Forever Digha

Forever Digha

One of Bengalis’ top three tourist destination

The travel loving Bengali is always been mocked as DiPu Da (Di for Digha, Pu for Puri and Da fro Darjeeling) after their three favourite tourist destination. From Kolkata, Digha is the nearest of the three. Probably it is the most visited tourist spot for Kolkatanas.

Tourist walk along the Digha sea front

Tourist walk along the Digha sea front

Interestingly the popular Bengali tourist spot has a long historic connection dating back to the early days of East India Company. In 1780s Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of Bengal, stumbled upon a 7 km long casuarina dotted beach in Midnapore. He was so impressed with the stretch of beach that in a letter to his wife he referred to it as “Brighton of Calcutta.”

Fishing activities on Digha Beach

The place was called Birkul and had its own charm that it soon started attracting the rich and famous of Calcutta, who started referring to it as the Brigton of the east. The advancing Bay of Bengal has long washed away Birkul. The modern day tourist spot of Digha roughly coincides with Birkul.

Chandaneshwar Temple near Digha

Chandaneshwar Temple near Digha

More than 150 years after Hastings another English man fell in love with the enchanting casuarina dotted beach of Digha. It was John Frank Snaith who built his own bungalow in Digha. He used to fly down from Calcutta and land his two seater plane on the Digha beach.

Chandaneshwar Temple near Digha

Chandaneshwar Temple near Digha

So intense was John Frank Snaith love for Digha that he stayed back after independence.

He even persuaded the first Chief Minister of West Bengal Bidhan Chandra Roy to convert Digha into a beach resort.

Under the leadership of Bidhan Chandra Roy Digha soon transferred into a popular beach resort in West Bengal.

Unlike Darjeeling, the Da of DiPu Da, Digha lacks the colonial charm but unknown to many Digha also has its share of Colonial architecture. The residency of John Frank Snaith still stands making it the only surviving colonial structure of the beach town.

Devotees perform dandi ritual at Chandaneshwar Temple

Devotees perform dandi ritual at Chandaneshwar Temple

Known as Runswick House it presently operates as a guest house of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL)

The two storied milk white building is located inside a large compound complete with manicured lawns and landscaped gardens.

The compound also serves as the resting place of the founder of the house John Frank Snaith, who made his ultimate voyage to the heavens from this very house on 18 December 1964. The grave is simple and has a marble epitaph surrounded by a masonry wall.

Devotees perform dandi ritual at Chandaneshwar Temple

Today unaware of the colonial legacy hundreds, if not thousands, visit Digha every week end to enjoy the sea, sand and food. I was also part of such a family weekend tour way back in March 2015.

Fishing boats, Talseri near Digha

Fishing boats, Talseri near Digha

It was just a family week end tour and relaxation was the only objective. A quality family time spent on the Bengali’s favourite holiday destination.

Talseri Beach near Digha

Talseri Beach near Digha

It was a three day two night tour. The trip included a dip at the sea in the morning followed by a heavy lunch consisting of rice along with prawns, crabs and other assortments of fishes.

The evening was spent on the beach munching on a variety of snacks followed by an elaborate dinner.

On the second day we decided to go out for an afternoon excursion. It was a car trip covering a few nearby tourist spots.

It included a visit to the nearby Chandaneshwar Temple followed by a visit to the Talseri Beach. Both the spots are in Odisha (Orissa) and are just across the West Bengal border.

Illuminated Digha Gate

Illuminated Digha Gate

The ancient temple of Chandaneshwar was long been given a new look and nothing remains of its antiquity. It is overcrowded with devotees performing all sorts of rituals. The next stop was Talseri Beach, a hub of fishing activity with a criss-cross of back-water channels. On the return journey, we visited the beautifully lit up Digha Gate.

Note: The blog post is based on a weekend family Digha trip on March 2015.

  1. July 31, 2021 at 10:56 PM

    excellent

  2. September 9, 2021 at 12:40 PM

    Sorry to say this, but Digha sucks balls. I was dragged there by my parents many times and it sucked every time. The place is not well maintained at all. Absolutely Filthy. In fact it put me off all beaches till I was 35 years old and saw actual good/clean beaches.

    • September 9, 2021 at 12:43 PM

      Thanks for sharing your honest opinion

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