Beaches in west bengal

There is a famous Bengali saying 'Baro mashe tero parbon' which literally translates as 13 festivals in 12 months. This famous Bengali saying however grossly underestimates the number of festivals, civil and religious, celebrated in Kolkata, where communities belonging to all religions and from all over the subcontinent have brought along their own local cults which even within the Hindu religion vary from area to area.

43 km downriver, was the site of a Dutch factory. The British Retreated here in 1756 when Kolkata was captured by Siraj-ud-daula. It was also from here that Clive recaptured Kolkata. just below Falta the Damodar River joins the Hooghly. The Rupnarain River also joins the Hooghly nearby and a little up this river is Tamluk, which was an important Buddhist centre over 1000 years ago. The James & Mary Shoal, the most dangerous on the Hooghly, is just above the point where the Rupnarain River enters. It takes its name from a ship which was wrecked here in 1694.

Diamond Harbour
A resort 51km south of Kolkata by road, Diamond Harbour is at the point where the Hooghly turns south and flows into the open sea. It can be reached by bus or train from Kolkata. Launches run from here to Sagar island. The Sagarika Tourist Lodge can be booked through West Bengal Tourism in Kolkata.

The new port of Haldia is 96km south of Kolkata, on the west bank of the Hooghly. The port was constructed to try to regain the shipping lost from Kolkata's silting problems. There are regular buses between Kolkata and Haldia.

Sagar Island (Sagardwip)
At the mouth of the Hooghly, this island is considered to be the point where the Ganges joins the sea, and a great three day bathing festival takes place here in mid-January. A lighthouse marks the south-west tip of the island but navigation is still difficult for a further 65km south.

Close to the border with Orissa, 185km south west of Kolkata on the Bay of Bengal, Digha is another self-styled 'Brighton of the East'. The beach is seven km long and very wide but if a beach holiday is what you want, carry on south to Puri or Gapalpur-on-Sea. There are daily buses between Kolkata and Digha. The Chandaneshwar Siva Temple is just across the border in Orissa, eight km from Digha.

Shankarpur Beach
This pristine, lesser-known beach lying 10 km from Digha calls you for a quiet vacation. Fringed by casuarina plantations, this fishing village offers all the pleasures of a private beach. The best season to visit is from July to March. Regular buses ply between kolkata and Shankarpur. Tourist cabs and luxury cars can also be hired from Kolkata.

Head out for a soothing holiday in the unspoilt environs of this unique white sand beach. 3 hours drive from kolkata, it is also the summer destination for a variety of migratory birds. All these beaches are best visited from July to March.