On the Tropic of Cancer lies the quaint town of Purbasthali, in Burdwan, West Bengal. It is 120 kms north from Kolkata. Also known as Chupi Char, Purbasthali lies on the banks of a large oxbow lake
created by the river Ganges and is only a few kms from the old and holy town of Nabadwip. The 2-3 km long lake attracts migrants and water birds.
India has visited Purbasthali from 2002 to 2006
to survey and count the water birds as a part of a 5 year project. The
results of the single day count are available
Purbasthali is not a popular
destination for tourists or bird-watchers and that was one of the reasons to
choose this little visited place. The lake itself is a narrow strip with
clear blue water. In most parts it is not deep and is remarkable for the
heavy growth of aquatic sweet water plants.
What strikes you about the place
is the variety of waterfowl and the spectacle of hundreds of them taking
wing as your boat approaches. The birds, however, settle down quickly a
short distance away and given the paucity of boats and tourists, boating is
not a major problem.
How to reach: Purbasthali is to the north of Kolkata city and is close to the
towns of Krishnangar, Mayapur and Nabadwip. You leave the city by taking B T Road and from
Krishnangar, cross the Hoogli river over the Chaitanya Bridge to reach Nabadwip. A short
distance down the same road takes you to Purbasthali Bazar. Take a right near Purbasthali railway station and cross the tracks behind the station. A short drive down a track will take you to the lake side where row boats are available. You need to
take a boat to reach the birds.
Distance from Kolkata : 120 kms. Takes about 4-5 hours to reach depending on traffic and road conditions. There is a rail station at Purbasthali and it is possible to take a train from Kolkata.
Places of interest:
Krishanagar, Mayapur and Nabadwip are places of tourist
interest and are all close to Purbastahli. Mayapur is the headquarters of ISKON and there
is a beautiful temple of Lord Krishna at Mayapur. Nabadwip
is famous for being the birth place of the Hindu Saint, Sri Chaitnya Mahaprabhu and was
the seat of learning in Bengal. All
three are worth visiting.
Best time: The winter months (October to February). Early mornings (7.30 am) and late afternoon (4.00 pm onwards) are the best time(s) of the day.