Beyond the evergreen charm of the Howrah Bridge and the Hoogli River, West Bengal is home to two other treasures that deserve as much attention – especially if you’re a discerning global traveller with deep interest in local cultures.
Between November and March, nature is in full bloom in the Sunderbans. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this largest mangrove forest in the world it is the land of the Royal Bengal Tiger, home to the largest mangrove forest in the world.
Things to Do
- Explore the mangroves of Sundarbans on a luxury cruise operated by Vivada as it sails through every nook and cranny of the forest.
- Head to the isolated beach of Bakkhali, located at a distance of 138 kilometres off Sundarbans. Exclusive pirate parties at Bakkhali are run by Crossindia.
- Catch a performance by Bonobibi: A unique cult goddess of the people of Sundarban, Bonobibi refers to the ‘lady of the forest’ who is worshipped equally by Muslims and Hindus. Catch a secular musical drama performed by the locals as they beg the goddess to keep death away.
For beach bums who’d go an extra mile to find a local beach far from the touristy eye, this family beach destination is best visited during Kali Puja in October-November. The southern region of the Midnapore district has an array of pristine and unadulterated beaches of West Bengal, making the coastline a perfect getaway from the city noise.
Things to Do
- Tajpur beach, a little off the populous beaches, offers adventure activities like kayaking, parasailing, snorkelling, biking, and water zorbing.
- Unique to Midnapore region, Rath Yatra (women pull the chariot of the goddess) and Kali Puja are festivals worth experiencing.
- The Festival Of ‘Pot Maya’: A tiny village of patuas (painters) called Naya, celebrates the festival of ‘Pot Maya’ in the month of November. The last 80 families of patuas get together to sing, dance, and paint ancient tales on long cloth scrolls, making it a sight to behold.