A weekend trip to the lush forest of Joypur, in Bankura, can be adventurous, fulfilling and refreshing

A four-hour drive north-west from Kolkata leads to a lush forest, and a refreshing break for the weekend. Joypur in Bankura district is a beautiful destination with a dense forest teeming with sal, palash, mahua and neem trees. It is a lovely place for birdwatchers, and if you are lucky, you may even get to see elephants and deer in the jungle. The neighbouring villages have age-old heritage structures too. For more adventurous visitors, a trip into the dense jungle to locate a British-built telegraph tower or to check out an abandoned British-era runway are other options.

The drive from Kolkata to Joypur is through congested roads, until finally leaving Arambag town via the bridge on Dwarakeswar River and heading towards Bishnupur. If travellers are interested in old zamindari estates of Bengal, they can take a break in Kotulpur, about 23 km ahead of Joypur forest. Apart from a grand gate unlike anywhere else in Bengal, the local Bhadra family has several temples, including their main Sridhar Temple, inside a fortified enclosure.

Just after Joypur village, the atmosphere changes, with dense jungle on both sides of the road. A drive of around 700 metres brings visitors to a large waterbody named Samudra Bandh. A right turn from here leads to the Joypur watchtower. The observatory has erratic timings, so it depends on luck to get entry inside for a good aerial view.

For a more intriguing jungle trail, instead of reaching Samudra Bandh, one can drive straight on the main road for about four kms with forests on both sides. After this drive, there is a narrow motorable road on the left. This six-km-long drive through the dense forest is thoroughly enjoyable. After taking this road, keep a lookout on the right to locate a British-era, brick-built telegraph tower inside the jungle. Often mistaken to be a tower built by the Malla Kings, this was actually one of the 45 towers that constituted the Kolkata-Varanasi optical telegraph line operated using Semaphore signals before invention of the electrical telegraph.