“Should I take this trip or skip it for a couple of days extra at Kolkata? It would be a Solo trip anyway; beaches are more fun with company. Chuck it! I better stay back and catch up with my friends, Mandarmani some other time!” I thought to myself before sleeping but somehow I forgot to switch off my Alarm which woke me up at 5 AM and I instantly decided to leave. Packed in a few clothes and off to Esplanade to catch a bus to the most pristine beach of East India!
I boarded an AC Bus to Mandarmani, it was a comfortable seater with the eyes of all travelers glued to the small screen which played the movie “Rustam”. As we cruised away from the city-scape of Kolkata, the construction drastically changed from large buildings to humble and broken Huts. Crossing huge vegetation, mostly Banana trees and a number of artificial fishing ponds, we stopped at a brilliant Dhaba at Kolaghat. Stuffing with good Bengali breakfast I napped on the cozy Bus seat and was finally dropped off at a sub road leading to Mandarmani.
Received a few suspicious looks by some Aunties and Rikshaw walas, a decent Auto guy asked where I wanted to go and took me on the 10 KM long extremely scenic village drive. I got down at my hotel and could already hear the sound of the waves, without stopping for a moment I rushed to the sea (which happened to be at the back side of the property) and Voila!
The sun, the sand, the waves and me, I was finally here after a number of second thoughts! In front of me was a huge beach with nobody to spot, except a Coconut seller soaking in the sun. I was amazed as the coconut guy collected all the empty coconut shells and said that it is his responsibility to keep the beach clean, for a moment I forgot I was in Bengal! :p
I was excited to ride on the Motor cart at the beach! Apparently Mandarmani is the largest motorable beach in the country. But unfortunately there had been some major accident a few months ago and since then the beach had been closed for driving.
But there were a number of water activities which gained my interest. Trying some food, strolling around for a while, not able to sit as the beach sand is all muddy, I finally hired an E-Rickshaw to Mohana!
A good Rickshaw guy=Striking Gold! On having a short conversation (in Broken Bengali) with him and seeing me with a camera, he was happy to see my interest in the rare Red Crabs of Mandarmani and suggested me to check out a fishing village a little ahead of Mohana where they are in abundance! A group of local kids playing football striked for a pose and guided us the way to the village!
A Vast stretch of Sand with no human at all!! At a distance I could spot the shore and I walked towards it beside an artificially created mini forest. I almost leaped with joy as I saw the shore Bleeding Red with these tiny creatures! As if they played the game of Hide and Seek with me, if I went closer to them, they hid in their holes and as I moved a little back they would come out.
After almost an half an hour of this Hide and Seek and me sitting on the sands soaking the sun, a little girl Mumtaj, came to me and asked me to buy some shells from her, before I could respond she storm towards the water and started digging and brought a crab out!
I thought she had caught it for a meal, but apparently red crabs are poisonous and can’t be eaten, she was just playful wit these mini beauties! A short conversation with her and she called her father to take me on a boat ride to the Delta!
So, they row you in a boat for a while and shift you into a small ship (basically fishing ship) once you reach the middle of the water, though a little scary, that was worth it!
The warmth of the sun clubbed with the cool breeze from the sea and the wild tides on which we rode were just a magical and fun addition! It was a long ride with the sun making the waters glisten into a beautiful shade of gold! We then dropped down at the Tajpur beach for a while which was full of food shacks!
But the sun didn’t let me stay here for much time as it was getting late and I had a long way to go. The ride from Tajpur beach, back to village was indeed a beautiful one as Mumtaj sang beautifully and I gazed at the setting sun and the silhouettes the nature created!
Quickly bidding them a bye, I got back on my Rickshaw (The guy waited almost 3 hours for me!) and we went to the Suncity beach Resort, I had plans of having dinner here and exploring the resort, but it was secluded and they weren’t sure if I could find a vehicle, so I just visited the Sun city temple, chilled at the foggy beach for a while and left for my Hotel.
Getting amazing Hot Vegetarian food after a tiring day of finding only crabs and fish everywhere, it was a relief and I regained all the energy that I had lost, for some night time by the beach with good music and my solitude!
Set up numerous alarms since I couldn’t afford to miss the sunrise, and yes! I got up right on time but it was still pitch dark, so I stole some more time for my sleep. Waking up with the first ray of light, I freshened up and almost ran to the beach to find dense fog and complete solitude with all that I could hear were the sound of the tiny waves. The Yogan inside me awakened, as I did some yoga waiting for the sun right at the beach which was almost my Private property at that time!
After twenty minutes of stretching and no sight of sun, I saw a group of friends and a couple walk towards me; we all smiled at each other and kept strolling. I had already assumed that the sun must have been out but the fog isn’t letting us have a glimpse it (Yeah I know that is stupid! But I ain’t a sunrise person at all!). After a few clicks, Some Yoga and a long stroll when I finally decided to romance with my bed, the big red ball of fire rose from under the sea!
Whoa, that was easily one of the most spectacular sights I had witnessed! The sun had never looked so enchanting and the land never looked so magical! The warmth it brought with itself was good enough to calm the cold from all past nights!
Post soaking in some of this nature’s beauty, I freshened up, had some good coffee and went back to the beach for all the water activities I had missed yesterday!
After a good two hours of Beach fun, activities and collecting shells, an exhausted me recollected all the beautiful moments I had lived here, packed my bags and left towards Chaulkhowa, the bus stand to Kolkata!
On the way, I stopped at a Mansa temple and some touristy stores! Was lucky to finally get a motorized Cart who agreed to drive me till Chaulkhowa in that open cart! The narrow beautiful village lanes with trees on both side, a bumpy cart ride with nothing to hold on to, a little smell of the diesel and my hair and face talking to the wind (quite literally!), it was a hell of an adventure! Now this was one of the highlights of my short trip to the Pristine Beach!
My stay at Mandarmani might have been short, but is really special to me for two reasons. A successful solo trip is always a happy and empowering one as you get some quality time with self. It was a “first time” for a number of things which I experienced at this serene beach stretch!
Mandarmani is an extremely serene and pristine beach village, perfect for those seeking romance with self or partner! Lying on the east coast of India, the sunrise here is sure to blow your mind away. With the soothing music played by the waves and the cold breeze blowing sand in your hair, this is what unwinding with self would be like!
How to Reach?
Mandarmani lies at around 170 KMs distance from Kolkata. You can easily get a Bus (Ac/Non AC) from Esplanade or any other major Bus Stand at Kolkata and it takes approximately 4 hours (with a 20 Mins stop at Kolaghat) to reach Chaulhkowa which is the bus stop for Mandarmani.
You can also drive/ride as the roads are pretty smooth and the route has good network connection for a proper Google Navigation.
When to Visit?
Winters and Monsoons! However, I would advice to avoid coming here on a public holiday or a long weekend as it gets pretty crowded and loses the charm of being secluded!
How to Plan?
Like any other coastal region, Mandarmani has a number of neighboring beaches, if looking for a long weekend getaway, you can club Mandarmani with Shankarpur, Tajpur and Digha beaches too! If you are at Kolkata or Eastern-India and have a few days to spare, you must plan a visit here! And if you already live in this region and haven’t explore this gem, then you are missing out on something major!
Although, you might not want to plan a trip all the way to East India only for Mandarmani! It sure is an enchantress if you are an explorer, a frequent traveler or have keen interest in the rare red crabs found here. But if you take a very few trips, I would suggest to club Mandarmani with some other gems of the East.
What to Eat?
If you love sea food, you have struck gold! The shacks of Mandarmani and Tajpur are filled with creatures I don’t even know names of! From a variety of Fish to Prawns and Crabs, you get it all here!
If you are a vegetarian, well you do get Coconut water, Chips, Beer and Puchkas :p Apart from that, you may ask your Hotel chef to prepare something for you and it would be pretty decent!
Where to stay?
You have hotels ranging from extremely budgeted places to 5 star luxury resorts! If you don’t mind shelling out from your pockets, you may stay at the Sun City Resort or Sana Beach Resort.
I stayed at “Hotel Sea Sand” which happens to be owned by an old classmate, a pretty nice property at decent price, great staff and extremely good vegetarian food! (which acted as a savior for me!)
What to Do?
Well, Mandarmani isn’t really a “Things to do” list kind of a place. It’s a haven you go in search of solitude and seeking inner peace! Yet these are the few things I personally loved and you might too-
- Sunrise! Enough Said.
- Visit Mohana/Fishing village near Mohana for the love of red crabs and serenity.
- Take a ship ride to the delta and enjoy the bumpy tides at Sunset.
- Visit the Sun City Temple.
- Take a ride on the Motor-Cart (at your own risk :p)
- Take a night stroll and enjoy the waves shine under the moonlight!
- Water Activities.
- Relax. Do Yoga at the beach! 😉
Do whatever the hell you want, but pay a visit to this unheard darling of the east! Take a dip in the small waves, collect a few shells, walk barefoot on the grainy sand, spot a star fish and laze to your heart’s content! When in Mandarmani, just be yourself!