After being home ridden for 8 months by the grace of Covid19 finally, we (Me & Dilip Da with our wives) planned for a weekend getaway. Keeping all the constraints of Covid19 in our mind and looking after all the safety and precautions of the same we planned to start the new normal with a nearby weekend destination in Kolkata. We googled a few such destinations and after looking forward to all safety measures we finally fixed upon Sundargram.
Sundargram is an eco-village located 35kms away from the heart of Kolkata at Rajendrapur. At Sundargram there are 5 mud houses to accommodate the guests with an artificial pond with various species of fishes and an open-air dining hall where you can smack your tongue with the locally cooked delicacies. The resort is surrounded by greenery and untouched suburb life. This is an exact place for a weekend where you can escape the peeps and pops of urban life and can wake up to a bright fresh morning by hearing the chirping of various birds.
At Sundargram one can experience the essence of flawless village life. Here you will find the farmers tilting their farmland, green or yellow swaying paddy fields, fishermen pulling their nets with various local fishes from the local fisheries, villagers gossiping among themselves under the huge banyan tree in the warmth of the late afternoon light. You can unfold all of these rural lives while you sit on the cosy chair at the veranda of your mud house sipping over a cup of warm tea.
Providing you with all the essence of village life, Sundargram also does not fail to provide you with the amenities of your city house within their mud cottages. Each mud house is equipped with amenities like electricity, western washroom with geyser, air conditioner, mini-refrigerator (all for 24 hours) and a king-size comfy bed with clean bedsheets and pillow covers. During this pandemic season, they tried to maintain more hygiene and thus swiped the cottages with soap water and changed all the bed sheets and covers in the presence of the guests. However, according to their noted rules on their website they didn’t do any kind of thermal checking or sanitisation of the luggage though.
How To Reach
To reach Sundargram, one needs to travel to Science City and from there hire a Bus / Tata Magic to Ghatakpukur and finally hire a Toto from Ghatakpukur to Sundargram. As an alternative one can also reserve a Tata Magic directly from Science City to Sundargram. If you have your own private vehicle then you can directly travel to Sundergram or hire a private vehicle for the whole journey to and from Sundergram.
As we belong from different parts of Kolkata, we planned to meet at Science City and then keeping the pandemic situation in mind we planned to reserve a Tata Magic directly to Sundargram instead of taking the bus or travelling with locals on shared mode, for our own safety reasons. Generally Tata Magic runs up to Ghatakpukur with around 14 people on it with a charge of Rs 20/- per person. However, keeping the safety concerns in mind we planned to bargain a bit and reserve a complete vehicle for 4 of us completely up to Sundargram.
You may wish to refer to this Google Maps location for a concrete idea.
For Booking: Please fill up the Booking Enquiry Form at their website.
Day 1: 10th October
After waiting for a month from the day of our planning, finally, the d-day arrived. We woke up around 7 AM in the morning, got freshened up quickly and dressed ourselves. At around 8:30 AM bidding goodbye to mom and dad, we booked an Uber to Science City. The journey to Science City was mostly uneventful except that we captured some videos for our newly started YouTube channel. Being Saturday and on top of that early morning hours, we reached Science City within 40 minutes or so. We waited at the Pragati Maidan Police Station (just opposite side of Parama Island, facing towards Ruby) for Dilip Da and Boudi. They arrived after 15 minutes or so.
It was our first meet after around 8 months. So we greeted each other with a warm smile and then I finally went ahead to bargain with the tata magic. As my mates say I do have a good bargaining power which I inherited from my father. Finally after bargaining for some time we found one driver who agreed to drop us to Sundargram at Rs 400/-. Generally, one tata magic earns around Rs 300 for one way journey to Ghatakpukur. So considering that Rs 400/- seemed to be a good deal for us as Sundargram is more than 6 KM away from Ghatakpukur.
Soon we boarded the tata magic and started our journey towards Sundargram. As soon as we crossed the Science City junction the landscape changed. The concrete jungle of risen buildings changed to green fields with small ponds scattered in between them. There were small villages and tiny markets en-route. The road till Ghatakpukur was smooth enough and we enjoyed our journey by feeling the fresh cool breeze of the greenery. For me and Dilip Da, it felt good to revive our memories of the time spent together at Cognizant Bantala, where we met the first time and became friends for life! It took almost an hour and 10 – 20 minutes to reach Ghatakpukur.
As we took the right turn from Ghatakpukur, the landscape around us started changing. The pitched road turned into a complete village mud road with paddy fields all around till our eyes meet the horizon. Obviously, the road was not smooth however, we relished the complete rural scenario. Soon we reached Sundargram after 15 – 20 minutes of drive. During our journey from Science City to Sundargram, we developed a good bonding with our driver. So we requested him to pick us up tomorrow for our return journey to Science City. Luckily, he agreed and nodded his head.
The entrance to the resort was quite beguiling to our eyes. There is a large mud gate at the entrance with a board mentioning the name Sundargram Resort. A few meters of a walk from the entrance will lead you to the reception. After completing our documentation we finally proceeded to our mud cottage named Dotara for the day. Soon as we entered the cottage, we saw the room service boys cleaning our room and changing all the bed linens with a newly washed one. During this pandemic season, this created a bit of relief within our mind. However, considering our peace of mind, after the service boys left our rooms we ourselves sanitised the room using our own disinfectants which we were carrying ourselves. Soon after a smoke, we all proceeded to take a bath one by one.
Completed with our sanitization and getting freshened up we all gathered around the centre table for gossiping. We soothed our eyes with the green view from our balcony as we took a sip of our poison. At around 1 PM or so we went ahead to the dining hall to have our lunch. However, upon enquiring with one of the kitchen staff we came to know that lunch was still not ready and it would take another 20 minutes or so. So instead of sitting around and gossiping, we decided to take a stroll around the whole property of Sundergram.
The whole property is rectangular shaped. Just by the entrance, at the left side of the gate, there is a one-storied mud cottage which seemed to be Bodhi – the five bedded cottage, on the first floor. Just beside Bodhi lies the reception. At the reception cottage, one will find various artefacts depicting the traditional culture of Bengal. One will also find an aquarium here where you will spot various fishes and a small tortoise. Besides the reception, there’s another mud house named Ektara. Just opposite to the reception there is a small garden with a swing on it. One can choose to enjoy swinging on it. Besides this garden, there is a big circular Mandap where various festivals are celebrated. Guests can also enjoy folk songs by the local folk artists at this mandap (at an additional cost). Beside the mandap, there is a newly constructed sitting arrangement and a place for a bonfire in the winters. Few steps from here are the mud cottages for the guests – Akash, Batash, Dhamsa and Madol. Dotara – the four-bedded cottage is on the first floor above Dhamsa and Madol. Just beside these cottages is a manmade pond where one can spend their time fishing (catch and release) at the cost of Rs 200 per person. Just opposite to this pond there is the dining hall. Meals are not served at the cottages. The kitchen is attached just by the dining hall. Above the kitchen, there is another cottage for the guests – Andarmahal which has access to a private terrace.
Tip: All the accommodation options are available at their website.
After our stroll through the property for 10 – 15 minutes, we were served our lunch. Keeping the Bengali culture and rural attributes in mind Sundargram serves Bengali cuisine and thus one won’t find any other cuisine options over here. One needs to order their lunch a day in advance as the kitchen staff need to make arrangements for it. One can choose to order from the menu which is available at their website.
For lunch, we opted for the thali along with mutton curry and a plate of salad. The thali consists of Basmati Chaler Bhat, Sukto, Ucche Bhaja, Shak Bhaja, Dal, Sabji, Chatni, Papad and Sweets. The foods were so delicious that we kept on licking our fingers for quite a long time. As it was quite hot in the afternoon, so post-lunch we decided to move to our cottage now for a power nap.
It was already past 4 PM when we woke up from our bhat-ghoom. Being the season of Autumn, the sun has already started to set early. We immediately got ourselves ready and went out to a small village walk. The village looked amazingly beautiful as the golden light of the sun fell on the swinging heads of the green paddy fields. It felt more amazing because the water in the small fisheries in between the farmlands reflected the golden light of the sundown bestowing a glittery effect on the paddy fields. The natural beauty of the village soothed our city eyes. We took a stroll in the nearby areas of the village enjoying the cool breeze that touched our skin and soul, giving us relief after being 8 months of home ridden. We enjoyed the walk and captured a few moments to cherish later!
At the set of dusk, we returned back to our resort. For the next half an hour or so we enjoyed ourselves in the swing and gossiped about various things amongst ourselves. At around 6:15 PM we went to the dining area for some evening tea. They served the tea in a bhar (earthen pot), giving a traditional accent of village life, which really touched our heart. We had pre-ordered chicken pakora as our evening snacks which they assured us to deliver in our cottage by 7 -7:15 PM. Rest of the evening we spent by gossiping amongst ourselves over our glass of liquor. At around 9 PM we decided to go for a stroll outside to admire the nightscape of the village.
As the housekeeping boys noticed us roaming around they enquired about our wellbeing. We assured them that there are no issues and requested whether we could just take a stroll within a few meters outside of the resort. They nodded and called the watchman to open the gate for us. They even lit the main halogen light for us, but we requested to switch it off as we wanted to enjoy the darkness and calmness of the place. Being a clear night with the sky full of glittering stars the place looked astounding. We really cherished those few minutes under the bright silver open sky. After around 15 minutes, we returned back to our resort and enjoyed ourselves in the swing and roamed around within the resort. At around 10 PM we went ahead for dinner. At dinner, we ordered rice and chicken curry and a plate of green salad. This time also the food was appetizing like that of lunch. Post our dinner we headed back to our cottage.
Being city dwellers we have a bad habit of staying awake till late at night. Thus, being in a village for a day we couldn’t overcome the same. We kept on gossiping till midnight after which myself and Dilip Da chose to hit the bed. However, Suparna and Boudi went outside in the balcony to enjoy the nightscape and kept on gossiping further till late at night.
Day 2: 11th October
It was around 7 AM when we woke up to the calls of the chirping birds. What a lovely morning it was, but alas! It was our day to return. Being budget travellers and ardent hill lovers we had just booked Sundargram for 1N. Lesser we knew that this place would be so alluring and would provide us such a relief from the boredom after 8 months. However, as there was nothing that we could help with, we completed the morning chores.
At around 8 AM we called Mr Samrat (our tata magic driver) to confirm our return and asked him to pick us up by around 10 AM. Unfortunately, he informed me that there is a political meeting that’s planned to be held at Ghatakpur today. Thus, he requested us to leave early by 9:30 AM instead, so that we could avoid the traffic jam. Considering the situation we assured him to abide by.
So we planned accordingly and went for breakfast early at around 8:30 AM. However, unfortunately, we found that the breakfast was yet not ready and it would take another 15 -20 minutes to be served. We couldn’t help it and had to wait for it. At breakfast, they served luchi, sabji and boiled egg or omelette according to our choice.
Post breakfast we went back to our cottages and got ourselves ready quickly as it was already past 9:30 AM. Suparna and Boudi packed up everything and checked the rooms before we left whereas Me and Dilip Da went ahead for billing. Bidding goodbye to everyone we left Sundargram by around 10 AM. Unfortunately, by that time a huge gathering has already started to form up. Samrat Da informed us, this is expected to turn up double within the next half an hour or so. He kept his mind cool through the chaos and drove us safely. It took us around 1.5 hours to reach Science City. We lit up our cigarettes by the time our Uber arrived and finally, after bidding goodbye to each other we boarded for our own sweet home.
If you wish to have a break from your daily chaotic or hectic city lifestyle and spend a day in a peaceful calmness of nature and that too within a short distance from Kolkata then Sundargram in Rajendrapur is your best bet. Obviously a bit heavy on the pocket, it is a place where city life blends with the village life and where life is not a rat race and runs at its own pace beholding all the aesthetic traditional values of the ancient days.