West Bengal, located on the eastern bottleneck of India, stretches from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. Some of India’s most preferred travel destinations, including Darjeeling, the Himalayan hill resort, in its extreme north; Sandakfu its highest peak and the Sundarban mangrove forest delta in the extreme south; are located here.
Home of the irrepressible Bengalis, West Bengal is known for its rich cultural and historical legacy, and has been regarded as the ‘think tank’ or ‘intellectual capital’ of India. As was once said, “what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” Today, it is the gateway to the exotic east; studded with beautiful beaches, picturesque hill stations, flat riverbeds, deltas, historical towns and modern cities.
The capital, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), retains architectural and cultural remnants of its past as an East India Company trading post and the capital of the British Raj. The city’s colonial landmarks include the government buildings around B.B.D. Bagh (Dalhousie Square), Writers Building, Metropolitan Building and the Victoria Memorial, among others. The other landmark that is synonymous with the city is the iconic Howrah Bridge.
The annual Durga Puja festivities set the citiy alive, like none other. Take a ride on the Heritage Mountain Railway (‘toy train’) of Darjeeling; catch a glimpse of the magnificent Bengal tiger in the mangroves of Sunderbans, soak in the annual religious fervor of Durga Puja that takes over the entire city, or just take a dip at the tranquil beachside of Mandarmani.
State capital: Calcutta/Kolkata
Places of interest: Victoria Memorial, Belur Muth, Dakshineshwar, Kalighat temple, Indian Museum, Birla Mandir, Marble Palace, Shaheed Minar, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Jorsanko Thakurbari, Alipore Zoological gardens, Birla Planetarium, Fort William.
By air: domestic & international airport
By rail: well connected
By road: well connected
Official website: www.wbtourism.gov.in