Looking for a quick one-day trip from Kolkata? Want to spend time in nature and trees? Get lost in birdsongs?
Luckily all around the big city, and even in the big city are green spots that will win your heart and give you a break from the rushed life. Not only that, some of these spots stand like a green oasis in the desert of pollution.
Here are eleven nature havens in and near Kolkata which are great for a one day trip.
Best Places For a One-Day Trip from Kolkata
#1 Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary
Situated in the fringes of the city, Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary was a privately orchard and wasteland. In 1982, it was turned into a bird sanctuary by the government due to request by the locals. It was known as Kayaler Bagan which was later renamed after gaining the status of a wildlife sanctuary.
Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary is only 17 acres in area but is rich in biodiversity. The place is home to hundred year old trees, bamboo forests, various species of birds, butterflies and spiders. In the big metropolitan city of Kolkata struggling with pollution issues, this place is like an oasis. Visitors enjoy raw nature, birdsongs, pure oxygen and absolute serenity. It is also a great spot for bird watching and nature photography. With luck you can also spot Monitor Lizard (gosaap) and Vine snake (laudaga). It is home to civet (bhaam), jackal and other smaller mammals.
Visiting hours for Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary is 7 am to 5 pm. Open on all days of the week, entry fee per head is Rs. 50 (subject to change). It is situated in Narendrapur and from Ruby Hospital it is about 10 km away. The nearest bus stop is Rathtala. From Rathtala bus stop, the sanctuary is just a 3 minute walk.
Inside the sanctuary do not litter any plastic or waste. Keep your mobile phones in silent mode. Carry water and some dry food with you. This is not a picnic spot and any kind of noise or disturbance towards the wildlife is discouraged. Enjoy the beauty of birds and butterflies peacefully. In winter season, the place becomes more alive with the visiting migratory birds.
Here a beautiful video on the sanctuary.
#2 Shyamkhola Lake
Very near to Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary is the Shyamkhola Wetlands. Commonly called as the Shyamkhola Lake, it is a birding hotspot. You can spot variety of birds, smaller reptiles and other animals in the vicinity. It is common to spot monitor lizards and butterflies and if you plan to visit in the winter season, migratory birds would be a bonus.
Shyamkhola Wetlands did not exist naturally. Due to the extraction of soil for brick making, the entire area was left with shallow and deep gaps which became inundated. With rains and vegetation this place slowly became a natural sanctuary.
Shyamkhola Lake is a diversity park for also many kinds of aquatic plants and creatures. In its waters, you will find a multitude of fishes like the zebrafish, freshwater needlefish and ghost shrimp.
#3 Santragachi Jheel
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Santragachi town is a tranquil lake that houses hundreds of birds which does make a nice one-day trip from Kolkata. It is approximately 14 km from Kolkata and can be reached by bus or car. It is situated beside the Santragachi railway station and this lake is owned by the South Eastern Railway. However it is looked after by the Forest Department of West Bengal.
Santragachi Jheel is a quite big lake spread around an area of 13,75,000 square feet. Although the lake is surrounded by habitation and traffic, hundreds of birds live happily in the lake and surrounding area. The most well known bird of Santragachi Jheel is the lesser whistling duck found in abundance here.
During the winter season, the lake becomes truly a bird sanctuary. Storks, cranes and numerous other migratory birds make it their winter stay.
Santragachi Jheel is a great birding and clicking spot near Kolkata. The lake struggles with the rapid growth of water hyacinth which grows here as an invasive species. The government officials as well as the locals put a lot of effort to safe keep the lake and its avian residents.
There is lack of tourist facility near the lake but if you want to enjoy greenery and birdsongs for a day, do come to Santragachi Jheel.
#4 Bibhutibhushan Wildlife Sanctuary
Parmadan Forest was renamed as the Bibhutibhushan Wildlife Sanctuary as it got its sanctuary status. . A relatively small sanctuary ideal for a one-day trip from Kolkata, it is a beautiful forest cum biodiversity park. It is situated along the Ichamati River.
If you want to enjoy walking in a forest without the threat from large sized wildlife and predators, you will enjoy Parmadan Forest. The forest is full of deer, monkeys, birds and smaller mammals. There are also some smaller species kept in caged areas and there is a children’s park for engagement.
Bibhutibhushan Wildlife Sanctuary is situated about 100 km away from Kolkata and by road it will take approximately 3 hours to reach. It is near to Bongaon and can be reached by local transport. There is a nominal entry fee to enter the forest.
This green spot deserves a one-night stay but unfortunately tourist and lodging facilities are almost none. Carry your own drinking water. Keep any plastic or litter with you and keep the forest clean. Due to littering, outside food may not be allowed inside the sanctuary.
#5 Indian Botanical Garden
Officially called the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, the Botanical Garden in Shibpur is one of the most well known in India. The botanical area is well preserved and birds find a safe haven here. Apart from housing thousands of species of trees and flowers, this place is also home to rodents, avian and smaller reptiles.
Situated very near to Kolkata, it is less than an hour’s drive. It is ideal for a one-day trip from Kolkata. It makes a great outing and picnic spot in the colder season.
#6 East Kolkata Wetlands
East Kolkata Wetlands and Nalban Fishery Complex is situated beside the IT hub of Kolkata, Sector 5. However, these wetlands which are natural and partially manmade have become so rich in diversity that it has been called “wetland of international importance” in the internationally esteemed Ramsar Convention.
The East Kolkata Wetlands area covers 125 square kilometers. The area is mainly a salt marsh, with some portions as meadows, ponds and sewage farms. This area keeps the surrounding Salt Lake locality cool and unpolluted in spite of heavy traffic.
East Kolkata Wetlands can be enjoyed from the Nalban Fishery Complex. You can also take a boat ride. These wetlands are home hundreds of species birds like the kingfisher, cranes and ducks. It is bio-diverse with more than a hundred species of plants and numerous species of fishes.
These wetlands are spread around a large area and can also be explored through the bheris. Choose a weekend and spend a day exploring the beautiful wetland.
When we think of a one-day trip from Kolkata usually we may not think of these wetlands. Recently some beautiful locations have been turned into picnic spots and many people are flocking here especially in the winters.
#7 Rabindra Sarobar
In the summer of 2019, there was a rush of photographers and nature lovers to Rabindra Sarobar to get a glimpse of the new visitor, the beautiful Indian Pitta. Situated inside the big city of Kolkata, this is a spot that gives relief from the pollution of the city.
Rabindra Sarobar is actually a lake that was formed during construction work in the 1920s. It was then called the Dhakuria Lake. The water body is around 73 acres and it is surrounded by thick foliage. Some of the trees here are estimated to be more than a hundred years old.
Rabindra Sarobar is home to parrots, kingfishers, woodpeckers and many other creatures. Situated in the city, it is a great way to spend the day under the trees.
#8 Horticulture Society
The Horticulture Society is a nature lover and photographer’s paradise. It was established in 1820 by William Carey who is well remembered as a social reformer. Situated in Alipore, The Horticulture Society is the dream destination for gardeners also. The 20-acre area has a multitude of greenhouses, gardens, lakes with a library and laboratory dedicated to flora. Enjoy the variety of rare orchids, colourful dahlias and creepy carnivorous plants.
The Horticulture Society also hosts prestigious and internationally renowned flower shows, mainly the Rose Show in the winters. If you have not visited this place in Kolkata yet, grab your camera and pay a visit this weekend. It remains open from 4.45 am to 7.30 pm all days. Inside the park you get cafes, restrooms and drinking water making it a great place to spend a day.
And of course, do not miss the winter flower show. It will surely win your heart.
If you love flowers and serenity, here is a lesser known spot. Khirai is a small village in Purba Medinipur which has transformed into what tourists call the ‘Valley of Flowers’ of West Bengal. The village has become a picturesque hamlet due to its hard working farmers who are cultivating beautiful flowers. he Kamsavati River flows
When the fields bloom with colourful asters and chrysanthemums across the horizon, it truly is a mesmerizing sight. The place has not developed as a tourist attraction yet but it attracts many nature lovers and photographers. It can be accessed via train from Kolkata and makes a great one day trip. Many local and express trains are available from Kolkata to Khirai. Get down at the station and the flower fields start just a short walk away.
Here is a video on Khirai that will give you a snapshot of the place.
Boshipota is a little village in Uttarpara which has become a popular bird watching spot. Reach Uttarpara from Kolkata by train or road and go to Raghunathpur bazaar, which is a few minutes away from Boshipota.
Boshipota is more of an open grassland with ponds and paddy fields. This makes it quite easy to spot the winged creatures. It is a great spot to spend time outdoors clicking and breathing fresh air. However, be careful, the place is also famous for its cobras and vipers. With a little adventure, you can get some really good shots of nature.
Carry your drinking water and some dry food. You can easily cover Boshipota in a one-day trip.
#11 Purbasthali (Chupi Char)
Purbasthali, also called Chupi Char is a village in Purba Bardhaman. What makes this place really special is that it lies along an oxbow lake. This oxbow lake is formed by the Ganges as it flows through the terrain. Two more rivers Ajay and Damodar also flow through the area making this area very fertile. Purbasthali is rich is trees blooming with flowers and laden with fruits.
This oxbow lake of Chupi Char is about three kilometers long and is a land full of biodiversity. This is a must visit for nature lovers, birdwatchers and photographers. Near the lake are a cluster of islands formed by the river.
Chupi Char becomes a bird heaven in the winter season. Thousands of migratory birds flock the area. All through the year this area is home to hundreds of beautiful birds. At one time, the abundance of birds attracted hunters and poachers. Thanks to the effort of the locals, NGOs and officials, the birds are safe again here.
To reach here take a train to Burdwan and from there you can get local transport that will take you to Chupi Char. You can make it a one-day trip or you can opt to stay overnight in one of the local hotels. There are also some places in and around Purbasthali which are great for sightseeing.