone to a distant market – by a motor-van, to buy fish and prawn, returning after more than an hour and then preparing the stuff) – keeping us drooling all the while.
      Despite all that, we still give full marks to the guy – for tasty preparation and sweet behaviour.

      Thanks for encouraging words.
      Auro.

  • Manish Kumar says:

    Nice pics !

    I have been to this area last October. Mandarmoni is beautiful but there are several other beaches which are even better than Mandarmoni in the vicinity of Digha.

    And fellow tourists a word of caution : Red Crabs are gradually decreasing in this area due to vehicular movement on the beach. Sooner or later driving on the beach is going to be banned.

    • travellers says:

      Hi Manish,

      Driving on a beach – it is an ecological concern because it tends to damage flora/fauns of the area, apart from acting adversely on the sand itself.

      Thanks for reding the post.

      Auro

  • Saurabh says:

    I have never been to beaches, but after going through your experience, I would love to go….Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience.

  • We stayed so close to Bakkhali throughout my XII and almost every year we used to go there….refreshing post…and tempting pictures…so as pomphret and chingri maach…oh! would have loved to be there in my next trip

  • AUROJIT says:

    Thanks Amitava,

    ‘Aaabaar Kaachhey choley esho.. aaro kachhey’…………. Mandarmoni calling ?

    It was bliss !!! Go ahead and plan it.

    Thanks, Auro.

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