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West Bengal

Located in the eastern part of India, West Bengal is one of the leading states of India in terms its growth and development. It shares its boundary with Orissa in the south west, Jharkhand and Bihar in the west, Sikkim in the north and Assam in the north-east; however, it also shares its international boundary with Bangladesh in the east and Bhutan and Nepal in the north. West Bengal makes small coastline with Bay of Bengal in the south of it.

Historically as well as geo-strategically, the state has remained pretty important; during the 3rd century BC, the great emperor Ashoka conquered the broader region of Bengal. But in the subsequent century, the region was merged into the Gupta Dynasty. Likewise, the region is ruled by dozens of dynasties including Muslim and Hindu. By the time of 13th century, various sultans ruled the region. However, during the medieval period to until British arrival, the region was ruled by powerful Hindu and Baro-Bhuyan landlords. But during the 18th century, British East India Company took the region in its hand aftermath the Battle of Plassey of 1757.

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British had ruled the state for long time and also constructed various building and other centres in the state; however, large part of infrastructure development can be seen in the capital city Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Besides, the region experienced the development in education also. The western education system developed at the highest; resultantly, several education institutions developed there. Its result can be seen in every aspect of the region; social reforms were one of the major revolutions in the region. That also gave the foundation of Indian Independence movement. Kolkata served as national capital for many years. It was the year 1911, when national capital is shifted from Kolkata to New Delhi. However, as per the British policy, in the year 1905, Bengal was divided into two parts on religious ground namely East Bengal (currently Bangladesh) and West Bengal.

Geographically, spread between the Great Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south, West Bengal has various distinct geographic features. If the state has hill station Darjeeling located in Himalayan region then it has also the tourists’ point Digha Beache located at the coast of Bay of Bengal. Ganga is the major river that flows throughout the state and then enters in Bangladesh and meets with the river Brahmaputra before merging in Bay of Bengal. Damador and Hooghly are other important rivers of the state. One of the largest mangroves of the world, Sundarbans is located in the south of the state. Largely, the state has tropical savana climate with three major seasons namely, summer, rainy and winter.

West Bengal has very rich and distinct culture and tradition; arts, music, dance and films are quite distinct from other regions of the country. Majority of Indian dancers, artists, musicians and singers are from West Bengal. Above all, Bengali literature is very rich; one of the worldwide known and Nobel Prize winners of India was Rabindranath Tagore who got his prize for his Bengali literature. Swami Vivekananda who established his significant theory across the world was also born in West Bengal. Besides, there are dozens of other scholars who have given unforgettable contributions to the whole world.

West Bengal Tourism

With having various distinct geographic regions, West Bengal is one of the leading tourists’ states of India. It has wide range of tourists’ attractions such as natural landscapes, hill stations, archaeological sites, beaches, plains, wildlife, modern buildings, museums, science parks and many more. However, major tourists’ attractions of the state are:

Monuments and Historical Places

• Hazarduari Palace: Built in Indo-European style, it is a popular tourist spot, largely known for its - the largest staircase in India and the second largest chandelier in the world.
• Howrah Bridge: Located in capital Kolkata, it is one of the iconic bridges of India. It is also known as ‘Rabindra Setu’.
• Victoria Memorial: Located in Kolkata, it is one of the most visited sites in West Bengal.
• Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden or Calcutta Botanical Garden: Formerly popular as Indian Botanic Garden, it is the largest and oldest reserve of greeneries of its kind in the entire South East Asia.
• Cooch Behar Palace: Designed on the model of Buckingham Palace of London, Cooch Behar Palace is one of the major tourists’ attractions in West Bengal. Known as Victor Jubilee Palace, it is noted for its elegance and greatness and hence it is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
• Darjeeling Himalayan Railway ("Toy Train"): Built during the period of 1879 to 1881, it is a narrow gauge railway that runs between the Hill Station Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. It is one of the World Heritage Sites of India.
• Hazarduari Palace: Located in Murshidabad, it was built by architect Duncan Macleod during the period of the nineteenth century. One of the most splendid palaces of India, the Hazarduari Palace is handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India for its protection and maintenance.
• Adina Mosque: Located in Maldah District of West Bengal, it was built by Sultan Sikandar Shah in 1373.
• Shantiniketan: Located nearby the Bolpur in the Birbhum District of West Bengal, it is the Ashram of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. However, now it is a popular university town. You can get here various collections of Rabindranath Tagore.
• Bishnupur Terracotta Temples: Bishnupur is an historic town located in the Bankura District of West Bengal. The town is popular for various terracotta temples made up of locally available laterite stones.
• Dakshineswar Kali Temple: Located on the bank of Hooghly River nearby Kolkata in Dakshineswar, it is a popular Hindu temple. The temple is dedicated to goddess ‘Bhavatarnini’ (one of the faces of Goddess Kali).
• Sunderbans: Located along the coast of Bay of Bengal, Sunderbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the whole world. It has various unique flora and fauna; located partly in Bangladesh and partly in West Bengal state of India, Sunderbans is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park and one of the largest sites of Tiger Reserve of India.
• St. Paul's Cathedral: Located in capital Kolkata, it was built by Bishop Daniel Wilson during the period of 1839 to 1847. The architect of the Church is itself one of the points of attractions.

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Hill Stations in West Bengal

• Darjeeling
• Kurseong
• Kalimpong
• Mirik
• Sandakfu

Sea Beaches in West Bengal

• Digha Beache
• Shankarpur Beache
• Mandarmani Beache
• Bakkhali Beache
• Gangasagara Beache
• Tajpur Beache

National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries in West Bengal

• Sundarbans National Park: Located in the coastal region, it is worldwide popular park and tiger reserve.
• Buxa Tiger Reserve: Located nearby India-Bhutan border in the Buxa hills, it is a tiger reserve.
• Gorumara National Park: Located in the Terai region of Himalayan foothills, in the north-east part of West Bengal, it is the park of grasslands and forest.
• Neora Valley National Park: Located in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal, it has rich reserve of flora and fauna. The most popular animal of the region is Red Panda.
• Singalila National Park: It is located on the Singalila Ridge along the border of Sikkim and West Bengal.
• Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary: Locate on the bank of river Torsa, along the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in Jalpaiguri District; it has diversity of flora and fauna. Surprisingly, it has the largest number of Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros in the state.
• Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary: Located in the south of city Kolkata, it is popular for varieties of birds.
• Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary: Located in Uttar Dinajpur District of West Bengal, it is store house of birds. The sanctuary is also popular for the varieties of migratory birds that visit every year.

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