Kolkata is an incredible city with many attractions that will keep you busy, from heritage architecture to museums, the river, and ghats. However, several destinations near Kolkata are ideal for a day excursion and even perfect for a long weekend.
You can taste the holiday spirit by taking trip to one of these sites just a few hours away, which range from historic towns on the river to heritage stays on erstwhile indigo plantations.
Places Near Kolkata For A Long Weekend
Taki is a short escape from the city, located about 65 km from Kolkata. The town is situated along the Ichamati River, which previously cut through unbroken Bengal and now serves as Bangladesh's and India's international boundary. Boats marked with the flags of their respective nations pass each other amicably while security personnel from both countries maintain a careful watch along the artificial border. Take a boat ride, explore the ruins of the opulent mansions, and stroll through the "mini Sundarbans." The local authorities have maintained a portion of the once-prosperous mangrove forest, and the raised platform that runs alongside it provides a close-up view of the characteristic vegetation. The majority of the hotels offer a broad vista of the river, making it a perfect destination to unwind.
Serampore was formerly known as Frederiksnagore after Denmark's King Fredric VI. The Danes arrived in 1616, and the East India Company took possession of this riverside town. Recently, the West Bengal Heritage Commission and the National Museum of Denmark collaborated to rehabilitate the 215-year-old St Olav's Church, which bears the royal monogram of Danish King Christian VII. In the 1800s, Baptist missionary William Carey established Bengal's first printing press here. In the nineteenth century, the Serampore Mission Press published several religious Christian writings, literary works from India, Bible translations, and vernacular textbooks for print markets in South-East Asia and beyond. In 1818, the first Bengali newspaper and magazine were launched from here.
Bandel was a Portuguese and Dutch outpost located 49 kilometres north of Kolkata. Built in 1599 by Portuguese captain Pedro Tavares, the brown-and-white Bandel Basilica was destroyed by fire by the Moors in 1632. The Victorian Imambara is a more potent reminder of the past. Its historic courtyard is surrounded by a thousand arches built in 1863. The Hanseshwari Temple is an odd but fascinating fusion of native and Russian architectural traditions, complete with a dome resembling the Kremlin. A well-known cheese is named after the town of Bandel. The Portuguese invented it with a crumbly, smoky, and salty flavour. The tiny discs combine well with spaghetti and green salads.
Indigo has played an essential role in the Indian freedom struggle and has had an unsavoury link to Bengal—think about the Indigo riots. The state had many plantations in the British era. One of these, Balakhana, is an estate formerly part of one such plantation. Now it's open to the public as a rather atmospheric heritage stay with antique furniture and a 2,000sq ft columned veranda. It's in the middle of 16 acres of farmlands and orchards full of mango, lychee, and guava trees. Go for an early morning cruise on the River Jalangi, or try your hand at billiards on the vintage table made by Lazarus & Company during your long weekend.
Bishnupur is the first place that springs to mind when considering the beautiful clay work on Bengal's temples. But if you take a short diversion, you'll find Gurap, a hidden gem of a village with comparable artwork. The charming village is peppered with Krishna and Shiva temples decorated with priceless ceramic artwork from the 19th century. Terracotta tiles, used as decorations on the walls, roofs, and panels of ancient temples, tell stories from the past through their fantastic craftsmanship. You can reach Gurap in the Hooghly district from Kolkata in two to three hours by car.
Chandannagar, a former French colony, lies roughly an hour's drive north of Kolkata and makes for an ideal getaway for a long weekend. You will find traces of a French past in Chandannagar in the strangest things like the four-poster bed Governor Joseph Francois Dupleix left behind. When you stroll down the Strand by the river, you will find the riverfront studded with colonial buildings. The Chandannagar Museum and Indo-French Institute, which used to be Dupleix's mansion, houses a fascinating collection of French artefacts and a French language school. In front of the museum is an elegant mansion called the Patal Bari (underground house), named so because a part of the house lies under the river. Studying French is still an important skill here. Aside from its French ties, Chandannagar is well-known for its Jagaddhatri Puja (a manifestation of Goddess Durga), held every November.