Mandarmani: Quick Weekend Getaway from Kolkata
by Sulagna Ganguly
Monday, August 1, 2016
If you’re in Kolkata, chances are you’re already tired fighting heat and humidity the entire week. Take a quick break and go to Mandarmani – a small village by the sea. Situated around 170 kilometers from Kolkata, Mandarmani will wash away your fatigue with its cool sea breeze and satiate your tummy with yummy sea food.
Being born and brought up in Kolkata, I frequented this village by the Bay of Bengal, which is recently being promoted by West Bengal Tourism. Recently, while in Kolkata, my brother suggested one day that we go for a short weekend trip. 1 hour of brainstorming to shortlist the place, 30 minutes of packing, and we (my brother, parents, and I) were off to Mandarmani.
We started at around 8 AM on a Saturday morning. Driving through NH16, we reached Kolaghat at around 10 AM, where we took a break for breakfast. You will find many dhabas (roadside restaurants) around if you want to take a quick break. We had our breakfast at Sher-e-Punjab, the most popular dhaba in the area. Trust me, their aloo parathas are delicious – soft, filling, and melts in your mouth.
After an hour break at Sher-e-Punjab, we started. Kolaghat to Mandarmani is around 105 kilometers, and took us around 3 hours to reach. For most stretch of the route from Kolaghat, you need to be a little careful while driving as it is single-lane, and trucks and buses ply frequently on the route.
We reached Mandarmani at around 2 PM in the afternoon. I had already booked the hotel online, so the check-in was smooth. Both our rooms were sea-facing, so we could see the sea right from the bed.
The next two days was relaxing. We had good food, explored the village, walked along the beach, played with the waves, and bonded over endless cups of tea and fried fish. We went on the last week of March, so the temperature was pleasant. Surprisingly, it rained during our stay, which made the trip complete.
How to Reach?
Mandarmani is 170 kilometers away from Kolkata. You can reach Mandarmani by road or rail.
Nearest railhead is Digha. There are three trains that ply regularly from Howrah to Digha and takes around 3 hours. From Digha, you can rent a car to reach Mandarmani, which is 27 kilometers away.
You can hire a car or drive on your own to Mandarmani, which takes about 3 hours from Kolkata. The roads are pretty good and safe.
Alternatively, you can go by bus. There are plenty of air-conditioned and non-AC buses, both government and private that ply on the route. Get down at Chaulkhola. From there you can either hire an auto, cab, or a tractor to Mandarmani, which is around 10 kilometers from Chaulkhola.
Note: There are two places named Chaulkhola. Let your bus driver/ attendant know that you will go to Mandarmani, he will stop at the right one.
Suggestion: I suggest you hire a car or take your own car. Getting means of transport in Mandarmani to go around is a problem, so it is better to have your own vehicle.
Where to Stay?
There are many hotels and resorts in Mandarmani. And the best part is, almost all of them are sea-facing. The price of air-conditioned room ranges from INR800 to INR10000, depending on the category of room and hotel/ resort you choose. Choose a one that suits your budget and you won’t be disappointed.
We booked two royal rooms for two nights at Candlewood Park Beach Resort, which costed around INR15000.
What to Eat?
The main occupation of the villagers is fishing. So needless to say, seafood is cheap and is a must try.
Almost all the restaurants in the region serve fresh food as per your order. While at Mandarmani, try crabs, prawns, and fresh sea fishes like Pompret and Bhetki.
The region has coconut trees in abundance. So whenever you are thirsty, instead of normal water, try fresh coconut water.
In the evening, don’t forget to try fried fish with beer as you sit by the sea.
What to Do?
Mandarmani is primarily a lazy weekend destination. While there are beaches around, I would advise while at Mandarmani, take a stroll on the beach, eat fresh seafood, drink coconut water, and relax.
The beach is clean. You will see many tourists enjoying in the sea. Join them if you love. Or else, just sit by the beach and watch waves break on the shore.
Be careful of the red crabs (small ones), which are in abundance. You can follow them and enjoy as they run to hide while you walk along the shore.
If you are visiting with family or friends in a large group, you can set up a bonfire in the evening and enjoy the company with good food and sea breeze.
Mandarmani is perhaps the only beach in West Bengal where driving on the beach is allowed. Though the government is taking measures to stop that, you can still drive your car on the beach.
When to Visit?
July – March every year.
Though Mandarmani is a year-round destination, tourists avoid it during summers. If you are planning a weekend, plan it around full moon. The place is magical during full moon.
Places to Visit
Hop on an ATV Bike in the evening. These bikes that ply on the beach will take you to an estuary (confluence of river and sea) around 7 kilometers away for you to watch the sunset. These bikes charge around INR200 per person.
There are many popular beaches in and around Mandarmani like Digha, Talsari, Sankarpur, and Udaipur. You can drive down to these beaches and cover them all in a single day.
At times, it is important to step aside and watch the world run, while you sip your favorite drink and watch the mad race. Mandarmani lets you do just that. If you want a quick break to rejuvenate, or want to spend some quality time with friends or family, head to Mandarmani.
And now that you have all the information, what are you waiting for? If you are in Kolkata, head for Mandarmani next weekend.
And if you plan to visit India anytime, plan a couple of nights to relax at Mandarmani while in Kolkata.
by Sulagna GangulyMonday, August 1, 2016
Compulsive wordsmith. Travel enthusiast and amateur photographer. Map reader. Loves planning vacations when not working. Crazy about long drives in the rain. Dreamer. Loves to be a local in foreign land. Travel advisor for friends and family.Read more at bohemianspree.com