Henrys Island beach
Island: This small area, separated from the rest of Bakkhali
island by a deep creek has one of the most pristine beaches left in West
Bengal for bird-watching. The sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy, sometimes
muddy, but most times deserted beach stretches out to the open expanse of
the Bay of Bengal and faces densely forested Lothian Island in the distance.
A thick cluster of trees, including some mangroves, delineates the tidal
area from inland marshy pockets converted for intensive fishery use. Both
the long coast and the inland parts support diverse bird life within a
fairly small area. And there are no tigers around to curtail your movements!
All this makes Henrys Island a true birdwatching hotspot and the best place
to visit on the West Bengal coast.
Birds: Henrys is a fairly new site for birdwatchers
and very little is known about the diversity through the year. There are
many rarely observed species which occur regularly at Henrys. These include
Greater Thick-knee, Ruddy Turnstones, Great Knots, Sanderling, Caspian,
Gull-billed and Common Terns, vagrant Heuglin's Gull, Mangrove Whistler,
Back-capped and Collared Kingfishers, Eurasian Hobby, a good selection of
plovers and other shorebirds. But the promise of Henrys is much more than
what has been listed - it is the sort of place where a Spoon-billed
Sandpiper or a Nordmann's Greenshank is not impossible!
How to reach: Henrys Island is the way to
Bakkhali. It is about 5kms from the Bakkhali beach (3kms using a
cycle-cart track). There is a 3km long approach road which turns left from the main Namkhana - Bakkhali road and one can almost drive straight up to the beach
on it. The available accommodation is located on this road. For directions
to reach Bakkhali see the following section. Driving distance from Kolkata
is less than 135kms and it takes about 4 hours to reach including the ferry
crossing at Namkhana.
Where to stay: West Bengal Fisheries
Development Corporation's 'Sundari' or 'Mangrove' complex. Bookings from
Bikash Bhavan, Salt Lake.
Best season: September to April
Latitude / Longitude: 21° 34.344'N / 88°
Migration story of the Great Knot
Bakkhali and Frazerganj: Bakkhali and Frazerganj are part of the
same 7 km long beach and are located on one of the many deltaic islands
spread across southern Bengal. Bakkhali's soft sands lie towards the east
and is a tourist destination. Frazerganj is a busy fishing village and port
lying to the west. The beach here is hard, muddy and uneven. Both have
significant dunes covered with tall casuarina trees.
Birds: Gulls and terns and the occasional
waders are found on this coast. Frazerganj is better for gulls and terns
because of the presence of the fishing village. Bakkhali's tree lined dunes
attract some good birds including Dollarbird, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo,
Black-capped and Collared Kingfishers, Hobby and White-bellied Sea Eagles.
How to reach: Bakkhali is about 135kms from
Kolkata and is reached in 4 hours. It lies due south of the city and is
accessed via Diamond Harbour and Kakdwip to Namkhana. At Namkhana there is a
barge crossing over the Hatani-Duani creek which takes you across to
Bakkhali island. Thereafter, it is a 15km drive to the southern end of the
island and the sea face.
Where to stay: Bakkhali Tourist Lodge (run by
WBTDC), Sagarkanya run by Benfish
Best season: September to April
Latitude / Longitude:
Bakkhali: 21° 33.604'N / 88° 15.706'E
Frazerganj: 21° 34.528'N 88° / 14.368'E
Jambu Dwip or Jambudwip
Island: Jambudwip is a notified 'Reserve Forest' comprising 1950
hectares. It is located in the estuary of Hugli river lying eight km
south west of Fraserganj and is one of the southern-most islands on this
coast. The island has mixed forests as a result of human occupation for many
years. The encroachers were eventually evicted a few years ago and the
island now has only a small security presence. The long coastline provides
refuge to a variety of waterbirds and may serve as a breeding area for some
Birds: Pallas's and Brown-headed Gulls,
Great-crested, Common, White-winged and Little Terns,
Greater and Lesser Sand and Kentish Plovers, Curlews, Whimbrels and a mix of other waders.
Coastal forest birds are found in the island itself and include
Orange-headed and Tickell's Thrush.
How to reach: Motorised country boat from
Frazerganj Fishing Harbour. Takes about 40 minutes to reach from the harbour
and round trips are available from Frazerganj.
Where to stay: At Bakkhali or Frazerganj. See
Best season: October to March
Latitude / Longitude: 21° 34.384'N / 88°
Bakkhali road route:
- Diamond Harbour - Kulpi -
Namkhana - Bakkhali:
Wikitravel - Bakkhali