So you are planning a trip to Kolkata, and want to know what you can do over the weekend. Here are some destinations close to Kolkata you could visit:
- The largest estuarine forest is full of mangroves and salt mud plains, the Sunderbans evokes awe and creates a mystic aura. The Sundarbans are part of the biggest delta in the world, formed by the great rivers of Brahmaputra, Meghna and Ganga. To reach the Sunderbans, you would need to reach the entry point of Port Canning, from where group tours are organised. You could also take the bus to Basanti. The Sunderbans forest is home to the great Royal Bengal Tiger. A sight of this big cat is enough to make you feel on top of the world. There are many tour operators and resorts in the Sunderbans region.
- Another great weekend destination you should not miss out on is Shantiniketan, which is a town made famous by the great Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who made the town a centre for learning. Shantiniketan is home to the Visva Bharati University. Shantiniketan is over 150 km from Kolkata, and is home to Tagore's ashram, and a handicrafts village called Shilpa Gram, among others. There are also many fairs and festivals, the Poush Mela being one of them.
- Just 50 km away from Kolkata is the Diamond Harbour, which makes for an exciting weekend holiday. It is a small town where the Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal. The place has an old fort, albeit in ruins. The Diamond Harbour Fort was built back in the 16th century. While you are there, you could also visit the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, and an old lighthouse. Also, you could spend hours sitting by the river and watching boats passing by.
- Bishnupur is another nice destination, under 150 km from Kolkata. It was once ruled by the Gupta kings, and later the Malla administrators. The place was called Mallabhum because of the Mallas. The place is famous for its terracotta structures, built in the Bengal school of architecture. There are several temples here and you can spot many episodes from the Mahabharata. A mela held here in the last week of the year attracts throngs of people. A dance and music fest is also held after the mela.
- Purulia is a preferred haunt for those who visit Kolkata. The place is full of greenery, hills and also freshwater springs and many streams. The Ayodhya Hill here is a favoured haunt for those into rock climbing or mountaineering. The Joychandi Pahar is a good spot if you are the religious/spiritual type. On top of the hill is a temple that is dedicated to the deity of Shiva.