Tourism in West Bengal
West Bengal is an eastern state which is known for its cultural diversity and rich tradition. No wonder the tourists who visit the state are mesmerised by the multiplicity of its customs. The tourism in West Bengal offers a variety of tours and travels which provides them with the opportunities to explore the places from a kaleidoscopic perspective. West Bengal is home to two heritage sites, Sunderbans, the large Mangrove forest and Darjeeling – Himalayan railway routes, one of the few steam engine railway routes in the country, which was started by the British. Hill stations such as Darjeeling, Kuseong and Kalimpong are brand names within themselves. West Bengal also presents some ancient monuments and temples which take us back to the rich history of India. Dakshineshwar temple, Belur math, ruins of Gaur Empire in Malda district and terracotta temples of Bishnupur still enchants the visitors with its beauty and uniqueness.
Best Places To Visit
The capital of West Bengal, Kolkata, fondly known as the Jewel of the East, is situated on the banks of river Hooghly. Despite being the cultural capital of India, it is a vibrant, intimate and a captivating city. It is the only city in India which has the tram car network, which adds to its charisma. Still carrying the Victorian mark on its buildings and streets, it has plenty of attractions including the Victorian Memorial, Indian Museum, Ochterlony monuments, St. Paul’s cathedral and Eden Gardens.
One of India’s top 10 hill stations, Darjeeling is a small town situated in the northern part of West Bengal. Having the perfect background of the captivating view of the Mount Kanchenjunga, third highest peak of the world, it is blessed with the bounties of nature. Darjeeling has some stunning must-visit places like monasteries, botanical gardens, zoo, ropeway cable car, tea estates, markets, villages and so on. With the famous Tea Gardens, Toy Train, this was awarded heritage site status by the UNESCO, Lebong, the highest race course in the world, Buddhist monasteries and temples makes it a unique hill station.
Sunderbans National Park
Sunderbans, which tops the list of top five national parks of India, is a mangrove jungle, which is the only one of its kind in the world. Extensively spread over 54 Islands and to the neighbouring country Bangladesh, the place is reachable only by boat. Exploring Sunderbans in this way is once in a lifetime experience which must not be missed. The national park has a huge number of plant and animal species which makes them worth watching for the tourists.
The University town, Shantiniketan (abode of peace) is situated 200 kilometres from Kolkata. There, a school was founded in 1901 by Noble poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore which was later developed into Visva Bharati University, to develop humanity relationship with nature. Uttarayan complex in Shantiniketan is one of the main attractions there which now have a museum and gallery. Shantiniketan also has centres for handicrafts like batik, pottery, weaving, and embroidery.
Jaldhapara wildlife sanctuary
Jaldhapara wildlife sanctuary houses numerous animals which you can see during an elephant safari. Located in the Himalayan foothills of Bengal and closer to Bhutan, this national park is one of the places you should not miss in your lifetime.
A beautiful and quiet hill station, Kalimpong is located at an altitude of 1,250 metres to the east of Darjeeling. Covered over an area of 10.6 square kilometres, this small hill station is blessed with lush green Himalayan ranges, a rare blend of ethnic people. Earlier part of Bhutan, it was annexed under India by British after the 1865 Anglo-Bhutan war, after which it developed as a centres of wool trade. This beautiful town is also well known for its Buddhist monasteries, orchids and nurseries.
Vishnupur is well known for terracotta, metal ware and temples, which were built of brick or laterite. Here, you find the models of Bengali huts which were built of bamboo and mud and roofed with thatch. Vishnupur is popular for its exclusive style of music, Vishnupur Gharana. An enthusiastic visitor finds lot of traces of the bygone days through the stunning temples and handicrafts of Vishnupur.
A city which was constructed by the Nawabs of Bengal, it topped the list of the wealthiest cities during their reign. Located on the banks of Bhagirathi River, the city was a spectator to many events which changed the course by which Indian history. The once capital of West Bengal, the city lost its status after the battle of Plassey in 1757 to Calcutta. Hazarduari (Palace of a Thousand Doors), constructed in a classical architectural style has now been turned into a museum with several artefacts, Nawab’s silver throne, ivory sofa and ivory palanquins. Other centres of attraction are Great Imambara, Moti Jhil (Pearl Lake), ruins of Katra Mosque and Medina Mosque. In short, Murshidabad has lot to offer nowadays for the tourists regarding the history of West Bengal and India.
Though West Bengal has ample places of tourist attraction, most of the places are unexplored and neglected due to the poor marketing campaign. The separatist movements launched by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha at Darjeeling hills, demanding a separate state definitely has restricted the tourist flow to the hills.
The tourist destinations of Bengal are indeed entertaining; however, what makes it stunning are its revelations about the diverse culture, tradition and customs of a region which was named Bengal and a great country named India. It is indeed a historian’s delight.