Sun, Fun and the Sea: Shankarpur and Tajpur

DIGHA is less than 200 km from Kolkata and is a perfect weekend gateway, with its perennially calm, swimmer-friendly sea and hard beaches that look as they were created keeping the needs of tourists in mind. Known from the time of the Raj and developed as a tourist-spot post-independence, Digha has captured the popular imagination and attracts a huge number of footfalls around the year. As a matter of fact, swayed by its runaway popularity, New Digha has been developed with a charming little, beach of its own.

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Apart from the obvious draw of the ocean, the area boasts a number of other attractions that include the Science Centre established by the National Council of Science Museums, the Marine Aquarium maintained by the Zoological Survey of India, the Amravati Lake and the Snake Park and the Shiva Temple at Chandaneshwar.

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However, it is wrong to isolate Digha as the only beach head in the region – in fact it is just the most well known, the first among equals. Other beaches that dot the region and are in various stages of growth as tourist destinations in their own right are Mandarmoni – named after the innumerable red crabs that crawl on the beach resembling the Mandar flower in full bloom; Shankarpur – a still virgin beach adjacent to a fishing harbour sharing the same name; Tajpur – with its pristine beach fringed by dense forests and a predominance of red crabs, being developed as an adventure tourism destination; Udaipur – a hard, wide beach with its pristine charm; and Junput – a beach that is exposed only when the tide ebbs and has a Research centre run by the Fisheries Department of the State Government which is open to tourists.

GETTING THERE: Digha is only 187 km from Kolkata and is conveniently connected both by road and rail.

RAIL: Train services are available to Digha from Kolkata

ROAD: Frequent (half hourly) bus services linking Digha and Kolkata are available. Buses leave from the Maidan and the Howrah bus terminuses. The average travel time to Digha is about five hours. Metered Taxis, auto rickshaws and rickshaws are also widely available.

AIR: The nearest airport is Kolkata.

ACCOMMODATION: The Digha Tourist Lodge is run by the WBTDCL. Excellent private hotels, resorts, and lodges at different price points are also widely available.

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