Ideal duration: 4 - 12 days
Best time: October to March (Read More)
Major Airports: Kolkata, Bagdogra
Read more about Airports in West Bengal
West Bengal boasts of different ethnicities, cultures, religions, people and languages which add to this beautiful landscape, forests, coastal beauty, heritage.
The beautiful state of West Bengal attracts a great number of tourists every year as the state is jewelled with mesmerising landscapes, snow-clad mountains, gushing sea, blossoming tea gardens, huge deltas, lush green forests, plentiful wildlife, ancient temples and magnificent British monuments. Tiger Hill, Howrah Bridge, Tea Gardens are some of the famous tourist spots which offer an insight into the vast culture and history of the State. The culture of the state is adorned by colourful fairs and festivals for every month. A vast number of famous pilgrimages also attract a large number of tourists of all faiths and beliefs.
The land of culture, arts and literature is also a haunt for foodies and people who relish the art of cooking. The cuisine is rich, in flavour, in color and in the culture and heritage that it represents and food is a way of life in Bengal.
West Bengal is a centre for culture, arts and literature. This is where histories, legacies and poetry take the form of colourful and vibrant festivals and rich classical arts, only to flourish in the daily, everyday life. Bengalis are almost always foodies and the most passionate about Bengali food.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, Begun bhaja (fried eggplant) 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). Roshogolla,shondesh, Laddu, Rasmalai, Pantua, Chomchom are Bengali relishes, enjoyed all over India.
Read more about Food of West Bengal
Darjeeling in the northern part of West Bengal is an extension of the Himalayan range while Dooars in the foothills is covered with thick forests. River Ganga which flows through the state between the Himalayan and delta region marks the fertile Gangetic plains. West Bengal's rich physical diversity and old world charm is very attractive for tourists.
While the capital is well connected through air and railways, the absence of direct flights and trains to places like Darjeeling and Kalimpong for tourists may cause some hassle.
West Bengal is the destination to be for art lovers, culture enthusiasts, sports lovers and admirers of history and architecture.
If you are interested in wildlife and have a passion for discovering rare varieties of flora and fauna, add a jungle safari in Jaldapara and Gorumara National Park to your itinerary in Bengal. These national parks are the habitat of more than 194 species of birds, 22 reptiles? species, seven kinds of turtles and 27 species of fishes alongside countless species of flora. When here, you can also spot the rare one-horned rhinoceros, leopard, sambar, barking deer et cetera in their natural habitats.
What better memory to take from a city than its art? If you?re shopping for souvenirs to take home, you must consider Kali Ghat Patachitra as well as something with the Kantha embroidery. Kali Ghat Patachitra is an ethnic painting depicting mythological scenes done on paper. These are usually bright in colour and can be found easily around the Kali temple. Don't forget to shop for a beautiful saree, bedsheet or kurta with the very intricate Kantha embroidery and celebrate its uniqueness.
Since West Bengal produces jute, you can bank on finding top quality jute décor items here. From wall hangings, jute bags, jewellery to footwear, you can find all this and more in numerous designs. Terracotta sculptures is another popular takeaway from the local market. You are most likely to find terracotta sculptures in most households in Kolkata. It is a traditional art of clay modelling, and one can get a variety of products like statues of gods to home décor items and even jewellery made in diverse designs, colours and sizes.
Bengali women are known for their love of sarees. Two very popular types of sarees are Baluchari and Tant. Baluchari sarees are typically five yards in length and have handwoven floral designs across its body; the pallu is known to have scenes from mythological epics lined with buttis. These sarees are mainly in silk prepared by artists from village Baluchari near Murshidabad. The tant sarees, on the other hand, are the typical Bengali sarees which come in a combination of white saree with red border. These traditional sarees are most common and worn by many women on auspicious occasions including the massively celebrated Durga Puja. The combination of white and red is believed to be the colour of the goddess and is known to be fortunate. One can also buy Korials, Garads, Tassar and Murshidabad silk sarees from West Bengal.
Read more about Dresses of West Bengal
The sweet spoken, friendly people of West Bengal have a strong inclination towards art and culture, music, poetry, literature and craft run through their veins and come very naturally to them as if mixed with the air that surrounds the state. West Bengal is the home to numerous poets, painters, filmmakers and scholars celebrated across the globe. All the festivals are celebrated with great pomp and show by people of all faiths. Apart from the mother tongue Bengali, Oriya, Nepali, Urdu, Santhali are some of the languages spoken in Bengal. Hinduism is the dominant religion in West Bengal, Islam, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are the other religions followed by people in Bengal.
Read more about Culture of West Bengal
When it comes to culture, literature, sports, diversity regarding physical features, nothing beats West Bengal. Located on the bank of the Bay of Bengal in the eastern part of India, West Bengal is the fourth most populous state in the country. The state has successfully managed to strike an admirable balance between preserving its incredible heritage even while it is moving fiercely towards future. Regarding geography, West Bengal shares international borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh in the north, Assam in the east and Bihar on the western side. Towards the south-west is Orissa while the Bay of Bengal marks its boundaries in the south.
West Bengal was an important territory under the colonial rule. When India gained independence in 1947, the then Bengal was divided based on religious domination. The western part of Hindu-dominated Bengal joined India to become the present day West Bengal, and the Muslim-dominated districts within the eastern part of state separated to join Pakistan. Later, in the year 1971, after the fallout between Pakistan and East Bengal, this part went on to become Bangladesh.
In 1950, the province of Cooch Behar was merged in the state boundaries of West Bengal after the King Jagaddipendra Narayana signed the instrument of accession with India. However, it was only in 1954, after former French enclave of Chandernogor was made a part of West Bengal that it got its present day political boundary.