The Pujas binds. It also liberates. While many don’t like to leave the city during Durga puja, a large number leave the city to cool their nerves frayed by stress at work and home. But for most, time is a constraint and they cannot afford to stay away from the city for more than two-three nights.

For those, whose time is more valuable than money, Indulge presents a few spots within four-five hours drive from Kolkata to put their feet up and catch a breath of fresh air.

Indulge shortlists a few spots for you.

Upasana Griha at Santiniketan

Santiniketan and Daronda

Nothing can replace Santiniketan as an ideal short holiday destination. Only a four-hour drive away from the city, Santiniketan now boasts of several classy resorts, offering an array of services and facilities that are sure to rejuvenate you. On the way, you can also check out the Puja celebrations at Surul Rajbari. In Bolpur Sriniketan, the Sarkars of the Surul Rajbari still celebrate Durga Puja with the pomp and grandeur of the yesteryears. In fact, Rabindranath Tagore’s Visva Bharati university was built mostly on the land granted by the Sarkars. You can also visit places in and around Santiniketan including Upasana Griha, Chhatimtala and if you are lucky enough to be there on a Saturday, do not miss the Shanir Haat (a pop-up market of local handicrafts and textiles) held on the banks of the Khoai river.

These are a few resorts where you can stay while in Santiniketan:

Mark and Meadow (markandmeadows.com)

Regenta Camelia Resort and Spa

Shakuntala

Prokriti Bon Bunglow (prokritibonbunglow.com)

You can also stay in Daronda, a quiet hamlet near Ilambazar at Choupahari Resort (choupahari.com), a great place to rejuvenate and de-stress.

Sundargram Resort. Photo courtesy: The resort’s official website

Sundargram Resort

Do you want to get the best of the both worlds – staying near the city and also enjoying the Puja ambience? Then head for Sundargram Resort. This beautiful resort in the lap of nature has a complete rural set up, replete with large ponds, expansive green fields and vegetation. Less than a couple of hours’ drive along the Basanti expressway, off the E.M. Bypass Road, this resort in Rajendrapur village, in North 24 Parganas takes you back to the organic ways of nature. The meals served are authentic Bengali cuisine and during the Pujas, you are sure to experience the rural ways of celebrating the goddess, simple, yet charming.

For booking: 9051064510 (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday)

Rashmancha at Bishnupur

Bishnupur 

A 151-km drive away from the city, this land of terracotta temples and Baluchari sari, was discovered by the Malla kings in  the 17th century. The remnants of the old town are worth a capture in your lens and the quaint city is also a haven for admirers or art, architecture and crafts. This temple town of Bengal has a number of architecturally unique terracotta temples including Pancha Ratna Temple (Shyam Rai Temple), Radheshyam Temple, Jor Bunglow Temple, Dolamadol Kaman among others. The Madanmohan temple is designed in ektarana style that has square falt roof with sculpted cornices. Visit the local puja and enjoy the rural ambience.

ISKCON temple at Mayapur

Mayapur and Krishnanagar

Situated between Jalangi and Hooghly rivers, Mayapur is a confluence of religion and nature, only 132 km away from Kolkata. One of the famed nine islands of Sri Chaitanya’s Nabadwip, its main attraction is the iconic ISKCON temple and you can spend your day idly there, lunching with the famed bhog served by foreign devotees.you can also explore Ballal Mound and the tomb of Chand Kazi. If you still have some time left, you can drive 19 km further to Krishnanagar on the southern banks of Jalangi river  in Nadia district. This historic town was ruled by Raja Krishna Chandra, an avid lover of art and culture. Besides seeing the local Durga Pujas, make sure to visit the main attractions of this small town, which include the Krishnanagar Rajbari (royal palace) and the Roman Catholic church. Besides, this district town is also famous for its clay idols and you mustn’t return without buying a few for yourself. 

Rajbari Bawali. Photo courtesy: The resort’s offcial website

Bawali

Another serene yet closeby location to spend a day is Bawali. There are a couple of resorts to choose from. You can opt for the regal Rajbari Bawali, and stay for a day like the decadent zamidars from yesteryears. 

The grand feudal mansion will surely take your breath away and pamper your taste buds with a fare of the royal Bengali cuisine. 

But if you want to just laze around and while away your time, head for the Bawali resort. 

You are sure to get lost in the 12 bighas of greenery, complete with lush green fields and huge ponds along with a nursery. There are beautiful tree houses to stay in apart from the regular rooms.

If you want to go around Bawali and explore local history, visit Achipur, named after the Chinese trader Tong Achew, who settled here some 230 years ago. There is a Chinese shrine, which you can visit. You can also make a day trip to Komagatu Maru memorial, the location where the British gunned down 19 Punjabis on their return from Canada. 

The Boro Kachhari shrine, near the Rajbari Bawali is an example of communal harmony, where people irrespective of their religion, come and pray.

For bookings: 9073312000(11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday) or Stay@Therajbari.Com

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