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Cooch Behar, once the province of Koch dynasty, is a small planned town in North West Bengal Coch Behar makes up as a good option for weekend getaways for the eco-tourists along with those with an inclination towards history and archaeology.
Falling under the Jalpaiguri division of West Bengal, Cooch Behar is a district in the North East location of the state bounded by Jalpaiguri, Assam and Indo Bangladesh border to the south and west. Cooch Behar is a closely knit small town with happy people who are proud of the cultural richness and heritage of their city.
- The weather is mostly pleasant, you can carry a pair of woollen just incase of an emergency. When visiting the city during the festive season, try and indulge into conversations with the locals, that is how you will learn small and interesting details about the town and people.
- The best time to visit any part of Bengal is during Durgo Pujo, the atmoshphere and enthusiasm of the town is worth seeing.
Pleasant climate all through the year, less traffic, less pollution.
Not very developed.
Cooch Behar can be visited by history and nature lovers. The architecture of the princely buildings makes it a perfect place for art lovers. The city receives a huge number of tourists from other regions of West Bengal and Assam.
The only planned city in North Bengal and once the capital of the Koch dynasty, Cooch Behar is the reminder of the glorious past of eastern India. Situated across the Indo-Bangladesh border with Assam on one side, Cooch Behar is adorned with palaces and temples inspired from religious and international forms of architecture. Though most of the buildings are used for official purposes now, the Cooch Behar Rajbari and the Madan Mohan Temple still attracts a lot of tourists to the city. The culture and traditions of the bygone era are still visible in the lifestyle and festivals of the local people even today. The vibrant festivals of the region are amazing events to indulge in.
With rich flora and fauna, Cooch Behar shares the Jaldapara National Park with its neighbouring district. Commonly known as ' Dooars', the unexplored forest is home to the rare one-horned rhino. Another aspect of enjoyment in Cooch Behar is the authentic Bengali cuisine which comprises of rice, various fish and meat preparations and the lip-smacking sweets including jalebis made of jaggery, the speciality of the region.
Cooch Behar gets its name from the Koch or Rajbongshi tribes indigenous to this region for centuries together. The word Behar is derived from vihara meaning monastery, loosely translates to a place of stay.
The history of Cooch Behar dates back to the 4th century when it was ruled by the Kamarupa dynasty and was called Kamarupa Kingdom (later known as the Kamata Kingdom in the 12th century). Till about 1498 CE, the kingdom was ruled by several tribes including the Khens, Alauddin Hassan Shah, Bhuyan Chieftains, before it finally fell into the hands of the Koch tribe. Under the rule of Koch king- Nara Narayan, the kingdom reached its zenith. Over the years the kingdom was divided between Nara Narayan’s nephew- Raghudev and his own son- Lakshmi Narayan. The land under the rule of Lakshmi Narayan came to be known as Cooch Behar. This part of the kingdom aligned himself with the Mughal empire and came under West Bengal. While the remaining, under Raghudev, went under the jurisdiction of Assam. After a series of events of conquests, Cooch Behar became a princely state under the British Raj 1773 but was still under the reign of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan. Finally, in 1949, the Maharaja transferred full authority of the district to the Government of India. The remaining half of Assam was also separated and made a part of the existing Cooch Behar in West Bengal.
In addition to the myriad festivals celebrated in the state of West Bengal, Ras Mela tops them all. It is a festival dedicated to the honour of the Hindu God Lord Krishna and his love for Radha. The month-long celebration precedes the famous Ras Yatra. Ras Yatra is celebrated on the full moon day during the month of Kartik (aka December) which is a parade of clay idols of God Krishna and Goddess Radha. The procession portrays the life of Lord Krishna and demonstrates different scenes of his miracles and lifestyle. The entire city is lit up for the entire month. There are elaborate processions of folk dances, songs and traditional fairs. Pandals are set-up all over the city, and the idols of the gods are decked up in rich ceremonious clothes. In addition to that, there are numerous stalls to savour the taste buds of the visiting guests. The aura and vibe of the city light up with the spirit of festivities. Tourists from far and wide travel to Cooch Behar to witness the grand carnival.
Day 1 - Start off your tour early morning with a rejuvenating stroll around Sagar Dighi. Visit the Rajbari and Madan Mohan temple. Indulge in a traditional Bengali platter in the afternoon. Day 2 - Proceed to Jaldapara National Park and enjoy an overnight stay in a cottage in the forest. Day 3 - Explore the forests on an elephant.
The main and almost essential elements of the food here are fish, lentils and rice, while, the food gets it flavors from the 5 main spices- Cumin, Nigella, Fenugreek, Aniseed and Mustard seed. The dishes are generally prepared in mustard oil. Sukto, Ambole, Pitha, Chingri macher Malai curry, Maccher Jhol, Bengali eggplant fry are the delicacies that almost offer a definition to the cuisine here. Sweet is another indispensable part of Bengali food and the sweets of the state are famous across the country. The sweets of Bengal are generally made of sweetened cottage cheese (chhena). Rashogolla,shandesh, Laddu, Rasmalai, Pantua, Chamcham are Bengali relishes, enjoyed all over India.
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