I heard the name, Mousuni Island, for the first time, from a travel group in Facebook. And a quick google search revealed very few results than that are available as of now, which clearly indicated of Mousuni Island being a newly found pristine destination. I didn’t wanted to lose this opportunity of being here, before more and more tourist come to know about the place, leading the destination to lose it’s charm. All these happened during last week of November and I knew I won’t be lucky to grab a booking during December. Either way my plans for December was more or less packed up, so I enquired for January instead. What could be the better way of stepping into a year with your family at such pristine destination?
Without wasting much time, I got in touch with Mr. Sintu from Get Lost Eco Travel who actually founded this place and setup tourism options by jointly managing with the locals. After few rounds of enquiries and discussion, we transferred him the advance to secure our booking. Generally one needs to pay the full amount in advance, however due to shortage of money during that time, I payed him partially as an advance to secure our booking and promised to transfer the remanining by 1 week in advance before we go.
Finally the evening before the D Day we realized that our dates collides with Gangasagar and we’d have to face huge rush on trains both while going and returning. After discussing with Sintu Da, he suggested to opt for the 5:12 AM Sealdah – Namkhana local. Although he expressed his doubts of facing the huge rush on any trains we opt for, but the earlier the better. After several rounds of discussion and various opinions from different family members, we thought of targetting the 5:12 AM Sealdah – Namkhana Local only from Sealdah.
13th Jan 2018 – Day 1 :
We woke up at around 2:30 AM and after getting done with our regular morning chores, we left for Sealdah at around 3:30 AM. Although we booked 2 Ubers initially, but my dad got hold of a call centre shuttle while waiting out for our Uber ride. We immediately grabbed the deal and cancelled the Uber! Instead of Rs. 200/- per vehicle, we 6 people managed to reach Sealdah within Rs. 180/- (Rs. 30/- per head). A great start I’d say!!
It didn’t took us much time to get the tickets, as there were hardly few people at such wee hours of the morning. But as we were about to proceed towards the Memu, we noticed a huge rush of people running towards the same train. We immediately rushed towards the train and grabbed our seats. The rush was because of, a lot of local trains from various regions had arrived to Sealdah by that time. And we couldn’t guess that all those people came in to catch the same train for Gangasagar. Within minutes, each and every compartments became totally packed up with even no space to stand. We were lucky to get the seats I’d say!!
The onward journey to Namkhana was mostly uneventful. The train was late by half an hour and we reached Namkhana by 8:30 AM. Due to the rush of Gangasagar, whole area outside the station was used to setup the camps and temporary washrooms by the Govt. for the pilgrims. Toto’s / Van’s were also been restricted from operating on the said route. Thus we had to walk till the Jetty. However we didn’t had to face the rush from this point onwards, as the route to Gangasagar is on the other way. Upon reaching the Jetty, we crossed the Hatania – Doania river and took a motorised Van to Bus Stand.
Upto this point, the route is same for any Bakkhali bound travellers. From the Bus Stand, Bakkhali bound travellers are expected to take a Bus / Tata Magic to Bakkhali, however for Mousuni Island, one needs to opt for Tata Magic towards Durgapur Ghat. The vehicles towards Durgapur Ghat leaves on time basis and is sync’ed with the boat timings from Durgapur Ghat.
We still had around 30 minutes left for the next vehicle, so we had our breakfast at a nearby shop there. However one cannot expect to get fancy items here. The most common ones would be Muri Ghugni (puffed rice) / Ghugni Paruti (Bread) / Dim Paruti (French Toast) along with Boiled Egg / Omelette. For those who are not from Bengal or adjacent states like Odisha, Bihar, Assam etc. Ghugni is black gram (Kala Chana) or dried yellow peas or dried white peas is cooked with gravy, in the traditional eastern Indian style. Can’t vouch about others, but we are totally in love with Ghugni as always!!
Finally we embarked on our journey towards Durgapur Ghat on a Tata Magic that was about to leave. It took us around 30 – 40 minutes to reach there. One needs to walk for 5 minutes to reach the Jetty from the parking. Boat leaves every hour from this Ghat so one needs to fit in according to the time. Our pre-arranged van by Mr. Sintu was already waiting for us on the other side of the river. Finally after reaching Bagdanga, we started our journey towards our destination, Baliara Beach Tent – Mousuni Island. It was around 20 minutes ride to the camp.
When we reached the place, we were simply stunned by it’s beauty. It was so beautiful and pristine. We were glad that we could experience such a beautiful place. The camp was setup right on the beach, obviously keeping a safe distance from the sea. It was lush green on the other 3 sides. The camps were setup within the village locality. Though the land belongs to a local villager named, Shankar Das however guests are looked upon collectively by the villagers.
We took our own leisure time to explore the tranquility and beauty of the place. We walked along the route of village and interacted with local villagers. In the meanwhile we were served Lemon Water as welcome drinks. Post that, the local kids took it upon themselves to take us for a walk along the beach and we followed.
Well, I must mention that, this place do not have any activity or sightseeings as such, instead of just soaking yourself into the lap of mother mature at a calm and quiet destination. So if you are solo / couple and feel that you might get bored, best is to form a group and go together. Moreover Baliara Beach Tent at Mousuni Island have 3 such tents which can accommodate upto 9 pax in total (3 pax per tent) and Mr. Sintu believes in having exclusive access of the place. Thus he doesn’t generally agrees for solo travellers or a couple. Because as per his views, he wants his guests to relax and enjoy and having exclusive access of the place. Thus he don’t merge any other groups or accept booking from two different groups / guests on same date. So considering the costing of food and management, he always suggests to visit on a group of 4 or more not exceeding 9 pax.
The villagers are very friendly and very simple, free from any complicated thinking or lifestyle like city dwellers. They get much accustomed within short period of time with likeminded guests. The same happened with us. The kids spent most of their time with us. However to maintain the balance, management always sends everyone away while serving the foods. This I feel is a very good decision, because we as guests would otherwise feel awkward of having food in front of them without sharing with them and kids too might develop this habit of being present always when food is being served to guests.
Rest of the afternoon we spent over a warm sunlight after a sumptuous, organic, village style Bengali lunch chitchatting with the locals. Gradually the sea turned golden as the sun started hitting the horizon. However due to fogs, we couldn’t experience the sunset fully.
Later in the evening, we were served Chop Muri (puffed rice with snacks) which is considered as most common and famous evening snacks. Later as per our call, Bonfire and Barbeque was arranged. Bonfire played a very important role to keep ourselves warm at such chilled evening by the sea.
Later we called off the day after a sumptuous dinner again.
14th Jan 2018 – Day 2 :
Unlike usual days back at home, our morning started a bit early with the crackle of hens. We choose to go for a walk along the beach. Well I must say, with fresh air all around and organic food, we were leading a healthy lifestyle. This is the reason, there is very short number of medical issues amongst the villagers of India whereas city dwellers like us spends half their life earning money or instead I must say running for money and remaining half spending the same for medical causes. Whereas these villagers enjoys their every moment. Although there are lots of issues like electricity, financial crisis, tough lifestyle in terms of availability and all, however they are happy and leading a healthy lifestyle. Though this feeling can be coined as the grass is always greener on the other side.
Although Mousuni Island have got electricity but not throughout the island. Baliara Beach Tent – Mousuni Island and few other regions along the island is yet to get that facility which is expected to be completed by June or July 2018. Till then, they are surviving on Solars and Kerosene Lamps. And thus the guests are expected to consume electricity more carefully and responsibily. Additionally one must carry power banks, as there’s no plug point available in the villages. You can give your mobile / cameras / power banks to the villagers, as when they make their way to market during the afternoon, they will charge it up. Yes this might sound odd to some of the city dwellers, however this is something they go through on their daily life.
Post breakfast, we went ahead for a walk to another camp nearby named Backpackers Camp ran by a group named Izifiso. Gopal Paul is the key person and CEO of this company. As I haven’t used their service, so commenting on the same will not be appropriate I believe. However they have 5 tents as far as I came to know. But the area seemed to be a bit smaller in comparable to Baliara Beach Tent. The local person managing the camp, informed us that, unlike Mr. Sintu, they do allow bookings from multiple groups on same dates. So it could be a great option for solo or couples tourists. However I quite agree with the view of Mr. Sintu i.e. of having exclusive access of the whole place.
My mom and dad was mostly upset with me because I just planned 1N at such pristine destination. I had no idea, they would fall in love with the palce. Although it’s not only the place, it’s the kids and local villagers with whom they got deeply connected with. As Mr. Sintu had bookings for today, we had no option to stay back. Our van driver Mujibar was already waiting for us by the time. Thus after packing our belongings, with promises to be back again during monsoons to taste the fresh Hilsa, we left.
The return journey was smooth and mostly uneventful. Had our lunch at a Bengali Hotel nearby Jetty before proceding towards Namkhana Station. Although we were targetting 4:33 PM Howrah Local, however upon reaching Namkhana Station, we noticed a local was already stationed at the platform. The police personnels, by noticing us, asked us to hurry and catch the same train as that turned out to be a special gallopin with halts at 5 specific stations. Thus there was absolutely no rush that we had to face while on our return journey and we reached much earlier than expected.
NOTE : We only had connections from Vodafone and Airtel and we found it to work throughout the route. Although while on the way to this place, we found only 2G at few regions, however 4G works great once you reach Baliara Beach Tent – Mousuni Island.
Things To Remember :
- Yes reaching the place can be a pain for few, but as we all know “No Pain, No Gain“. It’s just few break journey’s and that’s it. You can’t expect to find a pristine offbeat destination within a stone’s throw.
- Remind you, by camp / tent they mean exactly same. And by no way you can / should expect any luxury neither concrete tents as such.
- Obviously, Bathroom is common and within the premises. For those who are wondering, yes it’s western though. However there’s no directly connected water source. Instead locals provide you more than enough water in drums outside the Bathroom. Adequate number of mugs and buckets are provided accordingly.
- Local villagers collectively serve the guests. So please be patient and co-operative with them instead of being a spoiltsport. They do not have degree / experience on hospitality industry. However I can vouch for an outstanding experience more than those degree holders back in Kolkata if you are being co-operative and smiling 🙂
- Mousuni Island is an offbeat, newly found, calm and pristine destination. Please be a responsible tourist and try to maintain the tranquility of the place.
- Although drinking is strictly prohibited, however after discussing with Mr. Sintu, I came to know the main reason behind this is, most young groups starts being chaotic after few pegs resulting in disruption and disturbance to local villagers. And most importantly, as we all know, after few pegs, they starts thinking themselves being an experienced swimmer which could really be dangerous.
- Well I know, the word “Enjoy” is used in different perspective for different people. For many guests, it’s like “We came all the way to enjoy ourselves and paid the amount for that only“. For the hosts, it’s like “People come in soak themselves into the lap of mother nature at such pristine destination“. So I’d suggest to choose this place, depending on what kind of enjoyment you mean.
- Electricity has not reached throughout the regions of Mousuni Island. The place where these camps are located, is yet to get electricity. Thus guests are expected to consume the solar power more responsibly. And that to carry power banks for your mobiles / extra pair of batteries for your cameras. As in case otherwise, you need to hand over the devices to the local villagers, who when make their way to the market can charge up your device.
- In the evening, they will setup enough solars / kerosene lamps (hurricane) to adequately light up the place.
- Lastly, if anyone is wondering “Yes the place is absolutely safe and sound” as you’ll be camping amongst the villagers. They are always there for you to help.
How To Reach :
Well reaching this place, needs few breakjourneys. Also you have to start early and be on time, to make it to Mousuni Island accordingly.
- First you need to take a local train to Namkhana. Don’t believe the online train timings / the boards at Sealdah in this case. Those are completely ourdated and that there are various trains to Namkhana.
- From Namkhana Railway Station, take a motorized van / toto to reach the Jetty. [Rs. 10/- per head]
- From Jetty you need to cross the Hatania – Doania River by ferry. Ferry’s leave every few minutes. [Rs. 2/- per head]
- From there you may walk / take a motorized van to Bus Stand from where Bakkhali bound buses leave. [Rs. 7/- per head]
- From there you need to take a Tata Magic to Durgapur Ghat. [Rs. 15/- per head] Ferry’s leave every one hour starting from 7 AM. The last ferry leaves at 1:10 PM before going for lunch break. The same resumes again at 3 PM with the last one being at 10 PM.
- Cross by ferry and get down at Bagdanga (the last stop). [Rs. 4/- per head] From Bagdanga ferry’s leaves every one hour starting from 6:30 AM upto 10:30 and then at 11:40 and 12:40 respectively before going for lunch break. The ferry service resumes again at 2:30 PM till 9:30 PM.
- From there you can hire a van / have your pickup pre-arranged to Baliara Beach Tent, Mousuni Island. [Rs. 200/- one way, can accommodate upto 8 pax with luggage]
For those who are wondering, yes you can go by Bike. However people planning to go by car, please avoid, as you although you can reach Bakkhali by car, however here you have to cross 2 ferry’s. And on the 2nd Ferry Service i.e. for Durgapur Ghat – Bagdanga, we didn’t notice any scope for transporting the vehicle.
Baliara Beach Tent, Mousuni Island : A pristine and tranquil destination on it’s own needs no praising. One can enjoy the private beach space and relax throughout the day. Perfect for peoples looking out for short escapades, within pocket friendly options. The camps / tents are clean and well maintained. So is the washroom. The local kids / villagers serves and looks after the guests with a local and personal touch. So if you are friendly and co-operative, they get accustommed with you quickly and develop a close bonding within short period of time. The meals can’t be defined in words. The key point is everything being organic and fresh, you can be sure of be in healthy diet. Although there’s not much activities involved, but that’s the idea of being at a relaxing destination. But to spend some quality time, go for a walk along the beach, the kids might assist you in case you are looking for companions. Also don’t forget to take a small walk along the villages, to get a chance to know them and their daily life.
Mr. Sintu is the key person to introduce tourism at Mousuni Island. Although the place belongs to a local villager named Shankar Das. However both of them together collectively with the local villagers runs and manages this palce. Presently they have 3 camps / tents and 1 common bathroom. Each camp can accommodate upto 3 pax. Mr. Sintu belives in having the exclusive access of the place, thus he mostly pushes for visiting in a group of 4 or more people but not more than 9 pax. He never accepts multiple bookings from different groups on same date, to keep up with his vision. Thus to keep up with the cost price, keeping in mind the per head price of Rs. 1000/- with fooding and lodging, he pushes for visiting in a group of 4 or more. So if only 2 persons are visiting there, he’d rather keep remaining 2 camps / tents vacant instead of setting in another group there. This, I feel is a very good decission, considering the trainquility of the place. As people mostly visit to spend a quality and relaxing time at such pristine destination, and sharing the camping area, with other travellers can result in bitter experience if you can’t match up with the other travellers.
Izifiso Backpacker’s Camp : There’s another camp nearby which is maintained and setup by a group called Izifiso. Gopal Paul is the key person behind this. We didn’t stayed at this camp, so I can’t really comment on their service. However we payed a visit to the camp, and at a glance the area seemed a bit smaller than Baliara Beach Tent. We felt Baliara Beach Tent to be more beautiful because of the multiple garden swings. The local person who looks after the place, informed us that, they charge around Rs. 1200/- per head with fooding, lodging and campfire and they have around 5 camps / tents. So I felt, this can be a good option for Solo / Couple Travellers who don’t mind sharing the space with other groups. Rest all arrangement seemed to be similar as of Baliara Beach Tent.
Sealdah – Namkhana Local : Rs. 150/- (Rs. 25/- per head)
Hatania – Doania Ferry : Rs. 12/- (Re. 1/- per head at Boat and Re. 1/- per head at Gate)
Jetty – Bus Stand Motorised Van : Rs. 42/- (Rs. 7/- per head)
Bus Stand – Durgapur Ghat : Rs. 90/- (Rs. 15/- per head)
Durgapur Ghat – Bagdanga Jetty : Rs. 24/- (Rs. 4/- per head)
Bagdanga Jetty – Baliara Beach Tent, Mousuni Island : Rs. 200/- (one way)
The same cost is incurred while returning back.
Total Journey cost from Sealdah – Sealdah was : Rs. 1036/-
Baliara Beach Tent, Mousuni Island : Rs. 6000/- (Rs. 1000/- per head with fooding and lodging)
Campfire and Barbeque (2KG Chicken) : Rs. 500/-
NOTE : I have omitted personal misc. cost like Mineral Water during journey, Breakfast at Bus Stand, Tips, Lunch at Jetty etc. for your easy understanding.