Monday, April 30, 2012

Mandarmoni: Riding On Sandy Trails

Mandarmani - odometer reading of 502 kms

Mandarmani (or Mandarmoni, Mandarbani) is a beach in Southwest Bengal in India.

I have traveled so may places & beaches but Mandarmani is a destination which is special among all bikers, not because of waves but  for sand.. yes... this is a place which is more famous for its sandy beach then the sea itself. its a place for bikers delight... riding through the sandy trails is real fun... 

In my places to travel list, the destination was revolving for a long time ever since i shifted to Kolkata but due to the distance (185 Kms from Kolkata) and right opportunity it was getting canceled every time.

So one fine Friday after my office hours i planned to go for it.. i called up my friend and asked him if he wanted to join me as my pillion for the trip, the plan was to go to his place and then go to mandarmani the next day. My friends place is 150 KMs from Kolkata which i reached within 3 hours.

Next day morning some important work came up due to which the plan needs to cancel for that day, by that time i was thinking that this time too the trip needs to be canceled. My friend told, lets go tom morning for sure, i readily agreed to that..

So next day early morning around 5:30 AM we started from my friends place and reach Panskura mode(65 Kms) at 7:00 AM. we took a short cut as displayed in the google map, which goes from panskura to join Kolkata-Digha road but which ultimately became a long cut due to occasional traffic jam because of haat(Sunday bazzar). 

We reached Nandakumar(37 Kms) at around 8:00 AM where we had small tea/snack break and then continue our journey, the road from here is really superb with such a good scenery in both side of the roads we thought of enjoying the route by driving a bit slower, 2 km before reaching Contai Town we took Contai Bypass Road, a shortcut that will again drop on the Kolkata-Digha road. The time was already 9:30 and we were dead hungry so we had our b'fast at contai bypass(52 Kms).

Chawalkhola(12Km). Take a left turn from Chawalkhola and follow the village road till it ends at a sea-side village called Dadanpatrabar, around 8km. From Dadanpatrabar take a right turn along a narrow road that runs for another 2-3 km. At the end of this road, you can either drive straight along the sand or take a right turn again through a narrow village road to reach Mandarmani. The village road is just a soil road with dense vegetation and some population on both sides. There are no lights or any other amenities. This runs for another 3-4 km.


The total trip from Kolkata is around 3.5 hours.
Distances are as follows: Home- 65 km - Panskura- 37 km - Nandakumar - 52 Km -  Contai - 12.3 km - Chawalkhola - 4 km - Kalindi - 4 km - Dadanpatrabar - 6 km -Mandarmani - total 180 km.

 It's best to cover the whole stretch from Chawalkhola to Mandarmani before dark.
































If coming from from Kharagpur drive down the Chennai Highway. This is a good road but drivers need to be careful of the buses and trucks travelling at high speed. Drive for about 40 km till Belda where you have to leave the Chennai Highway and turn left to enter Belda village and proceed towards Egra. This road is comparatively narrow and filled with potholes. Clusters of small villages and towns will come up regularly. From Egra a sharp right hand turn will lead you to Contai from where the road extends towards Chwalkhola. You may also continue straight from Egra to reach Kanthi (Contai) and then take a right turn from there to reach Chawalkhola. From Chawalkhola there is a sharp left turn leading towards Mandarmoni. The road side area is densely populated on both sides and the road has speed breakers placed maybe every few hundred meters. Be extremely careful while driving on this road as the speed breakers may be a bit too high for cars with low ground clearance. There is no electricity in this area and it is strictly advisable to travel before dark. This road will lead towards Dadanpatrabar village where one can go directly towards the beach or take a right turn and travel parallel to the beach for approximately a 100 m, from there one can enter the beach. The distance from Chawalkhola to Mandarmoni is 13 km but it takes approx. 25 to 30 mins by car due to the narrow road.


The nearest train station is at Contai and the nearest airport is at Kolkata. Previously,there was no proper road for the last 6 km into Mandarmani, which forced you to drive along the beach. However, recently a narrow but all-weather road has been constructed, which takes you directly to the hotels and resorts, provided you travel in a car or jeep. You can still drive along the beach; remember,however, beach driving has a seriously adverse affect on the local ecology, not to mention the atmosphere of the beaches. While driving on the beaches, stick to the side far from the sea or keep to the established track or you may risk getting caught in mud or sand.


By bus

From Kolkata, catch a bus at Esplanade or at Howrah headed for Chawalkhola, or any bus headed towards Digha. From Chawlkhola there are cycle-rickshaws and auto-rickshaw which you can take to Dadanpatrabar and/or Mandarmoni. You can also hire a car from Chawalkhola for Mandarmoni.
From Dadanpatrabar, you can again get use rickshaws, but it is best to take the transport from Chawalkhola till Mandarmani since transport availability from Dadanpatrabar is very uncertain.
State Transport Buses are available cost Rs 76. A number of deluxe coaches run daily, Rs 100-110. Whiteliners is the better option, departing Esplanade at 7:30AM, cost is Rs 205.
Volvo Bus is available from Gariahat via Esplaned in the morning. Check if the route is operating when booking as some times bus may be canceled for mechanical failure or other reason.


Get around

You'll most likely be walking between your resort and the beach, however if you need to travel longer distances, avoid the temptation to drive on the beach more than necessary.
Be careful while driving on the beach and try to stick to the central part of the beach while driving. Towards the end of the beach, the sands are soft in places and your car may get stuck in it. Avoid driving on the beach after dark as if you get stuck in the sand dunes, you may not be able to get any local help to pull your vehicle out.
On the beach, there is no electricity and after dark the only sources of light are the lights of the small beach-side shops which get their electricity from generators or batteries. As the evening progresses, the high tide causes the sea to rise. By 7-8 PM the sea takes up almost a quarter of the total width of the beach. So, if you had visited the beach during daytime, be careful as the sea will definitely be nearer in the evening. Better to have a torch with you at all times after dark.


See

The beach – Most people are here to hang out at the beach. The waves tend to be calm and the water is often dotted with a few fisherman going about their daily routine.


The Delta – At the end of the beach, there is the 'mohana' or river delta (place where a river meets the sea). There are some fishing settlements nearby.
This place is about 5-6 km from the main part of the beach where most of the hotels/resorts are located and is really beautiful with a scenic backdrop. On one side of the river there are dense jhau trees, while on the other side is the fishing village. A bit further from the village on the other bank of the river is some dense vegetation. It is not realistic to attempt to cross over to the other side and go into this forest as it is actually quite distant, despite appearing to be quite close.
You can watch the fishermen standing or wading through knee deep water laying their nets or catching fish and crabs.
Red crabs are visible over a large stretch of the beach near the Mohana.
However, try to avoid this place after dark as it becomes very isolated and you will not find any people, local or outsiders.


Do

Relax, swim and enjoy the beach. It is unlikely that anybody will disturb your privacy and the beauty of this beach is that you are not likely to have many other visitors around. Activities include fishing, table tennis, carrom, beach cricket, beach volleyball, and boat cruises. Sunbathing is best from October to February. However, this beach is not frequented by foreign tourists and so if you plan to sunbath here, be sure to keep in mind the local culture.
ATV Bikes You can enjoy the ride of ATV Bikes with pilot on the long beach
Jet Ski Enjoy the ride on Jet ski with pilot, surf the sea. feels amazing
Banana Boat Its a ride on sea with several people sitting on a banana shaped boat
Bumpy Rides Its a ride on waves, feels bumpy
Bungee Trampoline Jump on Trampoline with rubber ropes attached to you


Buy

Fresh fish & crabs are sometimes available from the local fishermen.
Shells the small shops dotting the beach also sell small knick-knacks made out of shells and oysters. You can buy shell-necklace and other such stuff. Beach balls, hats, toys, brought from the Kalindi market or Chawalkhola, are also sold.



Eat

Most of the resorts serve typical Bengali food and Kolkata-style Chinese cuisine. However, food is a bit costly since most of the items have to be brought from far away Kalindi/Contai market. The local raw materials available in the nearby village will not usually serve the requirements of the hotels or resorts.
Also, do not expect very high quality food as the hotels usually employ local people without much expertise as cooks. However, the food is hygienic and generally clean. Crab and prawn preperations are worth savouring. But negotiate the price beforehand.
The beach also has a number of small eateries which sell tea and snacks. If you want to have meals from here, you have to place an order with the owners beforehand. These eateries make the food only 'on-demand' as per prior bookings from customers. With these stalls, you may have to compromise on the hygiene. Costs are again on the higher side.
From the eateries you can borrow chairs to sit on the beach.
Note : Food is very expensive. Approx Rs. 500/- per day per head.

4 comments:

Archishman Bandyopadhyay said...

Was there just a month back...had the exactly same experiences..though went by car......I have been going through your blog since morning....and would love to get in touch since I plan to go on some of the bike trips you have written about...already planning For ghatsila.....such travelogues about the south/western part of india are abundant.... but am glad to have come across one about biking destinations in Bengal/jharkhand/orissa as well...

Prakash Parag said...

I visited Mandarmani last year with my family and have some unforgettable memories of Mandarmani. The place is well known for its exquisite sunrises and sunsets and it is a good place to unwind away from the hectic life of the city. Tourist across the seas comes here to visit the amazing location and for many travelers who prefer to stay at beach resort in Mandarmoni or luxury hotels.

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hotels in mandarmani said...

really mandarmoni is very nice place to visit.

the most attractive thing in mandarmoni is its beaches

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