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East India (West Bengal)

West Bengal

Calcutta, three hundred years old, traces its history to the landing of Robert Clive on the banks of the Hooghly beside three villages. It was from here the monumental British Raj was launched in India. The capital of West Bengal, Calcutta is the major entry point.

If Delhi is the elegant capital of the nation, and Bombay its major industrial city, then Calcutta ranks as the intellectual capital. Poets, thinkers and film directors of international renown hail from this city where avant garde plays and art exhibitions go on show practically every day of the year. Calcutta was the first headquarters of the East India Company, and some of its best known monuments were built by this British trading house. However, the city has, within its 300 years’ history, hosted other communities both from other parts of India as well as abroad – Chinese, Armenians, Jews – all of whom have left their imprint in pockets of Calcutta. Sightseeing in this fascinating city includes Raj Bhawan, the residence of the Governor of Bengal; Victoria Memorial, the city’s landmark; Botanical Gardens, which are notable for the oldest banyan tree, and orchid house; Armenian Church; Marble Palace, one family’s collection of memorabilia; and the Birla Planetarium. Darjeeling, the state’s most popular hill resort, is a slice of England 2,134 metres above sea level. Surrounded by tea gardens growing the prized leaf known as Darjeeling, the little town faces some of the Himalaya’s highest peaks. Darjeeling is an abrupt variation from the lowlands of West Bengal. Buddhism, being a major faith here, Darjeeling and the nearby town of Kalimpong have, between them, several Buddhist monasteries, chiefly of the Yellow Hat sect.

 
Kolkatta - Calcutta

Grown from mangrove swamps, Calcutta is the largest metropolis in India. Calcutta's role in the national economy is of crucial importance as the Gateway to Eastern India. Ships were the begining of Calcutta's history & the river Hoogly was the key to the city's fortunes.

 

Sunderbans
A thrilling cruise through the largest estuarine delta in the world and the biggest colony of the `Royal Bengal Tigers' - the Sundarbans. These evergreen mangrove forests pulsate with a myriad forms of life. Above the Kingfisher and White-bellied Sea eagle add a brilliant burst of colour. The sea creeps in at high tide. The forests float. The ebbing waters reveal nature so alive on the glistening mud flats. The land is split by numerous rivers and water channels all emptying into the Bay of Bengal. Venture further to discover a rich tribal folklore. It is believed that Bonbibi, the goddess of the forest, protects the wood-cutters, honey-collectors and fishermen on their hazardous missions. For, as the saying goes, `Here the Tiger is always watching you'.

Delta-forest home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. The Ganges, which is rightly known as the Ganga, carries silt and fertility from its ice-melt sources in the high Himalayas, through the lush plains of India, past the riverine port of Calcutta. Here, however, it is no longer the Ganga because it has become one of the major distributaries. For, in the flat grey-clay lands of Bengal, the great river splits into numerous channels, dividing and sub-dividing like the roots of a tree, till it pours through many mouths into the Bay of Bengal.

Between Calcutta and the final outpouring of the river are the lands knows as The Sunderbans: literally, the Beautiful Forests. Some people, believe that they could," however, have got their name from the profusion of Sundari trees. These forests are extremely dense, often impenetrable, fringed by mangrove jungles and are one of the most intriguing wilderness on earth. Most journeys through these humid forests are done by boat, and it is a fascinating trip. Fishermen’s boats, like black scimitars, drift past, spreading nets for the fish that teem in these rich waters. Near the delta villages the clay is relieved by green vegetation. When the tourist ferry stops, occasionally, visitors walk ashore on palm- and-bamboo jetties to enter forest areas fenced in by bamboo corrals.

Fiddler crabs extend their cherry-red claws out of their mud burrows; curious, air- breathing, mud skipper fish climb the stilt roots of the mangroves on their flipper-like fins, viewing intruders with pop-eyed amazement. Tribes of honey gatherers live in these dark forests. They believe that the giant, saline water drinking Royal Bengal Tigers always attack from the rear and so they wear masks on the backs of their heads. This is why a posse of armed policemen accompanies all visitors who venture into these beautiful forests. Other wild creatures which lucky visitors might see are spotted deer, boar, monkey, crocodile, python, Salvator lizards, and a wide range of water birds.

 
Jaldapara Sancturary
Jaldapara Wild Life Sanctuary situated in Alipurduar Sub-Division of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal was constituted in the year of 1941 for the protection of wild life, particularly single horned Rhinos. River Torsha runs through this riverrain forest sanctuary which is mostly covered with tall grasses. The wild life, in addition to the famous single horned rhinos, consists of Royal Benggal Tigers, wild elephants, deers, swamp deers, hog deers, wild pigs, bisons and a number of birds, pea-fowl etc.

 
Bakkhali
The second popular sea resort of West Bengal is Bakkhali , situated only 132 km away from Calcutta , It is quiet and charming.

 
Shantiniketan
An International University founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore where the cultures of the East & the West could meet and mingle. Named Vishva-Bharati, the University represents Indian traditions while incorporating the best of other cultures. Shantiniketan, the abode of peace, was initially an Ashram or hermitage founded in 1863 by Maharishi Devendranath Tagore. In 1901 his son, Rabindranath converted it into an experimental open-air school with just five students. It proved a success. He widened the scope of studies which gradually formed the nucleus of a University.

Another interesting feature about Santiniketan is that splendid sculptures, frescoes, murals and paintings of Rabindranath, Nandlal Bose, Ramkinkar, Bindobehari Mukhopadhyaya and others adorn the campus.

 
Vishnupur
Terracotta, metalware & temples characterise Vishnupur. The temples are built mostly of brick & at times, of laterite. Clay & laterite are the only building materials available here besides wood and bamboo. The architecture is modelled on the pattern of Bengali huts built of bamboo & mud and roofed with thatch.

Vishnupur will remain ever famous for its distinct style of music, i.e. the Vishnupur Gharana, if not anything else. The name of Jadu Bhatt, the music teacher to Rabindranath Tagore, is remembered with respect to this day.

A discerning visitor may find traces of the past splendour and glory thatwas Vishnupur in its superb temples and unique handicrafts.

 
Darjeeling
Darjeeling is nestied in a setting of Kanchenjunga and Mount Everest, Tibetan Monasteries, Himalayan Tribal Life, Pine Trees etc. Which make her qualify as the queen of the hill stations.

 
Sagardwip (SAGAR ISLAND)
Gangasagar Mela, the largest fair in west Bengal held near the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal ,draws millions of piligrams from all over India. They come for a holy dip on Makar Sankranti(last day of the Bengali Month) Negha -Mid January )and after their obligations at the Kapilmuni Temple nearby.

Transport
From Calcutta to Namkhana by bus (105)kms.Namkhana to Chemaguri by launch across the river Muriganga from Chamaguri to Gangasagar by bus (10kms.) One may cross the Muriganga from Herwood Point (lot no. 8) near Kakdip to Kaachubrie also.Kakdwip is 85 kms. from lot No. ',to Kachuberia and bus service from Kechuberia to Gangasagar(30kms)

 
Plassey
A place of great historical importance. Here in the year 1757 a battle was fought between the British and the last Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Clive the British Chief defeated Nawab - Siraj-ud-daula by unfairmeans. Siraj-ud-dula was killed and Mirzaffar became the Nawab. The historic battle field is till preserved. A memorial was erected by Lord Curzon at the mango groves where the actual battle took place.
 
Kurseong
Situated at an altitude of 2458 metres (4860 feet), Kurseong is 51 kms from Shiliguri and 30 kms from Darjeeling. The word Kurseong means the place of White Orchid. Beacause of its lower elevation, Kurseong enjoys a milder and very healthy climate throughout the year.

Kurseong means the places of White Orchid. Because of its lower elevation, Kurseong enjoys a milder and very healthy climate throughout the year.

 
Kalimpong
Just 51 kms east of Darjeeling is situated the picturesque town of Kalimpong, the former headquarters of the Bhutanese Governor. Situited at an altitude of 1250 metres between the Deolo and Durbindra Hills, Kalimpong is an ideal place for a quiet holiday amidst gently rolling hills and deep valleys at the foot of the mighty Himalayas.

 
Durgapur
Durgapur projects an image of an industrialised India. It is the third integrated steel plant of Hindustan Steel Limited and occupies an area of 6.47 sq. kms. Founded under the Colombo Plan Mission which visited India in April, 1955, the plant has been instrumental in changing the rural face of Durgapur into a vast industrial complex comprising public and private sectors.

 
Digha
Beach-on-the-bay of West Bengal, Digha, has the whispery, languid, soft-focus, charm which is so graciously bengali: sighing casuarinas, ponies nodding on the beach, prolonged meals in the flavoursome sweet-&-salt idiom of the state and timeless days and nights of nothing to do but unwind and find yourself.
 
Buxa Tiger Reserve
Buxa Tiger Reserve was set up in the year of 1982-83 at the north eastern corner of West Bengal bordering Bhutan and Assam. This picturesque reserve with its proigous Terai, Bhabar as well as Hilly landscape, is desected by numorous revulets. Its delared a National Park in January 1992.

The varitable flora and fauna of these wet forests having an annual downpour exceeding 5000 mm, attracts tourists and nature lovers every year. This part of the country is characterised by its high degree of plant & animal bio-diversity where 60% species are endemic to the area. The Generic diversity of mammals is second highest among all the tiger reserves of India. Astonishing bio-diversity of animals comprise of a reach avifauna of more than 230 identified species, 67 mammals (out of which 21 are endangered), 36 species of reptiles (10 numbers are endangered). Apart from Bengal Tiger the flagship species, there are plenty of Leopard, Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Indian Civet, Palm Civet, Wild Dogs, Malayan Gaint Squirrels, Mangooses, Asian Elephant, Gaur, Small Clawes Otter, Chital, Sambar, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Wild Buffalo, 3 varieties of Pythons, Monitor Lizard and a host of land tortoises. A number of animals like Chinese Pangolin. Regal Python (reticulate) Clouded Leopard are endemic to the region.

The Avifauna is rich in both endemic as well as migratory species. The swift rivers of Rydak and Jainti are visited by Trans Himalayan Migratory Goosanders, the beautiful Ibis Bill, resident Fork-tails, varieties of Red-stars, Wag-tails, the Narathali Lake is visited by migratory Common Teal, Gargani Teal, Large Whistling Teal, White Eyed Poachared etc. The Hornbills including greater Pied Hornbill abound the area. One of the rarest bird of India the Black-necked Crane has been sighted in the Reserve during the early winter. The migratory beautiful Black Stork is a visitor of the area. The monsoon ends and beautiful Minivets, Sultan tits arrive, during summer rare Ashyminivet is also sighted.

 
 
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