Bakkhali is located on one of the many deltaic islands spread across southern Bengal. Most of the islands are part of the Sunderbans, barring a few at the fringes. Some of these are joined together with bridges over narrow creeks. This small island juts out into the vast expanse of the Bay of Bengal.
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 a 8 km long beach stretching from Bakkhali to Frasergunj with gently rolling waves. These are twin towns now forming one continuous locality. Except on an occasional holiday the beach is not crowded. A small stretch near Bakkhali has been lighted up. It is a hard beach suitable for cycling or even driving. One can take long walks with coconut water.
Bakkhali is also the name of a river in the Chittagong division of Bangladesh.
It is 125 km by road from Joka tram terminus at the south-western edge of Kolkata. The road runs through Diamond Harbour and Kakdwip to Namkhana, where the car or bus has to be transported across the Hatania-Doania creek in a special ferry. The ferry service is available from 7AM-11PM except from 12 noon till 1:45PM (lunch hour). The fare for crossing a Car/Jeep is approx Rs 160 + Rs 30 toll (including loading/unloading). The road is excellent from Joka all the way to Bakkhali. The 130 km stretch from Kona expressway (with links to the Mumbai and Delhi sections of the golden quadrangle project linking the four metros of India) and Bakkhali has been marked as National Highway (NH) 117.
The road journey from Joka at the outskirts of Kolkata to Bakkhali takes about 3 - 3.5 hours. However, crowded market places can delay movement. Some sections are very crowded specially early morning because of bazar and later at the evening time, there are no by pass for these smaller towns.
WBSTC has regular bus service from Dharmatala to Bakkhali. One starts at 7AM in the morning from Dharmatala and reaches Bakkhali at around 11:30AM and leaves from Bakkhali after half an hour for Kolkata(Dharmatala). Another starts at 8AM from Dharmatala to reach bakkhali at 12:30PM and starts from Bakkhali after half an hour forty five minutes. So the bottom-line is that there are two round trips from Kolkata to Bakkhali provided by WBSTC. This schedule is subject to change and one must confirm it from Dharmatala Bus Stand before venturing out from Kolkata. The route of the bus is Dharmatala- Alipore-Chiriakhana-Taratala-Diamond Harbour-Kakdwip-Namkahana-Bakkhali, the fare is RS 85. The return fare from Bakkhali to Kolkata is Rs 70. The journey may not be comfortable due to long time as the seats of the busses are straight and difficult for a long journey. Thus a break journey can be more confortable.
There are plenty of local buses up to Namkhana and then again from Namkhana to Bakkhali.
The nearest rail station is at Namkhana. There are regular trains from Sealdah via Lakshmikantapur and Kakdwip to Namkhana. Check the time table in erail.in. The first train starts at around 4AM from Sealdah. Then at around 4.40AM then 7.15AM and next to this one is at a long gap at 9:08 A.M. from Sealdaha. Train fare is around Rs 25 and the journey takes around 3 hrs. From Namkhana station you will get a van rickshaw to reach the place from where you need to cross a narrow creek in a small boat. Van fare is Rs 5 per head or Rs 30 if you reserve a van and for crossing the creek you need to pay Rs 1. Then from the bus stand one can get buses for Bakkhali which take around 45mins to 1hr and their fare is Rs 13. The Bakkhali bus stand is very close to all the hotels and just a 5 min walk from the beach.
The nearest airport is at Netaji Subhash Chandra (NSC) Bose International Airport or Dum Dum (IATA: CCU) in northern Kolkata. It is located approximately 17 km (11 mi) from Kolkata's city centre and is India's 5th busiest airport. Bakkhali is around 130 km or a 3 hr bus ride from Kolkata.
Taxis or hired transport are not generally available at Bakkhali or Namkhana. Those who desire to travel in hired transport should preferably arrange for it from Kolkata or try their luck at Diamond Harbour. Most Bakkhali hotels have chargeable dormitories for drivers to stay.
The ride in the crude bhut-bhuti, a motorised country boat, from Frasergunj fishing harbour to Jambu Dwip, a small, uninhabited and forested island out in the sea, can be a thrilling experience. Currently people are not allowed to go to the actual island so the trip includes only a sightseeing from the boat. The two-hour ride (both ways) costs Rs 800 per trip (for 15-20 persons). The country boats can also be hired for other rides. The weak-hearted are advised not to take the rides.
For all the spots a Ricksaw van will charge you at max Rs 150 per trip (max 5 persons) and it will take around 5 hrs to visit all the spots and stay for about 1 to 2hrs in Jambu Dwip .
The walk over the beach from Bakkhali to Frasergunj is a pleasant experience. The rickshaw van is the only transport available locally. On these rickshaw van you can take a trip to Henry's Island and Watch Tower. A rickshaw trip will travel through the local villages and their surrounds. From the watch tower you can view the expanses of the Mangroves on three sides where as on one side you can have a bird's eye view of the sea beach and the sea. It is a splendid view. A van rickshaw drive is cheap and since one has plenty of time, the ride can be enjoyable but do not expect much.
A temple called Bishhalakshmi is at the end of the Bakkhali main beach and is worth seeing. The pandit ji is quite different there as he won't allow you in the temple. He has his own rules.
On the far left end of the beach, you can spot red crabs by the thousands. The beach is shallow and waves generally not so strong. Around noon time a sand strip rises out of the sea parallel to the coast creating a 100 meter wide bay of sorts. The beach is clean and glassy with nice reflections.
Most of the time would be spent in enjoying on the beach but some people look out for opportunities to do other things also.
Get a massage at Bakhhali Beach(full body 45/-, head and shoulder 10/-).
Make it a point to visit Henry's island. If you have a car, its around 10mins ride from Bakkhali. Entry fee is Rs 5. You can also use the rickshaw vans as well. There are 3 guest houses on Henry Island. If you wish you can stay there too. The lodges are named Mangrove, Sundari and Bani. Bani has a watchtower on the roof is very close to the sea beach. You can enjoy a good view of the surrounds from there. These lodges belong to the Fisheries Department of West Bengal. For reservations, contact: State Fisheries Development Corporation, Bikash Bhavan ☎+91 33 2337 6470. 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.
The credit for turning Henry Island into a holiday hotspot goes to the fisheries department of the state government which has set up a pisciculture project here. The fisheries department has dug more than 50 ponds occupying over 25 bigha on 100-hectare of land. Trees such as gora, kankru, palm, naturally growing sundari and hetal have been planted. Henry Island is named after a European who surveyed land in the area in the late 19th century. Dense mangrove forest is parted by numerous canals covering the area. Wildlife such as tiger, deer, wild pig, crocodile and snakes 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.
Visit the Benfish harbour and Frasergunj Beach on the way to Henry's Island.
You can also visit the Crocodile Park and Mangrove forest just beside the Bakkhali Bus stop. The entry fee is Rs 10.
You can pay a visit to a Small island JammuDeep,amidst the sea where you have to travel via boat in high waves, the boat ride is just thrilling.on arrival you will be delighted to see the beach full with Red Crabs its really a nice view.
Credit cards are not accepted anywhere, but if you are carrying Debit Card you will get to find an Axis Bank ATM near the Bakkhali Bus Stand, or while walking down to the beach you can use one.
The stationary shops have reasonably good stocks if you want to write a letter home.
- New Hotel Parijat in between the local bus-stand and WBTDC Lodge provides the best food here at moderate prices. You will find all sorts of fishes like pomfret, hilsa, prawn and the standard rui and katla too. A normal rui thali with other preparations only costs Rs. 40/-. Chicken meal Rs 90, prawns Rs 120. No breakfast available here. Extremely good staff.
- Frazargunj Indian Hotel beside the Hotel Deepak. You will get many varieties with wonderful taste and reasonable price. If you buy sea fish and crab from outside and ask them to prepare it for you, they will do that happily. These young men are very cooperative.
- You can also try the various road side shacks for lunch and dinner. They come a little cheaper but the food can be sumptuous and tasty. However, because Bakkhali doesnt have a steady flow of tourists,most restaurants dont have a steady menu of lunch or dinner. You have to place an order for lunch/dinner few hours in advance.
- Henry island can be a paradise for non- vegetarians , but you are left with little or no option for vegeterian , which can become a major problem at time
- Most hotels have their own restaurants
There are many hotels at both Bakkhali and Frasergunj and new ones are steadily coming up. The bus from Namkhana passes over Frasergunj before reaching Bakkhali. Henry Island is located closer to Frasergunj. None of the hotels have a direct view of the sea (the casuarina forest or jhau bon can be visible at maximum). The WBTDC Tourist Complex is nearest to the sea.
- Hotel Amarabati, ☎ +91 3261 9340, +91 33 2210 1822 (Kolkata office), . checkin: 12noon; checkout: 12noon. Modern facilities are available. Cottage-Rs 650 , Delux Room-900, A.C.-1,200, Delux Four Baded- 1,500, Bathtub Room-1,600. edit
- Ananya Hotel, BAKKHALI, (In between Bakkhali and Frazergunj), ☎ +9836080770/9831507528. checkin: noon; checkout: 11:30AM. Three floors, plenty of water, hotel roof access, very good ambience and airy. Enclosed car parking available.Now Restuarant is open. Double room Rs 300 to 950 ( AC), 7 bed top floor dormitory for Rs 225/-. edit
- Hotel Babylon, South 24 Parganas beside Punjab National Bank, ☎ +91 973278 1970. checkout: 11AM. Newly built, clean hotel. Double rooms Rs 200-400. edit
- Bakkhali Tourist Lodge, asansol (take bus from Kolkata and the ferry across the Hatania-Doania river), ☎ Lodge +91 32 1022 5260, WBT Booking centre +91 33 4401 2659, +91 33 4401 2660, (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +91 33 2248 5168), . checkin: 12noon; checkout: 12noon. The only lodge near the beach is run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) at Bakkhali. Credit cards accepted. Reservation: 120 days in advance from Tourism Centre at 3/2, B.B.D. Bag (East) (ground floor), or online from the West Bengal tourism website. Rs 1,800. edit
- Hotel Bayview, ☎ +91 32 1022 5214, mobile +91 98 3613 5942 (email@example.com). Facilities are okay for budget conscious travellers. Food is Bengali only and seems to be clean and hygienic compared to other road-side eateries. edit
- Hotel Deepak, Frasergunj, ☎ +91 33 2464 0081, +91 33 2463 3203 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 28/12/2013; checkout: 30/12/2013. A/C and non-A/C rooms, lift, swimming pool, bar, Bengali/Chinese/Continental. dorm bed Rs 100/day, rooms Rs.450-850. edit
- Hotel Dolphin, Chowrasta, 24 Parganas (South), ☎ +91 32 1022 5296, +91 98 36543585, . checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 11AM. A/C, non-A/C rooms, cottages, parking, garden, restaurant. On call doctor. Non-AC = Rs. 500/- Rs 1,200-2,000 + 5% tax on A/C rooms. edit
- Henry Island, Henry Island WBFD (10 min from Bakkhali), ☎ +91 33 2337 6470. checkin: 13/12/2013; checkout: 15/12/2013. Two complexes. One is just at the entrance of the Henry Island Mangrove area just adjoing the Matla river, and the other is 2 km inside it. The cottages inside Henry Island are named after various mangrove trees. The watchtower has a nice view. To book contact the State Fisheries Development Corporation (Bikash Bhavan). Rs 600-900. edit
- Joyguru Abasan, main road to beach. (2 minutes from Bakkhali bus stand.), ☎ +91 97 3437 0212. checkin: 10AM; checkout: 11AM. Residential type hotel. Generator provided and running water available 24 hrs/day. All double bed rooms have good ventilation. Rs 200-450. edit
- Sagar Belaya Guest House, (at Frezergunj), ☎ +91 33 2453 5817, +91 92 3154 9732 (email@example.com, fax: +91 90 5182 6220). checkin: 11:30AM; checkout: 11AM. Up to 50% off-season discount available. Bengali foods & snacks are available. Group cooking facility available, dining room@Rs 500/day, onsite generator 6PM-10PM daily. 8 double rooms Rs 500-600, 2 triple rooms Rs 600-750. edit
- Sahana Tourist Lodge, ☎ 91 33 22486850, +91 98 7459 6275 (mobile) Kolkata mobile +91 98 3026 8698 (firstname.lastname@example.org). checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 11AM. 10 rooms with dble rooms and one 4 bed rooms available on the 1st floor for Rs 850. Off-season discount may be available. Car parking, onsite power generator, cable TV , children's playground. Rs 425-850. edit
- Hotel ICON Heritage, Bakkhali, India, ☎ +91 9932877648, . checkin: 11-30 am; checkout: 11-30 am. https://facebook.com/hoteliconheritage/info 2,200-7,000 (excluding Tax). edit
Mobile phone coverage at Bakkhali is good, covers full range up to JammuDeep. Aircel mobile services are not available. BSNL, Vodafone and Airtel has good coverage. Ideally, one should check with the hotel one intends to stay at to determine which of the mobile phone service providers have facilities in the town and whether STD calls can be made from the hotel. ISD calls cannot be made from the hotels but there are public call offices at Bakkhali and en route providing that facility.
- Bhagabatpur – crocodile project
- Sagar Island - Gangasagar
- Sundarbans National Park – gateway for the West Bengal part of Sundarbans is through Canning and Basanti, but Sunderbans accessible from Bakkhali. But best accessed though Basanti. If you reach netadhopani you can see tiger too. We had the chance to see that
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