Winter is here and therein starts the quest for weekend getaways. Most are working and the ideal getaway is one that can be done over Saturdays and Sundays. Bakkhali – Henry Island trip is as ideal as a trip can get.
Located about 140 km from Kolkata, the serene beach can be reached within 3.5 to 4 hours. Numerous buses ply from Kolkata’s heart to Namkhana. At Namkhana cars and buses are transported on ferries across Hatania-Doania river.
The south facing crescent shaped beach of Bakkhali is one of the rare ones in the world that offer great views of both sunrise and sunset. There is an 8 km long beach stretching from Bakkhali to Frasergunj with gently rolling waves. These are twin towns now forming one continuous locality.
A temple called Bishhalakshmi, located at one end of the main beach at Bakkhali, is worth seeing. You can also visit the Crocodile Park and Mangrove forest just beside the Bakkhali Bus stop.
Henry Island is located about 10 minutes from Bakkhali and can be reached by a car. Cycle-rickshaws are also available for the journey. Henry Island has become one of the most popular beaches adjoining the Sunderbans.
Henry Island is named after a European who surveyed land in the area in the late 19th Century. Dense mangrove forest parted by numerous canals covered the area then. Wildlife such as tiger, deer, wild pig, crocodile and snake were common. The island was only an extension of the Sunderbans and the surveyor could not have dreamt that it would become a human habitat in little more than a hundred years.
Under the supervision of the Fisheries Department of the Government of West Bengal, some 100 hectare land is being used for pisciculture along with forest conservation.
There is a watchtower which offers a complete panoramic view of the entire island from its top. Have a look at the view from the watch tower and do walk to the beach. The walk goes through a stretch of mangrove jungle accessed by crossing a small bamboo bridge.
Henry Island has recently earned reputation as a bird watching site. Some of the birds sighted at Henry Island iclude Lesser Whistling Ducks, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Streak-throated Woodpecker, Black-Rumped Flameback, Kingfisher, Common Snipe, Ruddy Turnstone, and Red Knot among others.
After watching a spectacular sunrise and bathing in the sea lookout for a special treat during evenings. The entire beach gets converted into a red carpet when thousands of bright red coloured crabs crawl out. They are however very sensitive to the slightest noise and can disappear as fast as they appear.
Always remember that life is not always full of sunshine and smiles. But you can always sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon. So put on your flip-flops and set out for Henry Island this winter.
Written by: Gunjan Chakrabarty for M3.tv