Calcutta and Namkhana in the Sunderbans will soon be connected by a ferry service where passengers can book seats and travel to the mangrove heartland much like they take a train to a holiday destination.
A similar ferry service will take passengers from Calcutta to the Sagar Island as well.
Current ferry services offer cruises that come with holiday packages.
The new service, to be operated by Osprey Waterways, is just a transport facility, which means a passenger getting off at Namkhana can check into a hotel of his or her choice or move to some other destination in the Sunderbans.
Those travelling to the Sagar Island by the ferry will get off at Kachuberia, which is around 30km from the beach.
One boat will be deployed on each route.
The Sagar Island ferry will make its maiden trip on Sunday, leaving Millennium Ghat around 8.30am, said Anjan Sinha of Osprey Waterways.
The Sunderbans ferry will start later in the week. The boat will leave Millennium Ghat around 7.30am, allowing visitors more time to explore the mangroves during the day.
Both vessels will take around three hours to reach their destinations.
The cost of one-way trip to the Sunderbans is Rs 1,200 (economy class) and Rs 1,600 (upper class). The Sagar Island fares are Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,400. Complimentary snacks will be provided to upper-class passengers on both routes.
“We will have a return service from both destinations. So, if someone is keen on a day trip, he can book a return ticket,” said Sinha. “The idea is to promote tourism at the two destinations at an affordable rate. Now, it requires several break-journeys to reach the two places.”
The journey back to Calcutta will start at 4pm from both Namkhana and Kachuberia.
Tickets can be booked online at www.ospreyindia.com.
“We can halt at Raichak on our way if there is a demand among tourists,” Sinha said.
The vessels to be deployed are made in Malaysia and can reach a maximum speed of 40kmph. Each can ferry 156 passengers.
“We want more such operators to take the river route and offer affordable rides,” a transport department official said. “Let there be options for both cruises and ferry services.”
Source: The Telegraph