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Old 22nd February 2010, 13:32   #1
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Default Piyali Island - for a quiet weekend out of Calcutta

Calcutta has a serious shortage of weekend getaways that are within a reasonable driving distance. Various insurgent groups in most of the touristy areas haven’t helped matters much. And for us Calcuttans the hunt is always on to find a new spot. In such a scenario finding a new destination within three hours of Calcutta is like finding the proverbial manna. But this is exactly what we found this weekend when we visited Piyali Island Tourist Lodge.

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My old faithful at Piyali Island Tourist Lodge; Sunderbans

The tourist brochure called it a “gateway to the Sunderbans”, which indeed it is. Of course the vegetation, topography and landscape are all typically Sunderbanish, but please don’t expect to see any tiger here. If you are really lucky you might still see a crocodile but tigers are distant dreams. The best part about the complex is the huge area at its disposal. You can literally get lost inside the island. The place has a huge collection of resident and migratory birds as well as birds of passage. If you are seriously interested in birding you can see a lot of them here without venturing a step outside the resort.

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A green bee-eater inside the resort. They are plentiful at the resort

It’s just three hours from Tolly Metro, if you start early. The distance is just 70 kms though. The road is a typical single-lane state highway that passes through congested localities like Garia, Sonarpur, Baruipur, Joynagar, Nimpith etc. Therefore starting early makes sense. Otherwise getting caught at the Baruipur level crossing can prove very frustrating and time consuming. On the way back start before nightfall. Baruipur can experience dreadful jams in the evenings.

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The bridge over Piyali river that connects the island to the mainland

The road surface can vary from being bad to fairly bad but will not really break the bottom of your car. I didn’t really bottom out anywhere on the journey. The last couple of kilometers were almost unpaved but work is going on and I am sure within a short time that stretch will also get completed. Unless you are really protective about your dainty car, you can safely go there without a worry.
On a typical winter morning you can of course taste the wonderful Bengali delicacy called “mowa” that Joynagar is famous for. This is definitely a bonus on the route. Just one tip – the best Joynagar mowas are made in Borhu rather than Joynagar.

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This collared kingfisher greeted me inside the resort. I wish it was perched on a lower branch to show the handsome blue-green colour of its back.

The island resort is surrounded on all sides by the picturesque rivers Piyali and Matla. The vegetation is typically that of a mangrove forest. The island is connected to the mainland by a dam on Piyali river. The dam with its sluice gates itself is fairly picturesque though very small.

Talking about the resort – its complex is huge. It has electricity only from evening 6 to morning 6 through the resort’s own generators. If you pay extra they can stretch it for you. The generators are not audible from your room.
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The wheels of progress in West Bengal are a tad slow you might feel

The resort’s facilities are rather spartan. Do not expect any luxury in the bathroom or in the bed room. But I must say the rooms are fairly decent sized and value for money at Rs 850. The size of the bed was large enough for the three of us.
Food is on the spicier side and no great shakes but acceptable. The attendants are very cordial and try to be as helpful as possible.
Among activities, boating on the Piyali river is nice. It is almost like a lake with virtually no current. You can also go for a short trip to Kaikhali to see Matla – it’s almost like a sea there. There is a small Nimpith Ramkrishna Ashram at Kaikhali.

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A view inside the resort complex. It is easy to get lost here

If anyone wants I shall put up an xl sheet later for those who want to go there in future. It will have a point by point instruction.

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Some tufted ducks on the Piyali river.

Last edited by Sudipto-S-Team : 22nd February 2010 at 13:44.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 13:42   #2
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Great Sudipto, and thanks for letting us know about a new spot. This is now included in my "must to visit" places. Will follow your travelogue for more on this place.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 13:45   #3
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You are most welcome to ask anything Shantanu. It's a nice place unless you are addicted to AC for a good night's sleep. In that case I would suggest next winter.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 14:27   #4
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Nice find Sudipto-da. Would love to have more details about this place.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 10:36   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Calcutta has a serious shortage of weekend getaways that are within a reasonable driving distance. [/b]
Very well said.
Probably that is why many migrate to Bangalore.

This one is a prized shot.


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Old 23rd February 2010, 11:24   #6
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Hi Sudipto,

This place has became quite popular among weekenders ,
these guys are in every travel fair in Kolkata .

Anyway Gents, I compiled few weekend tour places around
kolkata in my blog , Have a look .
next weekend at....

Cheers
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Old 23rd February 2010, 11:51   #7
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Very nice intermix of snaps. Birds with human flora/fauna.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 20:11   #8
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Sourabh, Tirtha, Ampere thanks for your comments.
Capt Dey thanks for the link. I must read it and save the link for future sorties. Actually I have never been to any tourism fair in Calcutta and that's why perhaps I was ignorant about them. I also do not watch television at all. Not even news.
I like first person account of a place from an impartial source. And that's what I tried to give here for others.
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Old 24th February 2010, 09:07   #9
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Sirji, do you have more pics to share? Would love to see the place, through your lens.
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Old 24th February 2010, 14:06   #10
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Sourabh
Thanks. Yes I do but they are more like birds of Piyali than the resort itself. Will upload some in the evening. Meanwhile, here is the driving direction and distances to Piyali, for all it's worth.
Sudipto
Attached Files
File Type: xls Piyali trip log.xls (19.0 KB, 1256 views)
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Old 24th February 2010, 15:09   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
If anyone wants I shall put up an xl sheet later for those who want to go there in future. It will have a point by point instruction.
Hi Sudipto...excellent place you have found out
Please share the route details so that it can guide future travelers
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Old 24th February 2010, 18:57   #12
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Babu - I have already posted the xl sheet. Do let me know if you want any other info.
Saurabh
Here are few more of my snaps taken at the resort or around it.

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I was impressed by the courage shown by the ducks. They tolerated this boat for quite some time before taking flight.

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Tom Sawyer of Piyali. This little boy rowed the boat very efficiently and charged me Rs 10 for the ride


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"Are you photographing me? Let me clean up please" - a male tufted duck on Piyali river

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Sunset from the island. It could have been anywhere in the world though ;-)

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Old 25th February 2010, 07:35   #13
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Could you please let me know what are the staying options in Piyali island and how and where to book them from? This place seems good and the best part is its close proximity to Kolkata. Ideal weekend venture.

The pics of ducks are amazing.
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Old 25th February 2010, 10:55   #14
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Santanu
Piyali island has just one resort. They have 21 rooms. Weekends are generally crowded, so please book one week in advance. It can be booked only from the company's Calcutta booking office in Dhakuria Station Road. The person to contact for booking is Mr Pradeep Deb 9433435181. We had met the owner's wife Jonakidi for booking. Her number is 9433986365. Jonakidi is a genuinely nice person. They run this hotel more as a hobby than as a money making business venture.
This island resort used to be owned by West Bengal government. Now they have leased it out to Jonakidi and her husband through a tender.
Thanks that you liked the ducks. They may not stay there for too long. It's time for them to pack up and go back.
There is another lodge in nearby Kaikhali (about 14 kms from Piyali) which is on the bank of Matla. The 10 km road from Jamtala bridge to Kaikhali is absolutely billard top.
The river Matla looks like a sea from Kaikhali. This lodge is operated by the Nimpith Ramkrishna Ashram (this is not the same as Ramkrishna Mission). Booking that lodge or even just eating lunch there is a very complicated process. You have to personally go to Nimpith and do the booking from the Ashram. They may or may not let you stay there - because there is an unwritten approval process for every guest. Plus they have various restrictions like no liquor no this no that etc. So that is best avoided but you can certainly go there and take a look at the river and spend some time on the bank. The view is breathtaking from there.
All the best
Sudipto
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Old 25th February 2010, 11:27   #15
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Lovely pics there. Thanks for sharing the log.
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