Christmas and New Years’ celebrations are upon us and the Kolkata can hardly contain its excitement! The streets will be adorned with the brightest lights and there will be an overflow of cakes everywhere.  On such an occasion, let us see which locations near Kolkata make for the best places to spend your New Years’ in if you like to take the offbeat road. By Shubhanjana Das

1. Shantiniketan 

One of the places that hold a soft spot in the heart of every literature buff and history lover in the country is Shantiniketan. Rabindranath Tagore’s abode, home to India’s first university, and a place that has enamoured every visitor with its old-school charm, there is no place like Shantiniketan. Winters are the perfect time to visit for the summer months here experience scorching heat. If diving into history, living the village life, and enjoying an authentic Bengali meal makes for your kinda New Years’ party, then Shantiniketan awaits your visit. 

2. Kurseong 

A nights’ journey from Kolkata will take you to the hills lined with richly-manicured tea plantations, unmatched sunrise views, and steaming hot momos. Kurseong falls on the way to the bustling town of Darjeeling and hence, receives a lesser number of tourists. But, that doesn’t mean its beauty is any less promising. The view of the Teesta Valley from Eagle’s Crag and the charming pine forests and churches that line the trail to St. Mary’s Hill are worth spending your New Years’ here. 

3. Sunderbans Cruise 

A little adventure doesn’t hurt, does it? And, if you can end the year on an adventurous note, then nothing like it! The Sunderbans Cruise traverses the complex channels on the delta of Bay of Bengal, which is formed by the confluence of as many as five rivers. What should you expect in this not-so-ordinary cruise? Crocodiles gloriously basking in the sun, the thick forests of the Sundari tree after which the place gets its name, and if luck is on your side, perhaps an encounter with the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger peering through the woods. 

Related: India’s Top 10 Most Instagrammed Destinations Might Make You Re-Plan Your Next Trip

4. Rajabhatkhawa 

The north of Bengal shelters gems that are yet to be discovered and explored even by the locals. One such place is the curiously named Rajabhatkhawa, lying at the peripheries of the Buxa Tiger Reserve in the Dooars. The forest bungalow here serves as the perfect seat to enjoy the wilderness that surrounds you. Herds of elephants can be frequently spotted casually crossing the roads, ever so royally. The watchtower here makes it possible for spotting other beasts such as the bison and even a tiger! The Animal Rescue Center here houses injured leopards, bison, and tigers until they are treated back to health and can be released in the forest. As for the name, you must hear its history from a local to make the best of the experience. There’s a thrill, adventure, and calm all at the same time here in Rajabhatkhawa and it makes for the ideal New Years’ destination for the wilderness lover. 

5. Mandarmani 

Roads lined with paddy fields and ponds and the vista of rural Bengal whooshing by leads you to this serene beach which is hailed as ‘India’s Longest Motorable Beach’. Even though there are a host of fun activities you could do here, laying back and drinking away the almost incantatory vibe of this haven is an option preferred by many. Mandarmoni is the apt spot for witnessing the sunrise on the horizon on the first day of the new year. 

Related: This River Cruise from Kolkata to Guwahati via Bangladesh Must be on Your Holiday Plan for 2019