Bakkali is located on one of the many deltaic islands spread across southern Bengal. Most of the islands are part of the Sunderbans, barring a few at the fringes. Some of these are joined together with bridges over narrow creeks. This small island juts out into the vast expanse of the Bay of Bengal.
There is a 7 km long beach stretching from Bakkhali to Frasergunj with gently rolling waves. These are twin towns now forming one continuous locality. Except on an occasional holiday the beach is not crowded. A small stretch near Bakkhali has been lighted up. It is a hard beach suitable for cycling or even driving. One can take long walks.
Bakkhali is also the name of a river in the Chittagong division of Bangladesh.
How to reach :-
It is 125 km by road from Joka tram terminus at the south-western edge of Kolkata. The road runs through Diamond Harbour and Kakdwip to Namkhana, where the car or bus has to be transported across the Hatania-Doania creek in a special ferry.The ferry service is available from 7am to 11pm except from 12 noon till 1:45pm(lunch hour). The fare for crossing a Car/Jeep is approx Rs 190 (including loading/unloading). The creek is not very wide, just about a hundred metres or so, but is considerably deep allowing the movement of ships from Kolkata to ports in Bangladesh. The creek reduces the journey-time for the ships. Because of this, it is difficult to construct a bridge across the creek. An ordinary bridge will hamper movement of ships and a high bridge is a costly proposition. There is an excellent road from Namkhana to Bakkhali. The 130 km stretch from Kona expressway (with links to the Mumbai and Delhi sections of the golden quadrangle project linking the four metros of India) and Bakkhali has been marked as National Highway (NH) 117.
The road journey from the fringe of Kolkata to Bakkhali takes about three & half hours. However, crowded market places and occasional stretches of bad road can delay movement. West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation runs a direct bus service from Esplanade to Bakkhali. There are plenty of local buses up to Namkhana and then again from Namkhana to Bakkhali.
The railway track from Sealdah to Lakshmikantapur was earlier extended to Kakdwip, a fishing centre. It has since been extended to Namkhana. Local trains ply along the route.
The nearest airport is at Dum Dum in northern Kolkata.
There is also WBSTC bus service available from Dharmatala to Bakkhali. One starts at 6:30 am in the morning from Dharmatala and reaches Bakkhali at around 11:30am and leaves from Bakkhali after half an hour for Kolakta(Dharmatala). Another starts at 9:30 from Dharmatala to reach bakkhali at 12:30 pm and starts from Bakkhali after half an hour forty five minutes. So the bottom-line is that there are two round trips from Kolkata to Bakkhali provided by WBSTC. This schedule is subject to change and one must confirm it from Dharmatala Bus Stand before venturing out from Kolkata. The route of the bus is Dharmatala- Alipore-Chiriakhana-Taratala-Diamond Harbour-Kakdwip-Namkahana-Bakkhali.
What to see :-
Most of the time would be spent in enjoying on the beach but some people look out for opportunities to do other things also.
The ride in the crude bhut-bhuti, a motorised country boat, from Frasergunj fishing harbour to Jambu Dwip , a small, uninhabited and forested island out in the sea, can be a thrilling experience. The two-hour ride (both ways) costs only Rs. 35 per head. The country boats can also be hired for other rides. The weak-hearted are advised not to take the rides.
Make it a point to visit Henry's island . If you got a car, its around 10mins ride from Bakkhali. Else you can avail the rickshaw vans as well.There are two rest houses in Henry Island. If you wish you can stay there too.One is named Mangrove and another one Sundari which is very close to the sea beach. These lodges belong to the Fisheries Department of West bengal.For reservation, contact: State Fisheries Development Corporation, Bikash Bhavan. Ph: 23376470
The credit for turning Henry Island into a holiday hotspot goes to the fisheries department of the state government, which has set up a pisciculture project here. A government official said that the department has dug more than 50 ponds occupying over 25 bigha on 100-hectare land carved off the 500-hectare island. The department has planted trees like gora, kankru and palm apart from naturally growing sundari and hetal.Henry Island is named after a European who surveyed land in the area in the late 19th Century. Dense mangrove forest parted by numerous canals covered the area then. Wildlife such as tiger, deer, wild pig, crocodile and snake were common. The island was only an extension of the Sunderbans and the surveyor could not have dreamt that it would become a human habitat in little more than a hundred years.
The walk over the beach from Bakkhali to Frasergunj is a out-of-the-world experience. The rickshaw van is the only transport available locally. On these rickshaw van you can take a trip for Henry's Island, Watch Tower, etc. In this rickshaw van trip, you will be moving through the beautiful village sides. Once you reach the watch tower you will run short of words to talk since from there you can view the entire Sunderban area. It is a splendid view. On one side you can see the Bakkhali Beach at a far distance and on all the other sides the green of Sundarban. It is cheap and since one has plenty of time, the ride can be enjoyable but do not expect much.
A temple called Bishhalakshmi is at the end of the Bakkhali main beach is worth seeing. The pandit ji is quite different there as he won't allow you in the temple. He has his own rules. God only knows what rules has his men set.
What to Eat :-
There are plenty of small roadside eateries. Here you will get delicious sea fishes and cuisines served at a reasonable rate. Hotel PARIJAT in between the local bus-stand and WBTDC Lodge provides the best food here at moderate prices. You will find all sort of fishes like Pomfret, Hilsa, Prawn and the standard Rui & Katla too. A normal Rui thali with other recepies only costs Rs. 25/-
Around Bakkhali :-
- Bhagabatpur – crocodile project
- Sagar Island - Gangasagar
- Sundarbans National Park – gateway for the West Bengal part of Sundarbans is through Canning and Basanti, but Sunderbans accessible from Bakkhali.