Away from the mell pell of the city lies a hidden gem in the state of West Bengal. Considered to be one of the most clean forests in India, Sonajhuri Forest is a great retreat to be close to nature. The Sonajhuri Forest is replete with lush green trees that has blooming flowers. This place is picturesque with quite a number of mesmerizing places to see and explore. This place is untouched by industrialization and is a inhabited by tribal who lead simple lives. The pristine river flowing alongside the forest makes the whole place look even more magical. Just like Tagore, after seeing its beauty, this place might invoke the poet in you.
Sonajhuri translates to 'droplets of gold’ in English. This place was named so because of the Sonajhuri tree. Sonajhuri tree are located in huge numbers and in winter's they shed their yellow flowers. The whole forest looks as if drops of gold has been scattered on the ground.
Flora and Fauna
The huge forest is replete with a myriad number of flora and fauna. The inhabitants of the forest do not include wild animals and hence is safe to wander around. The animals which live here include spotted deer, jackal, foxes and elephants. Colourful birds perched on trees are also a common sight to see. These birds include parrot, Kingfisher, woodpecker and ducks.
Places to Visit
1. Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat
Every Saturday a colourful and vibrant market is set up here. This market is a must visit to engage with the culture of Bengal through music, food and dance. A lot of handicraft articles, colourful clothes and accessories can be bought at cheap prices to take back home. This market starts around 3 pm and continues till the sun sets. You can even interact with the local artisan who are gregarious to know more about their art and lives.
2. Tagore’s Ashram
Rabindranath Tagore was a famous poet revered by a huge number of people. This was place where he spent some and composed some of his greatest works. A lot of his belongings are put on display for the people to see. The Ashram comprises of a lot buildings, namely Udayan, Konarka, Shyamali, Punashcha and Udichi. Each of them were special to Tagore's and he spent some part of his life living in them. There is a complex which houses splendid sculptures by Ramkinkar Baij. There is a museum located in the Ashram which is full of artifacts, photographs and writings of Tagore.
3. Kopai River
Kopai River is a pristine river that flows through this place. This river is referred to as “Amader Choto Nodi" by the Bengalis because of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem with the same name. You can spend some peaceful time listening by the river and dip your feet to rejuvenate your body and soul. The place that surrounds the river is filled with verdant trees and magnifies its beauty.
4. Bonerpukur Gram
Bonerpukur Gram is the habitat of the tribal people. This place is located adjacent to the forest where you can have a glimpse into the lives of the tribals. Beautiful mud huts in which tribal live can be observed closely. These guys are decorated with intricate and colourful hand painted pictures which wonderfully depicts the mundane lives of tribal. This place is a must visit to know more about the tribal and be awestruck by the simplistic living.
5. Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary is a safe haven for birds. This wildlife sanctuary is filled with a large of of colourful birds including parrots, ducks, kingfisher and woodpecker. These birds can be spotted either chirping or fluttering their wings. A large herd of deers are the main highlight of this wildlife sanctuary. At a single time you will see around 50 deers together and it would be a sight to behold. Backbucks, jackals and foxes are also some animal that live here. Timings: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Closed on Wednesday Entry Fee - INR 20
6. Kankalitala Temple
Kankalitala Temple is located 10 kms away. This temple is believed to be one of the 51 Shaktipeeths of Sati. This temple is visited by a large number of people who come here to pray and seek blessings. The temple is a must visit because of its splendid architecture and the scenic beauty that surrounds it.
Things to Do
1. Bird Watching
Since a large number of rare, different and colourful are inhabitants in the Sonajhuri Forest, bird watching is an activity that you must indulge in. Watch the birds flutter their wings or hear them chirup perched on trees.
The Sonajhuri Forest is a great place to take a lazy stroll in. Since wild animals do not inhabit this place, it is completely safe to walk around and explore. A morning stroll in the forest will leave you mesmerized by the beauty. A stroll in this place will make you feel close to the nature.
Sonajhuri Forest is an ideal weekend getaway where you can relax and enjoy the mesmerizing beauties of nature. This place will make you feel as if you are living in the lap of nature.
The best time to visit Sonajhuri Forest is between the months of October and March. During this time period the weather is pleasant and also a lot of animals can be spotted. Also, try visiting on a Saturday so you can witness the local Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat.
How to Reach Sonajhuri Forest
By Air: The closest airport to reach Sonajhuri Forest? is Kolkata Airport which is well connected with all the major cities in India. The distance between Kolkata Airport and Sonajhuri Forest is around 165 km. Rental cars are easily available from the airport which will drop you off to Sonajhuri Forest. By Rail: The closest railway station to Sonajhuri Forest is Bolpur Railway station. Bolpur railway station is located at a mere distance of 5 km from Sonajhuri Forest and can be easily reached by taking a rental car. By Road: Sonajhuri Forest is 165 km away from Kolkata. You can either rent a car or take your own car to reach Sonajhuri Forest and enjoy a road trip. Regular buses are also available from Kolkata that will take you to Sonajhuri Forest.