Putting The Soul In Asansol: A Traveler’s Notes On The City
Asansol is an industrial city known for its expansive coal mines in the country. It is the second-largest city in the state of West Bengal and the headquarters of the Paschim Bardhaman district. The Bardhaman district attracts a large number of visitors not only for thriving industries but also for the lovely tourist places to visit in Asansol. With scenic picnic spots, sacred temples, old churches, pretty parks, arts, and literature, the city of Asansol is a surprise waiting to be unraveled.
Asansol lies on the banks of the river Damodar and is rich in minerals. The city gets its name from the ‘Asan’ a type of tree found on the banks of the Damodar and ‘Sol’ which means land. Asansol is thus a portmanteau of the two words. The city was once at the receiving end of an unfortunate anglicizing as ‘Assensole’ thanks to the British. This decision was wisely reversed after Independence.
We’ve listed the best places to visit in Asansol that will cater to all your sightseeing needs when in the city.
Top 7 Places to Visit in Asansol:
- Kalyaneshwari Temple
- The Sacred Heart Church
- Nehru Park
- Ghagar Buri Chandi Temple
- Satabdi Park
1. Kalyaneshwari Temple
The Kalyaneshwari Temple is one of the most famous tourist places in Asansol. It is located at a distance of 20 km from the city. The ancient temple is dedicated to Maa Kalyaneshwari and believed to be over five hundred years old. The original structure was built by Harigupta in the 3rd Century AD. Harigupta constructed the temple at a location closest to the kingdom’s capital, Salanpu.
For the uninitiated, Maa Kalyaneshwari – the presiding deity at the temple – is a form of the Hindu Goddess Shakti or Kali. Maa Kalyaneshwari is often referred to as the ‘Lady of Fulfilment’. Many women who have trouble conceiving find solace in her blessings and visit regularly. The temple is situated very close to Maithan, another famous tourist place in Asansol.
The Maithan Dam is a favorite pick for a refreshing getaway in Asansol. Maithan is a lovely place for a weekend trip surrounded by hills, water, and trees stretching farther than the eye can see!
The Dam is built over the river Barakar on the border between the states of Jharkhand and West Bengal. Take a leisurely walk along the Dam and enjoy stunning views of the vast reservoir. Jharkhand and West Bengal lie on two opposite ends of the Dam respectively. The road over the Dam buzzes with a constant stream of cars and buses driving by. Passengers wishing to stop and stare usually park their cars outside the dam area and walk it from there.
Try and keep a lookout for the Deer Park on your left while walking along the dam towards Jharkhand. If you’re lucky, you may spot a large herd of deer grazing or ambling in the greenery.
When in Bengal, do as the Bengalis do and immerse yourself in art and literature. Prose and poetry aren’t reserved exclusively for the intellectuals in Kolkata, but find their way into every corner of West Bengal. A case in point is Churulia, a small village located at a distance of 17 km from Asansol. Churulia is the birthplace of the legendary national poet, Kazi Nazrul Islam. The Nazrul Academy in the village is a wonderful repository of preserved manuscripts, medallions, and other personal belongings of the poet. Try and plan your visit in time for the festival that celebrates the birthday of poet and freedom fighter, Kazi Nazrul Islam. The festival goes on for a week and is held annually.
4. The Sacred Heart Church
Visit the beautiful Sacred Heart Church in Asansol for a moment of quiet and calm. The church was built in1875 by the British Railway Company. The Company was kept in charge of the main Howrah and Delhi railway lines back then. The church’s ownership was handed over to the Kolkata Archdiocese post-Independence.
The Sacred Heart Church is an impressive structure built with bricks specially imported from Britain for the purpose. The church – with its façade made entirely of red brick – exudes a beautiful old-world charm and elegance. This colonial-style church is a major center of worship for the Catholics in Asansol. It is also one of the best places to visit in Asansol. The best time to visit the church is on a Sunday or special occasions such as Christmas and Easter. The Grotto of ‘Our Lady of Lourdes’ is a beautiful attraction within the church premises.
5. Nehru Park
Nehru Park is located in Burnpur and is situated on the banks of the Damodar River. This beautiful park is famous for attractions such as boating, musical fountains, and several multi-cuisine restaurants. Entry to the park can be gained with a nominal fee. Upon entering the park, you will be welcomed by a large cast-iron statue of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. Nehru Park is a great place for a rejuvenating day out with family or friends.
6. Ghagar Buri Chandi Temple
The Ghagar Buri Chandi Temple lies on the banks of a small river called Nunia. The temple is perched on top of Kali Pahadi in Asansol. The Ghagar Buri Chandi Temple is a must-visit for those who are devotees of the Mother Goddess. Many people visit the temple in the mornings to offer Puja. However, the temple doors are open from dawn till dusk.
Winter is the best time to visit the Ghagar Buri Chandi Temple. Numerous taxis ply to the temple from the Asansol station. It is one of the most famous places to visit in Asansol for curious visitors and devotees alike.
7. Satabdi Park
Satabdi Park is another popular tourist place in Asansol. It is a beautiful park that is maintained and developed by the Indian Railways. Bring the family for a fun day of walking and playing in the park. Satabdi Park is one of the best places to visit in Asansol owing to its walking trails and expansive play areas for children. The Columbus and Caterpillar are immensely popular rides housed within the park. Fuel up on snacks at the numerous food stalls and canteens around the park. The park is open in the mornings and evenings. We would recommend a visit in the evenings when the park is at its loveliest.
Do try the local Bengali delicacies when in Asansol. Start your day with fluffy luchis (puris) and vegetable curry for breakfast.
Lunch and dinner here are feasts of rice, dal, and a dizzying variety of bhajas (fried vegetables) such as Aloo Bhaja (potato), Begun Bhaja (Eggplant), and Uchche Bhaja (Bittergourd). Non-vegetarians can take their pick of the finest fish, chicken, and mutton curries. The most popular are Doi Maach (fish in spicy yogurt gravy), Sorshe Ilish (Hilsa fish in mustard gravy), and Chingri Malaikari (prawns in a coconut-milk gravy).
There’s always room for dessert, especially when you’re in the mithai haven called West Bengal. Mishti Doi and Rosogolla are two of the most popular sweets. Indulge your sweet tooth a little further with delectable mithais like the Chomchom, Sondesh, Payesh, and Kalojam.
Where to Eat in Asansol
Some of the most famous restaurants in Asansol are New Sudhamrit, Durga Foods, Sagourab Hotel & Restaurant, Hotel Krishna Restaurant Cum Bar, Tuk Tuk Tawa, Bay Leaf Restaurant, Paradise, Lazeez Express, and Avantika Hotel and Restaurant.
The restaurants offer a variety of cuisines ranging from local delicacies, Indian, Chinese, vegetarian-friendly, halal, and Thai.
Places of Interest Around Asansol
1. Meghnad Saha Planetarium
Visit the Meghnad Saha Planetarium which is built within the grounds of the University of Burdwan. The Planetarium was built in partnership with the Japanese government. The Planetarium is small in size but contains the latest technology and instruments for stargazing. It was opened for the public in 1994 and is popular among the locals for the numerous shows conducted by it. The planetarium is located at a distance of 104 km from Asansol.
2. Joychandi Pahar
Trekking enthusiasts should visit the mystical hill called Joychandi Pahar. Joychandi Pahar is a collection of three or four hillocks. Climb 500 steps to the top for some of the most picturesque views. Stop for a look around in the small temple located on top of the hill.
The winter months are the best time to visit the hill. There are several resorts and bungalows near Joychandi Pahar. It was here that Satyajit Ray found inspiration for and framed his renowned film, Hirak Rajar Deshe. Joychandi Pahar is located at a distance of 50 km from Asansol.
3. Susunia Hills
The Susunia Hills are popular among tourists for its natural springs and open green spaces. It is also known for the ‘Narasingha stone’ believed to be an ancient stone belonging to king Chandravarman.
Best Time to Visit Asansol
October and November are the best months to visit places in Asansol.
By Air: The Ranchi airport is the nearest airport to Asansol
By Train: Asansol is well-connected to train stations across the country via the Asansol Junction (ASN)
By Road: Asansol is well-connected by bus to major cities in the country
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