Bengal has rich cultural heritage and a glorious past dates back to 3rd century BC. The region has been ruled by Mauryas, Guptas, Palas, the Muslims and finally the British. Bengal is the birth place of many great personalities, philosophers, scientists, patriots, and home to five Nobel laureates – Ronald Ross, Sir C.V. Raman, Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen. During British imperialism, this region was divided into two provinces of West Bengal and East Bengal followed the policy of “divide and rule” to curb the rising of national movement in India. Present Bangladesh is the region of East Bengal and West Bengal is one of the 28th states of Indian Union.
West Bengal is bordered by Nepal and Bangladesh and the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, Assam, and Meghalaya in different directions. From north to south, it stretches from Himalayan Mountain to the Gangetic plain and the Bay of Bengal. The land is mostly plain except the northern region, which comes under the Himalayan mountain range. On the basis of landforms, the state can be divided into the following regions: Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, Terai region, North Bengal plains, Rarh region, Coastal plain, Sunderbans, Western plateau and high lands and Ganges delta.
The rebirth of Indian culture has taken place in this region of West Bengal which added a new chapter in the evolution of Indian history as Bengal Renaissance. This region is the land of Subhash Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Mother Teresa, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, Jagdish Chandra Basu, Dr. C. V. Raman, Satyendra Nath Basu, U. N. Bhramcharya, Meghnath Saha, G. D. Birla, Girendra Sekhar Basu, P. C. Mahalanabish, Sishir Kumar Mitra, Debendra Mohan Basu, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Saorjini Naidu, Amartya Sen, Saurav Ganguly and many more. The culture of Bengal is deep rooted in its soil and is distinguished by festivals, music, cinema, drama and literature. Festivals in a multidimensional scale are observed in spiritual ecstasy in the state especially during Durga Puja.
Bengalis are fond of Bhaat (rice) and Machher jhol (fish curry). There is a wide range of dishes and cuisines with variety of tastes. Most of the typical Bengali sweets have their origin in traditional household kitchens. The most famous of all Bengali sweet is the rasogolla (a kind of sweet) which is best eaten chilled.
PLACES OF INTEREST
There are three distinct types of landscape in West Bengal. First is the Red Soil famous for its rich color to the terracotta temple of Bishnupur, second is the Ganges Delta in lower Bengal where the Bengal tigers meander and the third is the charming Rajera Hill Stations of Darjeeling and Kalimpong lies in the foothills of the Himalayas in the northern part of West Bengal. Some of the famous India Tours and tourist destinations of West Bengal are Kolkata the capital of the state offers Birla Planetarium, Fort William, Botanical Garden, Zoological Garden, Eden Gardens, Nehru Children’s Museum, Howrah Bridge, Victoria Memorial, Indian Museum, Nakhoda Mosque, St. Paul’s Cathedral Church and Kali Mandir of Kalighat. Some other excursions are Digha, Diamond Harbor, Haldia, Barrackpore, Chandernagore, Bandel, Sunderban Wildlife Sanctuary etc. Darjeeling one of the most magnificent hill resorts in the world with breathtaking beauty crowned by the majestic Himalayas. Siliguri the gateway of Eastern India as it is the main transit point for going to Darjeeling hill region, Sikkim, Bhutan, Eastern Nepal and Assam. Kurseong a quiet township between Siliguri and Darjeeling noted for its secluded charm and Eagle’s Crag. Kalimpong secluded and tucked away in the corner under big Darjeeling umbrella, offers a quiet and relaxed holiday, against the backdrop of the Kanchenjunga. Mirik a nest in the hills, a long lake, a floating fountain and the glory of Kanchenjungha reflected in the lake waters. Dooars Valley forms a gateway to the hill stations of North Bengal and Bhutan and famous for unending stretch of virgin forests. Lava commands panoramic view of Jelep La and Rechi La passes, also the gateway to the Neora National Park. Lolay Gaon gives panoramic view of Kanchenjunga. The East Himalayas land of infinite charm with scenic views of Kanchenjunga, bewildering greenery, tea gardens, adventure spots, trekking and lots more.
The coastal trip of West Bengal extending from the Gangetic delta land to the border of Orissa offers breathtaking and eye-catching beaches of Digha, Shankarpur, Junput, Bakkhali, Frazergunj and Sagardwip.
WILDLIFE OF BENGAL
West Bengal’s wild life offers a fascinating diversity of terrain, flora and fauna. It is a delight for nature lovers. It is the home to the World Heritage Site – Sunderbans. Other major wildlife sanctuaries and parks are as under:
1. Neora Valley National Park
The Neora Valley National Park is located in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal bordered on the east by Western Bhutan. The forest of Neora Valley is one of the least tracts of virgin wilderness in the country harbors a wealth of flora and fauna.
2. Buxa National Park
The Buxa Tiger Reserve is located in the north eastern corner of West Bengal bordering Bhutan and Assam. It comprises of deciduous forests which are densely wooded and grasslands and is home to some of West Bengal’s most varied flora and fauna.
3. Sunderban National Park
It is located in 24 Paraganas district, has been designated as a World Heritage Site in 1985 and is a part of the Project Tiger.
4. Singalila National Park
This National Park is famous for Rhododendron, Magnolia, Oak, Hemlock, Silver Fir, Juniper, Mailing Bamboo, Buk, Kawla, Bhujpatra etc. Fauna are leopard, serow, pangolin, elephant, chinkara takin, red panda, barking deer etc.
5. Gorumara National Park
Gorumara National Park is located in the Dooars region of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal famous for its natural population of the Great Indian one horned Rhinoceros.
6. Jaldapara Wild Life Sanctuary
The sanctuary located in the Mountains of Bhutan and the confluence of river Torsa and Malangi is the home of several wild lives like one horned Indian Rhinos, Swamp Deer, wild boar, leopard and tigers.
WEST BENGAL FESTIVALS
The common and popular Bengali saying ‘Baro Mase Tero Parban’ which means thirteen festivals in twelve months that signifies the umpteen number of fairs and festivals that take place. Some of the famous festivals of West Bengal are Gangasagar Mela in South 24 Pargana, Kenduli Mela in Birbhum district, Jalpesh Mela in Jalpaiguri district, Vasanta Utsav in Birbhum district, Naba Barsho throughout West Bengal, Rathayatra in Hooghly district, Jhapan in Bankura district, Bera Utsav in Murshidabad district, Durga Puja and Deepavali throughout West Bengal, Rash Mela in Cooch Behar district, Jagaddhatri Puja in Hooghly district, Teesta Tea and Tourism Festival held in a series at Darjeeling, the Dooars and in Sikkim, Poush Mela in Birbhum district, Vishnupur Festival in Bankura district, Eid throughout West Bengal, Dol Purnima and Noboborsho.
West Bengal has a tropical climate. The plains are hot except during the short winter season while the mountainous region in the north is cold. Generally there are six seasons – springs, summer, the rainy, autumn, mild winter and severe winter.