Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta, has a lot to offer, from its British architecture to its rich culture and heritage. Though the city is home to numerous monuments and iconic buildings and celebrates almost every festival across religions with least discrimination, it is always a good idea to explore weekend getaways from Kolkata with family and friends. Famous for Durga Puja festivities all over the globe, ahead are a few handpicked destinations close to the metropolitan.
Weekend getaways from Kolkata are tranquil and comforting, almost never failing to soothe one’s mind, body, and soul. Here are a few places for weekend trips from Kolkata that prove to be a true stress-buster.
A quick list of the top 5 weekend getaway destinations from Kolkata are:
53 km away from Kolkata, a weekend is more than what you would need to unwind here. Nestled on the banks of the Hoogly River, you can expect some calm company. The small and charming town of Raichak is located in the South 24 Parganas District of West Bengal and a drive is what we would recommend. The scenic beauty along the way, as you cross Diamond Harbour, is a must see. One should drive down the Diamond Harbour Road from Behala in Southern Kolkata to reach Sarisha in about 30 mins and take a right turn just before Diamond Harbour. Raichak is another 5 km from here, making it one of perfect weekend getaways from Kolkata and a great picnic spot around Kolkata.
The prime tourist destination in Raichak is the Raichak Fort built by the East India Company in 1783. However, it has now been converted into Radisson Fort – a luxurious resort for tourists. This is one of the best options available for accommodation and although entry is restricted only to guests, non-guests can savor the magnificence of it from outside. It also holds some antiques from the British period. The aesthetic beauty of Raichak and its spectacular sunset can be seen on the Hoogly River. The ferry rides from the Raichak Jetty and Nupur Jetty to Gadiara or Kukhrahati are truly breathtaking. One must taste the delicious and mouth-watering Bengali cuisines available at Raichak. A day river cruise can be booked at Diamond Harbour if you’re spending a long weekend. There is also an option to enjoy a tour of the port city of Haldia, Gadiara or Joynagar. The ideal time to visit Raichak is between October and March when the temperature drops down. Apart from Fort Radisson, you can also get budget accommodation options at Raichak. If you wish to go across the border for peace, you can also read how to travel to Bhutan from India via Kolkata.
If you want to explore more, Diamond Harbor is an excellent choice that is 15 km from Raichak. Previously a prime port for the British, it still holds large ocean vessels. You will be taken aback by the natural beauty of this area. Diamond Harbour has the ruins of the ancient Chingrihkali Fort, known to be the refuge of the Portuguese pirates and you can spot a lighthouse at the site. One can also visit the Ashram of Sharisha Ramakrishna Mission located here. We surely love this weekend getaway from Kolkata!
It is located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in the East Midnapur district at the border of Odisha. The beauty of the place lies in its scenic beaches and serene atmosphere. The beaches aren’t crowded, creating the perfect spot to unwind with a book, take some photographs or just lie down on the sand with the sound of waves crashing against the rocks.
If you’re in the vicinity of Kolkata, a weekend trip to Digha is a must. It is located at a mere 185 km from Kolkata, making it the perfect weekend getaway from Kolkata. There are several trains to and fro Kolkata and Digha. The cost goes up to Rs.1000 and it takes about 3 hours. Digha is divided into Old Digha and New Digha, each providing a different look into the beach-town. One can spend a day at the ruins in Old Digha and the next at the seashores lined with casuarina trees in New Digha. Tourists in New Digha can go paragliding and take part in other water sports. There are several gaming stalls as well that will entertain you for hours!
Tourists prefer accommodation in New Digha as it is cheaper and closer to the beach. Digha is famous for seafood – so indulge in authentic prawns and fish! There are several pop-up shops that sell earrings and handbags for all shopaholics and their price is negotiable! The best time to visit Digha would be September to March. This is a great picnic spot near Kolkata.
If you’re planning a trip to Digha on a regular weekend, ideally book a train on Friday evening. Once you reach, you can hit one of the parties happening on the beaches and wake up on Saturday morning (or afternoon) to a scenic view of the beach, You can head to Old Digha for some sightseeing and be back just in time for sunset on the beach. Enjoy another night and let Sunday be a relaxing day in New Digha, walking on the shores and playing some games or shopping. You can head back home on Sunday evening. If you wish for a long weekend getaway from Kolkata, you can plan to leave on Thursday night and the extra day can be spent in exploring the nearby places like Shankarpur, Mandarmoni, Talsari or Mohona.
If you are one with nature, then Bankura is the perfect weekend getaway from Kolkata for you. Surrounded by the greens, it is an ideal spot for those who love adventure. Initially a temple town with rich history, it is currently the place where trekking, hiking, and biking have become popular attractions. The area’s history entangles with spirituality to create a unique tourist experience. Bankura is famous for its terracotta temples attracting holidaymakers from all over the world. It is a simple yet fulfilling experience if one is looking to explore and find peace. Bankura has great geographic significance as the location is in an intermediate zone between the Chotanagpur plateau and the plains of Bengal, providing a strategic industrial advantage. During the colonial period, it was an extremely resourceful and administrative center.
At a close distance of 175 km from Kolkata, Bankura can be reached by car as well as train. The traveling time is about 4 to 5 hours. Within Bankura, auto-rickshaws and rental cars are easily available. The accommodation here is not luxurious as such, but extremely comfortable. There are numerous homestays that can be procured on rent with basic facilities. The cuisine is mostly North Indian and Bengali. Bankura is also famous for its sweet local treasures such as Mecha Sandesh and Pera. Mahua is a popular local drink. This is an amazing picnic spot near Kolkata.
If you want to make a weekend trip to Bankura, you could leave on Friday evening and make it to the town by night-time. Saturday can be spent exploring the Susunia Hills and Mukutmanipur Dam while the evening can be invested in watching the sunset with some coffee/tea and biscuits. Sunday can be utilised for visiting the Shyam Rai Temple and Joypur Jungle. Other options are the Joyrambati and Gokul Chand Temple. The best time to visit Bankura would be between October and March. After March, Bankura experiences extreme heat that can go up to 40 degrees and from June to October, it experiences heavy rainfall, making it almost impossible to visit at such times.
For a weekend getaway from Kolkata, Bardhaman at a distance of 101.9 kms, seems to be an ideal weekend getaway from Kolkata for almost every kind of person. It’s one of those typical Bengali towns that is now on the rise for modernisation. This is a town where religion, nature and man-made materials come together for a smooth transition to globalization as well as traditionalism to one’s roots. Here is where tourists will find their own space to explore and grow.
There are countless places with different rates and services offering rooms. Some hotels also offer a variety of services like cars, tour guides and so on. Generally, the highest tariff rate will not be over Rs. 5,000 per night. Bardhaman also offers a variety of spicy Indian foods with fish curry being the most popular choice here. Sitabhog and Mihidana are two very special local desserts. Several local vendors sell the same on the streets. Traveling in the city is usually through cabs and buses. Another easy and cheap mode of transport is the battery operated rickshaws. However, once you are at a particular point, traveling by foot becomes a much more feasible option. this can aslo be a great picnic spot near Kolkata.
Exploring Bardhaman can take anywhere between a few days to a month, depending on your pace and what you want to experience. Considering a weekend trip, with two full days of sight-seeing, which is mostly what Bardhaman offers, one can easily cover the main tourist attractions. Gulap Bagh is one of the first spots to see in Bardhaman. Exploring the garden takes easily a few hours and taking in its magnificence might take much longer. Without a doubt, Gulap Bagh is a must see. If you are interested in forests and wildlife, the Deer Park is a viable option. Tourists can also spend a night at their guest house. The Bardhaman University, Science Centre, and The Meghnad Saha Planetarium are also other options. One could also concentrate on the history and religion of the city by visiting the Sarbamangala Temple followed by Kalyaneshwari Temple and Kankeleshwari Kalibari. At least one evening should be spent at the Curzon Gate where the sunset is absolutely stunning. Also read how Kolkata is a good hit for babymoon destinations in Asia.
The best time to visit Bardhaman is from October to March. Avoid summer as the city can become extremely hot, but the weather is never unbearable. However, to obtain the best weekend getaway from Kolkata, the months of November, December and March seem to be ideal.
Shantiniketan, at a distance of 161.4kms from Kolkata, calls out to those who wish to explore the rich cultural past of West Bengal and follow the roots more than latest technological developments. Gardens, schools held on grounds under trees to incorporate teaching amidst nature, display of old artefacts and visits to the museum and ashrams are a must. Those visiting Shantiniketan must remember to drop in at the Uttrayan Complex and Amar Kutir for handicrafts and the Nippon Bhawan. This weekend getaway from Kolkata is sure to enrich your knowledge and enhance your mental horizons regarding the contributions of great Rabindranath Tagore in the field of education. The various halls, bhawans and melas (fairs) have a lot to offer. It is a personal recommendation to witness the celebration of 'Holi' there as they use flower petals instead of chemical colors and dance and sing to their hearts content. The best time to visit Shantiniketan is Mid August-March. Poush Mela, around the end of December, is an event which attracts large numbers and students perform for the on-lookers. Rabindranath Thakur's ideology of the coming together of the East and West are quite evident at this ideal weekend getaway from Kolkata. Also read about haunted places in Barrackpore.
There are other towns and cities that are worth exploring if you want a weekend getaway from Kolkata, especially a long one. Other places include the famous Sunderbans where one can spot the Royal Bengal Tigers. In conclusion, there is no dearth of places to explore around Kolkata for a weekend, from beaches to riverside towns or adventurous spots to religious areas where sightseeing is a must. Read about the most haunted places in Kolkata.
If you visit any of these or other offbeat tourist destinations in North Bengal, do share your experience and stories with us! Just write a report on Tripscam community to help other travel communists.