The Sundarbans is a mangrove forest extending from Bangladesh into the hinterlands of West Bengal, India. It has been named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The forest is thick and the area, covered with marshy swamps and salt water. It is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, of which only 400 are left here. Crocodiles, spotted deers, snakes, primates and many different species of birds can be seen here. Tourists need to have a permit to visit the Sunderbans especially the Tiger Reserve.

How to Reach


The Sunderbans are easily accessible from Kolkata. The popular means of reaching there include:-

Railways– It is possible to take the local train from Kolkata to Canning and travel by boat thereafter.

Road– Travelling by bus to various locations like Namkhana, Canning, Raidighi, Najat, and Sonakhali, is mandatory as the riverine waterways are accessible only from these areas.

Motoboat– A number of motorboat routes operates in the Sunderbans. The most popular routes are:-

  • From Namkhana – Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project- Sagar Island to Jambudwip
  • From Sajnekhali – Sudhanyakhali-Buridabri- Netidhopan to Holiday Island
  • From Sonakhali  to Gosaba
  • From Raidighi to Kalas

It is also possible to hire private boats along with an experienced guide. The prices range from Rs 1500-Rs 2000 per day for a boat.

Attractions & Activities


The rich animal life along with the unique mangrove forest are the main attractions of the place. Some of the ‘must see’ attractions of the Sunderbans include:-

  • Holiday Island famous for the Barking Deers.
  • Sudhanyakhali Watch Tower – An ideal place for tiger sighting. Other wildlife like deers and crocodiles may also be observed.
  • Sajnekhali Pakiralaya – Bird watching center containing 248 species of birds.
  • Sajnekhali Watch Tower – This watch tower also contains a museum, a crocodile park and a Bonobibi Temple within its premises.
  • Bhagbatpur crocodile project – This is a crocodile-breeding farm and the hatchery of the largest estuarine crocodile.
  • Netidhopani – It has a 400-year-old temple.
  • Kanak – Olive Ridley Turtles can be sighted here.

It is also possible to visit the nearby villages and chat to the local people about the hardships of living in the Sunderbans.

Accommodation


There are a few private resorts apart from the Government lodging facilities like the Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge, available in the Sunderbans. Bookings need to be made from Kolkata and most of them include a sightseeing trip as well.

When to Visit


The best season for visiting the Sunderbans is between September and February. The monsoon season is best avoided as the rainwater gets trapped by the trees making it impossible to get around. However, a few International tourists insist on visiting the area in April-may during the peak norwester season.

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Mongpu is a lovely tranquil village in the mountainous Kalimpong sub division in north Bengal. It is about 30kilometers from Darjeeling; 49 kilometers from Kalimpong town and 54 kilometers from Siliguri. Located at an elevation of 3,500-4000 feet, it is famous for cinchona plantation which has lot of medicinal value. Mongpu is also well known as the retreat for the Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.

Attractions of Mongpu


The road taking you to Mongpu from Darjeeling is awesome. Huge tea estates, beautiful scenery punctuated with orchid and cinchona plantations will make the trip worthwhile for you. You will also pass clear streams and flower nurseries which are a common scene in north Bengal. Various species of beautifully fragrant and colorful flowers are grown in these nurseries. The first Quinine factory was established in Mongpu in the year 1864. However, the cultivation has declined in the present times with other alternatives of cinchona.

The biggest highlight of Mongpu is the summer residence of Rabindranath Tagore, the great literary personality. Although Mongpu does not offer a view of the mighty Kanchenjunga, it has its own charm and appeal. It is a peaceful and quiet location where the poet would find inspiration for his compositions. His residence has now been transformed into a museum where objects used by him are on display. Among the exhibits are Tagore’s bed, his mahogany writing desk, poems, verses and exclusive paintings. The poet visited Mongpu 4 times in his lifetime and during his last visit he fell ill and had to be shifted to Kolkata quickly.

How to reach Mongpu


Reaching Mongpu is easy from Darjeeling via Peshok Road from Ghoom taking east towards Takdah. Alternatively, it can also be reached through the National Highway 31A by taking a diversion from Rambhi Bazaar. The journey through Peshok Road takes around 1.5 hours. The nearest railway station from Mongpu is New Jalpaiguri and the airport closest to the region is Bagdogra Airport.

Accommodation in Mongpu


Accommodation in Mongpu is sparse. Since it is not a typical tourist destination, not many accommodation units are available. However, for tourists wishing to stay here can avail of the home stay facilities provided by the residents of the village. The amenities are basic. Some new accommodation units have been set up near Riangkhola River at a distance of 8 kilometers from Mongpu.

When to Visit in Mongpu


 The best time to visit Mongpu is during mid June and again in October through December when you will be able to see the cinchona plantations clearly and enjoy the dip in the temperature.

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Sutan is a tribal village (known for its weaving) situated approximately around 8 km from the Ranibandh- Jhilimili road, in a forest stretching across 6 kilometers. The small place is a visual wonder, covered by the dense vegetation of Sal, Mahua, Piyasal, Simul and Palaash, placed 32 kms from another nearby attraction, Mukutmanipur. Home to various tribal groups like Shantals, Bhumij and Mundaa, Sutan is a quiet village with small hills.

Do check out the Sutan Lake and enjoy a boating trip here. The steps to this lake descend directly from the bungalow. You can secure the expansive view of the moonlit forest from the tower, placed on the banks of the lake. The night scene as well as its ambience is accentuated by the continuous sounds of cricket and that of constant drumming and the distant fragrance of Mohua. The moonlit Sutan with its array of red Krishnachuri is plain “intoxicating”.

You can even get a rare glimpse of various animals like wild elephants, deer, cock as well as pigs. The wild elephants descend for the Dalma Pahar, attracted by the beauty of Sutan.

Where to Stay


The bungalow perched at the top of the hill does not have electricity.

For bookings, do go through the following address details:

DFO, Central Circle, Bankura.
Telephone: 03242 250307

At present there is police station in the bungalow.

Within 9 kilometers inside the forest there is Trekker’s hut as well.

You can also stay at Jhilmili:

Rimil Tourist Lodge
Shyama Bastralaya, P.O. – Jhilimili, District – Bankura.
Telephone: (0953243) 240217

Kolkata booking:

Holiday Managers
Telephone: (033) 22485829

How to reach


On your way from Jhargram to Kuilapaal or Bandowaan or Purulia via bus you can get down at Paradi Morh (69 kms) you can take a jeep and head for Jhilimili or Ranibandh. Sutan will just be on this way (14 kms).

Or else you can reach Bankura from Howrah via train. You can just take a bus from Bankura to Sutan Village.

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Ranibandh is a community development block in Bankura district’s Khatra subdivision. This administrative division of Khatra in Bankura in West Bengal is served by the Ranibandh police station with its headquarters at Ranibandh. If you are traversing the distance from Bankura to Jhilimili (a tourists attraction in Khatra subdivision of Bankura perched on the hill top—primarily known for its picturesque natural beauty featuring dense forests), Ranibandh will be found exactly at 40 kilometers and Mukutmanipur at 18 kilometers.

Mukutmanipur is one of the beautiful attractions, located near this city. The Bankura (BQK) railway station is located nearby (placed 16.5 kilometers away). The nearest airport is at Kolkata (173 kilometers away). Besides, Mukutmanipur (a famous backwater getaway in West Bengal), other centers of attraction are Jamshedpur and Bishnupur (known for its heritage and culture).

Ranibandh remains a “natural” spectacle spreading across a good 7100 hectares, covered by around a dozen of hills and trees or vegetation like Palash, Arjun, Amlaki, Bahera, Piyashal and others. It is also home to several tribal groups including “Mundaa”, “Orao”, “Bhumij”, and “Shantaals”. You can view the God of these tribal groups perched on the peak of the hill/mountain. The cascading “Kangsabati River” flows by the side of the hills/mountains as well—thus adding to the overall beauty of the place. You can arrange for a quick tour to the nearby Taalberia from Ranibandh as well. If you are really looking forward to a quiet weekend sojourn, then Ranibandh can be an affordable option.

Where to stay


Ranibandh Forest Guest House (right at the middle of the forest)

DFO: South Bankura, Bankura (Zila Parishad Bungalow)

Balaka Parjatak Nibash (belonging to Panchayak Samiti)

Nearby places you can visit


Ranibandh can be visited from nearby Bashpahari Tamajuri, Shiyarbeda, Bholabeda Belpahari Shilda and Jhaargram. You can avail jeeps from Ranibandh as well

You can visit Purulia from Jhilimili (10 kms from Ranibandh) as well.

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Jhilimili is a noted tourist destination, located in the Khatra subdivision of the district of Bankura. It is precisely located at the border of Purulia, Bankura and Midnapur. Situated just 70 kilometers away from the Bankura town, the Jhilmili district is an area of dense and imperturbable natural beauty. The place is perched on a hillock and on your way from Ranibund to Jhilimili you can catch a glimpse of a range of unique sights adorned by dense forests of varying heights. These forests can be seen on both sides of the road.

The area covered by Jhilimili and Mukutmanipur (the second biggest earthen Dam of India, 55 kms away from Bankura) has emerged as one of the most attractive tourist destinations of Bankura. Nestled on the banks of the Kangsabati River, this unique tourist attraction is covered by micaceous soil that accentuates the beauty of this place. In fact, it can be said that the place partially derives its name from the “sparkle” of this soil. Jhilimili, in Bengali, means “sparkle”. A step on to Jhilimili and you are greeted by panoramic views of the beautiful surroundings. It’s a quiet place and can act as an idyllic gateway for those seeking a quiet vacation away from the clamor of urban life.

Jhilimili is particularly known for its unadulterated natural beauty. It is said that even the mighty sun cannot pierce through its foliage of haritaki, amloki, and bahera. Behold the wondrous sight of the waves dancing slowly to the beats of the calm winds.  However, the place is plagued by the lack of sufficient water. The “Tusu” fair or festival of the tribals, organized on the bank of the river, is one of the key attractions of Jhilimili. The tribals from places far away gather at this place to sell different items as well as bask in the revelry (with dance and music). You can hear the chirping of known and unknown birds. Elephants from the Dalma hill descend to Jhilimili during the winters, being attracted by its beauty. You can catch all the scenic views from a watch tower.

Hirbandh is a nice place for weekend, it is 23 km away from Khatra.

How to reach Jhilimili


  • CSTC buses are available from Esplanade for bandwan purulia via Jhilimili. Departure time: 6.15 pm.
  • SBSTC  buses are available from Esplanade for Jhilimili via Bankura(2.20 pm) – Mukutmanipur(3.35 pm) -Ranibandh. Departure time: 9 pm.
  • You can catch a bus from Jhargram via Mukutmanipur or Jhargram to  Raghunathpur via Jhilimili.
  • You can even board a bus or trekker from Mukutmanipur to Khatra.

Accommodation


Accommodation is available just 5 minutes away from the bus stand:

Rimil Parjatak Nibas
Deluxe room:  Rs. 350-550
Call/Write: AK Das Shyama Bastralaya, PO: Jhilimili, District: Bankura
Telephone: 9748114667

Forest Bungalow at Hirbandh, DFO – South Bankura
Telephone: 250307

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The Bankura Botanical Garden is situated 21 kilometers away from Beliator, the census town of Bankura. There is an amazing feeling of opting for a night stay at the Bon Bungalow, nearby, situated at Churamanipur which can be reached by turning right from the Makra Road.

The thick forests adorning the right hand side of the bungalow is a natural habitat of birds regaling you with their incessant murmurs. The prominent trees are Minjir, Sal, Muhua, Aakashmoni, Kendu, Shimul, Shirish, Palash among others. There is a hamlet, situated at a distance of 2 kilometers on the left hand side of the bungalow.

There are herds of elephants frequenting this area (from Dalma) in search of food as well. It is famous for being the meeting place of “boul singers” coming together for the occasion of Kartik puja (a worshipping festival dedicated to God Kartik). The place is also famous for sericulture.

Where to stay


You can stay at the Churamanipur Bon Bungalow, it is situated 2 km away from locality.

You can stay at Beliator Bon Bungalow also.

In order to book the bungalow you can contact or get in touch with the DFO of the northern Division. Here are the details:

DFO- North Division, Bankura
Pin Code – 722101

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Beliator is the census town of Bankura, in West Bengal. It remains well-known for being the birthplace of Jamini Roy. Situated by the river Shali, this place has an average elevation of 259 feet or 79 metres.

For those visiting Beliatore, Channder Graam remains a must-visit as it’s the birthplace of Jamini Roy, the famous India painter awarded with Padma Bhushan in the year 1955. Jamini Roy was one of the most famous student of Abanindranath Tagore. The folk arts fair featuring several interesting and intriguing specimens of artistry is an infallible attraction as well. Even more appealing are the decorations of this place, set under clear blue skies.

The place (Beliator) is famous for its Macho sandesh (a special sweet prepared from a combination of channa, chhatu or sattu, ghee and sugar). The two famous festivals celebrated here are Dol Purnima (Holi) and Dharmaraj jiu gajan (dedicated to Dharmaraj)Dharmaraj Temple is 3 km away from here.

How to Reach


You can avail buses or take your own car from Bardhaman to reach Beliator.

Where to stay


You can stay at the “Bon Bungalow” of Beliator. Those who have already stayed at this “forestry” retreat can vouch for the fact that there is a strange charm of staying at Bon Bungalow- amidst the relentless chirping of birds. There is a hamlet situated at 2 kilometers on the left hand side of the bungalow. The thick forests of Mahua, Piyasal, Shirish, Sal, Kendu, Sheemul, Akashmani and Minjir adorn the right hand side of the bungalow.

In order to book the bungalow you can contact or get in touch with the DFO of the northern Division. Here are the details:

DFO- North Division
Bankura
PC- 722101

Conclusion


Beliator has an interesting mix of traveling options. While on one hand, you can clearly immerse yourself in the unadulterated rural ambience by visiting the Chaander Graam, a night stay at the Bon Bungalow can be turn out to be equally exciting as well. So do visit this place to discover more!

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Chhander Gram is situated in Beliatore at 21 kilometers from the north-east direction of the bus route to Bankura-Durgapur and Bardhaman. Chhander Gram primarily derives its significance by being the birthplace of famous Indian painter Jamini Roy (1887-1972), who has also been awarded with the prestigious Padma Bhushan in the year 1955. Ramkinkar Beij, one of the pioneers of modern Indian sculpture was born in Jogipara (or Yogipara) of Bankura. The legendary Bengali novelist, Shamaresh Basu had documented the life of Ramkinkar Beij in his novel “Dekhi Nai Phire” (meaning Haven’t Looked Back).

The court poets and artists of the Malla kings used to live here. It is believed that the village “Chhanda” derives its name from these “Chhandakars” (meaning poets or artists in Bengali). However, there are conflicting views regarding the origin of the name as well. Some opine that the name is taken from “Chandrahaar”.

Utpal Chakravarty— a professor in the 1970s, with the help of the local organization, had initiated the creation of a place which is filled with the fond memories of the artists mentioned above. In order to inspire folk art and make the tourists aware of the iconic creations of Roy and Beij, they have helped in the creation of permanent folk arts fair. Set amidst the backdrop of clear blue skies atop the red clay, this fair is your quintessential taste of the rural purity. While the walls are adorned with careless brush strokes, there are intricate designs gracing the floor.

Visit the artistic zone set amidst the forestry area situated at a walking distance from the Chaander bus stand. Adorned with beautiful sculpture and decorative paintings (alpona in Bengali) is “Khiroprasad Vidyavinodh Manch”. The statues of Jamini Roy and Ramkinkar Beij adorn an area, situated a bit far from it. Just below these statues are the Ram Kinkar Bhavan and Jamini Roy Bhavan with collections of folk arts and expressionist arts.

Where to stay


You can visit the famous Beliatore – 3 kms away as well. You can take an auto or rickshaw to take a round of this place while on your way to Beliatore. You can stay at the “Bon Bungalow” of Beliatore. Beliatore is a census town in the Bankura district in West Bengal with a sparse population of 6,463, as per 2011 census (with 51% males and 49% females). Make sure that you aren’t giving this iconic place a miss while on your visit to Bankura.

In order to book the bungalow you can contact or get in touch with the DFO of the northern Division. Here are the details:

DFO- North Division
Bankura
PC- 722101

Back to Bankura

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The Chechuria Eco Park is located at a distance of 170 km from Kolkata and 26 kilometers away from Bishnupur, which is the prime tourist location in Bankura. It has a large water body and has lots of area where small children can play to their hearts’ content. It has arrangements for boating as well. The forest department has built this wonderful tourist destination of late. In short, the Chechuria Eco Park can be described as a fantastic getaway spot for people tired with their daily lives. When one walks in the midst of the park one will hear the pleasant chirping of birds and lots of trees, something they are not accustomed to in the big cities.

At Chechuria one also gets the rare opportunity to infuse his or her lungs with fresh air, which is short supply in this day and age of pollution. One could spend the nights in the forest bungalow and sample some lovely delicacies cooked by the local people, which are available at the eateries located nearby. It is also a great idea to take a tour of the nearby Bishnupur and then come back and relax at this wonderful location in the lap of nature.

The planned park covers a total expanse of 85 hectares. The forest that covers the Eco Park is spread across 765 hectares and is filled with trees such as sal, piyasal, mahua and kendu trees.

What can one do at Chechuria Eco Park?


At the Chechuria Eco Park one can arrange a get together. One can get friends whom they rarely meet or even siblings and cousins and enjoy in each other’s company. Then, people who are interested can go to Latapara, which is a tribal village located nearby. Panchmura, which is a village where terracotta artisans stay, can also be visited from Chechuria. It is at a distance of 12 km.

Opening time: 8 am – 4-45 pm.

How to get to Chechuria Eco Park?


The easiest way to go to Chechuria Eco Park is to go to Bishnupur, which lies at a distance of 19 km. However, if one does not have a car then there are other options such as autos and trekkers that can be taken on hire. In addition, one may take trains to the Eco Park that are available from both Bishnupur and Bankura.

You can catch a bus from the city (Kolkata). There are a number of Khatra bound buses crossing Lalbazar and Chechuria. You can even board a Bankura to Zhargram bus and get down at Taldangra and traverse a 3-km distance on foot, van or car.

When is the best time to visit Chechuria Eco Park?


Thanks to the lush greenery all around, one can visit Chechuria Eco Park at any time in the year.

Important details


If one wishes to spend a night or two at the Chechuria Eco Park one needs to book the cottage in advance. Following are the contact details for the same:

DFO, Panchet Soil Conservation, Bishnupur,
PO: Bishnupur,
District: Bankura.
Telephone: (03244) 252189

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Amarkanan is a tourist destination located at a certain distance from Bankura. It is basically a small village that is now growing to become a town of sorts with the introduction of centers of education such as a school and a college. It is located right at the foothills of Koro Hill. Koro Hill is a 400 feet tall hill and is fairly popular among the people who keep visiting Bankura every now and then. It is situated 19 km from Bankura. There is also a temple that is located on the hilltop. This temple has been dedicated to a deity who is known as Savitri Devi.  The best time to visit Amarkanan and Koro Hill is during the months of October, November and December. Now a days Amarkanan has become a famous picnic spot in Bankura.

Both Amarkanan and Koro Hill are really exquisite tourist spots that offer a welcome break from the mundane city life and drudgery of everyday work like targets and ambitions etc. The Sri Ram Krishna Seva Dal Ashram, which is located at a short distance from Amarkanan, is also a major tourist attraction of the said area. The Ashram was set up by Sri Gobinda Prasad Singha who was a freedom fighter in the Gandhian school and a zamindar as well.

Over the years a number of well known personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Satish Dasgupta have visited the ashram. When Kazi Nazrul stayed at Amarkanan he had written a poem named ‘Amarkanan moder Amarkanan’. The beauty of this location lies in the red soil as well as the beautiful hill that lies nearby, thus lending it an eerie charm especially during the night. The buildings, most of them constructed several years ago, present an old world charm that one will not see in most other places in West Bengal.

How to reach


In a direct root SBSTC and private mini Buses are available via Amarkanan from Durgapur (39km) and Bankura (22km).

Other than that Amarkanan is easily accessible from Bankura rail station and Bishunupur.

Where to stay at Amarkanan, Bankura


For people willing to enjoy a night’s stay or two at the Ramkrishna Sebadal Asram in Bankura there are plenty of options. The temple authority has in fact constructed a guest house for that purpose. It is known as the Ramkrishna Sebadal Ashram Guest House and Mandir Guest House. In addition, there is a forest bungalow as well for the ones willing to take that route.

In order to book the bungalow you can contact or get in touch with the DFO of the northern Division. Here are the details:

DFO- North Division
Bankura
PC- 722101

Back to Bankura

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