West Bengal marks the eastern bounds of our country and is accounted as the fourth-most populous state in the nation. The state is known for its cultural diversity. It also flaunts the existence of highest number of heritage buildings. The growing state offers some modern day architectural wonders as well. It is here in West Bengal that you will find Bullock carts and Porsche side by side.
Capital of West Bengal : Cultural Capital of India
Kolkata (formerly referred as Calcutta) dates back to the British era. Back in 1690, Job Charnock consolidated three villages to form one of the greatest mercantile bases ever seen by the nation during British Raj. The city enjoyed the privilege of being the capital of India until 1911. During this time period the state witnessed development of some magnificent artifacts. The city plays host to Fort William, the former headquarters of the British Raj. Victoria Memorial, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Howrah Bridge are some of the noteworthy places of historical value in the city. Recent tourist attractions are the Eco-Tourism Park and Mother’s Wax Museum. The state is famous with foreigners who come every year to spend quality time. West Bengal Tourism is ever growing.
As of today, the city of Kolkata might not be the Capital of the nation but it leads the way when it comes to cultural activities. The state is distributed with places and architectures both depicting scenic beauty and historical eminence.
Geography : How it helps Flourish West Bengal Tourism
West Bengal is having 19 districts and each of them has something to offer to the tourists. West Bengal is a place of diverse geographic architecture. It is nature’s boon to the state, that it owns hilly regions, the Ganges delta plane holds the Sundarbans mangrove forest, home to the ferocious Royal Bengal Tiger. The state also flaunts some lovely beaches in Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Bakkhali and Sankarpur. Some mesmerizing views for great photography can be found in the hills of Kalimpong along the side of Teesta River. This region would be the National Highway 31A.
The symbolic representation of the state are the State Animal – Fishing Cat and the State Bird – White Throated Kingfisher. Night flowering Jasmine holds the title to being the State flower.
Wildlife in West Bengal
West Bengal is having 15 wildlife sanctuaries and 5 national parks. This constitutes 3.26 percent of the entire land occupancy. The state is proud of the wonderful wildlife reserves such as Sundarbans National Park, Gorumara National Park, Neora Valley National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve and Singalila National Park. Wildlife Tourism in West Bengal will bring you a sight of the Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian elephant, Deer, Indian Rhinoceros, Leopard, Gaur and some ferocious Crocodiles. It is claimed that every year migratory birds come to West Bengal during the winter. The Singalia National Park located in the high hills of Darjeeling above 7000 feet gives shelter to some exotic animals and birds like the chinkara, the red panda, takin, barking deer, serow, kalij pheasants, minivets and pangolins.
Popular Historical Places in West Bengal
Fort William – Fort William is one of oldest specimens of architecture in Kolkata. It was originally constructed way back in 1696. The place was supposedly the largest urban park in the city. After the Battle of Plassey, the fort was reconstructed and even today it stands in its own glory.
Indian Museum – The largest and by far the oldest museum of the country can be found in the city of Kolkata. The place was founded by Dr. Nathanial Wallich, from the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The museum proudly hosts six sections which comprise of Art, Anthropology, Archaeology, Geology, Zoology and Economic Botany. We can find an Egyptian mummy here, a collection fossils skeletons, some of the rarest of antiques and a humble set of meteorites.
Howrah Bridge – This cantilever bridge is one the architectural wonders that Kolkata flaunts. It connects the two cities of Howrah and Kolkata. There is a beautiful park by the bridge and the riverside. You can also take a boat ride here at Princep Ghat. Here, by the side of the river Ganges you can find quite a number of street food stalls to try out from.
Victoria Memorial – A mark of the brilliance created in the early 20th century, right in the formative years of the city. It was Lord Curzon whose vision to “have a building, stately, spacious, monumental and grand, to which every newcomer in Calcutta will turn” got realized and as of today stands tall and proud.
South Park Street Cemetery – This cemetery happens to be one of the oldest in the nation built around 1767, after the battle of Plassey and accommodates the British men who died in this distant land standing up for their nation. This cemetery is also host to several ghost stories.
Holy Places in West Bengal
Belur Math – This place echoes seren ity and peace and is the head quarter to Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Founded by Swami Vivekananda, this place holds architectural magnificence. West Bengal is an amalgamation of the Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions and this temple fuses motifs from all three religions as a symbol of unity.
Mayapur, Nabadwip – Mayapur is the headquarter for the ISKON. nabadwip marks the birthplace of Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya. Here in rests the golden statue of Sri Chaitanya in the Sonargouranga temple.
Dakshineshwar Kali Temple – Built on the bank of the Hooghly River, this temple marks homage to Ramakrishna. The temple is devoted to Goddess Kali.
Tourism in West Bengal is not just about these famous places but it’s the overall beauty and the cultural value that makes it wonderful.
Let us be a little methodical in studying the places which are an intrinsic part of West Bengal Tourism. The state being spread over a large area, it will take almost a month to cover all the attractions.
Most Popular Attractions of West Bengal Tourism
City Tourism in West Bengal
We will start with the Cultural Capital – Kolkata is having a set of miscellaneous tourist attractions.
- Howrah Bridge
- Marble Palace
- James Princep Botanical Garden
- Victoria Memorial Hall
- Fort William
- Birla Industrial and Technological Museum
- Indian Museum
- Birla Temple
- Eco Tourism Park
- Mother’s Wax Museum
- Nicco Park
- Science City
- Aquatica Water Park
- Millennium Park
- Belur Math
- Dakshineshwar Kali Temple
Just a two hours’ drive will take you to Burdwan ( Bardhaman ). This is a place of historic eminence and cultural excellence. The district originated ages back, the center of the city proudly exhibits Curzon Gate in honor of Lord Curzon. Some other places that are a must visit are :
- Sarbamangala Temple
- 108 Siva Temple
- Hawa Mahal
- Meghnad Saha Planetarium
- Christ Church
- Damodar River Dam
- The palace of Burdwan Maharaja
- Science Centre
- Mazar of Sufi Pir Baharam Sakka
Burdwan is also famous for two of its sweet delicacies Sitabhog and Mihidana a must have on your visit.
Santiniketan – This place can be considered as the epicenter of culture in West Bengal. The town is based out of Bolpur in Birbhum District of the state. It is 160 km from the city of Kolkata. This town was built by none other than Rabindranath Tagore who lay the foundation stone for Visva-Bharati University.
Santiniketan is known for the events which take place throughout the year. The most popular being Basanta Utsav. Others are,
- Barsha Mangal
- Nandan Mela
- Poush Mela
- Magh Mela
- Rabindra Jayanti
Hill Station attractions of West Bengal Tourism
Darjeeling – This beautiful place lies just on the lap of the Himalayan range. It can be considered as one of the most beautiful hill stations in the world. Darjeeling hosts the famous 96 km Toy Train ride listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This Hill Station is not just famous for attracting people from outside West Bengal but is quite popular amongst the Bengalis as well. Some of the most popular places here are:
- Tiger Hill
- Himalayan Zoological Park and Snow Leopard Breeding Center
- Bastasia Loop
- Darjeeling Ropeway or Shingamari Ropeway
- Lloyd’s Botanical Garden
- Tea Gardens
- The Mall and Chowrasta
- Monasteries in Darjeeling
Darjeeling food is mostly of Tibetan origin. On your visit here you must try Momos and Thukpa. Another delicacy is Shapalay – a selection of Tibetan bread stuffed with meat. Apart from these Darjeeling is famous for it’s Tea. So try enjoying a sip or two while you stay here.
Here, you can indulge in activities like water rafting, para-gliding and bird watching.
Kalimpong – The hills of Kalimpong are also a place of scenic beauty. It can easily be considered as an extended trip of Darjeeling. What awaits here for you is absolute serenity and mesmerizing landscapes. An ideal place for landscape photography. On your visit you must care to have a look at,
- Neora Valley National Park
- Rishi Bankim Chandra Park
- Deola Hill
- Zong Dhog Palri
- Roomtech Monastry
Kurseong – This is yet another popular spot and is quite near to Darjeeling. You can directly land at Bagdogra Airport. This place exhibits both places of natural beauty and religious value. If you are planning to spend a couple of days here you should pay visit to
- Eagle’s Craig
- Deer Park
- The Kholas
- The Kettle Valley
There are a number of temples, churches and mosques located in and around the place. The Ambootia Shiva Temple, Juma Mosque, Buddhist Gompa and St. Pauls Church are the popular ones.
Lava and Lolegaon – A popular honeymoon spot just about 30 km away from Kalimpong. This is a must visit if you are passing by. This happens to be one of the very few places in the state to witness snowfall in winter. There is a Buddhist Monastery which is worth a visit. Other places of attraction,
- Ratnarishi Gumpha
- Neora Lake
- Silviculture Research Centre
- Chhangey Falls
- Canopy Walk Bridge
Mirik – The township by the Sumendu lake is good holiday spot because of the climate and the scenic beauty. Mirik offers a distant horizon view of the Kangchenjunga. You can enjoy boating in shikaras on our stay here. The place is good for photography.
Beaches that beckon you in West Bengal tourism
The state is bordered by the Bay of Bengal and proudly owns quite a few beaches that attracts tourists and add feather to West Bengal Tourism. The most popular one being Digha.
Digha – You can reach here by road from Kolkata. It’s a 5 hour drive and the distance falls around 185 km. The beach front is having a line up of hotels. The most interesting part is you get to have fried fish here, a popular snack available with the food stalls. There are a number of shops as well selling sea shell artifacts. Digha is one of the most populour beaches of eastern India round the year.
Mandarmani – This is a newer and less popular beach that offers a lot more privacy. This beach is located right beside Digha and it takes a 180 km ride from Kolkata to reach there. Mandarmani also offers you a number of fun activities to keep you engaged. Amongst them are ATV Bike Ride, Sea boat ride, Para-Sailing, bump-boat, Jet Ski and Banana Boat ride. The Blue lagoon is one the most simple and affordable places to stay. Other classic resorts are there, say Rose Valley.
Shankarpur – Known to be a virgin beach, this is also a fishing harbor. One can easily find the abundance of Red Crabs here. If you are looking for a quiet time or a place to indulge in photography this beach should be perfect.
Junput – This beach is placed 40km from Digha. Much like Sankarpur this is also a less popular beach and can be visited for a serene experience.
Bakkhali – This is the nearest beach from Kolkata at just 135km. This is a peaceful white sand beach which provides you with a number of sight-seeing locations. Here we have,
- Crocodile Propagation Center
- Jambu Dwip
- Henry’s Island
- Temple of Banabibi
It is a must to watch the sunset and then stay for a while to have snacks on the beach. A number of street food stalls here sell variety of fish.
Tajpur – A popular beach among people who look for spending time own their own, away from the crowd. This beach is having scattered trees here and there, that gives you the feel of a forest. Just 170km from Kolkata this beach as well is a good choice. The beach being comparatively new is much less polluted and crowded.
There is lot more a tourist can see and enjoy in West Bengal. This is just a glimpse of what excitements West Bengal tourism can offer you. Explore yourself! Pack your bags and head to West Bengal right now!!