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West Bengal

West Bengal

West Bengal, is bounded on the north by Bhutan and the state of Sikkim , on the east by Bangladesh and the state of Assam , on the south by the Bay of Bengal, on the southwest by the state of Orissa & Jharkhand, on the northwest by Nepal and the state of Bihar and on the south by Bay of Bengal. Its capital, Kolkata is one of the largest and most developed cities in India. The vast majority of the people in West Bengal are the Bengalis.

Cities of West Bengal

The cities of West Bengal depict a culture, which is very unique to them. Kolkata is the largest city of the state while the second largest city Howrah is also a part of the Kolkata agglomeration. Kolkata, the capital city, is heart of this state. Also termed as “City of Joy”, the city has amazing mix of modernity and traditionalism. The third largest urban area is the Asansol Durgapur. Siliguri is the largest town of northern part of West Bengal. Also New Jalpaiguri is an important destinations in West Bengal. Haldia is a major industrial center of West Bengal. Travel to Cities of West Bengal and make your travel India more convincing than ever before.

KOLKATA

Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the second largest urban agglomerate in India, With A po;lulation of over 15 million, and it stands on the left bank of the river Hooghly. Calcutta served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911 and for long has been acknowledged as the centre of modern education, industry, science, culture and politics in India. Excavations at Cjhandraketugarh, an archaeological site close to Kolkata, points to a civilixation that thrived in these parts for over two millennia. Many experts however endorse the view that Charnock was not the true founder of the city.

kolkata

KURSEONG

A lesser known destination on the tourist map is Kurseong, on the way from Siliguri to Darjeeling. A picturesque town at a height of 1,458m. Kurseong is 51 km from Siliguri on the main road, and is also an important stop on the toy train route. The alternate route from Siliguri to Darjeeling via Pankhabari also joins the main road a little short of Kurseong. It’s over-a-century-old schools provide excellent education. Kurseong has the unusual spectacle of the road, rail track and market ‘moving’ together towards Darjeeling in the most colourful manner.

kurseong

KALIMPONG

Kalimpong is a small hill station between Siliguri and Gangtok. The road is one of the most scenic routes in this part of the nation. The swift flowing Teesta river runs by the side of the road adding to the beauty of the scenery. The name, Kalimpong, has three different origins. One, it means the place where the local tribesmen gathered to organize field sports, second, it takes it’s name from the Bhutanese king’s minister’s stronghold and thirdly, it is named after Kaulim, a fibrous plant found in abundance in this region. The town is 1250 m above sea level and offers excellent views of the Mt Kanchenjunga and the other Himalayan peaks.

kalimpong

DARJEELING

Darjeeling derives its name from the Tibetan DORJE-LING meaning “place of the thunderbolt.” The district town of extreme northern West Bengal lies at an elevation of about 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above sea level. District Headquarter is also called Darjeeling, situated 305 miles north of Calcuttaand is well connected by major road, rail, and air connections with the metropolis. The town is situated on a long, narrow mountain ridge of the Sikkim Himalayas that descends abruptly to the bed of the Great Rangit River. On a clear day the city presents the grandview of Kanchenjunga and glimpses of the Mt.Everest .

darjeeling

MURSHIDABAD

Murshidabad, named after Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, the Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa under Emperor Aurangzeb, is related to events that ultimately changed the history of India, At Plassey near Murshidabad the histortc battle between Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula and Lord Clive had taken place. The relics strewn today speak of those times. But the history of this region date back perhaps further. The famous Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsiang, who made the long journey to India in 629-645 AD, in his world famous travelogue describes Karanasubarna near Murshidabad as the first capital of the ancient Bengal.

murshidabad

SHANTINIKETAN

Shantiniketan is a famous university town in West Bengal. It has become a tourist spot because of its association with Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), one of Bengal’s greatest figures. Of course the natural charm of Shantiniketan is a major draw in itself. Attracted by the beauty of this place, Rabindranath Tagore’s father Maehashi Debendranath Tagore established Shantiniketan (abode of peace) in 1863. In 1901, Rabindranath Tagore set up a Bramhacharya school here which later came to be known as the Patha Bhavan. With the financial backing of the Maharajah of Tripura, the Visva-bharati Society was established in 1921.

shantiniketan

GAUR

Twelve km south of Malda and right on the border with Bangladesh, Gaur was first the capital of the Buddhist Pala dynasty, then it became the seat of the Hindu Sena dynasty, and finally the capital of the Muslim nawabs. The ruins of the extensive fortifications and several large mosques are all that remain. Most impressive are the Bara Sona Mosque and the nearby brick Dakhil Darwajah built in 1425. Qadam Rasul Mosque enshrines a footprint of the Mohammed but it looks as if he was wearing thongs when he made it! Fath Khan’s tomb is nearby and a sign informs you that he ‘vomited blood and died on his spot’

Gaur

SILIGURI

This crowded, sprawling, noisy place is the departure point for visits to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Sikkim and the North-East states. Siliguri is the major trade centre for the north-east and eastern Nepal; a real boom town, it’s packed with trucks and buses and not a pleasant place to stay for a moment more than necessary. New Jalpaiguri (known as NJP), the main railway junction, is eight km south of Silliguri, though there’s effectively no break in the urban sprawl between the two places. The West Bengl Tourist Office is up a flight of stairs on Tenzing Norgay Rd, on the south side of the river.

siliguri

PANDUA

Gaur once alternated with Pandua as the seat of power. The main place of interest is the vast Adina Mosque, built by Sikander Shah in the 14th century. Built over a Hindu temple, traces of which are still evident, it was one of the largest mosques in India but is now in ruins. Nearby is the Eklakhi mausoleum, so called because it cost Rs 1 lakh to build. There are also several smaller mosques. The dusty deer park, 2.5km across the highway in the ‘forest’, is not worth going to. Pandua is on the main highway (NH34), 18km north of Malda, and there are mainly buses that can drop you here

pandua

Festivals of West Bengal

West Bengal is a land of festivals. There is a popular saying in Bengali ”Baro Mase Tero Parban’.

DURGA PUJA

Durga puja is celebrated in the autumn months of September/October. According to the Hindu solar calendar, it falls on the first nine days of the month of Ashvin. It is the time of the year when the weather is at its moderate best giving the air a festive touch. Images of the ten-armed goddess are worshipped in ancient houses and at pandals, erected specially for the Puja. After the four-day ceremony, the images are immersed in the river. The most important and the most popular of all Bengali festivals is the Durgapuja. It is celebrated throughout the state, but with great grandeur in Kolkata.

durga-pooja

GANGA SAGAR

Gangasagar Mela is the largest fair celebrated in West Bengal. This fair is held where the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal form a nexus. Hence the name Gangasagar Mela. The river Ganga which originates in the Gangotri glacier in the snow clad Himalayas, descends down the mountains, reaches the plains at Haridwar, flows through ancient pilgrimage sites such as Benares and Prayag, and drains into the Bay of Bengal. Sagar Island, at the mouth of the river Hooghly in Bengal (accessed from Diamond Harbor), where the Ganga breaks up into hundreds of streams, and drains into the sea, is honored as a pilgrimage site.

ganga-sagar

RATH YATRA

The Rath Yatra festival falls on the late of June or early July. It is celebrated in the honour of Lord Jagannath an avatar of Vishnu. Processions are organised in Kolkata by the ISKON and in Serampore, north of Kolkata. People scramble around to get a chance to pull the sacred rope of the huge chariot. Replicas of Jagannath’s chariot are sold at Kalighat. Children decorate their chriots with flowers and place in them clay images of Jagannath, his brother Balaram and sister Subhadra.

rath-yatra

Beaches of West Bengal

Breathtaking Beaches premise the perfect escape to tranquility !!! The coastal strip of West Bengal, extending from the Gangetic delta land to the border of Orissa, presents some beautiful options in sea resorts .

FALTA

43 km downriver, was the site of a Dutch factory. The British Retreated here in 1756 when Kolkata was captured by Siraj-ud-daula. It was also from here that Clive recaptured Kolkata. just below Falta the Damodar River joins the Hooghly. The Rupnarain River also joins the Hooghly nearby and a little up this river is Tamluk, which was an important Buddhist centre over 1000 years ago. The James & Mary Shoal, the most dangerous on the Hooghly, is just above the point where the Rupnarain River enters. It takes its name from a ship which was wrecked here in 1694.

falta

SHANKARPUR BEACH

This pristine, lesser-known beach lying 10 km from Digha calls you for a quiet vacation. Fringed by casuarina plantations, this fishing village offers all the pleasures of a private beach. The best season to visit is from July to March. Regular buses ply between kolkata and Shankarpur. Tourist cabs and luxury cars can also be hired from Kolkata.

shankarpur-beach

DIGHA

Close to the border with Orissa, 185km south west of Kolkata on the Bay of Bengal, Digha is another self-styled ‘Brighton of the East’. The beach is seven km long and very wide but if a beach holiday is what you want, carry on south to Puri or Gapalpur-on-Sea. There are daily buses between Kolkata and Digha. The Chandaneshwar Siva Temple is just across the border in Orissa, eight km from Digha.

digha-beach

Museums & Monuments in West Bengal

Breathtaking Beaches premise the perfect escape to tranquility !!! The coastal strip of West Bengal, extending from the Gangetic delta land to the border of Orissa, presents some beautiful options in sea resorts .

VICTORIA MEMORIAL

You will never find a place like this anywhere else, lest one finds with a burning lamp. Coming to West Bengal, truly feels like a return to one’s own home. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, the Bengali air will embrace you wholeheartedly, as soon as you will step down on the land of Rabindranath Tagore. It is easy to blend with Bengal’s present save you keep your ropes tight. For this eastern state, moistened by river Ganges will take you swiftly to its colonial past – through the portcullis of Dutch and English fortifications, seeped in the glory of old Nawabs into an era that still basks in the ecstasy of Sri Chaitanya.

victoria-memorial

ASHUTOSH MUSEUM OF INDIAN ART

On display are basalt sculptures from Pala and Sena periods with us distinctive blend of Hindu and and buddhist styles, as also sculpted clay panels from temples of the Vishnupur region. There are also interesting collections of patachitras, or painted scrolls from Bengal, playing cards, palm leaf manuscripts, ritual objects, toys and dolls. The textiles include embroidered Kanthas, the patchwork and quilting textile technique, and saris from Baluchar with their quaint figurative designs.

ashutosh-museum

INDIAN MUSEUM

Indian Museum was established in 1914. First of its kind and still the largest in the country. The Museum has six sections : Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology, and Industry (Economic Botany). The Art Section comprises Tibetan temple banners, metal images, enamelled wares, bidriwares, ornaments, silver wares, glass wares, pottery, ivory and bone work, wooden sculptures, leather objects, lacquered toys. The Archaeological Section displays stone-age artifacts from India and abroad, pre-historic antiquities from Mohenjodaro, Harappa

indian-museum

RABINDRA BHARATI MUSEUM

Rabindra Bharati Museum was established in 1961. Located in the ancestral house of Rabindranath Tagore and attached to the Rabinda-Bharati University. Depicts the Renaissance Movement of Bengal in the 19th Century and the role of the members of Tagore family therein. A major section deals with the life and works of the poet. Has a rich collection of books, original paintings, mauscripts, photographs and other items related to the leading personalities of the 19th century such as Iswar Chanda Vidyasagar and Dwarkanath Tagore. Sells nicely printed sets of cards.

rabindra-museum

BIRLA INDUSTRIAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL MUSEUM

Birla Industrial and Technological Museum was established in 1956 It was built by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; deals with basic science and technology: has large number of exhibits, designed, prepared and fabricated at its own workshop. Galleries cover models showing Electricity, Nuclear Physics, Iron and Steel, Optics, Motive Power, Communication and Mining. The Optics Gallery has since been converted into a Popular Science Gallery. Popular activities of the Museum include films shows, demonstration-lectures, hobby activities, periodical programs of sky-observation through telescopes.

birla-industrial

Wildlife in West Bengal

West Bengal has the best of wildlife preservation centres.

JALDAPARA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

Spread in vast 114 sq km area is the Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary in northern part of West Bengal. The entire sanctuary lies in a level flood plain. Jaldapara Sanctuary holds the largest expanse of terai grasslands in North Bengal intersected with riverine forests, dry-mixed forests and wet-forests. The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary was constituted in the year 1943 for the protection of wild life, particularly single horned Rhinos. It is a paradise for animal lovers and bird-watchers. The sanctuary is famous for One-horned Rhinos and the Royal Bengal Tigers. In winters, it becomes a favored destination for the migratory birds.

nandniwildlife

SUNDERBANS

Located in the Ganga delta in West Bengal, spanning the Hooghly in the west and Teulia river in the east, Sunderbans was declared a National Park in 1984. The park covers a vast stretch of mangrove swamp, lush forested islands and small rivers near the Bay of Bengal. Most of the region comprises estuarine mangrove forests and swamps which supports an ecosystem specially adapted to great salinity. Sunderbans is home to the magnificent Royal Bengal tiger, the park holding more tigers than any other tiger reserve. More than 400 tigers were recorded during the mid-1980s.

kistwarnationalpark

DOOARS

The forested areas of Northern West Bengal present a plethora of Wildlife. This mixed dry deciduous forest land dotted with grasslands, harbors the largest diversity of mega fauna in West Bengal. A large range of foothill forest in North Bengal is called Dooars. Once the whole area was under the reign of Koch Raj. A visit to this area may bring visitors to be in touch with the combination of the solidified history and nature. Tea Gardens, alpine landscape, transparent river, National Parks and the Wildlife Sanctuary creates a paradise. Beautiful motorable roads cut through deep forests, rich with wildlife.

surinsarwildlife

Hill Stations in West Bengal

The northern part of West Bengal is home to some of the best hill stations of India. The most popular among those are mentioned below.

MIRIK

Small and unspoilt hill resort, Mirik, is a perfect place to leave all the heat and dust of the plains. An untouched beauty, Mirik enjoys the reputation of being the youngest hill-station of India. The place is situated around the Sumendu lake. The beauty of Kanchanjunga can be witnessed from the city. The peace and serenity offered by Mirik attracts tourists. The fabulous environment acts as magic on the senses of the tourists. Situated 5800 ft above sea level and scarcely populated, Mirik is free from pollution. The Sumendu lake is a major attraction. Watching the huge Kanchanjunga while boating is an indelible experience.

mirik-lake

DARJEELING

The ‘Dream-land of the East’, Darjeeling gets its name from Dorje (Thunderbolt) and Ling (Place). One of the most popular hillstations of India, Darjeeling is strategically very important due to its proximity with Nepal and Bhutan borders. The hill station was popularised from the times of British rule. Every year at the start of summer, the Viceroys of India would move to Darjeeling. The British developed Darjeeling into a pleasant resort. The tea plantations started here in 1840s. Covering an area of 1,200 sq. miles and surrounded by the Himalayan peaks, its a fascinating place rich in natural beauty.

darjeeling

KALIMPONG

Set in the foot-hills of the giant Himalayas, amidst lush green environment, Kalimpong offers amazing views of snow capped mountain peaks. Situated at an altitude of about 1250 metres and cradled between Durpin and Deolo Hill, Kalimpong has a moderate climate. Kalimpong means the fort of the King’s minister. The name was established when this place was under control of Bhutan. In 1865, under the treaty of Sinchula, Kalimpong was handed to British. The Britishers developed this place as a centre for wool trade with Tibet. A healthy mix of Buddhism, along with Hinduism and Christianity can be seen here.

kalimpong