If you happen to land in West Bengal’s capital city Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), you are likely to get the literal meaning of its sobriquet, “The City of Joy.”
Did you know that Kolkata is called, “The City of Joy?”
Kolkata is genuinely a joyfully high-spirited city with bustling markets, roaring yellow ambassador taxis, royal British architecture, and gastronomic residents. When we first think of West Bengal, Durga Puja and Mishti Doi are undoubtedly imprinted images that come to mind. Little do people who haven’t visited West Bengal know that the state a melting pot of age-old cultures and natural wonders.
Mountains or beaches, you can find them all around Kolkata.
Kolkata is the gateway to the unexplored natural treasures of West Bengal. From the majestic Himalayas in the north to the pristine beaches along the Bay of Bengal in the south, Kolkata provides access to travelers who wish to behold the geographical uniqueness of West Bengal. If you happen to visit the city of joy, make sure you add these weekend getaways to your bucket list. Here are our top 10 picks of weekend getaways from Kolkata –
- Sundarbans National Park
- Henry’s Island
- Jaldapara National Park
- Simlipal National Park
Explore detailed information about activities and experiences that you can have at these places for your next weekend getaway.
Did you know that Rasikbil means “low water land” or “swamp”? Located at the foothills of Sintura Hill in Cooch Behar District of West Bengal, Rasikbil is a haven for birth-watchers. “Bil” in Bengali translates to “swamp” or “low water land.”
Birdwatching at Rasikbil
This small lake is a hub-spot for a variety of birds, who nestle themselves in the greenery around the lake. Kingfisher, spoonbill, storks, ibis, cormorants, owl, and parrots are few of the many bird varieties one can spot here.
Wildlife reserves to visit at Rasikbil
A crocodile rehabilitation center and a deer park flank either side of the lake, along with a python house, a leopard house, Aviary, a tortoise rescue center. You can even drive to Buxa Tiger Reserve from Rasikbil to witness the wilder side of the district.
The distance between Kolkata and Rasikbil
This ecotourism destination makes for a perfect trip for nature-lovers riling in the chaotic urbanscape of Kolkata as it is about 450 kilometers drive from the city.
How to reach Rasikbil from Kolkata, and the best time of year to visit Rasikbil
New Jalpaiguri Junction is the central railway station, and Bagdogra is the closest airport in this area. October to February is the best time to visit Rasikbil to see migratory birds and enjoy the pleasant weather.
Located on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, Tajpur is a quiet beach town situated in Purba Medinipur. The virgin sea beach of Tajpur has an exotic appeal, which is greatly enhanced by the thick grove of casuarina and tamarisk trees flanking it.
What to experience at Tajpur
It’s common to see a carpet of red crabs on the beach, making it an ideal destination to experience crab-picking and coastal cuisines. Not to forget, Tajpur is also a huge hub for pisciculture activities, with several fish-ponds dotting its landscape.
The screams of seagulls wake you up to a bright dawn, with the sun lending a saffron hue to the clouds above the horizon. With its serene beaches and water adventures, Tajpur makes for a relaxing beach holiday for anyone who wishes to unwind themselves in a pristine coastal setting.
The distance between Kolkata and Tajpur
Tajpur is located about 180 kilometers (4.5 hours) from Kolkata, and it falls on the way to Digha. You can also plan a trip to nearby beaches like Shankarpur, Junput, and Mandormoni to indulge in paragliding and water sports.
The best time of year to visit Tajpur
You should visit Tajpur between September and March to experience a comfortable weather with lesser humidity.
Kurseong literally translates to “The Land of White Orchids”. Kurseong, meaning “The Land of White Orchids” in Lepcha is a breathtaking hill station nestled amidst the Himalayas in Darjeeling district. Located at an elevation of 4,783 feet, Kurseong is 32 kilometers from the main town of Darjeeling. In August 1880, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Toy Train Service covered Kurseong, making it the headquarter of the subdivision.
Places to visit at Kurseong
Kurseong is known for sprawling tea plantations, orchid gardens, evergreen forests, and abundant vegetation owing to its favorable climate. The Ambootia Shiva Temple, Giddah Pahar Durga Mata Mandir, The Kettle Valley, Rock Garden, Eagle’s Craig, Deer Park and Jagadish Mandir are few popular spots you must visit in Kurseong.
Kurseong is undoubtedly a fantastic destination for travelers because it does treasure thrilling trekking trails, old museums and rich flora and fauna.
The distance between Kolkata and Kurseong, and how to get to Kurseong from Kolkata
Kurseong is about 600 kilometers from Kolkata (15 hours’ drive from the city).
You can also choose to fly to Bagdogra or take a train to New Jalpaiguri, from where Kurseong is about 50 kilometers.
The best time of year to visit Kurseong
September to December and March to mid-June are pleasant months to visit this pristine hill station.
4. Sundarbans National Park
Did you know that Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Unlike other national parks in the country, Sundarbans is of particular importance to wildlife lovers because it is a biosphere reserve, a tiger reserve, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its islands of mangrove forests.
What to watch out for in the Sundarbans
Over 60 percent of the delta of mangroves is in Bangladesh, but it’s still a significant reserve of man-eating Royal Bengal tigers. The wilderness of Sundarbans includes a network of meandering waterways, which can be used for navigation around the park.
Wildlife spotting in the Sundarbans
The fertile delta is also the home to wild boars, reptiles, estuarine crocodiles, and swamp deer. You should certainly go to the nearby villages to get a glimpse of their life with the threat of predators and flooding looming over them.
What to experience in the Sundarbans
No matter what, it’s an amazing place to enjoy a boat ride around the park, go for crab-picking, and relax in a rustic landscape.
The distance between Kolkata and Sunderbans, and how to get to Sunderbans from Kolkata
Located about 3 hours’ drive from Kolkata, you need to hop a couple of islands after the last motorable road to reach the national park. You can even take a local train to Canning from Kolkata.
The best time of year to visit Sunderbans
Although the park is open from September through March, you should visit Sundarbans between December and February to watch migratory birds and bask in the pleasant weather.
5. Henry’s Island
If at all you aren’t satiated by the dense mangroves of Sundarbans, perhaps you should head towards its western fringes where you find Henry’s Island. Although not very known, Henry’s Island is emerging as a popular destination for beach holidays near Kolkata.
What to experience at Henry’s Island
The island is named after a British surveyor and is located near Bakkhali, which is in South 24 Parganas District. It is home to tens of thousands of red crabs and is an ideal destination for urban dwellers looking to nature walks, bonfire nights, and bird-watching opportunities.
The distance between Kolkata and Henry’s Island
Henry’s Island is located about 130 kilometers from Kolkata and takes about three to four hours to reach by road or rail.
The best time of year to visit Henry’s Island
The months between October and March provide an ideal time to indulge in different activities here.
6. Jaldapara National Park
The significance of Jaldapara National Park
Located in Alipurduar District, alongside the foothills of Himalayas, Jaldapara National Park is a vast spread of riverine forests and grasslands. If there’s a national park that houses a vast population of one-horned rhinoceros after Kaziranga National Park in Assam, then it’s Jaldapara.
Wildlife spotting at Jaldapara National Park
Gorumara National Park and Buxa Tiger Reserve are not far this national park. Indian elephants, leopards, barking deer, sambar, hog deer, gaur, wild boars, and spotted deer are few of the many species that comprise its faunal diversity. Not to forget, the national park is also a prominent site for Bengal florican and many other species of birds, making it a haven for bird-watchers.
How to get to Jaldapara National Park from Kolkata
Although you can reach Jaldapara in less than 20 hours from Kolkata by road, it’s recommended you fly to Bagdogra or take a train to New Jalpaiguri, from where it’s a 3 hours’ drive.
The best time of year to visit Jaldapara National Park
You should plan a trip to this national park in winter or during the beginning of summer to enjoy wildlife safari and elephant rides.
7. Simlipal National Park
If you cross the boundary into the neighboring state of Orissa, you are likely to uncover another natural treasure near Kolkata called the Simlipal National Park. Located close to the town of Marurbhan, the national park is a major tiger project in the country.
Wildlife spotting at Simlipal National Park
Enriched with beautiful meadows, dense forests, and breathtaking waterfalls, the national park is an idyllic setting for camping and wildlife exploration. Sloth bear, leopard, porcupine, mongoose, crocodile, python, and elephants are few creatures that make the biodiversity of this place.
Activities to experience at Simlipal National Park
Trekking, nature walks, and bird-watching are few activities one can indulge in when in Simlipal National Park.
The distance between Kolkata and Simlipal National Park, and how to get to Simlipal National Park from Kolkata
It’s about 360 kilometers (8 hours’ drive) from Kolkata and 200 kilometers (4 hours’ drive) from Bhubaneswar.
The best time of year to visit Simlipal National Park
You should visit this national park between November and mid-June.
If you’re a fan of phenomenal views, you’ll love what you can see from Rishyap
Rishyap is a hidden gem nestled in the mountains of Kalimpong District. Located at an elevation of 2,591 feet, Rishyap is known to provide a breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga, which is the third highest mountain range in the world.
What to experience at Rishyap
Rishyap welcomes you to a whole new hill staycation experience with its local cuisines, cottage accommodations, and amazing site-seeing spots. The forest-draped mountains have hidden trails which can prove incredible for trekking and nature walks.
Places to visit at Rishyap
Tifindara, Lava Jamgyong Kongtrul Monastery, and Neora National Park are few places you should add to your list if you wish to feel Rishyap’s true essence.
The distance between Kolkata and Rishyap, and how to get to Rishyap from Kolkata
Rishyap is about 600 kilometers from Kolkata, but it can easily be reached from Siliguri within a few hours.
The best time of year to visit Rishyap
The best season to visit Rishap is between the autumn months of October to November and spring months of February to March.
Located at an elevation of 6,956 feet, Lepchajagat beckons honeymooners and nature-lovers to witness the wild treasure just 20 kilometers from Darjeeling. One cannot miss this place because it provides magnificent views of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga peaks.
Places to visit at Lepchajagat
Home to the Lepchas, Lepchajagat is a mixture of cultures. This haven is draped in oaks, rhododendrons, and pines, which house many birds and creatures. You can sit on the balcony of your cottage and sip some Darjeeling tea enjoying the view of the mountains in the distance. You can go to Ghoom Rock, Hawa Ghar, Jorpokhri, Mirik, Ghum Monastery, and Manebhanjan to enjoy trekking adventures.
The distance between Kolkata and Lepchajagat, and how to get to Lepchajagat from Kolkata
Lepchajagat is about 620 kilometers from Kolkata (15 hours’ drive), but you can also take a train or flight to Siliguri to save the driving time.
The best time of year to visit Lepchajagat
October to April is the best time to visit the place as the weather is favorable for outdoor activities.
Last but certainly not the least, you can visit Jaldhaka, an idyllic weekend getaway that harbors a beautiful green landscape and a riverine ecosystem. Falling under the administration of Kalimpong town in Darjeeling District, Jaldhaka is drained by the Jaldhaka River, which separates it from Bhutan.
Places to visit at Jaldhaka
The region is dotted by a number of villages, namely Bindu, Jhalong, Gairibans, Paren, Todey, Godak, Rongo, etc., which are ideal for having an offbeat holiday amidst nature. If you wish to go wilder, you can visit the Neora Valley National Park, which sprawls not very far from Jaldhaka.
How to get to Jaldhaka from Kolkata
Wondering how to get there? Take a train from Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri, from where you can reach Jaldhaka in about 3 hours by road. You can go here anytime, but try avoiding the rainy months for fear of getting stuck in landslides.
What to experience at Jaldhaka
Trekking, camping, and nature walk are a few of the activities you can enjoy when you are in this picturesque town.
The weekend’s coming up! Pick one of these places and get going. If you’re stuck booking the right place to stay, browse cozy, hidden-away resorts using Wildr.