Read more below

By SANKAR SRIDHAR Pictures by Udayan Chatterjee and Sajal Kumar Mondol
  • Published 25.07.04

The sea is blue and without fury, the beach silent. Waves roll lazily, as if bored of going through the same motions again and again. Yet, the air seems suffused with impending drama.

The first fishing boat glides towards the shore with its catch. As if on cue, the beach begins to stir. Periscope eyes scan the horizon. As the bow of the boat bites the sand and comes to rest, the first red robber slinks up to it. Then another, and another, until the beach is a seething mass of red.

Darting between the fishermen’s feet, the crabs launch their attack, grabbing fish that fall from the baskets with their pincers and scurrying back to their holes, dodging, boxing and wrestling with opponents on their way back. It’s quite like a rugby scrum, crab style.

• Torch
• Zeoline
• Camera, to capture images of one of the last bastions of naukapuja
How to get there
Take a bus to Digha or Kiyageria. CSTC, SBSTC and NBSTC buses from Esplanade and Howrah. Private buses are also available. Services start around 6 am. Trekkers and van rickshaws available from the border to Talsari, around 7 km
Where to stay
No places to stay at Udaipur. But nearby is Talsari, where Panthashala accommodation is available. Four double-bed rooms at Rs 150 per person. Two dormitories, one three-bed and a four-bed, at Rs 50 per person. Bookings can be done at Utkal Bhavan (Orissa Tourism), 55, Lenin Sarani. 22441195, 22443653

Udaipur beach holds many wonders and changing colours, from golden to red, with approaching fishing boats just one spectrum of the kaleidoscope. Its location is singular —- between a bustling seaside getaway and another beach best known only to fishermen.

Driving from the city, past Kolaghat, past Contai, past Digha old and new and then across Kiyageria, the Bengal-Orissa border, it’s onward to Talsari, where the beach is famous for its fishing village, and among people partial to sea food.

The Panthasala offers accommodation and the sprinkling of tea stalls and restaurants provide lunch, dinner and snacks for the in-between times. The food fare is nothing fancy, but definitely delicious. On the way is Talsari Chandaneshwar, well-known for its Shiva temple and pandas.

Believers throng the temple to have their wishes granted and the pandas have stories of miracles so miraculous, most people are tempted to try their luck.

Udaipur is a one-and-a-half km walk from Talsari, along the shoreline. It’s easy to identify Udaipur beach —- the crabs here are artistic and each crustacean’s quarters is decorated with an intricate pattern of tiny globes of sand.

This is also one of the few places from where both the sunrise and sunset can be caught. The latter is now slightly obstructed by a sandbank, but is visible nonetheless. For those willing to go that extra mile to watch the sunset and enjoy some adventure at the same time, taking a boat ride to the char is an option.

The other interesting aspect of Udaipur beach is naukapuja, in which the fishermen’s wives make offerings to the gods of the seas, seeking their blessings and praying to them to protect their boats.

Though these pujas are short and done early in the morning, a more elaborate ceremony is performed before a boat moves out to sea for the first time, which is very often during the monsoon.