6 places to visit near Kolkata

Sun Temple, Konark

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Here are 6 places to visit near Kolkata that serve as the best weekend getaways.

1. Digha

Distance from Kolkata | 165 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | October – February

One of the most popular weekend getaways from Kolkata, this coastal resort town in West Bengal is known for its mellow sunsets and shallow sand beaches. Digha also has lush green parks and lakes that are just perfect for an idyllic amble. Add to this the delightfully painted Shiva temple at Chandaneswar, where the annual fair draws people from all over West Bengal during Chaitra, the last month of their calendar, you have the ideal itinerary for a quick refreshing weekend.

2. Mukutmanipur

Distance from Kolkata | 220 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | October – March

The water reservoir at Mukutmanipur together with India’s second biggest earthen dam  built across the confluence of two rivers – Kangsabati and Kumari make for a tranquil weekend away from the chaos of city life. The blue hour of twilight at the dam is stunning. Delight in bird song as you catch the sunset from a boat, surrounded by the clear azure waters and luxurious green forests. Round off the experience with a picnic as you watch the night fall and the lights come on at the dam. The nearby tribal hamlets of Bankura, the Bonpukuria Deer Park, Bangopalpur Reserve Forest, all provide for pleasant outings during the day.

3. Bodhgaya

Distance from Kolkata | 470 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | September – June

Most revered of all Buddhist sites, Bodhgaya is where Prince Sidhartha attained enlightenment and became the Buddha, two thousand and six hundred years ago. Two hundred years later, Emperor Ashoka built a temple to mark the site. The temple and the Bodhi tree have gone through a tempestuous history but they are the descendants of the original. Like any other pilgrim town in India, Bodhgaya too wears an air of festivity mingled with the intensity of faith. Sit in the temple, under the Bodhi Tree and contemplate life, walk around in town to see the Buddhist temples from as many as eight countries.

4. Puri

Sun Temple, Konark

Distance from Kolkata | 495 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | December – February

Orissa is a state that is underrated when it comes to tourism. The winters here are beautiful, night falls by five and the breeze couldn’t get any pleasanter. Puri with its painted houses carries its legacy of the Jagannatha and patachitra everywhere. And with its golden fields and silvery waves, the seaside temple town of Puri is right where the action is. Visit the fabled Puri Jagannath Temple in town and go on short drives to go dolphin spotting on the boundless Chilika lake or to be awed by the sheer magnificence of the Sun Temple in Konark.

5. Darjeeling 

Distance from Kolkata | 615 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | April – June

Darjeeling has long been one of the most loved hill stations in India thanks to its pretty tea estates, its views of the Kanchenjunga and the iconic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.  Take the hundred and thirty seven year old toy train through the foothills of the Himalayas to India’s highest railway station at Ghum, while you spot wild orchids as the narrow gauge heritage train takes you winding through the dense forests of oak. Sip on some black tea and stroll along the charming little lanes of this quaint old town and be enchanted by the mock Tudor residences, gothic churches and the buddhist pagodas.

6. Kalimpong

Distance from Kolkata | 625 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | March – May

Famed for its impressive colonial era buildings, Kalimpong sits across from Darjeeling on the other side of the River Teesta. But surprisingly, it isn’t the tea plantations that draw  people to this east Indian hill town but its flowers and cacti. The absolutely brilliant array of orchids and gladioli do not just adorn the local flowers markets here but are a major source of export revenue. So, head out to the nurseries check out their impressive cacti cultivation, walk along the sloping pathways in the backdrop of the Kanchenjunga, shop for Tibetan jewellery, eat noodles and cheese.

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