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Old 9th December 2009, 10:34   #1
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Default Kolkata-Mandarmoni -Digha-Jaleswar-Kolkata

We were planning for a North Bengal trip in October.

But my sister-in-law did not get leave from her office. So we decided for a trip to Mandarmoni instead.

Members: Me, My wife, My sister-in-law, My mom-in-law.
Vehicle: Tata Safari

My sister-in-law wanted to visit a temple too. As you may be aware, bengalis are indeed good at scenario analysis. We started discussing options between Kalighat and Dakhineswar. Kalighat would be closer to home but we were not sure about the crowd management. Dakhineswar on the other hand was little far, but close to highway, and is extremely well managed. So we decided to go to Dakhineswar, and from there head to Mandarmoni.

Day 1: The plan was to leave by 6 AM. But we managed to start only by 8 AM from Kolkata. We reached Dakhineswar by 8.30. It took us about an hour to offer puja. After a great breakfast with kachori and potato curry we started from Dakhineswar around 10ish.

To cross river ganges, you can either use Nivedita setu (toll bridge) or use the old bridge. We used Nivedita Setu and soon we were in NH6 passing through the suburbs of Howrah. It was kind of congested till we reached Kona expressway. The road condition was excellent throughout.

We reached Kolaghat by 12ish and ordered lunch. Traffic was moderate throughout. There are not many good restaurants at Kolaghat. Sher-e-punjab looks better, but we left it for our return journey.

Food was decent, but they were too generous and we got a fried insect free with one of the curries. Recommend checking the dhabas before you eat.

There is a left fork towards Digha after Kolaghat. Four lane construction was going on in full swing with lot of diversions.

One side was almost complete, but there were big craters and 'staircases' on the road. So you may find yourself landed in a crater or jumping through 'staircases' while you are cruising at 100+ kmph on smooth tarmac.

My wife bought a pack of mad angles before Nandakumar crossing. When we reached Nandakumar, we were so busy in discussing the pros and cons of mad angle, we went to Haldia instead of Digha. Since I am driving on these roads after 10 years or so, I had no idea that we were in a different route. Four lane construction was going on. My wife slept soon after the crossing and I was happy thinking that road to Digha will be four lane soon.

Truck traffic increased on the way, and so did dust. After 20 kms or so, the road became really bad. Trucks were parked on one side of the road. I thought it wise to ask somebody about the direction only to be told by a gypsy owner that we were in Haldia. To go to Digha, we had to go back to Nandakumar and take a left.

We reversed and reached Nandakumar cursing my wife's affinity with mad angle. Road from Nandakumar to Digha was narrow with transport buses sometimes plying at an astronomical speed. Road was 70% good, rest not so bad to very bad. We reached Kanthi bypass around 4ish, and soon we reached the crossing where you take a left to Mandarmoni.

The diversion was all 'rocky'. No sharp rocks, it was like the tramlines in Kolkata couple of years back. The road is narrow and passes through villages. It takes about an hour to reach Dadon Patro Bar (13-14 kms).

There are a number of hotels between Dadon Patro Bar and Mandarmoni. Some hotels are accessible by road, some are accessible by beach only. The beach is not accessible after 5-5:30ish and also for couple of hours during day. Also if you are not driving a 4wd, you may not be able to reach some hotels at the far end of the beach after rose valley. Hotels offer free parking and transport to the hotel if you are coming by bus or if you cannot drive to the hotel. Heard that some hotels advise you to park the car at Dadon Patro Bar and take the free shuttle from there.

Hotels may quote you high prices of more than 2000 Rs. per night, but if you bargain, it will come down to Rs. 1000 per night. We took a big AC room for around 1400 per night. Food is served by the hotel. There is no electricity, but hotels usually have generators for 20+ hours a day.

Connectivity was not good. BSNL, Reliance GSM worked till evening, but nothing worked after 10 p.m. or so. Aircel or MTS did not work. Reliance CDMA internet modem did not work either.

Day 2: I got up early at 5 for sun rise. But it was pitch dark and I was greeted with a barking dog. Finally we were out in the beach by 5.45ish. A van driver convinced us that our 4wd vehicle would get stuck on the way to a nearby beach, frequented with red crabs. With three ladies, I did not want to take any risk of getting stuck and boarded his motorized van (do they have any PUC?).

There were deep mud tracks just before you reach rose valley. I think a 4wd vehicle could pass through, or at least one can drive through the wet sand and bypass the mud track when the water recedes. Overall I don't think it is a problem for any vehicle, not for any 4wd at least. We even saw an ambassador in the beach.

I wanted to test my vehicle in the wet sand. The approach is steep and sandy. The jeeps usually drive close to the shore. But we drove through the wet sand. It was little shaky but stable when we switched to 4H. There were few other cars, mostly jeeps, sumos and tractors on the beach. If you are stuck, they can charge you as much as Rs. 3000 to dig you out. On the way back the approach can generate wheel spins but it was not a real problem. We were back to the hotel by 9ish for a great breakfast at a nearby cafe.

Here are some pics.

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Old 9th December 2009, 14:46   #2
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Sumannandy, good pics of your 4x4. Looking forward to more.
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Old 9th December 2009, 15:19   #3
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So us more pictures of Digha Beach. Is it in Bengal or Orissa? I thought it's in Orissa.
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Old 9th December 2009, 16:51   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akas_chauhan View Post
So us more pictures of Digha Beach. Is it in Bengal or Orissa? I thought it's in Orissa.
I guess it's pretty much in WB.

@sumannandy, the pics of the 'elephant' on the beach are really good! Keep them coming
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Old 11th December 2009, 10:09   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tortoiseNhare View Post
Sumannandy, good pics of your 4x4. Looking forward to more.
Quote:
Originally Posted by akas_chauhan View Post
So us more pictures of Digha Beach. Is it in Bengal or Orissa? I thought it's in Orissa.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulsar56 View Post
I guess it's pretty much in WB.

@sumannandy, the pics of the 'elephant' on the beach are really good! Keep them coming
Thank you for your comments.

Day 2: contd.

We decided to go to Digha and stay for a day. To go to Digha, you need to comeback to Chaulkhola and take a left. You cannot drive through the beach as there is at least one river in between. Roads to Digha is decent with high morning traffic in narrow roads. It took us almost an hour to come back to Chaulkhola and another 30-40 mins to reach Digha. On the way we were stopped by people demanding 'chanda' for upcoming diwali puja. There is no way you can avoid them.

Digha has changed a lot since the last time we went there. Old Digha beach is kind of deserted. We drove to New Digha and found a decent hotel for Rs. 1000 per night for A.C. room.

Food is cheap at Digha and we enjoyed a sumptuous meal with different kind of fishes in our hotel. The plan was to visit Talsari beach and the shopping complex in the evening. Talsari beach is a short drive from Digha (30-40 mins). You need to drive to Orissa and then take a left near Chandaneswar temple. Roads are excellent. The diversion to beach is however narrow and kind of deserted. We went to the beach but did not feel safe to spend a lot of time there. The view is great.

On the way back we went to Chandaneswar temple. They charge Rs. 10 for parking. You need to be careful inside the temple. The priests start puja 'suo moto' and make you pay for the puja. We did fall victim for it too and had to pay some money there. They actually try to extract as much money as possible during puja. I have never observed such a bad practice anywhere else in India.

I wanted to visit the new Jurassic Park on the way back, but my fellow passengers were too keen to go to shopping complex.

We drove to Old Digha beach. However, there are very few shops in Old Digha, unlike old days. Disappointed, we drove back to New Digha. There are lot of shops on the way to the beach in New Digha, close to the place where all the hotels are located. The ladies spent almost two to three hours there. We came back to our hotel by 9ish and retired after a great dinner.

We ordered fish fry in dinner. What they delivered was fried fish.

We decided to comeback through Jaleswar next day. We did some research in team bhp and read Kumar Sir's warning about the bad roads. However the locals suggested that the road condition might have improved and it would not be a problem for a big car. We even asked a truck driver about the road condition. He said that there are few kms of metal road, rest would be all fine. We decided to try this route, as the drive to Kolkata would be a lot faster in GQ.

Little did we know what was in store for us the next day with horrible no-roads and a bad experience at border.

Here are some pictures.

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Kolkata-Mandarmoni -Digha-Jaleswar-Kolkata-dsc00983.jpg

Last edited by sumannandy : 11th December 2009 at 10:12.
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