West Bengal India
Bengal is a state located in eastern part of India. The state with a
population of 80,221,171 spreads over an area of 88,752 sq.km. Although West
Bengal occupies only 2.7% of the India's land area, but it supports
over 7.8% of Indian population. West Bengal shares international boundaries
with the countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The state is
surrounded by the states of Assam and Sikkim to its north-east, the state of
Orrisa to its south-west and the states of Bihar and Jharkhand to its west.
Bangladesh, which lies on the eastern border of the state, together with
West Bengal forms the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. Bengali is the main
language of the state, but people also speak Urdu and Hindi.
During the past two millenia West Bengal has been a part of a number of
dynasties and the state capital, Kolkata served as the capital of British
India for several years. The state's economic and political areas were
dominated by the Marxism, Naxalite movements and trade unionism for many
decadesas well. Besides, many of India's notable poets, writers,
film-stars, theater artists and performers belong to West Bengal.
Noted for its beautiful tourists destinations, magnificent forts and
monuments, massive temples, picturesque beaches, hills and valleys, varied
wildlife, delectable cuisine, rich art & culture and charming fairs and
festivals, West Bengal draws a large number of tourists from all over the
West Bengal - History
History of the greater Bengal region goes 4,000 years back, when the region
was inhabited by the Dravidians, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic peoples.
Historic records say that in the 7th century B.C, after the arrival of
Indo-Aryans, the Magadha kingdom was formed, consisting of the Bihar and
Bengal regions. In the 3rd century B.C, under the Mauryan Emperor - Ashoka,
the Magadha Empire extended the kindgom over most parts of South Asia
including portions of Persia and Afghanistan. Next from the 3rd century AD
to the 6th century AD, the Magadha kingdom served as the seat of the Gupta
Around the early 7th century, Shashanka became the first
independent king of Bengal. After a period of anarchy, Buddhist Pala Kings
ruled over the region from 8th century to the 12th century. In the 12th
century, the reign passed over from the Pala dynasty to the Hindu Sen
dynasty for a short time. Thereafter, Bengal passed into the hands of the
Slave dynasty. Bengal was subsequently ruled by various dynasties of Sultans
and feudal lords under the Delhi Sultanate for the next few centuries.
In the 16th century, Mughal General Islam Khan conquered Bengal and the
European traders arrived late in the 15th century. In 1757, following the
Battle of Plassey, when Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab
was defeated by the British, the British East India Company gained taxation
rights in Bengal Subah. Further in 1765, the Bengal Presidency was
established, by including all British territories north of the Central
Provinces, from the mouth of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra to the Himalayas
and the Punjab. After India's independence on 15th August 1947, Bengal
was partitioned along religious lines, the western part went to India and
the eastern to Pakistan as East Bengal province, which later became
independent in 1971.
- Tourist Destinations
A beautiful blend of the ancient and the modern, West Bengal is often
referred to as the 'Gateway to the East.' West Bengal has a varied
landscape dotted with a variety of beautiful hills, charming plains and
breathtaking coastal belt. The state's long and narrow land area
comprises the delta of the lower Ganges and other rivers in the south and
mountainous region in the northern part of the state. In addition to these,
the tropical Sunderbans forest add to the beauty of the state. Known for
their unique tourism properties, the tourist destinations in West Bengal
attracts large number of tourists every year. Important tourist destinations
of West Bengal include Kolkata
Durgapur, Burdwan, Darjeeling
West Bengal - Temples
Presently Hinduism is a major faith in West Bengal, but a large number of
people also follow other religions like Buddhism and Jainism. You can see
many Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling and the nearby town of Kalimpong.
The Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temples attract thousands of tourists
throughout the year. Some of the popular temples are Dakshineshwar Kali
Temple, Kalighat Temple, Dhirdham Temple, Ramakrishna Mission Temple, Lalji
Temple, Radha Shyam Temple, Suratheshwar Shiva Temple and Hanseswari Temple.
West Bengal - Wildlife
of the total land area of the state, forests make up 13.38% area, which
though less than the India's average of 23% wildlife area, is still
good. West Bengal is known all over the world for mangrove
forest-Sunderbans, which is located in southern part of the state.
Sunderbans is also a World Heritage Site. West Bengal is home to 15 Wildlife
Sanctuaries, 5 National Parks and 3 Tiger Reserve, which provide shelter to
a variety of wild animals and birds. Popular Wildlife Sanctuaries and Parks
of the state include the Sunderbans
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary and Dooars.
West Bengal - Adventure
Trekking in Darjeeling Hills is a very popular adventure option, which
draws large number of adventure seekers to West Bengal every year. Bicycling
and mountain biking are other famous adventure sports which you can enjoy in
the slopes of Darjeeling tea gardens. In addition to these, you can indulge
yourself in several other adventure options such as mountaineering, rock
climbing, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, yachting, river rafting,
swimming, para sailing and monsoon car rally.
West Bengal- Beaches
The beautiful coastline of West Bengal, running from the Gangetic delta
land to the border of the Orissa state, is home to some picturesque beaches.
Far from the bustling cities, West Bengal beaches offer a perfect escape.
Almost all the West Bengal beaches offer wide - flat sandy beaches, a gently
rolling Bay of Bengal, groves of casuarina and a pleasant weather round the
year. Notable beaches in West Bengal include Digha, Shankarpur, Sagardwip,
Junput, Bakkhali and Frazergunj.
West Bengal - Art & Culture
Since olden days, West Bengal has contributed a lot in the field of art and
culture. The state has given birth to several modern movements in
literature, painting, sculpture, national politics, theatre and cinemas as
well as science and technology. Kolkata, the state capital and also one of
the four major cities of India, is regarded as the cultural capital of
India. The city has a played a prominent role in the fields of literature,
art, theatre and films. Dance and music are essential parts of Bengali
people. Folk music forms of Bengal are also famous, the Baul tradition is a
unique heritage of the state's folk music. Other folk music forms are
Gombhira and Bhawaiya. West Bengal is renowned for its excellent arts and
crafts. Some of popular handicraft items are hand-woven silk sarees and
items made from clay, shoal and conch.
West Bengal - Cuisine
From time immemorial the people of Bengal like delicious food. In fact,
their fondness for good and delectable food is legendary. Fish and rice are
two main ingredients which define the exotic Bengali cuisine. Apart from
fish dishes, West Bengal's love for sweets and curds is traditional and
famous all over the country. In addition to this the people of the state
also eat a variety of vegetables cooked in different style. While you are in
West Bengal must taste the popular recipes like Machcher Jhol, Doi Machch,
Mishti Doi, Rassogolla, Sondesh, Begun Bhaja, Luchi and Kosha Mangsho.
West Bengal - Forts & Monuments
by the several dynasties, West Bengal presents a good collection of forts
and monuments which now attract thousands of visitors from far and wide.
Some of the popular forts and monuments are Victoria Memorial, Fort William,
Imambara, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tipu Sultan Mosque, Nizam Place and Raj
West Bengal - Hills and Valleys
Blessed with a number of natural jewels, West Bengal is also home to some
of the popular hill stations of the world. Darjeeling (2123 m) also called
as the 'Queen of the Hill Station' is a shinning jewel in the
crown of West Bengal. Darjeeling is noted for its lofty peak, green
picturesque tea gardens, spectacular valleys and scenery and the toy
train,which has been declared a World Heritage by UNESCO. Other popular
hills of the state are Kalimpong (1243 m), Sandakphu (3636 m), Lava (2184 m)
and Lolaygaon (1516 m).
West Bengal - Fairs and Festivals
West Bengal is a land where numerous fairs and festivals are celebrated
throughout the year. Most of the festivals are religious, while some are
also related to a particular region. Among the various Hindu festivals,
Durga Puja of Kolkata is famous all over the country. Muslims celebrate
three major festivals namely- Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha and Moharram.
Christmas is the main festival for the Christians. A list important fairs
and festivals of the state include Durga Puja, Deepawali, Holi,
Eid-ul-Fitra, Eid-ul-Azha, Moharram, Christmas, Ganga Sagar Mela, Kenduli
Mela, Jalpesh Mela, Rathayatra, Vasanta Utsav, Jhapan, Naba Barsho, Bera
Utsav, Teesta Tea & Tourism Festival,Vishnupur Festival and Poush Mela.
West Bengal - Shopping
Shopping in West Bengal is a wonderful experience, in fact, while shopping
in the state you get some unique items which you might, perhaps, not find in
other parts of the country. Although, West Bengal is famous all over the
country for its wide range of items but the state has gained global fame for
its exquisite handicrafts. Since a long time the rich tradition of making
crafts is flourishing in West Bengal. The skilled artisans of the state make
superb items out of clay, shoal and conch. In some areas of the state, the
craftsmen weave beautiful silk sarees, which you can check out during
shopping. West Bengal is also popular for rich tradition of fine arts and
fantastic paintings. In addition to these, don't forget to mention the
Darjeeling tea in your shopping list.
In West Bengal there are several destinations which offer excellent
opportunity for shopping. You can opt for shopping in the government
emporia, private shops or from the roadside vendors who offer good bargain.
While in West Bengal, you must check out items like Baluchari Silk Sarees,
Leather work, Dhokra and Metal cast items, Paintings, items made of shola,
conch-shell, Tea, Jute Products, Cane & Bamboor work and mats, Clay
models and Terracotta items.
The climate of West Bengal is tropical and varies in plains and the
mountainous region. The plain region are hot during the summers and cold in
winter season, while in the mountainous region the climate is cold most of
the year. In West Bengal the summer season starts from mid-March and remains
till mid-June. During the summers, the day temperature raises to a high of
45oC in certain parts of the state, while in winters the temperature drops
below 0oC in hilly areas. Rainy season starts from late-June and continues
till September. Winter arrives in the state in the month of November and
ends by late February.
Best Time to Visit
October to March
West Bengal - Transportation
Subhash Chandra Bose Airport in the state
capital, Kolkata is the only international airport of the state. Bagdogra
near Siliguri is another airport, from where only domestic flights ply. Both
these airports in West Bengal are connected to major cities in India like
Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai etc.
A very good rail network connects the state
with rest of the country. Howrah and Sealdah in Kolkata are the major
railway stations in the state. Other important rail-heads, New Jalpaiguri,
Asansol and Kharagpur, are well-served by several express and super-fast
trains from different parts of the country.
With an extensive good road network covering
the entire state, West Bengal is well-linked by all parts of the country.
Several National Highways and State Highways criss-cross the state. You can
easily approach the state by roads from the nearby states of Bihar,
Jharkhand and Orissa. Road transportation is also operational from the
neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.