How to plan a trip to Gangani (Grand Canyon of Bengal)

by India, Weekend Getaways from Kolkata, West Bengal2 comments

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Last Updated on: Jan 4, 2021 |

About the blog: This blog is about another weekend getaway from Kolkata – Gangani. Also known as the Grand Canyon of Bengal, because of its unique landscape. Located about 130 km from Kolkata near Garhbeta town, Gangani (Gongoni) can be a slightly different place to explore apart from the mountains and sea beaches of Bengal. Read on to know more about the place and our experience there.

I haven’t yet seen the Grand Canyon that usually gets everyone in awe. There is, however, a smaller version of the Grand Canyon in our very own backyard. It might not be as grand as the one in Arizona, USA, but it definitely did not stop us from visiting Gangani, our very own Grand Canyon of West Bengal. Located near Garhbeta, Gangani can actually be a perfect weekend getaway from Kolkata. River Silabati flows through the red laterite soil, forming deep gorges. Also known as Gangani Khola and Gangani Danga, this is undoubtedly a unique place to visit in West Bengal.

Gangani or Gongoni, is the place where nature decided to create a masterpiece. Years of soil erosion on the banks of Silabati River caused by water and wind have probably caused such a beautiful and unique landscape. During the monsoon, the waters of Silabati flows through the channel making the entire place look gorgeous. Gangani has gradually become one of the coveted destinations for the weekend as well as day trips from Kolkata, especially in the winter months.

The gorges of Gangani, the Grand Canyon of Bengal  - weekend getaway from Kolkata

A Day Trip to Gangani

We had made a day trip to Gangani in December with our friends. We started from Kolkata early in the morning and drove through the almost empty highway until we reached Kolaghat, the most preffered stop for breakfast. After filling up our stomach, we started again on the smooth roads towards Kharagpur. This is one of the roads where driving is a pleasure. However, once we crossed Kharagpur towards Midnapore Town, the roads turned out to be a bit patchy.

We took the Chandrakona Road towards Garhbeta. From Garhbeta a road branches out from NH-60 towards left going straight to Gangani.

Road towards Gangani

The Grand Canyon of Bengal

We arrived at Gangani soon. There is a parking space and a small shop. The meandering Silabati River can be seen at a distance. And you can get a first glimpse of the red eroded rocks standing like giants in front. And the view is a grand one. Though I am usually against giving names to a place comparing it to another one (like Grand Canyon of Bengal), I could understand now why Gangani is called such.

There is a flight of stairs that takes down to the river bank. Once we climbed down, we realized that what we saw from above was just a part of the entire landscape. There is so much more to explore.

View of Silabati River

We kept walking along the dirt trails wondering at the landscape before us. Years of erosion had made such strange and surreal formations at which we were now looking at in complete awe. The dirt trails where we were walking were actually the channels through which the river flows during the monsoon. So, if you happen to visit Gangani during the rainy season, you might not be able to walk through these trails and enjoy the entire view. And of course, you have to keep a lookout for a few wriggling reptiles on the ground.

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My imaginations were on totally active mode as we explored the area. The rocks looked like huge giants to me. They seem to have a min of their own. It was like a different world altogether. With huge orange formations all around me, the gorges seem to have a story of their own. Some parts looked like a huge giant, while some of the rock formations resembled some mythological animal. Some also seemed to look like an imposing citadel.

The gorges of Gangani looking like  imposing citadels

There are two very interesting formations that we found. There is one cave like formation with an oblong opening. It seemed like we entered into a hidden cave.

There is another rock formation that created a whole on top of the hillock. To be honest, that place is a good place to click photographs, though it is actually a pain to get to the top.

A good place to take photographs

The way to the river was however a bit murky. Tall grasses grew on the banks and the way to the river was dirty. I wish the river banks were kept clean, then it would have been perfect to stroll along the banks of Silabati. Gangani is a popuar picnic spot, especially among the locals. However, recently picnic has been banned in the gorges. And it is good. Otherwise, we might have found leftovers, thermocol plate sand what-not amidst the stunning gorges.

The Story of Bakasur

The cave of Bakasur at Gangani - a local legend

Well, well, there is an interesting legend that goes along with Gangani. The locals believe that Gangani was once the abode of the demon Bakasur. For the uninitiated, Bakasur is a character from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Bakasur, the demon ransacked the village every day. To stop the atrocities, the local king decided to send provisions to Bakasur every week along with a human. Bakasur would also devour the person who would take the provisions to him.

The Pandavas, along with their mother, Kunti had visited the area during their exile. He stayed at one of the villager’s house. As luck had it, it was the turn of that family to offer one of their members to Bakasur. Obviously, the family was devastated. Kunti saw this and decided to send Bheem, one of his sons to Bakasur. Bheem was a great warrior and happily decided to go to Bakasur. When he went there, a great fight ensued and finally Bheem defeated Bakasur. The great battle that took place for several days was responsible for the earth to change its landscape. Thus, the gorges of Gangani were formed.

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Whether the story is true or not, I am not sure. Mahabharata also says that the Pandavas stayed at a place named Ekchakrapura during the incident and the demon Bakasur lived in a nearby hill. Ekchakrapura, in present time is located somewhere near Rampurhat (known as Ekchakra). However, there are no hills near Ekchakra and Gangani is about 200 km from the place. So it is for you to decide whether 200 km is “nearby” in terms of Mahabharata.

This is perhaps the cave created by Bakasur. THis is a local legend connected with the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Today it is just a cave

Whether the story is true we do not know. But it is always good to have a legend or folklore associated with a place. It simply makes my creative juices flow more and my imaginations more vivid! Yes, yes, it was fun to imagine how Bheem and Bakasur might have fought at Gangani Khola and created those beautiful ravines and gorges.

But that is just folklore!

Coming back to reality and to the more rational side of my mind, we observed the gorges more carefully. The reddish landmass all around us looked surreal. The dirt trail on which we were walking formed a complex network of passageways. During monsoons, water flows through these channels. I am sure it would look quite beautiful.

We spent a considerable time at Gangani before returning back to Kolkata. It was a lovely day trip and Gangani was totally a worthwhile trip.

Gangani - weekend destination from Kolkata

How to reach Gangani?

By Train

The best option is to take the Rupasi Bangla Express that leaves Santragachi Station at 6.25 AM. It reaches Garhbeta Station at around 9.30 AM. From Garhbeta, you can hire a rickshaw or van to Gangani.

You can also take the Aranyak Express from Shalimar Station at 7.45 AM. It reaches Garhbeta at around 10.50 AM.

A waterfall on the way towards Garhbeta

By Car

If you are travelling by your own car from Kolkata like us, drive through Mumbai Road (NH6) till the intersection of Kharagpur and Midnapore Town. Then you have to take a right onto NH60 going past Midnapore, Salboni, Chandrakona and finally reaching Garhbeta. From Garhbeta you have to take left through the town towards Gangani, which is also known to locals as ‘Ganganir Danga’. The distance is almost 160 km.

Route: Kolkata – NH6 – Bagnan – Uluberia – Kolaghat – Karagpur – NH60 – Godapiasal – Salboni– Garhbeta. – Gangani

There is another route that you can take via Arambagh, Kamarpukur road that connects to NH60 near Bishnupur.

By Bus:

If you want to take a bus, then take a bus to Chandrakona Road or Chandrakona Town. From there, you have to get a hired vehicle to Gangani.

Gongoni Danga - an offbeat weekend destination from Kolkata

Where to stay in Gangani?

There are no places to stay at Gangani. The nearest place you can stay is at Garhbeta. It has a few basic hotels. You can also stay at Kharagpur, Midnapore Town and even Salboni and make a trip to Gangani.

Where else can you visit from Gangani?

There are a few ancient stone and terracotta temples at Garhbeta town that you can visit. Infact, the town has a huge number of ancient and ruined structures. Visit the Sarbamangala Temple, Krishna Raj Jew Temple, Kongareshwar Shiva Temple (locally known as Bura Shiva temple) and others.

You can also visit Salboni from Gangani.

What is the best time to visit Gangani?

Winter months (between November to March) will be a good time to visit Gangani, but sometime haze plays a spoilsport. We had visited during December and the temperature was perfect. Light was also well for photography. A visit after the monsoons will also perhaps be good. The gorges will be more lively and beautiful after the rains.

The summer months (April to June) are perhaps best avoidable. The temperature will be scorching and exploring the place might not be a pleasant experience.

Remember

  • You can make a day trip from Kolkata to Gangani. That is what we did.
  • You can stay at Garhbeta, Kharagpur or Salboni and then make a trip to Gangani. Garhbeta is the nearest town, only about 10 km away.
  • You can make a trip to the nearby temple town of Pathra from Gangani.

A Few more Pictures of Gangani

(Hope they entice you to visit there!)

Sitting on top of a rock at Gangani
The rugged laterite landscape at Gongoni Danga
Landscape of Gongoni - looks like a cave!
The channels at Gangani from where water passes during the monsoons
The rugged landscape of Gangani - an offbeat weekend destination from Kolkata

Have you visited Gangani? If yes, please do share your experience there with us by commenting below. If you haven’t yet, plan a trip to Gangani soon. And while you travel, do not forget to carry your masks and sanitizers and follow all the safety protocols. Travel only when it is safe and when you are in your best health.

If you liked the post, please share this with your friends, family and neighbours.

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Posing at Gangani weekend destination from Kolkata
Gangani - the Grand Canyon of Bengal

Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

by Agni Amrita

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life.

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2 Comments

  1. Truely an offbeat and beautiful place. I went on a Saturday in the last week of July 2022. There were hardly ten people around and the place was very quiet. To my sound pollution hardened ears the cooing of birds and the sound of leaves of trees being swayed by the breeze was manna from heaven. The road to Gangani from Kolkata was patchy in parts (expected). But it also had beautiful dense growth of trees, absolutely green and sparkling due to the season. At Gangani Danga, also known as the picnic spot saw a good number of saplings. The rock cut like formations, pictures of which abound were mesmerising. Saw a tourist spot/lodge coming up near the spot. The owners of the two stalls near it said the doors will be thrown open before Durga Puja this year. So maybe a winter trip again.

    Reply
    • Thank you Kaveri. We are glad that you liked Gangani. It is a lovely place.

      Reply

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Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

Hi! we’re Agni & Amrita.

A creative couple, explorer and the team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers.

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