West Bengal is located in the eastern part of India on the Bay of Bengal.With over 90 million inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous state of the country. From the breathtakingly scenic Darjeeling Himalayan Hill region to the vast forests of coastal Sunderbans, the state is home to varied landscapes.
West Bengal is known for its rich cultural heritage which includes traditional folk dances and varied cuisine.
The state has contributed immensely to shaping India as we know today by producing imminent personalities such as Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.West Bengal Tour Packages
During the British rule, West Bengal was an important state. The Britishers under their supervision constructed various buildings in different cities in the Indo-European style. Before the Britishers, the state was ruled by several dynasties of sultans, Hindu kings, and Baro-Bhuyan landlords who built several architectural gems. The styling of these architectural marvels showcase traditional Indian art forms in the best light. The mighty Ganga flows through the state making vast patches of land fertile and supporting a variety of flora and fauna. The state has several hill stations, sea beaches, and wildlife sanctuaries that are known for their ecological diversity and awe-inspiring beauty.
Major cities in West Bengal are Kolkata, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Dooars, Mirik, Siliguri, Sunderbans, Murshidabad, and Hooghly. Start with Kolkata for its cultural heritage and festivals. Darjeeling is a popular hill station and has ample picturesque tea gardens and varied landscapes. Visit Siliguri for its culture and Chilapata Forests, Murshidabad for its architectural gems, Hooghly for its temples, museums, and Maths, Kalimpong for its traditional handicraft, nurseries, and orchids, and Sundarbans for its varied flora and fauna.
The Sundarbans National Park is a one of its kind mangrove forest. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger. Encompassing 10,000 sq. km. of land and water, the national park comprises of a complex network of interconnected waterways. The park is inhabited by various bird species, crocodiles, and reptiles. Shantiniketan is one of the most important centres of learning in eastern India and the heart and soul of West Bengal. Some places of interests in the university town are: Tagore’s ashram, Vishwa Bharati, Chhatimtala, and Brahma Mandir. Shantiniketan organizes various festivals throughout the year such as Poush Mela, Maghotsav, and Vasanta Utsav. Bishnupur is a sleepy town in the Bankura district. The town is famous for its terracotta temples that were built by the Malla rulers during the 17th and 18th century. Built with laterite stones, these temples are famous for their ancient architecture that showcase Bengali art forms in all its glory.
If you are an adventure lover, head to Samsing that is a quaint hamlet blessed with small streams, natural forests, and tea gardens. A trip to the settlement is a perfect getaway from the madding city crowd. Sandakphu is a trekker’s paradise. The village has several trekking routes that provide breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga, Everest, and Makalu. Delo is a small hill station located 68 kms from Siliguri. The area is surrounded by majestic peaks. To help appreciate the beauty of these peaks, many local operators conduct paragliding tours. When in Darjeeling, go mountain biking through the hills. Move slowly to relish the visual delights that Mother Nature has in store for you. Take a boat cruise to meander through the forests covered with tall trees. Watch as different bird and animal species come out to greet you. And if you’re lucky His Highness, the Royal Bengal Tiger may reveal himself to you.
West Bengal has almost 12 percent of its total area under forests. These forests are covered by sal and sundari trees. Other notable fauna species found in the region are: oaks, conifers, and rhododendrons. West Bengal has 15 wildlife sanctuaries and 5 wildlife parks that are home to various animal species such as Indian rhinoceros, the endangered Bengal tiger, leopard, barking deer, Gangetic dolphin, and estuarine crocodile.
Some of the religious places to visit are Kalighat Kali temple, Dakshineswar Kali temple, Katra Masjid and Birla Mandir. The Kalighat temple is dedicated to goddess Kali, the temple is a Shakti Peetha and an important religious site for Hindus. The temple complex has a rectangular altar (Sosthi Tala), rectangular platform (Natmondir), and verandah (Jor-bangla). Located near Kolkata, Dakshineswar Kali Temple is dedicated to Bhavatarini, a form of goddess Kali. The temple compound has a large courtyard with rooms and shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. Along the riverfront, there is temple dedicated to Radha-Krishna temple and a shrine dedicated to Rashmoni, the founder of Dakshineswar Kali. Located in Murshidabad, Katra Masjid is a prominent mosque and the tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. The mosque is an important centre of Islamic learning and is surrounded by double storied domed cells. The mosque covers an area of 19.5 acres and is divided into five bays. Located in Ballygunge, Birla Mandir is a popular Hindu temple. The temple was built by the industrial Birla family and houses statues of different Hindu deities including Radha, Krishna, Durga, and Shiva. Stone engravings in the temple depict scriptures from Bhagavad Gita.
Bengalis are expressive people who take immense pride in their cultural heritage. The locals express their love for their heritage by celebrating various festivals. Some of the major celebrations in the state are: Durga Puja, Rash Mela, Poush Mela, Vasant Panchami, Jamai Sashti, Teesta Tea and Tourism Festival, Gangasagar Mela, and Makar Sankranti.
Bengalis are ardent foodies and take their food very seriously. Traditional Bengali dishes are a subtle mix of flavours. Locals are voracious meat eaters and take delight in relishing traditional fish, and meat dishes prepared specially during religious ceremonies. Some popular traditional dishes enjoyed throughout the state include: Luchi, Shukto, Tangra Macher Jhol, Ilish Macher Jhol, and Shukto. Bengalis are known to have a sweet tooth. A traditional Bengali thali is incomplete without local desserts such as Kolar Bora, Mishti Doi, and the world famous Rosogolla.
West Bengal is famous for its traditional crafts and ethnic wear, specially sarees that showcase traditional artwork and exquisite craftsmanship. Whether you are a shopaholic and swear by the benefits of retail therapy or want to collect souvenirs, Kolkata has enough to keep you interested. The city has various markets that are home to shops that sell handicraft items and artefacts and everything in between. Darjeeling is the place to be if you want to take back home premium export quality tea. Local shops in Birbhum, Hooghly, Digha and Jessore sell clay and terracotta products, whereas Murshidabad has various premium saree stores that sell the famous Baluchari sarees.
West Bengal is a multicultural and multilingual state.Apart from Bengali, locals from different parts of the state use Nepali, Gurmukhi, Oriya, Urdu, and Ol-Chiki to communicate with each other. The most comfortable and quickest way to reach West Bengal is via air. All the major carriers operate in the state. If time is not a constraint, you can reach via rail. A road trip is also an exciting way to explore the state, but it could be long and tiring, especially on a long-route.
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