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Old 4th May 2013, 20:50   #1
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Default Kolkata -> Kuldhia -> Bhitarkanika in a Toyota Etios

Its a short trip which was done in January 2012, with my family. Me my mom and dad. Am sharing this because this may come handy for few people who wants to visit Bhitarkanika by road. Most people say you can drive till chandbali or Jayanagar. To reach Bhitarkanika you have to park your vehicle over there and avail a boat. But no, you can drive till Dangmal or Khola which are the main entry gates of Bhitarkanika. I will share them later in the post.

Let me share a teaser picture from Bhitarkanika first!
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Day 1
We started at 9am from our home. Soon we were cruising through NH6 at good speeds, by one hour we crossed Kolaghat and in another hour we were at Kharagpur. From there we took NH60 towards Balasore. By 11-30 am we reached Jaleswar and as usual the Bengal - Orissa border was choked by the trucks. So had to do a little bit of wrong side driving a bit of driving through the muddy roads and soon we were back on the highways crossing the traffic congestion. We were lucky we crossed Jaleswar in 15 minutes. Nh60 was a bliss for driving. By around 12-15 we reached Balasore, 230kms from Kolkata. Our plan was to visit Kuldhia forest another 20 kms from Balasore. So from Balasore we took the right turn and headed to the forest department to get the permits to enter the forest first. There was a lady in charge and she gave us the permit in no time but asked for rs 50 as processing fee for which she never gave us any receipt!

So we left the place and headed towards the forest road. Asked few locals for the direction, they told us the route but every one told us our car can't go in that road as only jeeps are required to handle those terrain. Few jeep drivers looked down below and checked out the ground clearance and told us our car cant go there , so we can park our car and hire there jeep. But i was like let me try with my car first and if i fail to go ahead will return back and hire there jeep and we moved ahead and reached the forest check post.

The guy checked the permit and opened the entry gate and we were soon inside the forest. I was surprised to find the roads were mud roads with pebbles (you have to be careful for a tyre cut) but more or less they were smooth. Its a forest you have to climb through a small hill, due to the pebbles my car was loosing the traction but careful driving provided no difficulty. But at one place i was afraid to find no roads ahead and i have to go through a diversion which is 15-20 feet deep and the incline is very steep with looses pebbles. Plus there were small rocks which can scrap the underbelly of the car. May be this was the reason all were telling us not to take our car. I got down from my car inspected the whole path. I mentally marked the spots through which i should take my car. Carefully came down the slope without scrapping the car. But going up needs some momentum. In first gear i raced up but at the end the road was so uneven my car got stuck. Applied reverse gear. Backed off turned my car full towards the left and with slow acceleration without free spinning my tyres i slowly climbed up again and it again scraped but was able to come up to the main road. If one gets nervous or want to cover it in haste will damage his car for sure. You have to be very careful to negotiate such road in an Etios. I was happy i made it but it was certainly not meant for a sedan to do. Anyways we were happy and were enjoying the silence of the forest. There were not even a single sole except us. The scenic beauty of the forest is just beautiful. After 12kms of climb through the small ghat we reached the F.R.H bungalow Kuldhia. Guys here were very friendly and they let us use there rest rooms too.
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Some pictures inside the Kuldhia forest.

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We explored the jungle till 4pm. Few time we thought we were getting lost inside the jungle as all the cross roads seemed to be so similar, but i kept in mind from where i took left or right turn. Beware, there are no proper road direction's given inside the forest roads. So by 4pm we started our return journey towards the entry gate and has to once again go through that diversion. This time i had enough of experience and managed to take my car up in one go with a mild scrap in the under body. By 4-30pm we were out of Kuldhia and decided to stay for the night at Bhadrak. We reached Bhadrak by 6pm and checked in at hotel Orion. Its a nice hotel beside the highway. Foods were good too with cordial reception. We liked it. We were tired so had an early dinner and retired for the day by 9pm.
Distance covered till now is 383kms.

Day2
The hotel was situated just beside the highway so through out the night the sounds of trucks and there horn were quiet evident and couldn't have a tight sleep. So got up early by 6am. My parents got ready before me and by 8am they were near the car. I lazily took my own time to get ready and boarded the lift at 8-05am closed the doors it came half way down and a power cut, am stuck! I called my dad from the lift he told the security persons , they some how opened the doors and i had to jump 5 feet down to get to the floor! Wow what a way to start a day!

So by 8-15am we started our journey from Bhadrak to Khola gate just 5kms before Dangmal. These are the entry gates of Bhitarkanika. There is a road from Bhadrak which leads to Chandbali from there you can avail a boat till Dangmal or khola. This is what most people do. Bhadrak to Chandbali is 70kms road and locals said roads are bad. We decided to drive till Khola gate where our hotel tents were located. From Bhadrak we drove further 70kms towards Cuttack. Approximately 40kms before Cuttack there is a place called Chandikhol. From here you have to take left and this road heads towards Paradeep. This road is one way and toll road in excellent condition. We continued on this road for 20kms and just after a flyover we took the left turn. You have to ask some one for the roads to Pattamundai. As to reach Khola gate one has to go via Pattamundai. After we took left from the Paradeep road the road condition deteriorated, it became a two way road with few rough patches and a bit of traffic. Mostly bikers. We headed to Pattamundai. From here we have to go to a place called Rajnagar from here you cross a bridge and you are into Bhitarkanika territory. Any locals can guide the roads from here to Dangmal/ Khola. Once we cross the bridge our hotel guy was standing for us to guide us till the hotel. Its hardly a 5 kms stretch. But oh god practically there was no road and its meant for tractors to ply on. I struggled with my Etios to avoid scrapping but still failed to succeed a couple of times. Some how managed to cross this 5kms stretch in 40mins and reached our tents at Khola.

Let me give the route summary once more if you find it confusing above.
Kolkata- Balasore-Bhadrak-Chandikhol- take left on Paradeep road go for another 20kms again take left- pattamundai-Rajnagar-Khola- Dangmal.
Kolkata to Khola is 477kms and Bhadrak to Khola is 177kms. Dangmal is 5kms from Khola.

Basically Bhitarkanika is a mangrove forest, small river/creek passes through it and one can explore the place by a boat ride through the small river/creek. There are few jetty or gates from where you can avail boats. One of them is Khola another one is Dangmal. One can stay either at Khola or at Dangmal. There is another jetty/gate called Gupti. One can reach Gupti by car from Rajnagar or by boat from chandbali or khola or Dangmal.

We checked in at our hotel tents by 12 pm and it was Sand pebbles resort. First time in life i experienced staying in a tent and it was awesome.
A couple of pictures of our tents-
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By 1pm we had our lunch and we were ready to go for the boat ride inside the mangrove forest of Bhitarkanika by 2pm. Our resorts Bolero dropped us to the Khola gate which was 1km from our resort and its the jetty from where boats leave for the tours. The boat ride through the creeks of Bhitarkanika was just amazing and altogether a different experience. One must have the experience to feel what i want to say.
Now let me share few pictures from our boat ride.
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After this wonderful boat ride we were back to the jetty by 5pm. One must carry a movie camera to record the beauty of this place. For movie you need to pay rs 500 and rs 25 for still camera's. Our resort's Bolero was waiting for us at the Jetty and they took us back to our tents. Our tents were located in a desolated place and the evening was pitch dark except the lights from our resort. No electricity in this region.
A couple of pictures out side our resort in the evening.
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Well you don't have much to do here in the evening so had an early dinner and retired for the day. Next day we had to get up early by 7am and reach Khola jetty for a boat ride to Ekakula which will be a 5 hours ride one way so over all a 10 hours boat ride was waiting for us. Ekakula is a sea Beach on Bay of Bengal. In correct season(Feb- March) one can spot Olive riddle turtle over here.

Last edited by GTO : 11th May 2013 at 14:28. Reason: Removing content on high speeds. Please do NOT post about dangerous driving habits on Team-BHP
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Old 5th May 2013, 00:46   #2
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Day 3
I wont write much about this day as the boat ride was a picturesque so will post more pictures for this day. The morning sight from our resort was amazing too.
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We got up at 5am, got ready by 6-45am and our resort's Bolero dropped us to the Jetty by 7am. Our resort guys packed our breakfast and lunch which the captain of our diesel operated boat served us. We left by 7am. Now to visit to Ekakula one must leave from here by 7am and start his return journey from Ekakula by 1pm. As 1pm is the time of high tide, after 1pm it becomes low tide and in low tide your boat may get stuck, and if it gets stuck you have to wait for the evening high tide to come and boat rides in evening here is strictly prohibited. You have to be back by 5pm. one more thing the river is full of crocodiles. So never put your hand or leg in water from the boat its dam risky. While going one has to get there permits done from Gupti which our boat man did as he was instructed from our resort. We took the boat ride, fooding and lodging from Sand pebbles as a package.

Now for the first time in my life i saw a serpent eagle caught a snake and is flying high and just after that saw a crocodile caught a fish from the river and eating it on the shore.
The pictures.
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A deer some where in the jungle.
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Apart from these we witnessed plenty of seagulls and Kingfishers as our boat cruised through the super wide river (once it came out of Bhitarkanika and moved towards the delta the river was super wide.) and through some village area's too.
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We were enjoying these scene and it was nearly 11am. Another one hour to go, but suddenly due to high tide the boat ride turned out to be a night mare and it became scary. We were the only boat traveling in the vast river and it was high tide. The boat was all rolling and pitching. Water started entering inside the boat in splashes and even in the top of the boat where we were seating water splashed on us too. But the captain of our boat was cool and he assured us nothing will happen. Mom was scared, dad was tensed, me busy taking photographs.
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So after a scary boat ride for an hour we finally reached the Ekakula jetty.
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Its a desolated beach. There is a small village including a couple of huts that's it. The hut guys had a dog with them and it was very friendly. Tourists hardly visit this place. So the people including the dog were very happy seeing us over there. The beach looked really awesome. Surprisingly the beach had black sand.
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We stayed there for half an hour but had to start our return journey by 12-30 pm. As ,if high tide goes away we will be stuck and apart from that we have to reach Khola by 5pm.
Few pictures from our return journey.
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Witnessing these mind blowing sceneries we reached Khola 15 minutes to 5pm. As usual our resorts Bolero was waiting for us. They picked up from there and dropped us to our resort. To visit Ekakula from Bhitarkanika one has to spare an entire day. Over all a day with all new experience which we will never forget! A trip which is worth every penny.
Soon we had our snacks and enjoyed the silence of Khola in the evening and by 9pm had our dinner and retired for the day.

Our plan for the next day was to drive back till Kolkata.

Day 4
Nothing much to write about. We woke up by 7-30am and started our return journey by 8-30Am. The first 5kms were horrible, i drove very carefully. We managed to cross it in 40 minutes approximately. Soon we crossed Rajnagar, Pattamundai and were on the Paradeep highway, reached Chandikhol and by 12-30 we were at Bhadrak. Had our lunch at hotel Orion and retrieved our journey. This time we were lucky enough to find no traffic congestion at Bengal -Orissa border. By 4-30pm we crossed Kharagpur and by 6-30pm we reached our home.

It was a 477kms drive which took 10 hours. The first 5kms itself took 40 minutes and after that the drive through Rajnagar and Pattamundai were slow due to peak market hours. So over all i feel 10 hours for 477kms considering the road condition was kind of okay.

It was a total trip of 1045 kms and i must say Etios performed flawlessly.It negotiated such bad roads, still not a single rattling sound nor any kind of damage to the under body of the car.

Last edited by Samba : 6th May 2013 at 00:16.
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Old 6th May 2013, 16:01   #3
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Default Re: Kolkata -> Kuldhia -> Bhitarkanika in a Toyota Etios

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th May 2013, 16:09   #4
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Default Re: Kolkata -> Kuldhia -> Bhitarkanika in a Toyota Etios

Excellent TL. I had been to bhitarkanika when i was a kid. Lovely wild place.
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Old 6th May 2013, 16:32   #5
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Default Re: Kolkata -> Kuldhia -> Bhitarkanika in a Toyota Etios

Another Super Travelogue and lovely Narration with fabulous Pictures, almost gives a feeling of travelling with you. But then, expectations are also on the increasing side!

Those tents at Kuldiha, are they Forest Dept Tents for tourists? Are there any stay over options inside Kuldiha forest?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
Let me give the route summary once more if you find it confusing above.
Kolkata- Balasore-Bhadrak-Chandikhol- take left on Paradeep road go for another 20kms again take left- pattamundai-Rajnagar-Khola- Dangmal.
Kolkata to Khola is 477kms and Bhadrak to Khola is 177kms. Dangmal is 5kms from Khola.
What are the intermediate distances from taking left from the paradeep road for the stages below.
  1. Left turn on Paradeep Road to Pattamundai
  2. PattaMundai to Rajnagar
  3. Rajnagar to Khola
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Old 6th May 2013, 19:27   #6
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Default Re: Kolkata -> Kuldhia -> Bhitarkanika in a Toyota Etios

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Originally Posted by mikon View Post
Excellent TL. I had been to bhitarkanika when i was a kid. Lovely wild place.
Thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
Another Super Travelogue and lovely Narration with fabulous Pictures, almost gives a feeling of travelling with you. But then, expectations are also on the increasing side!

Those tents at Kuldiha, are they Forest Dept Tents for tourists? Are there any stay over options inside Kuldiha forest?

What are the intermediate distances from taking left from the paradeep road for the stages below.
  1. Left turn on Paradeep Road to Pattamundai
  2. PattaMundai to Rajnagar
  3. Rajnagar to Khola
Thanks a lot!

Yes you can book F.R.H Kuldhia for your staying. Apart from these tents they have few cottages too. If you want to stay in more dense then you can opt for another bungalow which is also located inside this forest. I came to know about that later on once we were out from Kuldhia, so couldn't check that out. Am sorry i forgot the name of the other bungalow.

I forgot the exact distance so am giving a rough estimate.
Left turn on Paradeep Road to Pattamundai - 40-50 kms. (1 hour drive approximately)
PattaMundai to Rajnagar - 15-20 kms. (45 minutes drive approximately)
Rajnagar to Khola - 15kms (Due to bad road it took us more than 1 hour)

Last edited by Samba : 6th May 2013 at 19:32.
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Old 8th May 2013, 09:49   #7
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Default Re: Kolkata -> Kuldhia -> Bhitarkanika in a Toyota Etios

Excellent travelogue with nice set of pictures. The picture of eagle with snake & of crocodile with a fish was awesome. There was another photo of a crocodile in background & a deer in foreground. For one moment I thought that you witnessed a KILL
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Old 8th May 2013, 18:53   #8
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Excellent travelogue with nice set of pictures. The picture of eagle with snake & of crocodile with a fish was awesome. There was another photo of a crocodile in background & a deer in foreground. For one moment I thought that you witnessed a KILL
Glad to know you liked it.

Yes we were indeed lucky to witness these three scenes. We saw another scene in that the crocodile jumped out of the water and caught a very low flying bird and it went inside the water. That was in such a short time that before i could open the lens cap of my camera to capture the moment the whole activity finished!
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Old 8th May 2013, 21:42   #9
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Nice summary and nice place. I had been there around 10 years back on trip with loads of friends. We actually took the boat route and explored the jungle trekking.
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Old 8th May 2013, 23:45   #10
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Nice summary and nice place. I had been there around 10 years back on trip with loads of friends. We actually took the boat route and explored the jungle trekking.
Thanks!
Even we wanted to have a short walk inside the jungle near the watch tower, but our boat man told us its very risk as there are wild boars and many poisonous snakes like king cobra inside the jungle. So trekking inside is a strict no. Don't know whether he told that to save his time or the rules have changed by now.
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Old 9th May 2013, 09:48   #11
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He probably told that to save time (or things have changed. 10 years is a long time !), but, some exploration is possible. Of course, if you are in a bunch with 20 people, then it is okay facing a bear in a jungle !
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Old 9th May 2013, 10:17   #12
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Another superbly compiled travelogue by Samba.
The kind of photographic skills you possess is simply brilliant. Loved the writeup, the way it is presented and ofcourse those photographs doing full justice to it.

I have not been to this part of northern Odisa and I would like to visit sometime in the near future thanks to the experience you shared. This part of the country is not really popular for various reasons.

Writeups like this pass good information about lesser known places worth visit.
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Old 9th May 2013, 10:36   #13
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Default Re: Kolkata -> Kuldhia -> Bhitarkanika in a Toyota Etios

Thanks for sharing this beautiful log. Awesome captures & nice narration to boot.

We (4-5 couples) are thinking of going to a desolate beach sometimes when the winter is just about to set in. I am looking forward for locations like this, away from maddening crowd & located somewhere in W.B or Orissa. The only limitation would be, most of us traveling in hatches/sedans, so GC has to be taken care of.

And yes, while you do share details of lodging, its time you shared your fooding pics (with restaurant details)

Thanks :-)
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Old 9th May 2013, 19:43   #14
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He probably told that to save time (or things have changed. 10 years is a long time !), but, some exploration is possible. Of course, if you are in a bunch with 20 people, then it is okay facing a bear in a jungle !
Yes may be. But man don't even think of going in front of a wild boar or a bear. They are very powerful, if you go in a group of 20 people also these animal keep the power to injure at least 3-4 of you. I had some forest ranger friends at Bandipur (Karnataka) so i do have some idea on these wild animals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbokick View Post
Another superbly compiled travelogue by Samba.
The kind of photographic skills you possess is simply brilliant. Loved the writeup, the way it is presented and ofcourse those photographs doing full justice to it.

I have not been to this part of northern Odisa and I would like to visit sometime in the near future thanks to the experience you shared. This part of the country is not really popular for various reasons.

Writeups like this pass good information about lesser known places worth visit.
Thanks a lot!
As you live in Bhubaneswar you can definitely give a try to this place, its worth it.
You mentioned this part is not popular due to various reasons , so if there is any reason concerning the safety of the tourists please share it with us, as am not aware of that fact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
Thanks for sharing this beautiful log. Awesome captures & nice narration to boot.

We (4-5 couples) are thinking of going to a desolate beach sometimes when the winter is just about to set in. I am looking forward for locations like this, away from maddening crowd & located somewhere in W.B or Orissa. The only limitation would be, most of us traveling in hatches/sedans, so GC has to be taken care of.

And yes, while you do share details of lodging, its time you shared your fooding pics (with restaurant details)

Thanks :-)
Thanks a lot Sheel.

Yes you can definitely consider this place to visit. Specially if you want to enjoy an undisturbed beach you can arrange a stay at Ekakula too. For that you need certain permissions and i guess sand pebbles resort can help you on that aspect. I would say you can go over these place by a hatch or a sedan if you drive a bit carefully, that wont be much of a problem. If you have any more queries or you need any kind of help please do not hesitate to ask me.

Now regarding lodging- We booked sandpebbles for 2 nights 3 days. That included staying, foods (Break fast, lunch, snacks, dinner), boat ride inside Bhitarkanika + boat ride to Ekakula.
For three of us they charged rs 19,300 for the whole package.
The price they charged were reasonable as we did inquired at other places too.

The food they gave was good. It included, chicken, crab, fish and prawn (in different meals) with regular, rice, roti, dal , curry, mixed vegetable etc etc. And regarding fooding pictures when i get foods to eat i get so excited i forget my camera and start eating first.
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Old 19th May 2013, 20:38   #15
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Default Re: Kolkata -> Kuldhia -> Bhitarkanika in a Toyota Etios

That is an excellent write-up. Your post will indeed help people like us to get more details on whether we can really trust our sedans to venture into the wild.. Last winter we cancelled our trip to Shimlipal as we were not being given permission to take our Dzire inside the forest. We were being advised to rent Sumos/boleros/etc for the forest trip. I am not sure if the forest officials do this pupously in order to get business for the locals. Though I understand that the forest tracks are best handled by SUVs but I guess Dzire with its decent ground clearance should be able to handle the forest roads.

Moreover, just out of curiosity, Samba, were you not charged INR 1000 for road tax at the the Jaleswar border??
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