Don’t go to Bankiput for the sea, you’ll be disappointed. Go to Bankiput for the serenity.
If you want to avoid the cliché of done-to-death sea destinations like Digha, Mandarmoni or Bakkhali, try Bankiput. It’s a peaceful and offbeat weekend getaway from Kolkata that will remain on your mind long after you have come back home.
The first time I came across Bankiput was from Weekend Destination’s article. I immediately got interested in the place due to its remote location and unique sightseeing options. I harboured the thought of visiting the place in my mind for about a year.
Finally, in December I got a chance to visit Bankiput. I made a plan and also convinced my family to join me in discovering this new destination. After that, I started doing my research.
If you do a quick search for Bankiput on Google, you will get 3 really helpful articles. The first is, of course, the one by Weekend Destinations. The second is an informative description of Bankiput on the Rupasi Bangla website.
After reading both of these, you will get a fair idea about Bankiput. However, if you don’t want to rely solely on stated facts, you can refer to some personal experiences or reviews. A great resource for this can be Krishnandu Sarkar’s travel blog, Travel with Krish. Reading his personal travel experience in Bankiput gave me a good insight into the place, especially the financial aspects.
Armed with my research, I started making arrangements for our trip. I booked the tickets, made the hotel reservations and we were all set to go.
Bankiput – The Destination
Bankiput is a quiet and peaceful beach destination 160 kms away from Kolkata. It’s located near Contai (Kanthi) in the Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal and very close to Digha Beach in Kolkata.
How to Reach
If you are travelling by train, then you can choose any one of the following trains from Howrah to Kanthi.
You can also take a bus directly to Kathi. From there, you can either rent a car or take a shared toto (auto) till Bankiput.
If you plan to take your own car, then you will have to drive till Kanthi, then take the road towards Junput followed by the one towards Baghaput and finally turn to the one that leads to Bankiput.
You may also avail the transportation offered from Kanthi by the resort at Bankiput.
Where to Stay
Bankiput has only one resort called the Jhinuk Residency. One of the best beach resorts near Kolkata, it’s located on the outskirts of Bankiput and has an adjoining beach. The rooms are clean and have all the modern amenities.
Booking can be done from Kolkata at the Kankurgachi office. Krishnandu provides some important contacts for the same in his blog post.
What to Eat
The resort provides tasty Bengali meals. Being close to the sea, you can expect a variety of fish including king prawn and hilsa.
What To See
You can spend your vacation watching the sunrise and sunset on the beach. You may also take short sightseeing trips to Dariyapur Lighthouse, Deshapran Fishing Harbour and Kapalkundala Mandir.
When to Visit
Although you can visit it all around the year, October to March is an ideal time to go.
Read on to know about my experience of travelling to Bankiput.
Bankiput – The Experience
We decided to travel to Bankiput on Christmas weekend. We booked a West Bengal Tourism Corporation (WBTC) bus from Garia to Kanthi. There were two options for buses – AC and Non AC. We chose the former.
We started off from Garia early morning. The bus was right on time. As the journey began, we felt excited like how you feel when you are about to travel to a new place. The bus made one stop at Esplanade from where more passengers got up and then one more for breakfast. Due to some insensitive passengers who stopped the bus quite a few times to buy food, we got very delayed and reached Kanthi in the afternoon. The bus dropped us at the central bus stop. One really interesting thing about the bus was that it had a bio-toilet. It reduced the unnecessary need to stop a lot to answer the call of nature and was a sustainable solution for sanitation on the go.
We had already booked a transportation with the resort. We found our car waiting at the bus stop. It took us 40 minutes to reach the resort. The journey was along a beautiful red earth road, a little uneven, lined with green eucalyptus trees. We also crossed a huge jheel (lake) on the way.
Watching the Sunset at Bankiput Beach
As we reached our resort, we found it to be a colourful one-storeyed little place nestled in the woods with the sea behind it. We were greeted by a cheerful manager. After completing the formalities, we checked-in to our room.
It was a four-bedded room which looked out into the forests and the sea. The moment we entered, we were taken aback by the beautiful view that lay right in front of us. However, tired from the journey, we first freshened up and went for lunch.
The food was typically Bengali and was cooked by a traditional “thakur” (cook). It was very tasty comprising of staples like begun bhaja (fried aubergines), alu bhaja (fried potatoes), papad and alu jhinge posto (Chinese okra, potato and poppy seed curry).
After lunch, we decided to take a stroll on the beach. We followed the path beside the resort and entered the forests through a small entrance. The eucalyptus and casuarina trees swayed gently in the breeze. We immediately felt at peace. The hustle and bustle of the city were soon forgotten.
We sat on the broken root of a tree and surveyed the area. The sea was quite far off. The horizon glistened with the sun rays. We noticed some faraway boats. The beach was heavily silted and there were patches of green grass in the middle. We found fishing nets all over the sand. Little rivulets of water had formed from the receding water. The rest was wet clay. We spotted some local villagers walk past us. I asked them the time of the tide’s arrival. One of them mentioned that the sea water came in the morning at 8 – 9 am.
Soon, the sun began to set. Its glowing rays fell upon the sand and the waters and created a heavenly sight. We sat there till the light faded away and then returned to our hotel.
Sunrise and a Stroll on Bankiput Beach
We slept like a log at night, being tired from the journey. The complete silence all around us was a welcome change. It was a little chilly so we used blankets.
As we woke up the next day and went to sit in the verandah, we were greeted with an extraordinary sight. The early morning sun peered through the leaves of the eucalyptus trees. The forest was draped in the gorgeous light of dawn and the sea glistened in the distance. The water had approached quite close to the beach.
We immediately freshened up and came down for breakfast. The mouth-watering options were luchi (inflated bread made of wheat flour), alur torkari (potato curry), roshogolla (dumplings dipped in sugar syrup) and bread and omelette.
After breakfast, we went for a stroll along the beach. The trees cast long shadows on the forest floor. The air was pleasant and it felt beautiful to walk on the sand. We saw an empty boat anchored on the sand. While walking, we saw a fisherman carrying his catch back home. I went up to him quickly and requested for a photograph. He obliged readily.
From the beach, we walked outside the resort and explored the surroundings. One part of the red earth road led to the town. The other changed into a dirt road that went further into the village.
As we took the dirt road, we were greeted with a cluster of fishing huts. It felt peaceful to walk with so much of greenery around us. The chirp of birds and the slow, rustic life of the village unfolded with each step we took. We felt completely at bliss. On both sides, we discovered several mud huts with cow dung stuck on their walls.
Walking for about ten minutes, we reached a worn out ghat that went down directly into the sea. It was bound by rocks. From here, you could see the entire stretch of the coastline. We took in the vast expanse of the sea with wide eyes.
There were two huts beside the ghat shaded by a huge tree. Some kids played in front of it with a ball while their mother went about collecting little forest fruits. We soon started chatting with the kids who were overjoyed to see us. They squealed with laughter and mumbled a few English words. We asked them their names.
As we were about to leave, they shouted “Bye Bye” and “Come Again” to us. Even from a distance, we could see them waving towards us. The simplicity and warmth of the village kids touched us.
Kapalkundala Temple, Dariyapur Lighthouse and Deshapran Fishing Harbour
We came back to the resort for lunch. Being away from the city, we had forgotten that it was Christmas. The festivity of Christmas had penetrated Bankiput too.
We saw hordes of picnic goers assembling at the beach. Soon they started playing loudspeakers that shattered the serenity of the place. We felt really bad about how humans always managed to destroy the sanctity of a place with their insensitive acts. Thankfully, we had planned to set out for the sightseeing in the afternoon. Our car was ready so we started off.
Our first stop was the Kapalkundala Temple. The driver dropped us at a place which was probably a meeting point for visitors. There was a huge tree underneath which a few aged villagers sat poring over the newspaper. There was also a big temple which we mistook for the Kapalkundala Temple. I’m sure many others will.
As per beliefs, it was after seeing the Kapalkundala temple that Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, the renowned Bengali novelist, conceived his sweeping work, Kapalkundala, and also alluded to this temple in the work. There was a memorial made with a statue of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay along with a plaque mentioning the historical significance.
We still couldn’t figure out which was the Kapalkundala Temple. We asked a few villagers. Everyone pointed ahead. We kept walking along a road surrounded merely by small huts.
Was this place really of historical significance? Was the allusion to the Bengali novelist really true? These were the questions circling our mind.
Eventually, we came upon a worn down temple. A short, old wiry man came out from somewhere. He mumbled something about the tourism board entrusting him with taking care of the temple and that this was a famous temple. However, what he said didn’t seem very believable.
We returned to the car unsure of whether we had come to the right place or not. There was nothing except the memorial to prove the historical significance of the place. We weren’t sure whether the temple we visited was the real Kapalkundala Temple or not. I think putting some specific signs or at least a signage mentioning the historical significance will go a long way in reducing this confusion for travellers.
Our next stop was the Dariyapur Lighthouse. It’s a 96 feet high lighthouse located 7 kms away from Bankiput. The light equipment in the lighthouse is a petrol vapour burner which was installed in the year 1968. It’s originally an 1881 lamp removed from the Dwarka Lighthouse and renovated in Kolkata. All of this information was provided in a note at the side of the lighthouse.
We had to remove our shoes outside and enter the lighthouse. A long queue went all the way up. The snaky line of people climbed up the winding stairs at a snail-like pace. It was suffocating standing in the congested space for such a long time.
Even at the top, the space was very limited. There was another small winding stair that led to a smaller opening from where you could reach up. Considering the number of people who came to visit, the space was too small. There was a risk of you hurting your head or getting stuck if too many people tried to pass from there. Also, since the space was so small, it took a lot of time for everyone to finish.
A lady sat at the opening to guide people through. We took turns in going to the top. The lighthouse offers a panoramic view of the entire area. However, being located a little inward, you wouldn’t get a view of the sea but mostly the verdant forest cover around.
Again, there was a lot of commotion to get down. A lot of people had gathered at the top waiting to get down. It was quite a claustrophobic space. The view was nothing extraordinary too.
From the lighthouse, we set off for the Deshapran Fishing Harbour at Pethuaghat. Around 5 kms from Bankiput, this is one of the most picturesque fishing harbours of West Bengal. It’s located at the point where the Rasulpur River meets the Bay of Bengal. We had to pay an entry fee for entering the harbour.
The entire place, alive with action, was filled with fishing trawlers docked side by side. With the setting rays of the sun falling on them, they made a beautiful sight. They were filled with people busy loading and unloading netted sacks of fish. It was a great place to buy fresh or dried fish if you are that much of a fish fanatic. Far away, we could see the Rasulpur river meeting the horizon in the distance. Somewhere it will finally meet the sea.
Just outside the harbour were large stretches of dried fish hung out to dry. The entire place was reeking with the stench of dried fish. A woman was busy cleaning the dried fish, oblivious to the odour.
While returning, we stopped once to take a last look at the sea. The embankment was filled with people strolling, sitting, munching and some swimming. The fading rays of the sun showered its last rays on the expansive waters.
We returned to our hotel. It was our last day at this heavenly place. We already felt sad that we would have to leave the next day. We would definitely miss the warm hospitality offered by the lovely people at Jhinuk Residency, Bankiput. Before leaving, I thanked the staff and requested them for a picture. The smile on their faces at being asked for a picture was rewarding.
Overall, Bankiput will make for an interesting offbeat weekend getaway from Kolkata. It has quite a different character from the usually crowded beach destinations near Kolkata. Maybe it’ll instill in you a desire for introspection or offer you a few moments of repose from the ever-bustling routine of daily life. In any case, it will inevitably have an enchanting on you.
Which was a beach destination that left an incredible impact on you?