Shankarpur is a beach village in the East Medinipur district of West Bengal. Shankarpur is about 185 km from Kolkata and is touted to have the best beach in Eastern India. It offers nearly all the pleasures of a private beach. Shankarpur is a virgin beach and is a recent discovery. It is a twin beach of Digha, around 14 km from Digha, along the Digha-Contai Road. It is also a regular fishing harbor. Shankarpur is now developed as a sea resort with hotels, tourist lodges and other facilities. Shankarpur has to its credit all the advantages of Digha, minus the crowd, Shankarpur Jowar and Shankarpur Matshyagandha tourist lodges and hotel Ashoka in Shankarpur is Seafacing. Casuarina groves by the side of a gentle sea and good climate round the year make it a popular beach destination.
The attached Matsyagandha Rest House of West Bengal Fisheries Corporation is a pleasant halt, and can be booked from Kolkata. There are numerous private hotels and lodges. To name some there is Ashoka Hotel, Nest Hotel, Sandy Bay Hotel, Bela Nibas Hotel, Sweet Home Hotel, Raj Mahal Hotel, Blue View Hotel and Kinara Guest House.
Till recent times, Shankarpur was fairly unknown in spite of its beautiful beach and the virgin sea view. However, it is now becoming more and more popular and is being developed as a modern beach destination. Since it is not as popular and well known as Digha, Sankarpur offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the beach in relative calm.
The long stretch of clean virgin beach, casuarina groves, the calm sea ideal for swimming and the pleasant weather are the main attractions of Shankarpur. There are a few areas which are said to have quicksand, but these are confined to the isolated parts of the beach and can be easily avoided by remaining close to the popular and frequented stretch of the sea side. The Shankarpur Fishing Harbour Project is an important aspect of Shankarpur and has contributed much to improving the infrastructure of the place. From Shankarpur, tourists can also visit the deserted beach of Mandar Mani which is a mere 3 kilometres away.
Being a quiet destination with unpolluted, clean beaches, Shankarpur is ideal for a relaxed holiday. Visitors can spend time sun-bathing, playing and relaxing in the beach, swimming in the clear blue sea, walking down the beach dotted with casuarinas trees, collecting sea shells, and enjoying the scrumptious sea food available in the local sea side restaurants.
The weather in Shankarpur is tropical and the place can be visited almost any time of the year except during the monsoon season when the place gets its share of rainfall. During the summer season, the weather remains warm and slightly humid. The winter season is pleasant and cool, and the temperature during this time is ideal for a day outdoors. This is the best time to visit the place and Shankarpur welcomes the maximum number of visitors during the winter months of December to February.
How to get there :
Regular buses ply between Kolkata and Shankarpur. Tourist cabs and luxury cars can also be hired from Kolkata. Accommodation Ashoka Hotel and a Government Lodge offer convenient accommodation.
To get to Shankarpur by car from Kolkata one has to take the take the Second Hooghly Bridge then follow Kona expressway (a 4-lane road). At the Bombay Road crossing take a left turn. Follow Bombay Road (4-Lane road). Break at the A1 Plaza inside the Reliance petrol station. It would be to the left around 30-40 min drive time from the Kona Expressway-Bombay Road junction. Keep straight till you cross the Rupnarayan river (the bridge is 1-way and the river is wide). After you cross the river you will see the Kolaghat Thermal Power Station to your left. Immediately after the Power Station is a junction, turn left towards Tumluk You have now entered the Haldia Highway (NH41). Some of this road is 4 laned, but most of it is still a 2 lane road. Keep straight till you arrive at the Nandakumar crossing, you can identify it easily as the crossing has a wide round circle. Turn right at this crossing, you have now entered the Digha Road. Digha Road is a 2 lane road, the road is smooth but narrow and the buses drive at very high speed, so be extremely careful when overtaking. Follow Digha road, you will cross Narghat Bridge and pass through Chandipur, Bajkul, Heria and Kanthi (Contai). At Choddomile before Ramnagar take a left towards Shankarpur.
Buses go to Shankarpur from Dharamtala/ Esplanade bus stand, Kolkata. Shankarpur is near Digha and can be reached by taking any bus going to Digha. One has to get off the bus at Choddomile or Chaulkhola (14 miles in Bengali) between Contai (Kanthi) and Digha and just before Ramnagar. The sea beach is a 15 min ride by a car from Choddomile. You need to book a car to pick you up from Choddomile. Ask the hotel to do the car booking. Otherwise, you can go straight to the Digha Bus stand (a further 25-30 min ride) and then hire a cab from there. There is also a direct bus to Shankarpur near Hotel Ashoka.
The best bus to take is the airconditioned 7:30AM bus run by the "West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation". It starts from Dharmatala bus stand near the Maidan market. You need to book in advance.. Another good bus is the Ex Armyman's Service. This has reclining seats and a video screen. This service starts from Golpark at 6:30AM and is convenient for those travelling from South Kolkata. Again, an advance booking is advisable. The travel time by bus is 4.5hrs to 5 hrs (including a 30-40 min snack break).
The Sea Beach near Hotel Sandy Bay is not crowded - unfortunately it is not a great beach with stumps of trees scattered all over the place. At places the beach is muddy. The beach near the Benfish Tourist lodges is better
Hotels are available at Shankarpur ranging from Rs. 500/- to Rs. 1850/- depending on the type of hotel whether A.C. or non A.C.
Hotel Sandy Bay serves good Bengali cuisine. They serve sea food such as prawns, pomfret, bhetki, parse (a small sweet water fish - cooked whole with the bones), rohu (a form of carp) as well as vegetarian food such as mochar ghonto (spicy young green bananas), aloo posto, aloor dum (Bengali style), Kashmiri aloo dum and cholar daal is also available.
On the beach there are some shacks selling green coconut and tea. Bottled beverages like Coke and Pepsi are also available. Bottled water such as Kinley can be had from the hotel or the small shops near the beach.
Hotel Nest is a good hotel but away from the beach. They are adding more rooms and plan to put in a swimming pool and gymnasium. The distance from the beach won't really matter since they have a jeep standing by at all hours to ferry guests to and from the beach. The restaurant has seafood such as prawn and topshe. Non-guests are welcome to use the restaurant. The hotel also has a boating park.