A fascinating weekend destination so close to home is hard to imagine, but Raidighi turns out to be just that. The place offers a complete tour package with something for every kind of traveller — be it religion, history, adventure or nature.
Raidighi is a small town situated on the way to the Sunderbans. It is right on the banks of the waterways that open into the mangrove swamps.
Raidighi is around four hours by car from Calcutta. After reaching, we checked into one of the many hotels near the town market, which offer comfortable and affordable accommodation. Lunch was a sumptuous meal of rice and fresh fish.
Post-lunch, we headed towards the jetty for a launch ride. The waterways offer a panoramic view of the Sunderbans forests and the islands.
The Kuamuri forest is an hour’s journey by launch. Some forests, like the Dhanche, have watch towers while some like the Chamta are said to be havens for tigers. Going near these forests is restricted. The launch took us around an island called Nagchara, which is uninhabited and, as the name suggests, may be teeming with snakes! One can also make arrangements to spend the night on a launch in the middle of the river.
As dusk fell, the golden glow of the setting sun wrapped the water in a shimmering light as flocks of birds made their way home. We noticed an unusual hustle and bustle at the jetty as we returned from the launch ride and learnt that in a short while the fishing vessels would return with the day’s catch.
While staying in Raidighi, a visit to Jatar Deul is a must. It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The seven kilometre drive from Raidighi to Jatar Deul through the winding roads of the village is extremely pleasurable. The first glimpse of the temple from our car was breathtaking. The 60-feet structure is a magnificent piece of architecture built in the 11th century by a king of the Pala dynasty.
The curvilinear sikhara is usually seen in temples of north India. The structure — locally called ‘deul’ — was originally made of thin bricks. Restoration work by the Archeological Survey of India has robbed the temple of its original grandeur to an extent, but it’s still an imposing structure.
The area near the temple comes alive during Baisakh, when a fair is organised from the second day of the Bengali new year.
You can go by bus. Take an SD18 from Esplanade to Diamond Harbour and M10 to Raidighi from there. You can also go to south Bishnupur and take an autorickshaw from the bus stand. The journey takes around four hours. The distance from Calcutta is around 110km.
You can book a room at Hotel Mahamaya. Rooms are available at Hotel Vijaya also.