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WEST BENGAL TOURISM

Ever since pre-colonial times, West Bengal has been the hub of all things cultural and intellectual. Many great works, be it in the form of lyrics, prose, poetry and art, has been birthed here since time immemorial. And one very good reason for this cultural success is the varied topography of the state, which boasts of everything, from the sea and the river to the forests, hills and mountains. With so much inspiration to draw from, West Bengal can be very well termed the ultimate muse, giving birth to all things poetic.

 

 

A WALK THROUGH HISTORY:

 

west bengal tourism

Even though the formation of this state is owed largely due to the partition of 1905, West Bengal has been steeped in heritage and legacy ever since. Architectural monuments dot the state all over, and its capital, the city of Kolkata, is still called the City of Palaces. This is due to the fact that, even in the middle of the concrete jungle that is present day Kolkata, one can find generations-old architectural masterpieces, be it temples, buildings, bonedi baris or traditional old Bengali houses in the northern part of the city, or old ruins of colonial structures, which the British build all over in abundance, since during that time, Kolkata, or Calcutta, as it was known as back then. It was once the capital city of India.

As for the temples and palaces, you can stop by the numerous terracotta temples that can be found in Bishnupur, or the Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad, which was built between 1824-1838, and is a true masterpiece. Nawab Nazim Humaun Jah had this palace built for himself by architect Duncan McLeod, and as its name suggest, there are a 1000 doors in the palace, along with the second largest chandelier in the world. Coach Behar Palace built in 1887, Victoria Memorial, St. Paul's Cathedral, Dakshineshwar Temple and Rabindra Setu or Howrah Bridge are all the notable architectural wonders that the city showcases, but outside of all this bygone splendour, the real taste of West Bengal can be derived from its geographical diversity. And as the mighty Ganges River cuts through West Bengal, you can enjoy boat rides along certain stretches, enjoy the scenery on the banks on either side and see how West Bengal started out from humble beginnings as tiny settlements along the river bank to the prosperous state that it has become today.

Since West Bengal stretches from the Gangetic Plains in the south to the Himalayan area in the north, there is a varied topographical difference, which also includes the mangrove forests and the Bay of Bengal.

 

THE MAJESTIC HILLS:

 

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Since West Bengal is very close to the Himalayan range of mountains, it comprises  many of the notable foothills and some tall peaks, and many hill stations which make for great tourist hotspots. Of these, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik are just a few, where you can go at various times of the year and get closer to nature, in the calm and tranquillity of the hills. For those who are more adventurous, can visit Sandakphu and go on various treks and rock-climbing expeditions which cover many of the bases along the height of this behemoth of nature, which is 3636 metres tall, and the highest peak of the state. Winters bring heavy snowfall to various regions here, so you can have a gala time if you were to visit these hilly areas during winter.

 

THE MANGROVE FORESTS:

 

Royal bengal Tiger


 The Sundarbans form the largest mangrove forest in the world, and are most notable known for housing the majestic and highly endangered species of Royal Bengal tigers. The area is largely swampy, and it offers much natural beauty, and if one is immensely lucky, then a rare sighting of a Royal Bengal tiger is on the offer, while people flock here on weekends to take in the unique flora and fauna that the region has to offer. You can even enjoy boat rides, and you can register for guided tours as well.

 

THE DOOARS:

 

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These are the floodplains and few foothills of the eastern Himalayas, which are home to many forests and woods, and make for some great tourist destinations. Most of the locals here are of Mongoloid descent and the most notable thing of interest here are the vast expansive tea gardens which cover almost every available side of the foothills. And if you are into wildlife attractions, then you can choose your pick from Jaldapara National Park, Gorumara National Park, Buxa National park and others, all of which have their own unique breed of animals and flora and have organised tours and activities which allow you to go on whole day trips inside these sanctuaries.

 

 

FROM SEA TO SHORE:

 

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 Since the state of West Bengal continues on till the Bay of Bengal, there are many sea beaches all across the coastal strip, which goes on till the Odisha border. Digha, Shankarpur, Bakkhali, Tajpur and Mandarmani are just a few of the popular beaches which make for perfect getaways from the busy life of the city. Accommodations in these locations are varied, and no matter what your budget, you can always find the perfect nook for that perfect weekend on the beach with your family and friends. You can find local restaurants and eateries here in abundance, where you can enjoy the freshest sea food you can ever hope for, and you can visit the flea markets here as well, who deal in various local cottage industry products, which are individual to this region especially.

 

SHANTINIKETAN:

 

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Located in Birbhum district, this small town got worldwide recognition after Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore popularised it through his innumerable works. During Poush Mela, this otherwise sleepy town comes alive, and people from all over flock here to have a good time. This event sees people from all walks of life, such as folk singers, dancers and artisans and even poets and writers come together and mingle. There are also educational institutes of worldwide renown such as Visva Bharati who have their campuses in this small town, and you can visit them also to gain insight about the culture and history of West Bengal.

But the most notable fact about Shantiniketan is that, you can enjoy Baul music here to your heart's content. Baul is a folk form of music which is practiced here widely by Baul fakirs or saints, and anyone and everyone can join in.

 

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Last updated on: Mon, 11 Jul 2016
Information Source: Department of Information & Cultural Affairs(I&CA), Government of West Bengal