Looking to explore the region near Kolkata? Here are a few getaways that you can check out. Feel free to suggest any more you come across.

Raichak

Offering spectacular views of the Ganges and an 18th century Fort, this is a charming little town. Only 15 kms from Diamond Harbor and 50 kms from Kolkata, Raichak is a popular  weekend getaway from Kolkata.

In the words of IM-er rezabpn “Raichak is a fabulous place to be for weekends, private time, time away from bustling city life. Calm, Serene, Ganges by side; it’s a fabulous place!”. If you are looking for accommodation, they even make some suggestions of places to stay in Raichak.

How to get to Raichak

By Road: You could either drive here from Kolkata or take a bus as suggested by rezabpn. If you are driving, take the Diamond Harbor Road from Behala in southern Kolkata to reach Sarisha in just 30 minute, and then take a right turn just before Diamond Harbor.  Just drive for another 5 kms and you will reach your destination.

Shantiniketan

 Shantiniketan near Kolkata West Bengal By Shakyasom
About 180 kms from Kolkata, Shantiniketan is a town located near Bolpur.  It is famous for originally being a non-denominational Ashram established by the Tagore family, the Ashrama complex is open every day except Wednesdays and is currently under consideration by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Shantiniketan is also home to the Visva-Bharati University and has literary importance thanks to Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote many of his works here.

How to get to Shantiniketan

By Train: There are several trains from Kolkata to Shantiniketan, either from Howrah, Sealdah or Kolkata, and even better Duronto jajabar has already done all the hard work of listing them out for you.

By Road: According to Duronto jajabar, the shortest route is through Dunlop, Bally Bridge via the NH2. Follow Shaktigarh, Palsit and then follow GT road via Guskara, Bedia to reach Bolpur.  

Tarakeshwar 

Another close weekend getaway is Tarakeshwar, which is just 58 kms from Kolkata. Located in the Hooghly district, Tarakeshwar is a religious destination for many worshippers of Lord Shiva.

The main attraction is the Taraknath Temple built in 1729 AD. The best time to visit the temple is in February and March during Shivratri, with the fair being a major attraction. From July to August, the month of Shravan is also a good time to visit. However, it gets very crowded here during this time.

People say that a bath at Dudhpukur Tank near the temple fulfills all wishes, so do take a dip if you have some wishes to be answered. Nearby is also a Buddha Temple, at only 6 kms from Tarakeshwar, it is also worth a visit.

How to get to Tarakeshwar

By Road: IM-er kmahaldar gives detailed directions to reach Tarakeshwar from Kolkata by road that are well worth jotting down if you are heading that way. 

By Train: The nearest station is Tarakeshwar Railway Station (TAK).

Digha

 Digha near Kolkata West Bengal By Bhaswaran
About 187 km from Kolkata is West Bengal’s most popular beach resort, Digha. The scenic beauty of this place has always attracted and lured people. The casuarina plantation along the coast further enhances its charm, and the picturesque sunrises and sunsets reflecting off the salty waters of the Bay of Bengal is something not to be missed. The sea at Digha is shallow for about a mile and is usually very calm, making it safe and ideal for swimming.

How to get to Digha

By road: There is a frequent bus service to Digha from Dharmatala bus stand in Kolkata and many other parts of West Bengal as well, including Midnapore, Bankura, Asansol and Bardhaman. It takes almost 5 hours to reach Digha from Kolkata.  It is also possible to get a bus from Digha to Orissa via Balasore (Baleswar).

By train: The nearest station is Digha Railway Station (DGHA). You can find some more information about train details and accommodation options suggested by IM-ers on the IM forums.

Bakkhali

Another sea resort that is a great weekend getaway is Bakkhali. This seaside resort has a beach that stretches for 8 km up to Frazergunj. While here, you should definitely experience a motorized boat ride to Jambu Dwip, a reserved forest island. It takes 40 minutes from the Frazerganj Fishing Harbor to reach there by boat.

Other major attractions are the Watch Tower overlooking the Sundarbans and the crocodile park. Bishhalakshmi temple is also a popular visiting spot.

How to reach Bakkhali

By Road: It will take about 4 hours by road from Kolkata to reach Bakkhali. IM-er mchowdhury1983 has given detailed directions and some lovely pictures.

Shankarpur

For those looking for some peace and solitude, Shankarpur in the district of Purba Mendinipur is an ideal getaway.  The beaches here are largely untouched by tourists and dotted with casuarina trees.

How to get to Shankarpur

By Road: Shankarpur is well connected by bus and train. IM-er chhonchora suggests, “Though you can board any Digha-bound bus, I would recommend Whiteliner buses (air conditioned). Seats on these buses are comfortable, fare reasonable, and the buses run on time. You can book tickets in person and also online.”

You can find plenty more information on how to get to Shankarpur and accommodation options in the IM Forums.

Sundarbans

 Sundarbans near Kolkata West Bengal By mahmud
About 100 kms from Kolkata is the largest mangrove belt in the world, the Sundarbans. The forest is home to many different species of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and fishes. Royal Bengal Tigers are the main attraction, but you can also spot saltwater crocodiles, various primates, leopards, king cobras and Indian cobras.

There are some really good pictures of the Sundarbans on the site, uploaded by ashyashwin and sab kuch milega, which should give you nice visuals of what to expect.  Legless soul's thread on being a pirate in the Sunderbans (he's joking of course) is also a must read for anyone thinking of checking out this magnificent area. Sundarban has many entry points, and this detailed tour report from Duronto Jajabar with very good snaps gives a description of entering from Jharkhali. 

A great thread posted by India Miker Duronto Jajabar about visiting the Sundarbans via Jharkhali is another must read for people looking for more photos and information about the area. 

How to get to the Sundarbans

By road: Road transportation is available from Kolkata for Namkhana (105 km), Sonakhali (100 km), Raidighi (76 km), Canning (64 km), and Najat (92 km), which are all near the Sundarbans and have access to the riverine waterways.

By train: Local trains to Canning are available from Sealdah (South) at regular intervals and takes about 1 and ½ hours. Local shared vans are available from Canning to Godhkhali Jetty, the starting point of your boat journey to the Sundarbans.

Nearest Airport:  Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport at Kolkata. It takes around 3 hours by road and another 2 hours by boat to reach the Sundarbans.

Kulik Bird Sanctuary (Raiganj)

Follow in the footsteps of mousourik and head to North Dinajpur for a weekend of beautiful birds at Kulik Bird Sanctuary. As the second largest bird sanctuary in India, Kulik Bird Sanctuary has almost 80,000 migratory birds that visit from south-east Asia and coastal regions. Varieties include Asian open bill storks, egrets, night herons and little comorants. 

How to get to Kulik 

By train: You can travel to Raiganj (RGJ) by taking the Radhikapur express from Kolkata station. It is a night train, that will get you there by 5.30 in the morning.

By road: At a distance of 425 kms from Kolkata, it is possible to drive to Raiganj but it may be a long journey for a two day weekend.  It is located on the NH34 so is easily accessible from Kolkata. 

Further Afield: Puri and Konark

If you have a little more time or energy, then a visit to Puri and Konark in Odisha is well worth it. Whilst it is over 500 kms away, there are overnight trains that definitely make it possible in a weekend. Puri is a popular beachside town and is home to the Jagannath Temple. Konark is about an hour away from Puri, and is famous for its must-see Sun Temple. Of course if you still aren't convinced, then check out vaibhav_arora's trip report and photos of Konark

By road: There are plenty of buses available between Kolkata and Puri, but it is a long ride. The night buses - A/C buses with reclining seats and sleeper coaches starts from Babu Ghat, and better to reserve a seat one or two days in advance. Konark is easily reached from Puri by bus or taxi.

By train: Train is probably the most comfortable way to get to Puri from Kolkata, and there are overnight trains so that you can manage it in a weekend, just get the 12837 Puri express (daily, departure 22:35 arrival 07:30) or the 18409 Jagannath express (daily, departure 19:00 arrival 04:45). Other options are 22201 Duronto express (tri-weekly on Mon, Wed, Fri) that departs Sealdah at 22.00 and arrives in Puri at 04:00; 12881 Garib Rath (only Tue and Thur, departure 20:55 arrival 05:55); 22835 Shalimar-Puri superfast (only Wed, departure 21:00 arrival 05:55) and the 12887 weekly express (Only Mon, departure 20:55 arrival 05:55). If you can't get a ticket on one of the night trains then you can try going by Dhauli express (12821) which is a day train with chair cars, departing from Howrah at 06:00 and arriving at Puri by 14:30. For late risers, Shatabdi express (12277) is a good option. Shatabdi departs from Howrad at 14:25 and arrives at Puri by 22:10. 

Happy Traveling!