It is often said that the sight of flowing water has a calming effect on the mind. So if you are planning a motoring weekend holiday from Kolkata, these five riverside retreats are ready to welcome you with grand views and all hygiene protocols in place.
Raichak on Ganges
An integrated destination with resort, spa and country homes, in the middle of sprawling greenery, and perched on the edge of the River Hooghly (as the Ganga is known as before its joins the Bay of Bengal), Raichak on Ganges is only 50km to the south of Kolkata (though you have to negotiate a few congested corners on the way). Enjoy a secluded stay at their boutique resort Ganga Kutir or at the imaginatively designed resort hotel Ffort Raichak, with the slow moving river for company. This is also one of the best places to enjoy the beauty of the Bengal monsoon. At the moment, they have the multi-cuisine restaurant Reflections open, which offers a fantastic view of the river during sunset.
Also on the Hooghly but to the north of Kolkata, it is located at one end of the historic town of Srirampur (Serampore). The town reflects one of the little-known facts of history – that the English East India Company was not the only one to set up a trading post and a colony by the river in Bengal. Renovated and restored, the Denmark Tavern is a more than 230-years-old building, which did house a popular tavern once. Now converted into a heritage hotel and café, they have a limited number of rooms. From the first floor verandah, you can have an excellent view of the river, the life on the stepped ghats and the ferry boats passing by. At night, when the activities by the river ceases, you may go for a short stroll by the bank. Or watch the twinkling above and the dark river flowing beneath, with the breeze whispering distant tales in your ears. Serampore is 30km from Kolkata by road.
Rasbari Garden House
Less than an hour’s drive from Howrah Railway Station, the Rasbari (also Rashbari) Garden House is a restored heritage building within a temple complex, which sprawls right on the bank of the Ganga. The garden house stands separate from the main temple complex and backs into a sprawling lawn that overlooks the river and one of the busiest ferry routes between Kolkata and Howrah.
Belonging to the elite Dawn family of north Kolkata, the late 19th century complex takes its name from the Raas festival of Krishna which is still celebrated here. The nine-pinnacle Radharaman Temple, the two rows of Shiva Temples, the Clock Tower and other structures reflect Bengal temple art and an influence of Indo-European architecture. Adjoining the complex is the famous Belur Math of the Ramakrishna Order and Dakshineswar Kali Temple is just a boat ride away. Do not miss the panoramic view from the roof of the newly-built hotel block. However, do remember photography is not allowed (unless you have obtained prior permission). For advance reservation, call + 91 90515 25307.
This eponymous hotel brand operates two luxury riverside properties, one in Taki on the Icchamati River and the other in Kolaghat on the Rupnarayan River.
Taki, around 70km east of Kolkata, via the Basanti Highway, is located on the India-Bangladesh border. The hotel overlooks the Icchamati River, which forms the international border between the two countries. The manicured lawns of the complex end on the river bank. Or, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the river from the deck-like verandah attached to the rooms. Check if you can enjoy a boat ride on the river with all safety and hygiene protocols in place.
Also around 70km but to the south-west of Kolkata, Kolaghat on the Rupnarayan River is a popular pit stop to Digha and other tourist attractions in the south-western corner of West Bengal. But take the winding road to the river bank and you will come straight to the sprawling complex of Hotel Sonar Bangla. The river wears an animated look by day with the fishing boats travelling to and fro. At sundown, the water turns into a brilliant play of colours, gradually fading into a realm of darkness.