Kolkata, the “City of Joy” offers you a wide range of kaleidoscopic sights and vivid food aromas that overpower your senses leaving you with a feeling of awe and reverence. Kolkata has been able to preserve its colonial charm and has perfectly blended it with the modern world aura. Besides being food connoisseurs and avid writers, people of Kolkata are hardcore sports lovers and huge crowds regularly turn out to cheer the home team – be it soccer, cricket or any other sports. Eden Gardens and Salt Lake Stadium along with other stadiums continue to be revered as holy grounds.
With the IPL frenzy at its peak, if you are planning to visit this vibrant city to support your favourite team, we highly recommend you extend your trip and explore the treasure troves beyond the frontiers of this bustling megapolis. To complete your travel experience beyond Kolkata, we have compiled a list of top 5 delightful places you can visit over a weekend.
This small quaint town is located in Diamond Harbour 2 and lies on the bank of Hooghly River. Recently developed as a tourist destination, this town provides a much-needed break from the chaotic city life and exudes tranquillity. With an 18th century fort that has now been converted into a luxurious five-star resort, Raichak is the ideal getaway if you are looking to splurge and spending a quiet and peaceful weekend with your friends or family. Visit the ruins of Chingrihkali Fort that was once famous as the refuge for the Portuguese pirates. An ancient lighthouse that stands at this site is amongst one of the top attractions.
Distance from Kolkata: 53 Km, 2 hr 15 min drive from Kolkata
How to reach:Take a self-drive car rental Kolkata and drive on NH 117 to reach James Long Sarani in Block C. Take the exit from NH 117. Continue on the Noorpur Rd. and drive to Raichak Road to reach your destination.
Sonar Tori – This food joint serves delicious, authentic Bengali food. The food prices are a bit on the higher side. The ambience of the restaurant is old and rustic which takes you back in time. It is in Diamond Harbour Road, Singhalgunjabad, Raichak, South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, West Bengal 743368.
Reflections – This restaurant, next to the Hooghly River, offers beautiful décor and an excellent view while you have your meals. The food is scrumptious and hygienic. The staff members are courteous and prompt. Located inRaichak (Singhalgunjabad), South 24 Parganas.
Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, this vast forest in the coastal region of Bay of Bengal is amongst the natural wonders of the world. This National Heritage is a paradise for nature and animal lovers. You can spot the famous ‘Royal Bengal Tiger’ and many other exotic animals as you venture into this phenomenal paradise. The Sunderbans National Park is a treat for birdwatchers as one can spot tropical birds like Pale-Billed Flowerpecker, Black-Capped Kingfisher, Asian Open Bill Stork etc. Sunderbans is also home to some of the endangered species like the Olive Ridley Turtle, Batagur Baska, Royal Bengal Tiger, King Crabs etc. It offers several islands like Halliday Island, where you can spot the Barking Deer or the fishing island of Dublar Char.
Distance from Kolkata: 110 Km, 3 hr drive from Kolkata
How to reach: A long drive to Sunderbans is amazing and renting a car without a driver in Kolkata is unarguably the best option to make the most of your drive. There are two roadways for Sunderban trip. First one is the Basanti State Expressway. The journey through this road is pleasant and scenic. Another one is the Baruipur-Canning state highway.
Top Attractions: Sunderbans National Park, Sudhanyakhali Watch Tower, Netidhopani, Kanak, Tiger Reserve, Halliday Island, Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary, Tin Kona Island, Piyali, Lothian Island Bird Sanctuary, Hiran Point.
Located on one of the many deltaic islands spread across southern Bengal, Bakkhali is an old-world seaside hamlet. It is famous for long stretches of clean and palatial beaches which are less crowded as compared to other popular beaches near Kolkata. You can spot the red-beaked Seagull found in this area. Henry’s Island near the Bakkhali village has striking golden beaches, clear blue waters and Mangrove trees that freshen up your senses. It is perfect for nature walks where you can spot birds and red crabs. It also has the famous watchtower inside the Sundari tourist complex that gives a panoramic view of the entire island to leave you spellbound.
Distance from Kolkata: 125 Km, 4 hr 42 min drive from Kolkata
How to reach: NH-12 connects Bakkhali with Kolkata. You can hire a self-drive car in Kolkata as the roads leading to Bakkhali are quite smooth and provide a comfortable driving experience.
Top Attractions: Bakkhali Beach, Crocodile Park, Bishhalakshmi Temple, Jambu Dwip, Fraserganj Wind Park, Henry’s Island.
Bankura, a town packed with temples, hills, art and culture finds its place in travel diaries of every traveller who travels beyond the capital city of Bengal. This city is also known for the terracotta horses famously called as ‘Bankura Horses’ which have become the symbol of Indian folk-art across the world. Bankura offers beautiful terracotta temples, lush green dense forests and a rich flora that covers its towering hills. The Susunia Hills in Bishnupur also provide trekking and camping activities during winters that attract novice and expert mountaineers alike.
Distance from Kolkata: 212 Km, 4 hr 30 min drive from Kolkata
How to reach: Nh-19 connects Bankura with Kolkata. Taking a self-drive car rental in Kolkata is the best option as the drive takes you through lush green stretches and the well-paved roads that add to the driving pleasure.
Top Attractions: Susunia Hills, Biharinath Hills, Garh Darwaja, Koro Hills, Siddheswar Temple, Jhilmili, Gokul Chand Temple, Bishnupur, Mukutmonipur
Famous food joints:
Saptaparna Restaurant- Located on Chandanmaridanga Road, near Bankura Sister College, this restaurant serves sumptuous and fresh food to satiate all your food cravings.
Banalata restaurant – This place offers Indian cuisine. Vegetarian food is available here which is very delicious at very reasonable prices. It is located in Joypur Forest, District Bankura, Joypur.
Known as the ‘Silver City of India’ this capital city of Odisha is internationally acclaimed for the silver filigree artwork. The ruins of 14th- century Barabati Fort which was a once a grand nine-storey structure are amongst the major tourist attractions in Cuttack. It is now a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. Cuttack also offers numerous temples, museums, lakes, islands, and wildlife sanctuaries. The olive Ridley Turtles, Black Ibis, Rhesus Monkey, Egrets etc attract the wildlife enthusiasts to the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a vast wetland and has thick Mangrove forests and is a natural habitat for a variety of exotic and migratory birds. The Chandi Temple of Cuttack is a pilgrimage site for Hindus and attracts a lot of tourists.
Distance from Kolkata: 420 Km, 8 hr drive from Kolkata
How to Reach: NH-16 connects Kolkata to Cuttack. This highway runs along the east coast of West Bengal and taking a self-drive car rental in Kolkata can be an absolute driving experience. The roads are smooth and well paved.
Famous food joints:
Babri Sabri –Located along the Mahanadi Ring Road in Cuttack, the restaurant serves delectable Indian and Chinese cuisines which are evenly priced. The staff members are very helpful and prompt in providing service.
Barabati Restaurant – This restaurant provides a fine dining experience with quality, hygienic and delicious food and is particularly famous for non-vegetarian food. It is located on Jail road, in front of Big Bazaar.
Planning to visit or have visited any other stunning destination near Hyderabad? Let us know in the comments below: