The land which echoes enchantment and romance that can put you in trance, a place where every bit of nature's wonders are at its zenith, a site which could bring solace to your soul – it is the one and only Henry's Island. As history outlines, this place is named after a British explorer who surveyed the beach and the adjoining areas back in the 19th century.
For those who want to take a break from their mundane lifestyles and breathe in 'fresh air', Henry's Island could be a peerless weekend gateway with your friends and family. Apart from its lush greenery, the uniqueness of Henry's Island lies on the fact that it is an abode of serenity and tranquility. The gift of its nature is hidden in the pleasure of taking joy in silence, which speaks volumes unlike any other noisy, overcrowded urban set ups. Forget about gadgets and, of course, your mobiles and embrace the peace of mind you had the thirst for.
Located approximately 140 kilometers away from Kolkata, Henry's Island near Bakkhali in West Bengal is a must-visit destination because of its major attractions, including a watch-tower where one can climb and get a panoramic view of the entire beach, woods of the mangrove and the Bheri. If you are interested in fisheries, then Bheris – large shallow lakes dedicated to pisciculture – could offer you to have a look at varied types of fishes (if you are lucky enough). Nearly thirty of these Bheris are scattered across the beach. Fishes are also up for purchase at a government price. Some birds like Lesser Whistling Ducks, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Snipe, Black-Rumped Flameback, Kingfisher, Gadwall, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, and Streak-throated Woodpecker, among others also add charm to its beauty.
Your excursion to this silent island could be paradisiacal as soon as you step a foot on it. Amidst complete calmness of its own kind, one can truly live up the moments of love with your loved ones. The cool breeze of fresh air, slight movement of leaves of the Casuarina trees, sun-kissed horizon at the onset of dawn, star-lit sky at the time of the on-fall of dusk clubbed with the pacifying sounds of the natural flow of Bay of Bengal, a trip to Henry's Island is a magnanimous experience for all the nature lovers to unearth true meaning of life.
Reaching the destination by rail or road is not a tough job at all. There is an easy access of WBSTC bus service from Karunamoyee or Esplanade. Also, you can hire private cars as an alternative, which would take approximately 3 to 4 hours to reach the island. You can also take delight in the journey by train. The nearest railway station to Henry Island is Namkhana. There are trains at regular intervals from Sealdah via Lakhsmi kantapur and Kakdwip to Namkhana. If you prefer to start early, then catch the first train which starts at around 4 am.
Sabyasachi Nath, who is the resident of Kolkata and a travel enthusiast, says, "To add frolic to your journey, it is advisable to take a break at Diamond Harbour and enjoy the beautiful sunset over the river if you start your expedition late. After travelling a certain distance ahead, stop at the ferry ghat of river Hatania Doania creek on your way to the white-sand beach as you and your car require crossing the river by launch. Also, this particular area is swarming with fishermen and comprises a small market for locals to buy their daily products."
Arya Bandyopadhyay, who is a photographer by profession and an avid traveller also highlights, "If you want to enjoy peace, Henry's Island is the ideal destination. West Bengal Fisheries Department maintains their own guest houses near the island at a decent price."
Henry's Island doesn't have much to offer in terms of food. However, it will not disappoint you. Food is available only at the resorts you check in. Luchi-Alubhaja, rice, dal, desi-murgir jhol and the likes are served hot and fresh. Do not expect to be 'digital' in any way – there are no ATM's in and around the private beach. So, carry cash.
Neelkantha Barman, manager of Hotel Amarabati at Bakkhali opines that "Henry's Island is blessed with its magnificent beauty. The best time to visit here is from December to January. However, areas in and around the island needs to be further maintained by the government as far as cleanliness is concerned. To reach there, vessel service should have a quicker access to tourists. I personally think that a little attention to the development of this region would certainly improve the beauty of the adjoining areas and help in promoting West Bengal Tourism."
Apart from all the other spots, Benfish harbor and Fraserganj beach are the two interesting spots on your way to the island. Moreover, Crocodile Park or the Crocodile Breeding Center at Bakkhali near Henry's Island could also be a great option to switch to. This park is less-known and has a huge collection of crocodiles – ranging from babies to old crocodiles.
The coastal area has something beautiful in its store to offer every time you visit there. Discover the surprises which describe the island as being possessed with its arresting glamour.