Visit the bustling New Market for a maddening display of what Dhaka has to offer in terms of textiles, and brace yourself for a great bargain. Otherwise, explore the great architecture found in buildings like Lalbag Fort and National Parliament House. Another must-visit is the famed Liberation War Museum – a great way to find out more about Bangladesh’s history. Sip on some cha (tea) and enjoy the views at Sadarghat as you journey on a boat, or head for some more shopping at Shankaria Bazaar – a 300-year-old market known as Hindu Street and originally set up by Hindu artisans. A flight from Kolkata to Dhaka takes 55 minutes.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this area is home to the magnificent mangrove forest. Spread over 1,400 kilometers of land, The Sunderbans are also home to a significant Bengal tiger population. Calm, serene and beautiful – the lush forests and swamps here are difficult to describe. Stay on a houseboat and float through the delta, and you might spot quite a collection of animals and birds. Don’t miss the tides – an amazing experience in themselves. The best way to go to The Sunderbans from Kolkata is by car, taking about two hours.
Head to Kurseong for a stunning view of the Himalayas and the Mahananda River. Home to tea estates like the Makaibari Tea Estate and The Castleton Tea Estate, make sure you don’t miss what might be one of the best cups of tea you’ve had in a long time. You can also visit the fascinating Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Museum, housing artifacts that tell the life of the famed freedom-fighter. Kurseong is 60 kilometers away from Siliguri Airport (a 45-minute flight from Kolkata).
In the 18th century, the Dutch built a fort in Raichak. When they left the country, the fort was neglected but has now been converted to a lively five-star hotel. Explore this little town and visit the Mansa Devi deity. The idol is said to have come down to Raichak in a flood. Located on the Hooghly River, Raichak provides some splendid views. Jetties are available to ferry you across the river. A road trip to Raichak from Kolkata takes one and a half hours.
The lovely Bengali terracotta temples of this region are a sight to behold. Visit the Jorebangla and Shyamrai temples. Also, visit Rasmancha – a fascinating brick temple. Afterward, you can head to the magnificent Keibul Lamjao National Park – a very special nature reserve dedicated to the endangered Sangai, also known as ‘the dancing deer of Manipur,’ found only here. Set on the famous Lotak Lake, it is also the only floating wildlife sanctuary in the world. You can reach Bishnupur by road from Kolkata in five hours.
By Sukhada Chaudhary