|• Official||Bengali, English|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Telephone code||Std code 03210|
|Vidhan Sabha constituency||Sagar bidhan sava|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2008)|
Bakkhali is seaside resort in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India. It is located on one of the many deltaic islands spread across southern Bengal. Most of the islands are part of the Sunderbans, barring a few at the fringes. Some of these are joined together with bridges over narrow creeks. This small island juts out into the vast expanse of the Bay of Bengal.
It has a 7 km long beach stretching from Bakkhali to Frasergunj, a twin beach, with gently rolling waves. These are twin towns now forming one continuous locality. Casuarina trees line the beach. Except on an occasional holiday the beach is not crowded. Even if one part is crowded on a particular day, there will be plenty of barren pockets. A small stretch near Bakkhali has been lighted up. It is a hard beach suitable for cycling or even driving. One can take long walks.
Sir Andrew Fraser, Lieutenant Governor of Bengal (1903–1908) in the early twentieth century, is credited with “discovery” of the place. He tried his best to popularise it and in recognition of his efforts a part of the town is named Frasergunj. There is a dilapidated house near the beach, which according to the locals was the one in which Fraser used to stay.
Local legend has it that he had landed at the place accidentally because of a shipwreck and was helped to survive by a local woman named Narayani. Fraser fell in love with her and visited her regularly. His detractors sent word about his goings on to his wife staying back in England. She came rushing to India and with the assistance of British troops had Narayani shot down. Frasergunj was earlier known as Narayanitala.
Bakkhali is unique in many ways. The windmills in Frasergunj generate power for the small locality. These are visible from many places all around. Some of the hotels use solar heaters for heating water. The rickshaw van is the only form of local transport. Buses and trekkers transport people all day long.
Fishing is the primary occupation of the people all around because the salinity of the environment saps the fertility of the land. There is a fishing harbour at Frasergunj and Benfish, a wing of the state government has a presence nearby. Bakkhali and Frasegunj are unadulterated by urbanisation. One can still hear the cock crow at dawn and watch ducks puddle around muddy pools in the backyards of houses. One can see fishing nets spread everywhere. Country boats carrying sackfuls of dried fish is a common sight.
The drive from Diamond Harbour is enjoyable as the road runs through sleepy villages and small market places, occasionally crossing a creek. All the creeks have bridges over them, excepting the Doania Hatania creek at Namkhana. The ferry crossing for cars, buses and humans is a memorable experience for city dwellers.
Jambudwip and Lothian are two forested islands nearby. However, neither has any wild animals. The only means of travel to the islands is by the crude motorised country boat and then there are no jetties in the islands. One has to jump out of the boat and wade through water to the beach. With tourist-friendly approach of the local population tourism is picking up fast. Travel from Kolkata has become easier. The railway track has been extended to Namkhana. The local trains are available from Sealdah. It will be better if one can start early in the morning. A local train around 7.15 am can be availed which reaches the Namkhana Station at around 10.00 am. Regular bus services are available at Namkhana but it is preferable if one can hire a car. The road from Namkhana to Bakkhali is good. There already are plenty of hotels. Many more are coming up, but it is always good to stay at the WBSTDC Guest House or at Henry Island.