IDEAL WEEKEND GATEWAY: DIGHA, MANDARMANI AND THE LIKES

1 year ago kashyapeesays 0

Okay so I planned summer holidays at Shimla and Manali. And then some last-minute things happened and I had to cancel that. Too bad! But wait, I was quick to wipe my tears of disdain and instead gathered my pen and notepad to start preparing yet another itinerary to Darjeeling instead, which of course is nearer to my place. Yayyy….. I could even save few bucks on the flight tickets now. Planned everything right, left and centre, made all arrangements, searched for every possible site, also included Sikkim to the list and almost started packing. Damn! There’s these political unrest happened which rested my trip in peace for good. Heartbroken and dejected, I desperately made attempts to fulfill my summer holiday plan and looked out for somewhere which is full proof you know. Like no political scenario, not very far (you know last minute flights cost a bomb right) and finally zeroed down on Digha and Mandarmani (back to what I love most…the endless stretches of water and sand). I guess the mountains haven’t had called me yet!!

Digha is a one-stop destination for people looking forward to spend a relaxing holiday. One of the best features of this hamlet is the pleasure experienced in witnessing areas that have minimal human impact and are relatively untouched.

 

What’s Great?

Picturesque scenarios, calm and serene place especially in off-seasons.

What’s not so Great?

Beaches can be crowded during peak season. No prominent tourists place except the beaches.

 

HOW TO REACH DIGHA

  1. By bus

Digha is a 4-5 hr journey by bus from Kolkata which cost approx Rs.300/person in AC bus and Rs.100/person for Non-AC.

  1. By train

Three trains run daily from Howrah Railway Station at 06.40 (Tamralipta Express), 11.15 (Duranto Express) and 14.40 (Kandari Express) daily. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to reach Digha. The trains are well maintained and definitely the best mode of transportation from Kolkata owing to its punctuality and comfort. I being a comfort freak definitely chose train and boarded the Tamralipta Express from Howarah at 6.40 A.M and reached Digha by 10 A.M. the AC chair cars are pretty good and often fully booked.

 

OLD & NEW DIGHA BEACH

Basically Digha is divided into Old Digha and New Digha. While the old Digha is the core tourist attraction with numerous budget hotels, markets, hawkers etc; New Digha has emerged to be a better spot for sea bathing and leisurely stroll. The stretch of beach connecting Old Digha and New Digha is lined with Casuarina trees. New Digha has longer and wider flat beach compared to the rocky and concreted (to counter erosion) beach of Old Digha. Having said that, the charm of Old Digha till wee hours of the night is unmatched.

 

ROAMING AROUND

Rickshaws, local cabs, E-rickshaws and shared autos are easily available for convenient commutation. Most of these are on sharing basis and very cheap. Cycle rickshaws and open motorcycle rickshaws are fun to ride.

 

WHAT TO SEE :

OLD DIGHA BEACH

It is the main and the most commercialized beach in Digha. Everything is in superlative here i.e. the number of tourists, hotels, souvenir shops, makeshift stalls, hawkers, eateries etc. It is still the major attraction of Digha with New Digha swiftly catching pace and houses most of the hustle and bustle of the town. There is market place, ATMs and everything easily available here.

The beach is entirely concreted here due to the endless erosion caused by the sea waves. It’s quite dangerous to swim here or to go for water sports owing to high tides. Seats are built on the concretes where one can enjoy the mornings and evenings with chai(tea) from hawkers served in the famous clay cups; Bengal style. There are numerous hotels to stay as well as dine in serving veg and non veg dishes which are quite cheap.

If one is fond of the hustle and bustle of any place and want to get the real Digha vibe then Old Digha is the place to stay.

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Ever bustling Old Digha at about 11 pm

 

NEW DIGHA BEACH

Lying about 2 kilometers away from the Old Digha beach, this is a man-made attraction. It is preferred by tourists owing to its easier accessibility, larger expanse and lesser crowd density.

This beach is famous for its alluring sunrise and sunsets, which are beautiful beyond words. With the golden rays of the sun reflecting off the sparkling sea, this view will surely last in your memories for a long time! One can spend an entire evening here amongst the teeming masses of carefree holiday makers and check out the wares of hundreds of makeshift stalls while enjoying the sea breeze.

I being a lover of tranquility of course chose to stay in New Digha. Note that the hotels are comparatively cheaper in Digha then other places in India.

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New Digha offering pony rides and much more !

 

AMARABATI PARK

Surrounded by lush green gardens, Amarabati Park is a favorite tourist destination in Digha and a great place to hang out. Only a 5 min walk from New Digha beach, in this amusement park apart from leisurely walks, one can enjoy boat rides at the Amarabati lake or ropeway ride to have an aerial eye view of the entire park.

The ropeway ride is definitely fun and a must. There’s a café inside which is average. Also entry fee is just Rs.5 which is like almost free right?

 

CHANDANESHWAR TEMPLE

This holy abode of Lord Shiva is 8km from Digha at Bengal-Odisha border, is a major attraction of Digha tour. The temple complex was crowded with devotees and not in very hygienic condition. One has to remove shoes at the entrance and enter the temple complex bare feet. Inside the main sanctum of the temple one has to jostle for space to see the lingam which is situated underground. Avoid the pandas trying to extract money in the name of the Lord. Substantiated with religious facts, it is also called “Second Puri of Odisha” and holds significance to the state.

Please note: the two images above are taken from internet.

 

THE MARINE AQUARIUM AND RESEARCH CENTRE (MARC)

Founded in 1989 as an initiative of the Seventh Five Year Plan, it is the largest marine aquarium in Asia. The marine museum accommodates quite some numbers of large marine tanks and 7/8 small fresh water tanks that harbor a variety of marine species. The Aquarium remains open to visitors on all working days from 9.30 AM to 6 PM and is absolutely free of entry cost(again).

The irritating odor of chemicals disturbs the senses quickly though. Photography is strictly prohibited inside.

 

SCIENCE CENTRE

Digha Science Centre is also a major tourist attraction which has been established by the National Council of Science Museum. The Science Centre provide great educational opportunity for kids and adults alike where a diverse variety of mechanism helps to learn various technologies. There are fun glasses which measure height, a skeleton that accompanies in bicycle race, planetarium etc.

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NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Digha is small beach resort town and has very few things to offer apart from the beaches. Here come the nearby places in rescue. Digha is bordered by Orissa which has many things to offer to the tourists. Also the nearby beaches like Mandarmani, Tazpur, Shankarpur and Mohana etc. adds to the list making Digha a wholesome destination altogether.

 

MANDARMANI

Most people are here to hang out at the beach. The waves tend to be calm and the water is often dotted with a few fishermen going about their daily routine. It is quite untouched although commercialization is catching up and offers vast stretches of semi virgin beach, a sight to behold for photography enthusiasts and peace or nature lovers alike. I certainly belong to the later. The beach also has a number of small eateries which sell tea and snacks. If you want to have meals, you have to place an order with the owners beforehand. One must have to compromise on the hygiene while having food in those stalls.

Numerous hotels and resorts have come up in Mandarmani in the recent years owing to its gradual exposure to tourists.

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Literally isolated beach

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TAJPUR

The main attraction of Tajpur is its fantastic sea beach with a dense forest of Casuarina trees. This virgin beach is situated between Mandarmani and Shankarpur, towards the east of Digha.

It is a beautiful, pristine beach with hardly any crowd. A great place for getting in the waves(at own risk of course) and walking across miles of sand. There are many hotels, all far inland and away from the beach, and no vendors.

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Rocks being used to avoid further erosion by the waves.
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A lovely capture from Tazpur…all gloomy and cloudy but enthralling at the same !

 

SHANKARPUR

Lying about 14 km from Digha, Shankarpur is again a pristine virgin beach, much delight to people like me. Normally the deserted beach is quite tranquil with only a few shops offering tea and snacks. The Shankarpur beach is under construction and renovation and without doubt will compete with Digha after its completion owing to its better views and location. I had captured some of my best photos here and is definitely my personal favorite from the many beaches I have visited. I just loved the vibe there. One can sit on the concrete seats for hours with the wind playing with the hairs, eyes flirting with the waves and heart romancing the aura of the majestic sea.

 

MOHANA

It’s about 15/20 minutes drive from Old Digha/New Digha. Here the Champa river coming from Sankarpur meets the Bay of Bengal. A good place to visit but the entrance is muddy and full of smell of fishes. Transport( Van/Auto/Toto) from New/Old Digha is easily available even as early as 5 AM.

There is a huge market for fish lovers. Fishes directly come from boats and go for auction. Morning is the best time to visit Digha Mohana.

The Whole sale fish market makes this place a little worse though, especially if you are more of a nature lover then fish. But one will not regret the beautiful view of Sunrise here in Mohana. One can also visit it during the sunset and enjoy the calm serene and the extensive coast. I went there to watch sunrise which was beyond words to describe. The gradual extension of the sea towards the beach and slowly engulfing the Champa river is a sight to behold.

One can enjoy the beauty of Mohana only if one can stand the excruciating smell of dry and fresh fish!
Dry fish processing is done here, therefore strong smell float all around! So, be prepared before visiting the place. I had a tough time crossing the fish market with all that smell and slippery path owing to the ice transported for fish storage. It’s better to go for an open rickshaw as they take you past the fish market. I did a grave mistake by opting for e rickshaw which refused to go beyond a limit, landing me in much discomfort.

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The Champa River before sunrise
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Champa River meeting the Bay of Bengal
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Then the sea engulfed the river
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Alley to the Mohana
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Sun rising while the clouds refused to give us proper views!

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UDAIPUR BEACH

The beach is located on the border of Orissa and is just about 3 km from Digha. It has natural beauty   with some artificial touch. Transportation is good, security is average (poor compared to Digha), scenic beauty is better than the Digha beaches. Great for a day trip from Digha.

 

THINGS TO BUY

  • Ornaments and curiosmade of sea shells
  • Hand woven mats
  • Cashew nuts: there is a cashew nut farm in Digha, so cashew nuts are cheaper here than other places.

 

 

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

Day 1- Reach Digha by morning via train. Check into the hotel. Start the trip by visiting the Temple of Chandaneswar and then head out for lunch. The evening is for New Digha beach. Stroll around, have coconut water and buy souvenirs from the nearby shops which remain open up to about 9 PM only.

Day 2- Start the day by visiting The Marine Aquarium and Research Centre. Enjoy the varieties of aquatic species. Have breakfast and head out to Mandarmani beach. Lunch with fresh sea fish is a delight to the taste buds in Mandarmani. While returning, cover Tazpur and Shankarpur Beach. Relax and unwind at Shanakarpur beach which is a delight to nature enthusiasts. Have tea and chips from the local stores.

In the evening, stroll around along Old Digha beach where one can enjoy the view as well as the much hustle and bustle of the town. Also, purchase handicrafts and seashell jewelleries, handmade bags and different gifts from the nearby stalls.
Day 3-  Visit the Science Centre in the morning after breakfast and the head out to Udaipur beach. Have lunch with sea food at the beach. The evening should be reserved for Amarabati Park which is a must visit while in Digha.

Day 4- Head out to the beach (New or Old Digha depending on your hotel location) for one last time. Watch the sun rise above the majestic waves. Later, check out and wave good-bye to the quaint little town.

 

Tips

  • Do not forget to carry mosquito repellent.
  • Carry enough cash to last the trip since there are very few ATMs and even those are not completely reliable.
  • The best time to visit the beach is before 9:00 PM because of unsocial elements lurking around after that. So make sure that you visit this destination during this time frame.
  • Always opt for auto, toto, open rickshaws and e rickshaws for transportation because they are cheap and on sharing basis. Also they are less likely to cheat you.

 

Did you go for a vacation this summer too? Was it an adventurous one or a soul-searching one? Please like and comment if you like my post ro found it useful in anyway.

You may also like my travelogue to Abode of Shaniniketan here

https://kashyapeesays.wordpress.com/into-the-abode-of-noble-laureate-rabindranath-tagore/

or to The Iconic Taj Mahal here

https://kashyapeesays.wordpress.com/essence-of-lovethe-taj-mahal/

or if you wanna see the Blissful Kanyakumari here

https://kashyapeesays.wordpress.com/exploring-kanyakumari-india/

 

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Love and luck till we meet again!!