Offbeat West Bengal—from unseen villages to buried cities!

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Priya Srivastava

Coming from the ‘City of Nawabs’, Lucknow, Priya’s sole motto is to explore life through journeys to unexplored destinations and knitting travel stories. She believes in creating memories, eating like a local, talking to the natives, understanding their way of living and capturing their smile in her camera. Be it quaint little Himalayan villages, grand forts in Rajasthan or serene beaches in Goa or ancient temples in Varanasi, all the destinations have an untold saga, which she tries to unfold! All her journeys, new or old, are etched on the canvas of her heart like a beautiful painting. Experimenting new dishes and experiencing different cultures are some of the things she enjoys the most. It's through travelling that she derives inspiration. An ardent reader, cinema lover and a nascent photographer, she wishes to listen and discover the myriad colours and sounds of nature.


With Durgo Pujo (Durga Puja) just a few months away, people have started planning their visit to one of the most culturally-rich states of India, West Bengal. The destination is renowned for several reasons— home to the famous poet Shri Rabindranath Tagore, Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Victoria Memorial, Sundarbans and, of course, the Bengal tigers. But then, how many of us have travelled on paths that open their doors to immaculate regions of Dooars, how many have tried to uncover the mystery that surrounds Chandraketugarh, and how many have heard of naturally-blessed Duarsini in West Bengal? Yes, we are talking about the offbeat attractions and experiences in West Bengal.

These are just a few lesser-heard of names. There’s so much more than the obviously famous to West Bengal for a traveller to explore and experience. Here, we have a list of a few best offbeat destinations in West Bengal, very much off the grid and the regular travel circuit. Go discover these if you have a quest to know more about the destinations less travelled!

Dooars

West Bengal is a glorious state, full of myriad mysteries and beautiful surprises and Dooars is one of them! The destination lives by its name with its literal meaning being ‘doors’ and, our word, these doors open to heaven. With its lush green tea gardens, towering Himalayan mountain ranges and several national parks, the destination is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Dooars is also the gateway to the gorgeous hill town of Darjeeling, Bhutan and several destinations in Northeast. When you are in the region, you must pay a visit to the Gorumara National Park and Buxa Tiger Reserve, which are home to number of animals.

You’ll simply fall in love with roads leading to this amazing region, which is extremely rich in flora and fauna. Reaching here is not an issue as there are several buses available from Siliguri and Jalpaiguri for Dooars.

Duarsini

Looking for a place in West Bengal that is less frequented and unspoilt? Well, Duarsini might be your kind of destination. Situated in the Purulia district of Bengal, this place is God’s creation. This little hamlet has dark green forests, covered with trees of shal, shimul, piyal and palash. Besides, not many are aware of the tribes that have made the forest their home. Tribes such as Munda, Shabaradh, Santhal and Kheriya are the main attractions in the region, which are known for their unique culture. Beside humans, the jungle is also home to various species of animals such as wolves, bears, elephants and hyenas!

The unexplored land of Duarsini is mystical and it might get a little dangerous as well. So, it is advisable to not get inside the jungle without a proper guide or local person. One can reach Duarsini from Kolkata quite easily, as the distance between the two is not more than 178 km. People visiting here can book their rooms at the forest bungalow, which remind of traditional tribal houses of West Bengal.

Chandraketugarh


Heard of the Chandraketugarh archaeological site in West Bengal? About 35 km from Kolkata, this historical and less heard of place once served as the kingdom of King Chandraketu. Several stories surround the existence of this place; it looks like some postcard out of a colourful Indian history book, with its ancient temples and olden architectures. A number of excavations have taken place in the region, revealing that Chandraketugarh has ruins belonging to various historical periods, which makes the place all the more interesting!

What was unearthed during these excavations were some brilliant terracotta art, displaying the craftsmanship of artists from the bygone era, silver punch-marked gold coins, semi-precious stone beads and things made of ivory and gold too! Since there’s no accommodation facility available in the area, you can make it a day trip from Kolkata, which is only 50 km away. It takes only 2 hours to reach here and regular buses are regular buses are available to Barachampa, Ultadanga and Esplanade.

Garh Panchkot

West Bengal is historically rich, though most of us are just so oblivious of the fact. We never try to look past the famous buildings and cultural DNA of the place. Garh Panchkot is a ruined fort located in Panchkot in Purulia district, around 220 km from Kolkata. The fort, resting in the foothills of Panchet Hill, stood witness to the infamous Barghi attack (a group of Maratha soldiers, who went plundering West Bengal for almost a decade). The destination is mostly dotted with temples that are built in different architectural styles. If you are a lover of history, eager to get an insight into the lives of people from bygone eras, you would love your moments here.

Surrounded with lush greenery, the ruined fort looks absolutely stunning. Besides, the region is also rich in medicinal plants and herbs. Offbeat, ancient and spooky, you can visit Garh Panchkot to experience something unusual!

Junput


Junput is a perfect offbeat destination in West Bengal, of which not many are familiar. It is one of the lesser-known beach destinations, a good thing for solitude seekers and crowd haters! Located in the Midnapore district, this place is dotted with swaying palm trees and white sand beaches. Resting securely in the lap of nature, Junput is also a fishing destination. The silence and tranquillity that surrounds the entire region is unlike any other place.

There is not much to see in terms of tourist spots; it’s all about living with sea, listening to music created by towering waves and lying still on the soft sands. However, there is a lovely Marine Biology Museum, the Kapal Kundala Mandir and Dariapur Lighthouse in the region. Around 10 km from here, there is a centuries old Jagannath Dev Temple that can be visited, mostly because of the primitive values attached to it. The beaches of Junput are safe for swimming, so you can get your swimwear when you plan a visit.

Samsing

What happens when gorgeous mountains, stunning tea gardens, deep green jungles and tiny little streams coming out of nowhere meet? It becomes Samsing! Yes, Samsing is a beautiful, hill village in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. Safely hidden and offering mind-blowing views of unspoilt and colourful landscapes, it is an amazing destination where one can sit, relax and forget all their worries! Just 18 km away from the renowned Neora Valley National Park, the region enjoys extremely pleasant climate. When cool breeze brushes your hair, all you want to do is lie down and let the nature consume all your tiredness. The 80 km drive from Siliguri to Samsing is enormously stunning! You’ll forget Darjeeling, Shimla, and Mussoorie after visiting Samsing.

Taki


Around 80 km from Kolkata lies the picture-perfect town of Taki in Hasnabad of West Bengal. Located on the banks of the Ichamati River, Taki deserves a visit owing to its beauty, culture and essence of true Bengal that it holds. For those looking to spend some time with real people, away from all worldly pleasures and artificiality, this is the place. You’d love the simplicity imbibed in the hearts of villagers here. The place is also known to have the oldest Ramkrishna Mission ashrams and the government school here is more than 250 years old. When you are in the region, you can also pray at the ancient Kali Temple and Jora Shiv mandir, both more than three centuries old. The best way to explore the entire region is taking a local van, quite an economical option. Or, you can also opt for a boat ride on the Ichamati River, wherein the boatmen entertain guests by singling beautiful and melodious songs telling the tales of beautiful Bengal.

Jayrambati

A sacred offbeat destination, Jayrambati in Bankura district of West Bengal is known for its spirituality. The village has a historical value too as Sri Sarada Devi, spouse of Ramakrishna was born here. There is also a temple dedicated to Maa Sarada, where a beautiful marble statue of the Holy Mother is installed in the premises. Besides this, the place has an unusual temple called the Naranarayan Temple, where kids below 5 years are worshipped and people offer clothes, toys, books, pen and other stationary items in puja. People visit the place in search of peace and spirituality and Jayrambati serves them just perfect. Some other prominent places to visit in the region include the Singha Bahini Devi Temple and the divine pond of Mayer Pukur.

While we wrap off our list to West Bengal’s most offbeat attractions with this, let us know if you of more by dropping in a comment below. We’re listening!
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