South 24 Parganas : Bakkhali
Bakkali 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.
There is a 7 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.
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 creek is not very wide, just about a hundred metres or so, but is considerably deep allowing the movement of ships from Kolkata to ports in Bangladesh. The creek reduces the journey-time for the ships. Because of this, it is difficult to construct a bridge across the creek. An ordinary bridge will hamper movement of ships and a high bridge is a costly proposition. There is an excellent road from Namkhana 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 the fringe of Kolkata to Bakkhali takes about three hours. However, crowded market places and occasional stretches of bad road can delay movement. West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation runs a direct bus service from Esplanade to Bakkhali. There are plenty of local buses up to Namkhana and then again from Namkhana to Bakkhali.
The railway track from Sealdah to Lakshmikantapur was earlier extended to Kakdwip, a fishing centre. It has since been extended to Namkhana. Local trains ply along the route.
The nearest airport is at Dum Dum in northern Kolkata.
Most of the time would be spent in enjoying on the beach but some people look out for opportunities to do other things also.
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. The two-hour ride (both ways) costs only Rs. 35 per head. The country boats can also be hired for other rides. The weak-hearted are advised not to take the rides.
The rickshaw van is the only transport available locally. There is nothing much to see other than the beach but enterprising rickshaw van pullers take tourists out to see places. It is cheap and since one has plenty of time, the ride can be enjoyable but do not expect much.
The stationery shops have reasonably good stocks.
Some mobile phone linkage is there. Ideally, one should check with the hotel one intends to check in as to 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.
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.
Credit cards are not accepted anywhere around and so carry cash.
There are plenty of small roadside eateries. Here you will get delicious sea fishes and cusines served at a resonable rate. Tourists enjoy the food but none of them come up to city standards.
There are large number of hotels at both Bakkhali and Frasergunj. Generally, tourists get a place to stay on arrival even without advance reservation. None of the hotels have internet or e-mail booking facilities.