When we say 'Valley of Flowers', the first thing that probably flashes on your mind is the quaint valley of Uttarakhand, surrounded by the mighty Himalayas and leading to Hemkund Sahib! Yeah, that undoubtedly is one of the most picturesque valleys in the country, that blooms in all shades of purple, blue, and yellow during monsoon and has rightly claimed its name!
And then, there's another 'Valley of Flowers' in Sikkim where Rhododendrons bloom and it seems to be straight out of a postcard! Tucked in Yumthang, you'd find yourself amidst streams & hot springs, with yaks grazing on pastures and rolling meadows surrounded by the Himalayan mountains.
But did someone ever tell you that there's yet another 'Valley of Flowers' and that's in West Bengal? - Yeah, you heard me right!
Where is this mysterious 'Valley Of Flowers'?
Khirai, a small village in West Bengal on the banks of the Kangsabati River, has vast stretches of farmland blooming with magnificent varieties of flowers that are cultivated here. Located at a distance of about 90 KM (approx) from Kolkata, Khirai is close to Panskura in East Midnapore and it can be termed as 'a hidden paradise' that'll mesmerize you with the vibrant colors and soothe your soul with the fragrance that lingers in the air.
Although there aren't any hills or mountains, this mystical farms next to a rivers makes it a postcard-perfect place in the countryside of Bengal, giving it the apt name - Valley of Flowers!
Flower cultivation is the main source of income for the people in this region, and flowers from here are not only sent to various parts of Bengal, but also transported to other cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Bangalore, etc. However, the main market for the sellers is Kolkata, where tons of flowers are sent every day!
How to reach?
Khirai is well connected to Kolkata. You can easily board a local train from Howrah Station (those going towards Kharagpur, for example, Howrah-Midnapore, Howrah-Kharagpur, Howrah-Panskura, or Howrah-Balichak local) and it'll take about 2 hours to reach the destination. You can either get down at Panskutra Junction Railways Station, and take a rickshaw from there to the flower valley or get down at Khirai station and take a walk along the narrow lane beside the railway track, to reach the farms in about 20 minutes.
By road, it'll take about 3 hours and you can also drive down from Kolkata, via Uluberia and Kolaghat, to reach Khirai.
Where to stay?
Being a 'not-so-popular' place for tourists yet, there's no place to stay in the village of Khirai. It's meant to be a perfect place for day trip, but if you're planning to stay for a night and do some early morning photography of the blooming vistas, then you can find some budget hotels in Panskura, the nearest town.
What is the best time to visit?
Winters, surely, is the best time to witness the gorgeous flowers blooming in abundance, when you can head off to Khirai for a day trip or a weekend escapade. Due to favorable weather, it'll be pleasant to walk around the fields, soaking in the sunshine and adoring the beauty of nature. The cultivators are the busiest during the months of December to February, which is the peak season. But flowers keep growing throughout the year and depending on the season, the varieties change.
What are the main varieties growing in this region?
In winters, you'd find Chrysanthemum, Gladiolus, Lilies, Roses, Dahlias, and Oleanders growing in patches on both sides of the river. For the rest of the year, the farmers focus mainly on producing varieties of Marigolds, Primroses, and Sunflowers.
Nature can create magic - and the people of Khirai has surely reiterated the fact by adding some gorgeous colors to their village, opting to make good use of the alluvium deposited by the river and turning acres of land into a mesmerizing floral carpet of orange, yellow, green and more!
So, if you're in Kolkata and wondering about exploring a hidden gem, then you know where to go now! Away from the chaos and cacophony of the city, it'll surely be a nice break to rejuvenate your senses.
(P.S - Make sure to maintain social distancing, carry your sanitizer, keep wearing your masks and travel only when it's safe, post-lockdown.)
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