Travelling Chokri

Mandarmani | The best weekend trip near Kolkata in UNLOCK 4

Two weeks back I was jamming to Tyga’s hit number “I’m bored in the house and I’m in the house bored” and the song hit me hard.It was a moment of realization that all I needed was a weekend trip near Kolkata.As I write this blog,we are officially and currently in the fourth phase of UNLOCK aka UNLOCK 4.0.Its been 5 months I am confined in the safe haven of my home, abiding by “stay home,stay safe”, practising “Social Distancing” whenever I had to step out of absolute necessity.A devastating cyclone, an ongoing pandemic, living through such turbulent times we all deserve this much needed break to rejuvenate our tired souls.

missing a beach holiday to Mandarmani during this lockdown my favourite weekend trip near Kolkata
missing a beach holiday to Mandarmani during this lockdown my favourite weekend trip near Kolkata

With much fear,apprehension and anxiety I started my search on Google to find the perfect destination for a relaxing short trip from Kolkata.I had my reservations about travelling in such hard times and was concerned about the following points:

  • Safety and hygiene of the accommodation
  • distance from Kolkata
  • ease of travel to the place from Kolkata

Eventually I took the calculated risk of travelling in post lockdown times.After weighing all the available options that have opened up after lockdown for a quick holiday (keeping the above points in consideration),I chose Mandarmani.

Mandarmani is a humble and tranquil fishing village, where the beach area has been developed into a resort town on the coast of Bay of Bengal.It is located in Purba Medinipur district.

Mandarmani Calling! Lazy stroll across the sea beach while witnessing sunset,pure bliss
Mandarmani Calling! Lazy stroll across the sea beach while witnessing sunset,pure bliss
WHAT’s INSIDE THE BLOG

    4 REASONS WHY MANDARMANI IS THE IDEAL WEEKEND DESTINATION AFTER LOCKDOWN

    Amidst this adverse circumstance of COVID-19 pandemic,options are limited as railway operations are still suspended and airways are also operating in limited capacity.If you are from Kolkata and adjoining areas,travelling to nearby tourist locations is the safest wayDistance and reach from Kolkata:

    Amidst this adverse circumstance of COVID-19 pandemic,options are limited as railway operations are still suspended and airways are also operating in limited capacity.If you are from Kolkata and adjoining areas,travelling to nearby tourist locations is the safest wayDistance and reach from Kolkata:

    1. Distance and reach from Kolkata:

    If you are looking for weekend destinations near kolkata within 200 kms,Mandarmani must be in your list .Mandarmani is 168 Kms from Kolkata. In contrast to its more popular neighbour Digha,Mandarmani is still comparatively less crowded which makes it a very popular tourist place among all others.

    2. The awesome road trip 

    The Kolkata to Mandarmani route is blessed with two highways NH16 and NH116B.This makes the drive very pleasant and comfortable.The convenience and comfort of the journey was one of the reasons why I selected Mandarmani when I was searching for weekend getaways from kolkata by road.I went in early September and the lush green paddy fields on either side of the Highways was extremely scenic and eye-soothing.Before reaching Kolaghat,catch a glimpse of Rupnarayan river as you pass over it.

    3.Safety,Security and hygiene of accommodation:

    Initially, when I was comparing beaches near Kolkata,I was in a dilemma between Tajpur and Mandarmani.Mandarmani won hands down.Major reason for going with Mandarmani was the extensive choices of accommodation.Mandarmani has better hotels which are safer than the ones in Tajpur and I had doubts regarding the hygiene of those.Hotels and Resorts of Mandarmani have already resumed services since late June,2020.

    4. Weather:

    Although Mandarmani is a quite hot and humid in summers, but you can visit here at any time of the year.Mandarmani is equally enjoyable across all seasons throughout the year.

    I visited Mandarmani on the first weekend of September.In most hotels and resorts rooms were getting booked at an insane pace.

    So, if you are planning a trip with your spouse or significant other,I would highly recommend Mandarmani if you are considering weekend getaways from Kolkata for couples. You can visit Mandarmani without any fear or inhibitions, it is absolutely safe.

    Unforgettable road trip from Kolkata to Mandarmani via NH116B highway
    Unforgettable road trip from Kolkata to Mandarmani via NH116B highway

    HOW TO REACH MANDARMANI WHEN RAILWAYS ARE SHUT DUE TO COVID?

    Mandarmani is easily reachable via a number of travel options:

    • By Road
    • By Train

    Currently railway operations are suspended due the COVID-19 Pandemic,so train travel is currently unavailable.So let’s talk about the roadways.

    Even by road you have 3 options :

    -By car or bike:

    As the saying goes “Sometimes the best therapy is a long drive and good music”, this 4 and a half hour long drive from Kolkata to Mandarmani will absolutely refresh and cheer you up.Enjoy the ride with your favourite music and the pleasant company of your family or friends as you cross through.

    Passionate bikers are always hungry for the adrenaline rush.If you are one, this epic road trip from Kolkata is gold for you.Revv up your engine and get the thrill of your life on NH 6 highway.

     Fuel Expenses by car:Rs.1500 -2000 approx for two way travel

     Fuel Expenses by car:Rs.1000-1200 approx for two way travel

    -By Bus:

    A bus ride to Mandarmani is equally enjoyable.Bus services ply from multiple locations of Kolkata and around like Birati,Garia,Behala,Barrackpore.Several bus operators run AC buses with push back seats on this route which are very comfortable.Grab a window seat,plug in your earphones ,sit back, relax and enjoy the journey listening to your favourite tunes.

    Once you reach Chaulkhola bus stand,take an autorickshaw to reach upto your hotel in Mandarmani.

    Visit https://www.redbus.in/bus-tickets/kolkata-to-mandarmani or https://online.sbstcbooking.co.in/ to book your seat.

    Popular Operators on Red Bus :

    – Snemita Parbiahan (Santosh and Manikanchan)

    – Ankita Paribahan(Athithi)

    Ticket Price: Rs 250-350 across different operators.

                         Rs 145 for Non-AC Bus of SBSTC.

    Auto-rickshaw fare:Rs 20 per passenger else book it for Rs 120-140 with 9 -10 people in a group.

    Kolkata To Mandarmani Route is every biker’s dream come true

    DRIVING DIRECTIONS TO REACH MANDARMANI FROM KOLKATA:

    • Once you drive down the Second Hooghly Bridge and reach the National Highway ,NH 16, this four lane expansive highway is indeed every driver’s delight.
    • You can take a snack break at Kolaghat which is a town famous for thermal power plant and the adjoining Rupnarayan river.There are some popular dhabas and eateries like Sher-E Punjab,Express Plaza etc along the highway to grab a quick cup of tea,coffee or snack.
    • Head on to Nandakumar which would take around 30-35 mins and take a right through NH116B to Contai, a stretch of 6 kms on this one lane road is in a bad shape due to construction work.
    • It will take around 20 mins from Contai to reach Chawlkhola.
    • Take the left diversion road,the last but the most beautiful stretch of the entire journey.
    • Passing through small sleepy hamlets,fisheries,green fields with a lot of bends and curves this the most picturesque part of the drive.
    • Another 20 min drive and you have to locate your hotel or resort’s exact location using Google’s navigation and finally your GPS will announce “You have reached your destination”.

    HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT HOTEL IN MANDARMANI WHEN VISITING IN UNLOCK PHASE

    1. Location of the Hotel Property:

    You should be extra cautious while travelling in the post lockdown time so check the location of the hotel on Google map before booking,it is advisable not to book hotels which are at the last stretch at the beginning or end of the Mandarmani sea beach.

    1. View of the sea:

    Go for a sea-facing Hotel.Mandarmani is a serene and less crowded place.There is nothing much to do after sunset in the evening.In a hotel with frontal sea view you enjoy the sea breeze while sitting in the garden area and having a gala time with your friends and family

    1. Ratings and reviews on Tripadvisor

    Hotels were shut for a long time after COVID pandemic started,so reviews will help you assess the present condition, regarding services,hospitality,security and hygiene of the property.So if you are visiting in September you should check the reviews of at least 15 days back.

    1. Free Cancellation Policy:

    Hotels with a free cancellation policy ensure that you can book your stay at the hotel and since we are in the middle of a pandemic, if any emergency situation arrives due to which you have to postpone or cancel your trip you can get your money back without any hassle.Check the cancellation policy of the hotel before booking.

    1. Complimentary breakfast:

    You should choose a hotel that offers complimentary breakfast.This is a great value addition to the offerings of a hotel.

    1. Parking space:

    Check whether parking space is available in the Hotel.

    1. Lawn or playing area of the property:

     When travelling with kids you should check into a hotel that has a play area with enough space for children to run and play.A spacious lawn or garden is also essential so that you can relax and have a good time.

    1. Whether pets are allowed:

    If you have pets then before booking a hotel make sure that the Hotel allows guests to bring along their pets.With COVID still hanging around it might be difficult to travel leaving behind your pets at home.So, you should check whether your pet is allowed in the Hotel.

    Full frontal sea view from balcony at Hotel Sonar bangla
    Enjoying the vast expanse of Bay of Bengal from the balcony of Hotel Sonar Bangla

    THE 2 DAY ITINERARY FOR THE MOST ENGAGING BUT RELAXING WEEKEND IN MANDARMANI

    What else are weekends for, if not to unwind,chill and that too by the sea?

    Plan your work schedule ,well ahead, for that week in which you will be travelling, to avoid any last minute work emergencies.

    DAY 1 – FRIDAY:

    -Try to start as early as possible on Friday morning.There are buses as early as 4.45 in the morning(operated by Sreeram Liners in Red Bus) from Esplanade,Birati etc.

    -It will take you around 4 and half hours to reach Mandarmani including a halt at Kolaghat.Check in to your Hotel.Freshen up and take some rest.

    -In the evening you can visit the Mohona (delta),where river Champa meets the Bay of Bengal Sea.Start as early as 3.30 pm.It is just half an hour drive from the resort town area.You can drive your own car or take an autorickshaw from the main market area.

    -The approach to the Mohona is laden with dense canopy of jhau trees.As the sun gradually starts retreating the yellow sandy beach transforms into vermillion red due to the red crabs coming out of the sandy habitat.This is a beautiful view to behold.

    -If time permits enjoy a boat ride from the delta to reach Mohona beach which is actually a part of Tajpur and just opposite shore of the delta.You can spend some time on the beach.Watch the mesmerising sunset with sea food & chilled beer in shacks on the beach.

    -Return back to Mandarmani.Spend the evening in leisure with your family and friends in your hotel.

    Auto-fare from Mandarmani to Mohona:Rs 20 per head else reserve the autorickshaw at Rs 250-300 both ways included.

    Approach To Mandarmani Delta(Mohona),covered in dense canopy of Jhau Trees,prime attractions in Mandarmani
    Approach To Mandarmani Delta(Mohona),covered in dense canopy of Jhau Trees

    DAY 2- SATURDAY:

    -Wake up sleepy heads,when at Mandarmani,you cannot afford to miss the beautiful sunrise.

     If you have booked sea-facing rooms,watch the crimson sun rise above the horizon.Soak in the view of waves crashing on the beach as you sip your morning tea on your balcony.

    -You can take an early morning stroll on the beach.Watch the local fishermen getting ready with their nets as they embark on the day’s catch.

    -After breakfast enjoy some idle time in the lawn area,if you love to swim take a dip in the swimming pool of the hotel.

    -Its afternoon and it’s time to enjoy bathing in the sea.Are you an adventure junkie? then you cannot miss the water and adventure sports at Mandarmani.Enjoy a plethora of activities like Parasailing,Banana boat,bumper ride,jet ski and ATV bike on the sea beach.

    Speed boat ride cost: Rs 200 per person for 10 mins.

    Parasailing:Rs 1000 per head

    However adventure sports are not allowed in monsoons, it is seasonal.

    -In the evening you can visit the local market and indulge in some shopping,enjoy local seafood dishes in shacks along the beach like crab masala and pomfret fry or just walk along the beach and enjoy the sunset.

    This brings us to the end of this sea sojourn.Check out in the morning (Sunday) preferably around 11 AM. Bid adieu to Mandarmani with happy memories as you head back home to Kolkata.

    Red crabs transform the yellow sandy beaches into vermillion red,spectacular view at Mandarmani beach
    Red crabs transform the yellow sandy beaches into vermillion red,spectacular view at Mandarmani beach

    MY EXPERIENCE OF STAYING AT HOTEL SONAR BANGLA,MANDARMANI FOR A WEEKEND TRIP NEAR KOLKATA

    After finalising Mandarmani as my destination, the next big task was to choose the perfect hotel.After making elaborate searches on makemytrip.com,comparing different options I decided to book my stay at Hotel Sonar Bangla, Mandarmani.This hotel is one of the oldest properties in Mandarmani.It is 3 storied, mid-range hotel with 4 categories of room:

    -Standard A/C rooms -These rooms do not offer any sea view.

    -A/C Deluxe Room- These rooms are larger than standard rooms with no sea view

    -Premium Ac Room-Offer views to swimming pool and also the sea

    -Super A/C Deluxe Room.-These rooms offer sea view and larger than deluxe rooms

    -Platinum Rooms-Most expensive and lavish rooms with panoramic beach view.

    The major reasons why I booked this hotel are :

    Location:

    This hotel is located at the earliest stretch of beach facing hotels.The hotel is just  footsteps away from the Mandarmani beach and hence you will get a private beach kind of a vibe.The biswa bangla beach park is located just beside this hotel.

    -Sea view :

    Hotel Sonar Bangla is a property with a full frontal sea view.There is a sitting area facing the beach which provides a heavenly view of the sea.In the evenings you can just sit here and enjoy the cool sea breeze while having snacks and chilled beer while gossiping with your group.

    -Swimming pool:

    When I was searching for mandarmani hotels with swimming pool, there were quite a few options to choose from.However at Hotel Sonar Bangla,the management sanitises the pool regularly to ensure the safety of their guests.

    However the pool was being cleaned over the weekend when I stayed there.

    Spacious lawn area with well maintained garden:

    The lawn and garden area was quite expansive,with beautiful coconut trees lined up.Grass was mowed with perfection.There are yellow benches with shade and swings for kids.

    -Sanitisation and hygiene:

    The temperature was checked on arrival and our luggage was sprayed with disinfectant.Rooms were cleaned thoroughly and sanitised.

    -Free Cancellation policy:

    The hotel has a free cancellation policy when you book through makemytrip usually upto 2 days before the booked date.

    -Brand Reputation:

    Hotel Sonar Bangla has a good reputation and is one of the best hotels in Mandarmani.

    -Car Parking:

    The hotel has a sprawling parking area with ample space.

    Enjoy spectacular vistas of Bay of Bengal by this beach view sitting area of Hotel Sonar Bangla
    Beach View lawn area of Hotel Sonar Bangla

    This is a personal account of my visit and stay at mandarmani over a lazy weekend and I hope my experiences will help you in planning a short weekend trip from Kolkata.

    We started out quite early (around 7 AM) on the Friday morning of 4th September.We drove down with our own car and reached Mandarmani around 11.45 AM.After checking-in we freshened up,had our lunch and took a brief nap.We booked a standard AC room which did not have any sea view.Every room is equipped with a mini fridge,tea kettle,sanitiser and water bottes.There is an intercom facility and it worked fine.Toiletries are provided as complimentary offerings.

    In the evening we went to the delta(Mohona) which is just 30 mins drive from our hotel.We enjoyed the sunset with a spectacular view of red crabs pouring out of the sand in flocks.After returning to the hotel, we enjoyed the calm sea breeze while sitting in the hotel promenade.We also had dinner by the beach.It was a full moon night and the beach was beautifully illuminated by the moonlight.

    Fullmoon night at Mandarmani,waves illuminated by gentle moonlight
    Waves illuminated by moonlight, we had dinner by this amazing view

    Next morning we woke up at 5 AM and were lucky enough to catch the sunrise from the common balcony of our floor.The Hotel provides complimentary breakfast.We went down to the cafeteria  for breakfast.The buffet spread was satisfactory.The buffet menu had Poha,bread and butter,fruits,luchi and chana masala.

    Unfortunately we went during the full moon and hence due to high tide the beach was not approachable in the morning.At around 1 pm the tide retreated and we bathed in the sea.After sea-bath we had our lunch.Food was well cooked,delicious and good in quantity.

    In the evening we had a lazy stroll on the beach as the sun went down.In a nearby shack we had fish fry and chilled beer which we carried on our own.As the high tide started to gain momentum we had to rush back to our hotel.

    We sat in the beach-facing open area of the hotel and snacked on salt and pepper fish.The aura of the place and surrounding was heavenly.Cool sea breeze,moonlit waves and the company of my husband-the moment was magical.We ordered our dinner in our room and had chilli prawns and Mixed Hakka Noodles. The prawns were sumptuous.

    Next morning around 11 AM,we checked out of the hotel after having a quick breakfast.Overall it was a very pleasant stay.

    Mesmerising sunset at Mandarmani beach
    Sunstes,seascapes and silhouettes , a view to chrish

    USEFUL RESOURCES AND LINKS FOR PLANNING YOUR NEXT SHORT TRIP FROM KOLKATA TO MANDARMANI:

    Trip Expenditure

    Room Tariff: Rs3000 (including GST)/night

    Food: Rs 2000

    Total expenditure on Food,Accommodation and fuel for a 2 day trip :Rs 9500.

    Tripadvisor rating page and hotel booking links :

    Tripadvisor rating of Hotel Sonar Bangla :

    https://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g1584828-d2344103-Reviews-Hotel_Sonar_Bangla_Mandarmoni-Mandarmani_East_Midnapore_District_West_Bengal.html

    Makemytrip Booking page:

    https://www.makemytrip.com/hotels/hotel-details/?hotelId=200809051540156456&mtkeys=defaultMtkey&_uCurrency=INR&checkin=10092020&checkout=10112020&city=CTXMD&country=IN&lat=21.65256&lng=87.66768&locusId=CTXMD&locusType=city&rank=3&roomStayQualifier=1e0e&searchText=Mandarmani%2C%20West%20Bengal%2C%20India&visitorId=1cd66a63-09b0-48fb-ad53-f824d4d4f93b

    Other recommended mid range hotels of similar categories:

    The Candlewood Park Beach Resort:

    https://www.makemytrip.com/hotels/hotel-details/?hotelId=201409021310161248&mtkeys=defaultMtkey&_uCurrency=INR&checkin=10092020&checkout=10112020&city=CTXMD&country=IN&lat=21.659641&lng=87.69062&locusId=CTXMD&locusType=city&rank=4&roomStayQualifier=1e0e&searchText=Mandarmani%2C%20West%20Bengal%2C%20India&visitorId=1cd66a63-09b0-48fb-ad53-f824d4d4f93b

    -Aqua Marina Drive Inn:

    https://www.makemytrip.com/hotels/hotel-details/?hotelId=201112121541427881&mtkeys=defaultMtkey&_uCurrency=INR&checkin=10092020&checkout=10112020&city=CTXMD&country=IN&lat=21.661642&lng=87.697624&locusId=CTXMD&locusType=city&rank=5&roomStayQualifier=1e0e&searchText=Mandarmani%2C%20West%20Bengal%2C%20India&visitorId=1cd66a63-09b0-48fb-ad53-f824d4d4f93b

    -Bombay Beach Resort:

    https://www.makemytrip.com/hotels/hotel-details/?hotelId=201407221629005740&mtkeys=defaultMtkey&_uCurrency=INR&checkin=10092020&checkout=10112020&city=CTXMD&country=IN&lat=21.665415&lng=87.70812&locusId=CTXMD&locusType=city&rank=9&roomStayQualifier=1e0e&searchText=Mandarmani%2C%20West%20Bengal%2C%20India&visitorId=1cd66a63-09b0-48fb-ad53-f824d4d4f93b

    -Viceroy Beach & Spa Resort:

    https://www.makemytrip.com/hotels/hotel-details/?hotelId=201701131628283648&mtkeys=defaultMtkey&_uCurrency=INR&checkin=10092020&checkout=10112020&city=CTXMD&country=IN&lat=21.649853&lng=87.65153&locusId=CTXMD&locusType=city&rank=6&roomStayQualifier=1e0e&searchText=Mandarmani%2C%20West%20Bengal%2C%20India&visitorId=1cd66a63-09b0-48fb-ad53-f824d4d4f93b

    -Sana Beach Resort:

    https://www.makemytrip.com/hotels/hotel-details/?hotelId=201408131256339584&mtkeys=defaultMtkey&_uCurrency=INR&checkin=10092020&checkout=10112020&city=CTXMD&country=IN&lat=21.64997&lng=87.654976&locusId=CTXMD&locusType=city&rank=15&roomStayQualifier=1e0e&searchText=Mandarmani%2C%20West%20Ben

    WAS I SATISFIED WITH THIS WEEKEND TRIP NEAR KOLKATA?MY GENUINE THOUGHTS

    Despite been to Mandarmani a few times before,I was super-excited for this short tour from kolkata for 2 days.The monotony of lockdown,work from home schedule,the fear and anxiety of pandemic had taken a toll on my mind.This beach holiday was very therapeutic,it healed me from deep within.When I returned to Kolkata on Sunday, I was feeling as fresh as a daisy.

    Time travel to childhood at the expansive lawn area of Hotel Sonar Bangla the best short trip from Kolkata you can take
    Time travel to childhood at the expansive lawn area of Hotel Sonar Bangla the best short trip from Kolkata you can take

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