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December 10, 2023
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West Bengal: By the Bay, Plains, Valleys and Hills – A diverse Land

Himanshu Talwar

Himanshu Talwar Travelogue

It is always a pleasure to visit the State of West Bengal. Having studied at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIMC); every time I visit the state it reminds me of my college days. I always cherish the memories of the friends I made there; the delicious food; and the beautiful destinations I visited. 

Situated between the Bay of Bengal and the Himalayas, West Bengal is an eastern Indian state. Its geographical setting allows it to be so diverse and unique in its topography. The state is adorned with scenic landscapes, green hill stations, mesmerising coastal areas, blossoming tea gardens, unique wildlife as well as magnificent remnants of the British Raj.

The capital of West Bengal, Kolkata, known to be the City of Joy even today reflects the cultural, artistic and architectural influence of the British era. The city sits on the confluence of the British and Bengali cultures.  Kolkata’s streets are vividly chaotic and brimming with life. The bazaars of Kolkata or the banks of the Hooghly or along the Howrah Bridge. Kolkata exudes its rich and lively culture. Although the entire city is beautiful, however, some must-visit places in Kolkata are the Victoria Memorial, Fort William, Dakshineswar Kali Temple,  St. Paul’s Cathedral, New Market etc.

Travellers, after spending a day or two in the city, may decide to move to Darjeeling. “Queen of the Himalayas”, Darjeeling is the perfect summer getaway from the heat of the plains of West Bengal. At a height of 2,050 meters above sea level, amidst acres of tea plantations, Darjeeling is infamously known around the world for its toy train established back in 1881. The Darjeeling Toy Train holds the title of World Heritage Status by UNESCO. It travels along the road offering breath-taking views of the mountains and allowing travellers to get a taste of Darjeeling’s culture. Tiger hill in Darjeeling is the perfect site to catch a majestic view of the sunrise under a backdrop of a panoramic view of the highest peak in India, the Kanchenjunga peak. Some of Darjeeling’s most popular attractions include Peace Pagoda, Zoological Park, Lloyd botanical garden and the Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway cable car, which is the longest Asian cable car.

If Darjeeling is on second or third on your list, then consider adding Sundarbans in-between. One of Bengal’s pride is the Sundarban National Park located around 110km south of Kolkata. It is known for hosting the biggest mangrove forests in the world. Home of the Royal Bengal tigers, it is known for its Tiger Reserve and Biosphere Reserve. It is a UNESCO world heritage site as its beautiful rivers and magnificent estuaries are inhabited by a large variety of birds and animal species.

For travellers looking at spending time near the sea shores, then Digha is the place to be. Digha is situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal and is a popular tourist destination known for its unscathed beaches and coastal beauty. Talasari, Shankarpur, Bakkhali, and Haldia are top locations near Digha to visit. Besides its magnificent beaches, Digha is known to be a popular sea resort for its religious temples, high-tech research centres and museums.

However, if a travellers is coming from Darjeeling then they may consider Siliguri to visit first. Infamously known as the Gateway to North-East India, situated in the Jalpaiguri and Siliguri districts of West Bengal is Siliguri. It is a small town with a multicultural population, known for connecting mainland India with North-east India for trade etc. Hong Kong market in Siliguri is a shoppers’ paradise. Its Bagdogra international airport allows it to be a hub for tourists on route to other nearby tourist locations such as Darjeeling, Sikkim, Bhutan etc.

A less known destination between Siliguri and DArjeeling towards Bhutan is Dooars. Starting from river Teesta in the East to river Sankoshi in the west, Dooars is the floodplain of North-East India around Bhutan. It is blessed with thick forest vegetation rich in species of Flora and Fauna as well as tea plantations. Visit Dooars to experience outdoor life. Dooars is known for its wildlife sanctuaries.

And, for mountain lovers, amidst the Himalayan Valley, Mirik, a hill station in North Bengal is located on the banks of a huge lake is a place to be. Mirik lake attracts scores of tourists for its tranquillity. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, the lakes offer boating sports and horse riding around the lake. Besides, Mirik is also known for its orchids and gardens.

Every year West Bengal attracts tourists from around the globe for its beautiful landscapes, forests, coastal beauty as well as its heritage. West Bengal is a beautiful state. It has a lot to offer from the beaches of Digha to the delectable food of Kolkata to the Panasonic view of the Himalayas from Darjeeling etc. Travelling to West Bengal is a perfect choice to get away from busy schedules and experience the thrill of life.

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