Busy day, busy week. We are continuously running after time. Day after day, five days a week. Our mind also needs relief and refreshment. When we will be unknown to unknown address mind constantly asks us? Think of the day or two where will you go away somewhere, where will you get the holiday? Near to Kolkata makes it easily accessible and provides an easy option of having a tranquil weekend amidst greenery and natural surroundings. The charm of enjoying village life and witnessing its simplicity from the close quarters is an added gift for tourists visiting Bhalki Machan. A long drive away from the city, this getaway is the perfect spot to laze around for a day or two.
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The number of holidays at the weekend is at least one or two. So what’s less? The practical world will continuously call us to come back, come back. The mountains and the sea have gone very common. Just a few hours away, the smell of smoky clay and the
How we reached Bhalki Machan
We, group of 15, started from Kolkata around 9 am in the morning in a TATA traveler. We started from Dunlop and crossed Dakshineswar. After reaching Dankuni we took Durgapur Expressway which is a part of NH2 (old) or NH19 (new). After 1.5 hours we reached Saktigarh, around 80 km from Dunlop, Kolkata. Saktigarh is a village in Bardhaman district of West Bengal. Saktigarh is famous for the sweet langcha. There are innumerable shops selling those dark-red sweets along NH 2/NH19. We got down here and had our breakfast with hinger kachuri, cholar dal, langcha and tea at Langcha Kuthi, Saktigarh.
National Highway 2 or NH 2(NOW NH19), commonly referred as Delhi–Kolkata Road, is a busy National Highway in India that runs through the states of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. The 65 kilometers Dankuni-Palsit stretch is known as Durgapur Expressway. The Palsit–Panagarh stretch is 64 kilometers and the Panagarh–Raniganj stretch is 42 kilometers.
Around 140km down Durgapur Expressway, a billboard by the Aushgram panchayat welcomed us to Bhalki Machan. A freshly tarred road across the rice bowl of Bengal leads to Bhalki Machan, believed to be the favorite bear hunting spot of the former rajas of Burdwan.
If you come by road
From Kolkata Distance: 155 KM Drive Time: 4 Hours. Take Durgapur Express Way from Kolkata
- Saktigarh is on the midway,
- Drive 35 KM from Saktigarh towards Durgapur and will rich Paraj Railway station more.
- Take a right deviation from here and drive towards Abhirampur bazar (8 KM),
- Drive another 3 KM to WBSFDA Amrapali Jamunadighi complex, which is on the Left side of the road (keep looking left till see a gated property of WBSFDA).
Take a train (Black Diamond Express) from Howrah and get off at Mankar station after Burdwan. From Mankar, hire a car for Jamunadighi. Alternatively, take the Santiniketan Express to Guskara. From there, hire a car to Jamunadighi. Cars are easily available on the Guskara route. Charges: Rs 300-350.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Jamunadighi Amrapali complex. It is a government property of West Bengal State Fisheries Development Authority (WBSFDA). It is situated 3 km away from Bhalki Machan dense forest. They have 8 A C and 11 non A C rooms with attached bath. If you expect a resort-like ambiance at that place then Jamunadighi is not the right one for you.
The peace and tranquility including boating facility on a long canal provide an ideal retreat from the noise and hectic lifestyle of the present day. The
Air-conditioned rooms were also available here. The embankments between rows of fish ponds have been converted to mango orchards (or amrapali) with bamboo and concrete benches scattered around. The shades are perfect for those who don’t want to miss their post-lunch nap on weekends. The fragrance of ripe mangoes, gulmohar and cashew hung in the air.
The lengthening evening was like a painting — the golden rays tracing designs on the water and the
Jamunadighi is a bird watcher’s delight. Several species like stork and heron and many that we couldn’t identify stood on the banks, patient and watchful. The sun finally bade goodbye, leaving everything, including us, burnished and glowing. We decided to wake up early the next day and see if we could spot more birds. And what a great time we had — there were plenty of them, busy catching their prey in the half-light of daybreak.
Later in the morning, people from the fisheries department dropped huge nets in the ponds. Rui,
What we have seen
After a sumptuous breakfast at the tourist complex, we headed for Bhalki Machan, on the edge of the woods. Bhalki Machan is a beautifully decorated retreat. There is a pond nearby, shaded and surrounded by a garden. You can take a paddle boat ride in the pond.
The ruins of a tower or machan overlook a small waterhole where the unsuspecting animals were shot by the royalty. Perhaps in memory of the bears that lost their lives, the panchayat has erected a concrete model of an Indian sloth bear close to the pond.
According to a legend, a tunnel beneath the machan leads straight to a secret passage opening at the Rajbari in Burdwan, about 25km away.
The waterhole has been “beautified” by the panchayat with dahlias, chrysanthemums, and deodars to make the spot favorable for a picnic. But the real fun lies beyond the confines of the resort amid the deep sal forest thriving with a wide variety of vascular plants. The pristine forest stretches beyond the borders of Birbhum into the Santhal Parganas in Jharkhand. A walk through the woods is very pleasant with sunlight forming patterns on the ground through the foliage.
Although the forest used to be crowded with bears, now one can find just some wild cats, foxes and monkeys. A few years ago, elephants from the interconnected Dalma forests were found roaming into Bhalki Machan.
On the way back, we stopped by at the roadside railway station, Paraj, connecting Howrah and Asansol. Ignored by most fast-moving trains, the flawless lonely station looks like one of the hit songs of Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan, “Five Hundred Miles”.
If you missed the train I’m on
You will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles
Sat there for a few minutes and watch trains speed past before you resume your journey back to the daily grind.
If you want to be in a happening place with a lot of activities then this is not a place for you. Avoid going there during the picnic season. There is a lot of crowds and it hampers the only asset of the place, tranquility, during that season. It is suggested that you should visit this place with a group of at least 5-6 people, otherwise you might get bored after sometime.
It is a fact, that Bhalki Machan lacks facilities to qualify as a dream weekend destination but the natural beauty of the place lacking any artificial manifestation is bound to make every visitor spellbound. The place is also an ideal picnic spot as it can be reached within three hours from Kolkata, Durgapur, Asansol, Haldia and other important cities and towns of West Bengal.
Also read CHILAPATA JUNGLE SAFARI
Updated on 17.01.21