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West Bengal

Tourist Centers

West Bengal is one of the first destinations in a tourist’s itinerary visiting the eastern part of the country. Calcutta (Kolkata), the capital of the state, is the proud intellectual capital of the country.

The city has made outstanding contribution to the country in the fields of art, science, medicine, social reform and literature. The city retains some of the most striking colonial buildings of the country. It used to be the capital of the British East India Company and the evidence of the British colonization continues in the city even today.

The Victoria Memorial is a majestic house constructed in the memory of Queen Victoria. This building houses a number of rare specimens of the historical preserves of the land. Moreover, the manuscripts, the paintings and the sculptures here are outstanding.

Howrah Bridge is yet another landmark that denotes this city of joy. This hanging bridge is an architectural marvel of the country. The second largest planetarium in Asia, the Birla Planetarium, is another site that attracts attention of all, regardless of their age.

The Botanical Garden with its 250-year-old banyan tree (Ficus bengalhensis) is another, attraction of the city. The Dakshineshwar Temple is an important pilgrimage center that attracts a number of tourists as well as pilgrims from all over the country.

It is said that Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, the spiritual guru of Swami Vivekananda, used to worship Goddess Kali in this place. The recently built Vidyasagar Setu, another architectural marvel, connects both the banks of the Hooghly River. Thakur Bari, the residence of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, is another site that receives a herd of visitors every year.

Moreover, the Metro Railway, National Library, Shaheed Minar, Eden Garden, Fort William, Rat Park and Marble Palace are some of the other sites of the city that are worth visiting.

Shantiniketan, Tagore’s university township, is a must on any itinerary that plots Bengal as a stopover. Just two and a half hours away by rail from Calcutta, this town in the Birbhum district is rich in culture and art. At Tagore’s residence in the Uttarayan complex, one could visit the museum and his various homes.

From Shantiniketan, you could also take a stopover at Bakreswar, where ancient Kali and Shiva temples rise into the azure sky. The hot springs are famous for curing many chronic diseases. For witnessing the sheer magnificence of the mountains, untouched and unspoiled, one should visit the hill station of Darjeeling, located 7,000 feet above sea level.

Darjeeling is famous for its flavored tea all over the world. The brew is often compared to champagne and the tea gardens that dot the slopes are witness to this gigantic industry. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is a paradise for trekkers. The Tibetan Self-Help Center has a range of carpets for sale in their showroom, woven with dexterity on the premises by refugees who fled their land with the Dalai Lama.

One can also undertake short trips to Mirik, land of oranges, and the charming city of Kalimpong, famous for, its orchids and curio shops. In the same area is Kurseong from where one can get a panoramic view of the Gangetic delta from Eagle’s Crag.

Upon reaching the foothills again, one may stop over at Malbazar to take in the magical mystery of forests and the tea-garden dotted Dooars plains. The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is known for elephants and other wild animals. In the heartland of Bengal’s rich history is Malda with the relics of Muslim culture embodied in the Bara Sona mosque.

Not very far is Behrampur, another cradle of Bengal’s Muslim past. The Hazarduari Palace and the Khush Bagh revive memories of days gone by. Besides these, West Bengal has lot more to offer as a tourist destination.

Digha, Siliguri, Gaur, Pandua, Murshidabad, Bishnupur, Haldia and the Sunderban Tiger Reserve are some of the few places of West Bengal that need to be mentioned here.

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