My earliest recollections of annual family travel plans involve numerous preludes in the form of emotionally charged pleas to my parents to pick a destination that had a lighthouse.
Several years later, when I was in the seventh standard, it finally happened – we visited Chennai.
Need I spell out where I headed as soon as we landed? The lighthouse on Marina beach, of course!
Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Aguada in Goa and Gopalpur in Odisha soon followed.
If only I knew then, what I know now --- that just a few hours outside Kolkata, in the quaint Dariapur area of East Midnapore stands a magnificent, majestic lighthouse.
Situated approximately 20 kilometers from Contai, Dariapur houses the setting of Bengali novelist Bankim Chandra Chattopadhaya’s celebrated classic Kapalkundala. The remains of the Kapalkundala temple cradle many a cinematographic jewel.
Strolling along the main road past the Kapalkundala temple shortly leads to a man-made wonder – the Dariapur lighthouse. Steeped in old-world charm and folklore, this fully-functional lighthouse is a well maintained 20th Century marvel that can be spotted from a distance, courtesy the 75-metre high black and white stripe concrete structure.
It remains open to visitors at a nominal fee from 3-5 pm, an enthusiastic and hospitable caretaker and guide included.
Climbing a flight of spiral stairs and a short ladder will transcend you to the top of the lighthouse.
Once there, gazing down at fisher folk casting their nets along miles of secluded beach, trails of casuarina and even the distant Gangasagar – where the river meets the sea, is sure to take your breath away - especially if you time your trip like we did – during the monsoon.
Enough fodder for cover photos and several albums on your social networking profiles here!
Buses are easily available from Kolkata to Contai and take about four hours to reach. A connecting bus or trekker will get you from Contai to the Kapalkundala temple.
Written by: Laressa Gomez for M3.tv