Difference between revisions of "Bakkhali"
Revision as of 20:18, 2 April 2012
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.
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 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 3.5 hours and as much as 5 hours. However, crowded market places and occasional stretches of bad road 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 70.
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 7.30AM and next to this one is at a long gap at around 10.30AM . Train fare is around Rs 22 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. 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.
For all the spots a Ricksaw van will charge you at max Rs 60 per head 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 entire Sunderban area. It is a splendid view. On one side you can see the Bakkhali Beach in the far distance and on all the other side the green expanses of Sundarban. It 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.
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 2.
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, nor are there any ATMs around the place, so carry cash.
The stationary shops have reasonably good stocks if you want to write a letter home.
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.
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.