A personal travel blog by Ms. Reetwika Banerjee
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“Ekante” (an ethnic Bengali word meaning ‘with own self’ in English) is a picturesque scoop of Kolkata’s green wonder – Prakriti Tirtha (or more commonly known as Eco Park). It is a HIDCO maintained luxury cottage cum lakefront café in Rajarhat – just at a stone throwing distance from the Special Economic Zone of New Town. Bored with the daily office routine, yesterday afternoon, four of us planned a lazy escapade to Café Ekante.
You can also reach there by taking a drive along the Biswa Bangla Sarani from anywhere in Kolkata. Drive till Mother’s Wax Museum on your right. Once you reach there, from the main road, enter the Eco Park premises through Gate Number 1. Ample parking space is available near the main entrance area. People coming by public vehicles may also opt for a paid speed boat ride directly to the Café Ekante ferry ghat.
The lake-view café is located at a distance of little less than 5 kilometers from Kolkata Gate (Narkel Bagan bus stop) heading towards Chinar Park. From the directions available online, we could not pick the exact way to Ekante as there was a huge water-body at the centre. We were expecting a paved lakeside boulevard as per the website photographs, to take us to the café stationed on an island, but it was difficult to make out from the main road though.
When we reached the park area by 4pm, we discovered there were five prominent entry gates – each opening to a different zone of the Eco Park. Upon inquiring at one of the gates, the security directed us to Gate No 1 – the nearest from Narkel Bagan. So, we took a U-turn, crossed the Mother’s Wax Museum on our left and took a right turn entering to a lean service road just opposite to the Synthesis Business Park building. The entry gate 1 was right in front of us after we arrived at the service road. There was a huge parking lot, almost filled up, soon after we entered the park premises. The gate-man guided us to follow the parabolic road along the lake leading to the café entrance.
Oh, what a fantastic drive it was! We crossed an ornamental grill gate and entered the Ekante premises. The Café lies on a lake island right in the middle of an aquamarine gigantic lake. Who will believe it’s a man-made water-body! Wow! Hats off to the eyes and brains behind the creation of such an artificial yet ‘natural’ wonder.
The avenue we took so far ended in a waterside parking lot. We finally discovered the paved boulevard we were waiting for. There was another dedicated parking space available inside, reserved only for Café Ekante visitors. From there, visitors need to either take an electric car (Toto) or walk along a beautiful wooden bridge to reach the island. All of us at once chose to relish the unique aquatic sky-walk experience and stepped out on foot.
Midway over the walkway, there was a beach swing attached to a coconut tree to relish an aquatic refreshment. Cannot explain in words the zenith of solace infused by the overall ambiance of the place. Bubbling sounds of small fishes playing their way in the waters made our day.
Spending a few peaceful moments, we walked further to the island. The bridge landed onto a lush green lawn of wildflower meadows with decorative lampshades all around. It’s an Eco Park in true sense of the name – amidst the opulent greenery we came across beautiful migratory birds, busy in their playful mood.
There are around ten luxury cottages of different categories along the lake. Each room would provide a wide angle view of the bountiful nature around. Bypassing the lodgings, we walked straight to Café Ekante – to other side of the lawn. There, we were warmly greeted by the manager who guided us to a reserved table inside. The walls were all made of transparent glass – giving a true feeling of glasshouse amidst the vast lake.
From inside the café we savoured a 360-degree view of the lake. There was also an adjacent ferry ghat for the speed boats to dock just in front of the café. The walls were decorated with rare old Bengali movie posters and eminent native personalities. Water was served in traditional clay tumblers. The chairs and furnishings were those of ethnic designs. All the hotel staffs were traditionally dressed adding a perfect feel of real Bengal in every way.
We were so moved by the holistic ambiance that it took us a long time to just place our order for snacks. They served authentic Bengali crispy starters in an hour’s time. The delay in their serving time was perhaps what let us enjoy the environment better. What an apt name – “Ekante”, we were truly left with own selves during the entire time spent at the café.
Had heard about it many times earlier, but did not discover the true beauty of the place till the time we actually visited Café Ekante. You will certainly return with a wow feeling in mind. Only low scoring points were the cottage tariff, café platters and parking fees – all were too over-priced and hence even after offering such a magnificent urban getaway, visitor footfalls are way lesser compared to what it deserves. Nonetheless, for wanderers like us, it was worth the price paid to enjoy such a heavenly tranquility right at the heart of a crowded metro city like Kolkata.