Sagar Island (also known as Sagar or Gangasagar) is in Southeast Bengal in India. Sagar Island is the southernmost part of West Bengal, and is a religious spot for Hindu pilgrims. A lovely destination combining pilgrimage and fun, on an island in the Sunderban, and holds the charms of a completely unspoiled beach on the estuary of the mighty Ganga.
"Sab tirtha bar bar; Gangasagar Ekbar" (Meaning All pilgrimages again and again but Sagardwip only once (This is a popular Bengali saying about Sagardwip).
Sagardwip is a charming tourist destination, which attracts both the pilgrims and fun loving people. Located on an island in the Sunderban, Sagardwip possesses the charms of an unspoiled beach on the estuary of the river Ganges. Sagardwip offers acres of silver sand and clear blue sky, and the calm sea for the visitors who would like to spend their weekend in a quiet mood. Popularly known as Gangasagar, Sagardwip is still now unexplored and therefore unexploited. The island of Sagardwip is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centers in India. Every year on Makar Sankranti (mid-January), pilgrims from all over India, gather at Sagardwip for a holy dip at the confluence of the river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal. After the holy dip, the pilgrims offer ‘Puja’ at the Kapil Muni Temple or Ashram. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Gangasagar Mela is organized in this island, which is one of the biggest fairs in West Bengal. The Bharat Sevashram Sangha temple is bigger, comprising three huge towers. This has been a famous pilgrim centre from the ancient times. Gangasagar Mela, held on the occasion of Makar Sankranti is the largest fair in West Bengal.
In many tales of Hindu mythology and in ancient Indian literature like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, a novel of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, a poem of Rabindranath Tagore, the name of Sagardwip was mentioned.
The lighthouse at Sagardwip offers a panoramic view of this spectacular beach, from where you can enjoy the enthralling dawn and dusk. During sunset, the sky turns golden with a patch of red on the horizon, and the silver sand reflects the last rays of the sun, which form a delightful ambience. In this island, photography is not restricted.
Sagar Island is about 80 km south of Kolkata, cut off from the mainland by Muriganga river. There is no road bridge to connect the island to the main land. The Muriganga river can be crossed by ferry service to reach the Sagar Island. After crossing, the confluence of Sagar (bay of Bengal) & Ganga (holy river Ganges) can be reached via private taxis, which generally charges around ₹700, and it takes about 40 minutes to reach the confluence area from Kachuberia.
Sagardwip is 135 km (about 5 hours) away from Kolkata. However, Sagardwip is not directly liked with Kolkata, a journey is necessary to go to Sagardwip.
Get a Kakdwip-bound bus from Esplanade to Harwood Point (Lot No. 8) which is 30 km past Diamond Harbour. The bus would reach Harwood Point after almost three hours. Cross the river Muriganga by boat and reach at Kachuberia. West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation runs direct buses between Esplanade and Lot No. 8 and ferry vessels across the river.
From Kachuberia a bus or trekker will take you to Sagardwip (30 km) within one hour. Minibuses and hired cars are accessible for the journey.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to Namkhana from Kolkata to Namkhana (105 km). From Namkhana, you can reach Chemaguri, across the river Muriganga by launch and from Chamaguri to Gangasagar by bus (10 km.) Boats from Harwood Point and Kachuberia are accessible every hour.
If you want to spend your weekend in a peaceful way, then avoid the island in the middle of January during Makar Sankranti, when there is a huge rush due to Gangasagar. Before Makar Sankranti Day there is a huge rush to board ferry to Kachuberia. Due to low tide, ferry service does not operate between 4am to 9am in the morning, and also between 4pm to 8pm in the evening during the Makar Sankranti period. Before standing in the queue to board the ferry, one must enquire whether the ferry service is running or not. Otherwise, you may have to stand in the queue for 4 hours or more without any opportunity to turn back and crowds pressing you.
- Sagar Island can be approached from either Harwood point or Namkhana jetty. Both the points are linked by Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) or West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation buses. Distance of Harwood Point is around 80 km. from Kolkata and Namkhana is 13 km more. Bus fare from Kolkata (Esplanade) to Namkhana is around ₹40 (as on June 2005; ₹60 during Mela 2008). During the Mela busses will end at the ferry crossing in Harwood point (or also called 'Lot 8'), and they will start in Kolkata also from Babughat, Howrah RS and Taratola in South Kolkata.
- Both the points Namkhana and Harwood Point can also be reached by train from Sealdah Station. There are direct trains to Kakdwip from Sealdah Station with link trains to Namkhana. Train fare up to Kakdwip is ₹18. From Kakdwip, Harwood Point is only 5 km. and Namkhana is 12 km. by bus or jeep.
During the Mela cycle, rickshaws operate between RS and ferry jetty, and the price was fixed at ₹15 per person on a 4 person rickshaw. Trains tend to be overcrowded and are definitely a challenge during Mela time.
- To reach Sagar Island one must cross the Muriganga river/creek by ferry service to reach 'Kachuberia jetty' on the Sagar Island. Ferry service is available in both Harwood point and Namkhana and controlled by West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation. Frequency of crossings are more in Harwood point and it runs every half hour. The fare for a single crossing for a person is ₹6.50 as in February 2010. The fare increases at the time of Ganagasagar Mela (The Fair; ₹40,- during 2008 Mela).
- After reaching Sagar Island (Kachuberia jetty) one has to cross the whole stretch of Sagar Island (32 km.) by local bus or shared taxi. Bus fare should be around ₹10. A private jeep may charge around ₹800-₹900. It was ₹500/- for a 7-seater Maruti/Suzuki Van for both ways in February 2010 including stay at the destination of southernmost point. There is no accommodation available on the point of crossing (Kachuberia), so everybody has to travel the whole stretch of the Island and reach the southernmost part, where accommodations are abundant.
- Apart from Namkhana and Harwood Point, a direct ferry service is also available to reach Kachuberia (Sagar Island) from Haldia.
- It is possible to go the entire length by private car or hired car from Kolkata. At Harwood Point, there is provision to transport vehicle with the help of a barge, locally known as LCT. There are no fixed time for the crossings, because it is totally dependent on the water-level and thus, on the timings of the high tides. The charge for a light or medium vehicle is ₹250/- as on December 2005. The fare increases at the time of Ganagasagar Mela (The Fair).
a) Ferry fare is still ₹8 per head from Lot No. 8 Jetty, Kakdwip to Kachubaria at Sagar.
b) If traveling in one's own car, there is (only) one vessel now at 6AM from Kakdwip to Kachubaria and similarly at 6AM in the morning from Kachubaria to Kakdwip. Therefore, it is advisable to keep the car parked at Kakdwip near the jetty. Safe Parking is available with a payment of ₹100 per day; night parking is also plentiful with payment of additional ₹100 for the next day.
c) Tata Sumo/Maruti Van hiring charges are now ₹600/₹500 respectively for 30 km. from Kachubaria to Gangasagar (one way).
d) There are no hotels as such at Gangasagar, in the true sense of the term. The accommodations available are all Ashram/Dharamshala type, where no food is available, nor outside food allowed to be brought in. Even for a cup of tea, one must leave the premises. Of course there are plenty of places to purchase food. However, for regular members of various Charitable Trusts/Ashrams or travelers coming with advanced bookings from the head offices of these Organizations, food may be provided by the Organizations. There is reportedly no food available at the Youth Hostel, either.
e) Vehicles are allowed to a short distance from Kapil Muni Temple. Plenty of Cycle vans are available to take you to the Gangasagar bathing spot (about 2 km)-charges are ₹15 per passenger one way. These are quite comfortable for those who cannot walk 2 km.
Sagardwip presents a quiet, silvery expanse of beach and the calm sea provides the perfect setting for a quiet weekend.
- 1 Bharat Sevashram Sangha temple, Gangasagar.
- Chimaguri Mudflat. It is the entry point to the Mangrove Forest.
- Fairgrounds, South Sagar.. Religious place of Bengal.
- 2 Kapil Muni temple, South Sagar. The Kapil Muni Temple is the holiest place to visit in Sagardwip
- 3 The Onkarnath temple. One of many religious sites of Sagardwip in Saga Island, the weekend tourist spot of Bengal.
- 4 Ramkrisna Mission Ashram.
- 5 Sagar Lighthouse and Port at Beguakhali. The lighthouse at Sagardwip provides a panoramic view of the surroundings.
- Sagar Marine Park, South Sagar.
- 6 Sea Beach. excellent weekend beach tourish spot of Bengal.
- Sushama Devichowdhurani Marine Biological Research Institute. (SDMBRI), Bamankhali.
- Wind Mills. The island gets its electricity from the wind energy.
- Coastal trek
There are many cheap rice hotels all over the Sagar Island, serving good quality Bengali food to the visitors.
- Always drink mineral water and avoid any thing else (So called "mineral" water is not at all "pure" though!)
For accommodations, there are many places to choose from in South Sagar. In the time of Sagar Mela or the Fair, the number of accommodation increases drastically with temporary camps/hutments from many commercial and non-commercial organizations. It is advisable to book your accommodation prior to go to Sagar Island in the time of Sagar Mela. If you bring your own mattress and sleeping bag you will most likely find shelter.
There are tourist lodges at Sagardwip and a Youth Hostel. Also dormitory accommodation in a dharamshala run by Bharat Sevasram Sangha.
Dharmashala of Mission and Guest Houses of West Bengal State Government are there in Sagardwip for spending the weekend in the excellent Beach of Bengal. Some of the places for spending days and nights in Sagar Island as follows which provide shelter for tourists and pilgrims round the year:
- Dharmashala of Bharat Sevasram Sangha
- Dharmashala of Kapil Muni's Sangha
- P.W.D Bunglow Zila Parishad Bungalow
- Tourist lodges at Sagardwip and a Youth Hostel.
- Dharmashala of Sankaracharya Ashram
- State Youth Hostel, ☏ . Charge for a double bed room with attached bath is ₹100/day. Check in time is at 12 noon. Bookings can be done at Directorate of Youth Services, 32/1, B.B.D. Bag (South), Kolkata.
- Bharat Sevashram Sangha and a couple of other ashrams usually offer accommodation and meals for free. They are oriented to pilgrims and would expect a donation.
- Larica Sagar, ☏ . Tourist Lodge.
- Vastra Vyasavi Seva Samity Dharamsala., Ganga Sagar, Road No. 1, 24 Parganas (near the Ganga Sagar bus stand). This is also a very good place to stay and eat. Rooms are neat and spacious and the complex also has a beautiful temple. Based on donations.
- Carry mosquito and snake repellents. Snake bite mortality is considerably high in Sagar Island. Sagar Gramin Hospital is the only place in Sagardwip to treat snake bites.
- Carry electric torches and other means of emergency lights, because Sagar Island does not get power from the main electric supply grid. The Island only gets few hours of power supply in the evening, form a central diesel operated power generating station, situated at Rudranagar. Power supply is available from 6PM to 9PM only. There is complete blackout for the rest of the day/night. But you will never feel uncomfortable due to the sweet wind blows from sea to land, round the clock. But in the time of Sagar Mela (The fair) Sagar gets sufficient supply of electricity for the whole day.
- It is advisable to avoid traveling at night with insufficient light.