West Bengal Travel Guide

Best Tourist Destination Of India

West Bengal beckons travelers with a vibrant tapestry of experiences. Its capital, Kolkata, is a cosmopolitan hub, and nearby lies the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger & Shantiniketan offer a glimpse into the state’s rich cultural heritage . Coastal gems like Digha and Mandarmani allure beach enthusiasts. Bishnupur, Bankura, and while hill stations like Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Labha provide an escape to a distinct culture and lifestyle. For wildlife enthusiasts, Jaldapara and Gorumara sanctuaries showcase the state’s rich biodiversity. Pilgrimage destinations like Dakshineswar and Kalighat offer profound spiritual experiences.

Capital: Kolkata
Location: East India

Best Time to Visit West Bengal: The optimal time to explore West Bengal is from October to March.

Why Visit West Bengal? West Bengal entices travelers with its colonial-era monuments, temples, hill stations, delectable cuisine, stunning beaches, abundant wildlife, trekking opportunities, jungle safaris, enriching sightseeing, spiritual pilgrimages, the iconic Toy Train, vibrant arts and crafts, and a deep-rooted heritage and culture.

  • 30°C to 43°C
  • Summer – March to May
  • 28°C to 38°C
  • Monsoon – June to October
  • 10°C to 19°C
  • Winter- November to February

Tourist Attractions in West Bengal

West Bengal is renowned for its rich cultural heritage in India, boasting a plethora of tourist destinations, with Kolkata as its most famous city. As the capital and cultural heart of West Bengal, Kolkata offers a treasure trove of exciting places to explore, including the iconic Victoria Memorial, the Indian Museum, the Birla Planetarium, and much more.

The state’s tourist attractions showcase its geographical diversity, from the northern mountain ranges to the southern maritime climate. West Bengal’s history is steeped in the golden era of trade and commerce, as well as a rich cultural heritage, while also bearing the scars of betrayal, partition, poverty, and famine. Among other notable West Bengal tourist attractions are the historical remnants of Malda, British-era buildings, and Kolkata’s monuments, the Nawab’s city of Murshidabad, and Rabindranath Tagore’s Shanti Niketan, all offering glimpses of the state’s vibrant past.

Here are some of the best tourist places to visit in West Bengal:

Kolkata: Kolkata, often referred to as “The City of Joy,” is West Bengal’s capital and a cultural melting pot. It offers a vibrant art scene, unique culinary experiences, historic landmarks, and the iconic Howrah Bridge. The city caters to history enthusiasts, families, culture aficionados, food lovers, and more. Its colonial charm is evident throughout, making it a hub of historical places in West Bengal.

Darjeeling: Known as the “Queen of the Himalayas,” Darjeeling is a sought-after destination for summer vacations. Its pleasant weather, misty skies, and the famous Himalayan toy train ride make it a favorite among couples and families. Darjeeling boasts over 86 tea estates, renowned for producing world-famous Darjeeling tea. Don’t miss the UNESCO-listed toy train and the breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill.

Sundarbans National Park: For nature and wildlife enthusiasts, Sundarbans National Park is a must-visit destination. It houses the world’s largest mangrove forests and is also a tiger reserve, home to the Royal Bengal Tigers. The park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, features a unique ecosystem with roaring rivers, estuaries, and diverse flora and fauna, including saltwater crocodiles.

Kalimpong: Kalimpong, a serene hill station, offers breathtaking valley views and is a haven for those seeking peace and tranquility. It also features Buddhist monasteries, churches, and Tibetan handicrafts. Historically, it was under Bhutanese rule and served as a forward post for the Bhutan army in the 19th century. Some of the notable attractions in Kalimpong include Jang Dong Palriffo Brang Monastery and Thongsa Gompa.

Siliguri: Siliguri, known as the “Gateway to the North East,” is a vital transportation hub connecting the North East with the rest of India. It’s a small city that has become famous for its tea and timber production. Jaldapara National Park, located nearby, is a prominent wildlife destination where you can spot Royal Bengal Tigers, one-horned rhinos, and various species of deer during an elephant ride.

Santiniketan: Santiniketan, known as the “Eternal Abode of Rabindranath Tagore,” is a peaceful town in Birbhum district. It is home to Visva Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore, which has played a significant role in shaping Indian education. Visitors can explore the university and immerse themselves in knowledge and creativity. in 2023 UNISCO annouced as a World Heritage Site.

Digha: Digha, an emerging beach destination, offers pristine beaches, stunning sunset views along the Bay of Bengal, and diverse attractions like the Zoological Survey of India’s Aquarium, Digha Beach, Udaipur Beach, and Amarabati Park. It remains relatively untouched and is perfect for a weekend getaway from Kolkata.

Durgapur: Durgapur, known as the “Steel Capital of West Bengal,” offers more than just its industrial identity. The town features temples, markets, and parks, providing relaxation and gastronomic experiences. Located in the heart of West Bengal, Durgapur is an excellent choice for a fun weekend getaway.

Dooars : Starting from river Teesta in the East to river Sankoshi in the west, Dooars is a local name given to the floodplains of North-East India around Bhutan. The name ‘Dooars’ has emerged from ‘door’ as Dooars is the gateway to Bhutan.

Murshidabad : From the Nawabs of the pre-British era to the Lords from England, Murshidabad has seen history from its core. This small tourist haven in West Bengal serves as a place that manages to combine the beauty of the past with the beliefs of the present.

Nabadwip : Blanketed away in the commotion of West Bengal, Nabadwip – Mayapur is a cluster of nine islands located on the banks of Ganges. This place is one of those few religious shrines whose spirit of devotion is palpable

Bankura – With much historical significance, Bankura is a town famous for its hills and temples and a treat for adventure sports enthusiasts such as trekkers and hikers.

Cooch Behar : Cooch Behar, once the province of Koch dynasty, is a small planned town in North West Bengal Coch Behar makes up as a good option for weekend getaways for the eco-tourists along with those with an inclination towards history and archaeology.

Malda : From the Pre-colonial Nawabs to the East India company, Malda enthralls you with visual splendor. Along with history, it also bears the foot prints of religion and beliefs that India has always been living with. Formerly known as the English Bazaar, this town has experienced the reign of three dynasties- the Palas, the Senas and the Nawabs.  The different reigns coupled with varying cultures, religions and traditions intensified the charm of the small town as we see today. Scattered with numerous monuments, Malda is one of the most historically relevant cities in Bengal. The folk culture of Malda comprising of ‘Gombhira’ and ‘Kaviyal’ is another major attraction of the region.   

Mayapur : Standing at the junction of river Ganga and Jalangi, Mayapur is a laidback city with lovely views and plenty of temples, making it ideal for multitudes of team.

Purulia – The western most district in the state of West Bengal, Purulia is a beautiful destination blessed with mesmerizing natural beauty.

Gangasagar : A stunning island just off the Bengal coast, Ganga Sagar is a place of beauty as well as religious importance. Home to some of the most stunning beaches, it is famous for hosting the Sagar Mela, which is both a pilgrimage and a fair. 

Things To Do In West Bengal –

Explore the diverse attractions of West Bengal, a state that seamlessly blends its colonial past with a forward-looking future. Kolkata, the former capital of British India, is a city where history and modernity coexist. Marvel at the grand colonial architecture, bustling suburbs with air-conditioned malls, and the city’s unique blend of culture and chaos. Immerse yourself in its rich intellectual, artistic, and cultural scene, and visit iconic sites like Mother Teresa’s house, vibrant markets, and exquisite Raj-era buildings. Plan to spend several days to fully experience the city’s charm and vibrancy.

Venture into the Himalayas. West Bengal offers a remarkable combination of landscapes, from the serene Ganges Delta to the majestic Himalayan peaks. Discover the enchanting tea plantations, historic railways, and monasteries in Darjeeling. Consider going for a rewarding hike to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty.

While Central India is renowned for its tiger safaris, West Bengal is home to Bengal tigers, aptly named for a reason. The Sundarbans, a wetland region near the Ganges Delta, shelters around 100 of these endangered predators. The Sundarbans are also home to crocodiles, dolphins, wild pigs, monkeys, and spotted deer. Wildlife enthusiasts can pair a visit to the Sundarbans with a trip to Kaziranga National Park in Assam, known for its thriving population of one-horned rhinoceros. This region offers a unique opportunity to witness diverse wildlife in their natural habitat.

Not To Do In West Bengal –

When exploring West Bengal, it’s important to fully immerse yourself in the local culture, and a great way to do that is by indulging in the diverse and vibrant cuisine. Rather than sticking to generic Westernized dishes in uninspiring hotel restaurants, venture out and rely on your local guide to lead you to the best cafes and street food vendors. Bengali cuisine is renowned for its delightful combination of sweet and spicy flavors, so be sure to savor dishes like Mughal biryani. Given that West Bengal is often referred to as ‘the land of fish and rice,’ make sure to try hilsa, a beloved oily fish, and bhetki, which is West Bengal’s take on sea bass.

Furthermore, don’t limit your stay to just one state within the region. If you find yourself in Darjeeling, you’re just a short journey away from Sikkim, which shares borders with West Bengal, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. Sikkim offers a compelling contrast to the hustle and bustle of Kolkata in the southern part of West Bengal. Many organized tours of West Bengal extend into Sikkim, providing you with the opportunity to explore its charming state capital, Gangtok, often referred to as ‘the kingdom in the cloud.’ You can also partake in mountain treks and experience the culture of the indigenous Bhutia people through village homestays.

To make the most of your time exploring West Bengal and its neighboring states, consider using various modes of transportation. While private cars are a comfortable option for tailored trips, don’t disregard other means of travel. Taking a ride on the ‘toy train’ in Darjeeling offers a delightful way to enjoy the hilly terrain. India’s extensive train network can also take you to more distant destinations, with overnight services available between Kolkata and New Jalpaiguri, providing an excellent means to access northern West Bengal.

What is the local food in West bengal?

West Bengal, a region renowned for its rich cultural heritage and literary contributions, also boasts a delectable culinary tradition. Bengali cuisine is celebrated for its delectable sweet dishes, and the people of Bengal have a deep-rooted passion for food. At the heart of their cuisine are essential ingredients like fish, lentils, and rice, infused with the flavors of five key spices: Cumin, Nigella, Fenugreek, Aniseed, and Mustard seeds. Most dishes are prepared using pungent mustard oil.

Some notable Bengali dishes include Sukto, Ambole, Pitha, Chingri Macher Malai curry, Maccher Jhol, and Begun bhaja (fried eggplant). However, the true hallmark of Bengali cuisine lies in its sweets, which are cherished not only in the region but across the country. Bengali sweets are typically crafted from sweetened cottage cheese (chhena) and include iconic treats such as Roshogolla, Shondesh, Laddu, Rasmalai, Pantua, and Chomchom. These sweet delights have earned widespread acclaim and remain a source of culinary delight for people throughout India.

West Bengal Local Transport

Getting around in West Bengal involves navigating its extensive transportation network. Whether you’re traveling by train, bus, taxi, or other means, here’s a guide on how to move around:

Train Travel: West Bengal boasts a well-connected state with an extensive railway network, making it easy to travel between cities and towns. Key railway hubs include Kolkata, Siliguri, and New Jalpaiguri, which serve as major starting points for reaching various destinations within the state.

Bus Services: Opting for state-run buses and private bus services is an economical and efficient way to explore West Bengal. These buses connect major cities, towns, and tourist spots, providing a reliable mode of transportation. Kolkata, in particular, offers an extensive bus network covering both intra-city and inter-city routes.

Metro Services: Kolkata proudly hosts one of India’s oldest metro systems, making it a convenient way to get around the city.

Taxis: When it comes to navigating within cities, taxis are readily available and offer a convenient means of transportation. In Kolkata, yellow taxis with meters ensure fair fares for your journey.

Auto-Rickshaws: Auto-rickshaws, commonly known as “autos,” can be found in cities and towns throughout West Bengal. Be sure to negotiate the fare before starting your ride, as autos usually don’t have meters.

Festivals In West Bengal

West Bengal is a state famous for its popularity of festivals. Various festivals are celebrated here throughout the year. Many tourists come here to visit during the festive season. The notable festivals are given below.

  • Durga Puja
  • Kali Puja
  • Lakhsmi Puja
  • Saraswati Puja
  • Bhai Phota
  • Chat Puja
  • Id-Ul-Fitr
  • Poush Sankranti
  • Dol Purnima

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