Have you been wondering to enjoy a quick one-day trip from Kolkata, West Bengal? Then Sagardwip or Ganga Sagar is one of those destinations that can assure you with a fine adventurous trip to an island. Popular for being the Holy place of the Hindus as this is the exact location where the mighty River Ganga, meets the Bay of Bengal or the ‘Sagar’ after traveling a long distance of 2,525 Km from Uttarakhand.
Every year; on January 14th on the divine day of Makar Sankranti, thousands of Hindu pilgrims from all over the country and sometimes abroad flock down here to take a holy dip into the River Ganges and offer prayers at the nearby Temple of Kapil Muni. If you don’t belong to those who appreciate traveling during crowds then you can choose to visit the place any time throughout the year but don’t choose the monsoon and times when the weather is too harsh as you have to cross the creek from Kakdwip to reach Ganga Sagar on a water vessel.
How to Reach?
Provisions are there for both the road trip and train trip. Now it’s up to you to decide which way you would prefer visiting the Sagardwip. If you choose to take the road, you need to take the NH-12 or the Diamond Harbor Road to reach the Harwood Point. From there, you have to book a ticket for the ferry service to reach Kachuberia. You can either take your car which you can park at the Harwood Point or you can also reach there by a public bus running from Esplanade.
Avail the local train services running from the Sealdah South lines from Kolkata traveling through Kakdwip-Namkhana. From Bakkhali, avail the ferry service through the Muriganga distributary for reaching the Sagar Island. This small voyaging will be thrilling when you find so many gulls are following your vessel to grab the food the travelers offer them. Carry biscuits or puffed rice which they locals sell at a cost of Rs.10 for feeding the wonderful birds.
After crossing the creek, you have to book a local conveyance to reach the hotel. It takes one and a half hour to reach the Kapil Muni Ashram or the place where the hotels are situated.
What to see?
If fortunately, you don’t face any hassle during the journey, you can reach the island in around 4-5 hours from Kolkata. Try to start early in the morning so that you can be there by 12.00-1.00 pm. Put on the sunscreen and grab the towel to take a dip into the calm waters where the River Ganga meets the sea. It’ll be a one-of-a-kind experience that anyone would feel after taking a couple of dips into the holy waters. After the hectic journey to the island, you can get calm and find solace as soon as you bathe in the Ganges.
After the bath, you must visit the Kapil Muni Ashram-5 minutes from the beach where you can buy Prasad for the lord and request the priest there to offer the prayers.
Now it’s time for lunch.
Hire the local van or the Toto auto services for a local sight-seeing. Apart from the nearby beach and Ashram, they can take you to the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, Bharat Sevashram Ashram and travel through the locality where you can stop by to shop souvenirs, conch, home decorative made of shells, and images of Goddess Ganga which they sell at a very negligible amount. You can buy from them to help them in growing the tourism which is the main source of their livelihood apart from fishing, pulling vans or working at the ferry services.
The last ferry from Kachuberia leaves by 6 pm, so make sure, you have reached there on time to enjoy the 3.5 km waters the ferry crosses before it reaches the other side.
Your visit to Ganga Sagar will be a memorable journey. You can also stay there overnight to live close to Mother Nature as the air there is still pure. Don’t miss out the mornings at the Sagardwip. Take a walk on the calm beaches and breathe in the pure air as much as you can as soon after coming back to the city you again have to inhale the impure air.
If you’re a passionate photographer, Ganga Sagar is not doing to disappoint you. Even with your mobile camera, you can get the opportunity to capture a few magnanimous views of the morning sun or the setting sun on the Ganges. You’ll be thrilled to find how the place has been developed with large and clean roads and seating provisions for the pilgrims. They have also installed wonderful sculptures of Lord Shiva and Goddess Ganga in front of the Dala Arcade where the locals sell Prasad for Lord Kapil Muni.
Where to stay?
Previously, there was only the Bharat Sevashram Sangha that used to provide accommodation and food to the pilgrims/travelers. If you wish to stay there, don’t forget to carry a reference letter from Kolkata ashram as the Maharaj prefers to have a reference letter depending on which he allocates the room. Don’t expect any luxury from the accommodation.
Recently, the West Bengal Tourism has developed Ganga Sagar unlike before. Many nice lodges, hotels, guest houses, and home-stay provisions are available now. But don’t forget to pre-book the accommodation before leaving for the destination otherwise you may face trouble especially if you have a family with you. The place is developing and the majority of it is still underdeveloped. So don’t expect it to be as posh as Digha or Puri where you can easily get accommodation any time without pre-booking.
Where to eat?
Try to stay near the Kapil Muni Ashram as there are good places to eat. Try the restaurant established by the Government of West Bengal erected in a minute from the Ashram offering delicious food at convenient rates. Get the three-course meals from there if your hotel/lodge doesn’t offer the gastronomy provisions. Otherwise, there’re many road-side small tea shops serving tea along with some light snacks. You can also find some of the locals selling Bengali food such as rice, lentils, vegetables, fish, egg and chicken recipes in their shacks on the roads to the beach.
So, for a memorable one-day trip, Sagardwip is your ideal destination not only for being a pilgrimage, but also for being a beautiful island of the Sunderbans, miles away from the city tantrums, crowds, and pollution.