Bakkhali Road Trip
The last time Pradipta, Indrani and I had gone on a trip together was 2012 to Darjeeling. But we had gone with other friends too. The Bakkhali road trip was perhaps our very first trip together. Even though it was going to be a one-day trip the three of us were pretty excited. It was one of the most impromptu trips of our lives. We had met on Saturday to visit Princep Ghat and while talking about how much I love the water and how much it calms me down, we suddenly had plans to start early in the morning for Bakkhali and come back again at night!
Even though I have lived in Kolkata all my life and everyone I have ever met told me they have been on weekend getaway trips to Bakkhali, I was never one of those people. I remember going on family trips to Digha and Diamond Harbour when I was younger. It was the entire Brahma clan. (I say clan because I have lost count of how many relatives I have!) As we grew up, the trips stopped.
Now that all of us are working adults with reasonable resources to fuel our own trips, Bakkhali was a welcome break from life.
Back in 2016, none of us knew how to drive. So we had to hire a car along with the driver. (Both Pradipta and I were missing the ZoomCar services we had availed back in April-May at this point.)
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 road is excellent from Joka all the way to Bakkhali of 25 kms. 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 Joka at the outskirts of Kolkata to Bakkhali takes about 2 hours. However, crowded market places can delay movement. Some sections are very crowded especially early morning because of bazaar and later at the evening time, there are no bypasses for these smaller towns.
Being ferried across in a car was a surreal experience. And the three of us were deathly quiet as we were taken across. When we arrived at Bakkhali it took some time to convince a hotel manager to let us dump our things in a room. We wouldn’t even be staying there the night. We planned to rest a little before going down to the beach and just having the time of our lives. The plan was to watch the sea for some time, eat lunch, and go shopping in the cute little shops lined up and down till the way to our hotel…
We went down to the beach, and let me just tell you that for someone who feels deeply connected to the sea, it was a beautiful experience. I really don’t know how long we stood there, staring at the horizon and talking to each other.
There really isn’t much to explore around Bakkhali, especially if you’re pressed for time like we were. Even though we wanted to visit Henry’s Island we could not. Because both Indrani and I would have to get up in the morning and go to work. (Yes, we were insane enough to go on a one-day trip day before our offices!) But this was perhaps one of the easiest and pocket-friendly trips of our lives.
Even though this happened two years ago, I have never wanted to go back to a place more. I still want to go on many more road trips. Because I finally realize that it has never been about the destination. It’s about the journey and the company we keep while going towards it.