An ideal picnic spot is
just a little outside the city and where the sky meets the horizon with a
river in-between. People of Kolkata believe in picnics for it is not
only loads of fun but has definite rejuvenating qualities. While a lot
has been written about picnic gear and picnic baskets, the
quintessential question remains – where to go for this year’s picnics?
an old Bengali what does a picnic mean to him and a most likely reply
would be: "It brings about 15 to 20 friends and family members together.
We select a destination about two to three hours away from home. Move
out early morning with light bags and raw cooking material… Cooking at
the picnic spot is integral to the fun."
Here are some of the favourite spots, ideal for picnics or weekend stays this winter.
is located on the banks of River Hooghly, around 51 km from Kolkata. It
is well-connected by bus. While direct buses are available from
Esplanade, it can also be reached via Diamond Harbour; and an ideal two
hours drive if one decides to go by own transport.
is a true river town. A few kilometers to the south, River Damodar
meets River Hooghly (tributory of Ganga) and few kilometers to the
north, River Rupnarayan meets River Hooghly.
Falta is also known for the beautiful farmhouse of the famous scientist, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose.
walks along the coast of River Hooghly is a great relaxing experience;
or taking boat rides from Falta or picnicking at any spot along the
river bank. Bird-watching and village walks are other activities to
enjoy in Falta. Resorts are available for overnight stays just next to
is located at the confluence of the Damodar, Roopnarayan and Hooghly
rivers. Vast green spaces on the banks of the river, with beautified
parks and benches to sit on, is where picnickers put up their tents for
an 18th-century fort, Fort Mornington, built by Lord Clive, and a
lighthouse await those interested in history and in the old-world charm
of Gadiara. Located by the river, not much of these two structures
remains to be seen today, though. It is interesting to note that the
ruins of the fort are immersed during high and low tides.
can go to Gadiara by availing the bus services from Esplanade or by
taking a train to Uluberia, and from there, by bus, jeep or van
rickshaws. You can put up at the Tourism Department’s Rupnarayan Tourist
is the place where the Ganga flows into the sea. It is a place with an
ancient history. The ruins of Chingrikhali Fort stand as testimony to
the times when Diamond Harbour was frequented by Portuguese pirates. The
old lighthouse is also a tourist attraction. Those seeking a little
tranquility can visit the Sarisha Ramakrishna Mission nearby.
Diamond Harbour (Trekearth)
riverside is the main attraction; just to sit and watch boats go
bobbing down the river is soothing to the mind and the soul. Boat rides
are available, and one can even visit the nearby industrial town of
Haldia. The breeze is refreshing and balmy. On a moonlit night the
riverside looks enchanted – the water turns into molten silver. Modern
resorts, hotels and restaurants are available, where the spread for
lunch or dinner can be pretty sumptuous.
km from Kolkata on the road to Basanti is the serene rural village of
Babur Haat. The landscape of Babur Haat is filled with huge stretches of
natural fishing lakes (bheris), where some of the tastiest
fishes of Bengal are cultivated. Other village attractions include vast
stretches of rice farmlands, vegetable orchards, mango groves, palm
orchards, ponds, rural village houses and local temples. This is a
getaway we would term ‘far from the madding crowd.’ Nature walks through
lush green farmlands is a great stressbuster. The lakes around are
well-maintained and the typical village scene is perhaps the closest
closeted city-dwellers can get to.
Babur Haat (Flickr)
km from Babur Haat is Malancha. Malancha is a renowned fishing village
of Bengal that has some of the biggest fish markets in the state, which
offer fish at amazingly low prices. Located at the confluence of two
beautiful rivers, Icchamati and Vidyadhari, Malancha offers a great view
of sunset from the banks of the Vidyadhari River. The river banks are
also dotted with many brick kilns with long towers.
For those wanting to stay at Babur Haat for the night, resorts and hotels with modern facilities are available.
is one of the closest and most beautiful picnic spots near Kolkata. The
riverside lawns of Triveni Sangam Tourism Complex are a place where you
can settle down for a hearty day-long picnic. The complex derives its
name from the confluence point it offers to visitors – of the Hooghly,
Damodar and Roopnarayan rivers.
15 minutes (by car or bus) away from this spot is Mahishadal Rajbari,
where Bengal's film and television stars can often be spotted shooting.
And then there is the 200-year-old Mirpur Church and Lokenath Mandir
which one can visit.
A lodge in Geonkhali (Flickr)
can reach Geonkhali by taking a train from Howrah for Satish Samanta
station. Geonkhali is about 20 minutes away from Satish Samanta station.
Going by private conveyance is, however, better when with a big picnic
from the hustle-bustle of Digha, Talsari is the place to go for those
wanting an isolated and peaceful picnic. The Subarnarekha meets the Bay
of Bengal near the beach. And the beauty of it all is sensed most at
high tide, when you have to take a boat to cross the Subarnarekha and
reach the beach. At other times, you can simply walk this distance.
of casurina trees add to the beauty of this beach. After one is tired
of sitting on the beach, finding a cool spot under the shadow of these
trees is an appealing thought.
Talsari beach (Flickr)
beach is about 10 km from Digha, and can be easily reached by
motor-vans available in Digha in a span of 35-45 minutes. The beach is
also a good place for those wanting to spend a couple of days away from
home. It has both government lodges and private hotels.
on the bank of Ichhamati River, in North 24-Parganas, this small town
is well-known among picnickers as the spot from where the Bangladesh
border is visible. A little further from Taki was another picnicking
spot – Machranga Dweep, where the Ichhamati meets the Vasa. But the
island is now broken and has been lost to the river. Yet, to see the
confluence, you can take a boat ride from Taki – which is an enjoyable
from these, and long adda sessions on the lush green fields, for those
who are up to it, you can visit the Ramakrishna Mission temple in Taki,
which isn’t far from the river bank.
View from Taki Guest House (Wikipedia)
can visit Taki by train, getting down at Taki Road station, or more
conveniently by car or bus. West Bengal Tourism Department provides
lodging facilities in Taki.
is the place where the Damodar meets the Hooghly. It has a barrage with
58 lock gates (giving it name of Atanna Gates), which attracts a
visitor’s attention even from a distance. You can choose to take a train
from Howrah Station for Uluberia, from where several modes of public
transport are available. Alternatively, you can reach this picnic spot
located in Howrah in a private car by taking the NH6.
here, while picnicking at the open grounds at the river banks is an
obvious choice, you can also visit the deer park nearby. The Garchumuk
Deer Park, maintained by the Forest Department, is home to dozens of
freely roaming spotted deer.
Lodgings in Garchumuk (Flickr)
can spend a day and even stay overnight at the Howrah Zila Parishad’s
guest house in Garchumuk. The deer park, too, provides lodgings.
Overall, the accommodation is inexpensive. You can choose to cook or buy
from the canteen at the guest house.
Dhuturdaha is a serene village with endless stretches of commercial fishing lakes (bheri),
vegetable gardens, ponds, palm trees, mango groves and local temples,
where you can get to see different shades of village life. It’s a nice
place to de-stress yourself after a whole week of slogging at your
workplace. In Dhuturdaha, you can just relax watching the vast endless
skies over the green horizon, get together with your family and friends
beside the pond, do some fishing and dip your tired legs in a pond.
you are going by car, you have to take Basanti Highway from
Science City and reach Minakha. From Minakha, you can take the road
going right to Dhuturdaha. All Buses connecting Malancha to Kolkata
cross Minakha. You have to get down at Minakha and take an auto-rickshaw
to Dhuturdaha. It has a number of luxury, ethnic and budget resorts
with facilities for accommodating guests. You can stay overnight or
visit the place for a day-trip or picnic.
Chandur Forest, Arambagh
on the banks of the Dwarakeswar River, in Arambagh, thick forest
surrounds the place on all sides. Visitors may spot wild animals as the
place has a wildlife preservation centre. The centre covers an area of
153 acres and has thick growths of sal, teak, silk cotton and sandalwood
trees. Buses are available for Arambagh from Kolkata. After reaching
Arambagh, you have to board a bus for Chandur Bhatar More ('crossing').
It takes few minutes from here to reach the picnic spot.
Chandur Forest, Arambagh (Google)