West Bengal has been a part of a number of dynasties and the state capital, Kolkata served as the capital of British India for several years. The state’s economic and political areas were dominated by the Marxism, Naxalite movements and trade unionism for many decades as well. Besides, many of India’s notable poets, writers, film-stars, theater artists and performers belong to West Bengal.
Temples of West Bengal
Presently Hinduism is a major faith in West Bengal, but a large number of people also follow other religions like Buddhism and Jainism. You can see many Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling and the nearby town of Kalimpong. The Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temples attract thousands of tourists throughout the year. Some of the popular temples are Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, Kalighat Temple, Dhirdham Temple, Ramakrishna Mission Temple, Lalji Temple, Radha Shyam Temple, Suratheshwar Shiva Temple and Hanseswari Temple.
Wildlife of West Bengal
Out of the total land area of the state, forests make up 13.38% area, which though less than the India’s average of 23% wildlife area, is still good. West Bengal is known all over the world for mangrove forest-Sunderbans, which is located in the southern part of the state. Sunderbans is also a World Heritage Site. West Bengal is home to 15 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 5 National Parks and 3 Tiger Reserve, which provide shelter for a variety of wild animals and birds. Popular Wildlife Sanctuaries and Parks of the state include the Sunderbans, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary and Dooars.
Hills and Valleys of West Bengal
Blessed with a number of natural jewels, West Bengal is also home to some of the popular hill stations of the world. Darjeeling (2123 m) also called as the ‘Queen of the Hill Station’ is a shining jewel in the crown of West Bengal. Darjeeling is noted for its lofty peak, green picturesque tea gardens, spectacular valleys and scenery and the toy train, which has been declared a World Heritage by UNESCO. Other popular hills of the state are Kalimpong (1243 m), Sandakphu (3636 m), Lava (2184 m) and Lolaygaon (1516 m).
Fairs and Festivals of West Bengal
West Bengal is a land where numerous fairs and festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Most of the festivals are religious, while some are also related to a particular region. Among the various Hindu festivals, Durga Puja of Kolkata is famous all over the country. Muslims celebrate three major festivals namely- Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha and Moharram. Christmas is the main festival for the Christians. A list important fairs and festivals of the state include Durga Puja, Deepawali, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitra, Eid-ul-Azha, Moharram, Christmas, Ganga Sagar Mela, Kenduli Mela, Jalpesh Mela, Rathayatra, Vasanta Utsav, Jhapan, Naba Barsho, Bera Utsav, Teesta Tea & Tourism Festival,Vishnupur Festival and Poush Mela.
The climate of West Bengal is tropical and varies in the plains and the mountainous region. The plain regions are hot during the summers and cold in the winter season, while in the mountainous region the climate is cold most of the year. In West Bengal the summer season starts from mid-March and remains till mid-June. During the summers, the day temperature raises to a high of 45oC in certain parts of the state, while in winters the temperature drops below 0oC in hilly areas. Rainy season starts from late-June and continues till September. Winter arrives in the state in the month of November and ends in late February.
Best Time to Visit
October to March
How to Reach
By Air: Subhash Chandra Bose Airport in the state capital, Kolkata is the only international airport of the state. Bagdogra near Siliguri is another airport, from where only domestic flights ply. Both these airports in West Bengal are connected to major cities in India like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai etc.
By Railways: A very good rail network connects the state with the rest of the country. Howrah and Sealdah in Kolkata are the major railway stations in the state. Other important rail-heads, New Jalpaiguri, Asansol and Kharagpur, are well-served by several express and super-fast trains from different parts of the country.
Roadways: With an extensive good road network covering the entire state, West Bengal is well-linked with all parts of the country. Several National Highways and State Highways criss-cross the state. You can easily approach the state by roads from the nearby states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. Road transportation is also operated from the neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
Shopping at West Bengal
Shopping in West Bengal is a wonderful experience, in fact, while shopping in the state you get some unique items which you might, perhaps, not find in other parts of the country. Although, West Bengal is famous all over the country for its wide range of items but the state has gained global fame for its exquisite handicrafts. Since a long time the rich tradition of making crafts is flourishing in West Bengal. The skilled artisans of the state make superb items out of clay, shoal and conch. In some areas of the state, the craftsmen weave beautiful silk sarees, which you can check out during the shopping. West Bengal is also popular for the rich tradition of fine arts and fantastic paintings. In addition to these, don’t forget to mention the Darjeeling tea in your shopping list.