West Bengal

West Bengal

West Bengal is the only state of India which literally offers an Ocean to Sky travel experience within her own state territory.

Geography of West Bengal is diverse, consisting of high peaks of Himalaya in the northern extremes to coastal regions down south, with regions such as plateau and Ganges delta intervening in between. Alike the geographical variation the state s population too is a potpourri of different racial strains the predominant element being the proto-Australoid in varying proportions.

West Bengal is the land of Tagore , the base of art and culture.The forests are the haven for one horned rhinos,Royal Bengal tigers and endemic birds. Champagne of Tea –the famous Darjeeling tea is produced here.

KURSEONG:

Kurseong is a hill station (and sub-divisional town) situated in Darjeeling District of West Bengal, India. Located at an altitude of 1458 metres (4864 ft), Kurseong is just 30 km from Darjeeling. It has a pleasant climate throughout the year and the winters are not as severe as Darjeeling's.

The local name of Kurseong is "Kharsang" which in the Lepcha language means "". Kurseong is about 47 kms from Siliguri and is connected to the city by road and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra. The Land of the White Orchids nearest major railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) railway station, which is about 53 kilometres from Kurseong. The town is based mainly on schools and tourism. The best times to visit Kurseong are between March end and May and between the end of August and October.

KALIMPONG:

Kalimpong is a hill station in the Mahabharat Range (or Lesser Himalaya). It is located at an average elevation of 1,250 metres (4,101 ft). The town is the headquarters of the Kalimpong subdivision, a part of the District of Darjeeling. The Indian Army's 27 Mountain Division is also located on the outskirts of the town. Kalimpong is renowned for its educational institutions many of which date back to the British colonial period. It used to be a gateway for trade between Tibet and India prior to China's annexation of Tibet and the Sino-Indian War. Kalimpong and neighbouring Darjeeling were major centres calling for a separate Gorkhaland state in the 1980s.There has been a Rotary club in Kalimpong since 1993.

Kalimpong, located on a ridge overlooking the Teesta River, is a tourist destination owing to its temperate climate and proximity to popular tourist locations in the region. Horticulture is also important to Kalimpong: it has a flower market notable for its wide array of orchids. Nurseries, which export Himalayan grown flower bulbs, tubers and rhizomes, contribute to the economy of Kalimpong. Home to ethnic Nepalis, indigenous ethnic groups and non-native migrants from other parts of India, the town also is a religious centre of Buddhism. The Buddhist monastery Zang Dhok Palri Phodang holds a number of rare Tibetan Buddhist scriptures.

RIMBIK – RISHYAP:

The place can be approached by a four-kilometer walk uphill from Lava (32 km from Kalimpong) through the deep silent forest of Pines, Rhododendrons and Orchids. Non-adventurers can take the 10-kilometer motor-able route from Lava. The enthralling views of the vast range of Kanchenjunga, the blue mountains of Sikkim, Nathu-La and Jelap-La passes are an experience of the lifetime.

LAVA – LOLEGAON:

Lava is situated at an altitude of 7200 feet, it is famous for its proximity to the Neora Valley National Park and its beautiful view of the Jelep La and Rechi La passes. Lava is about 32 km east of Kalimpong. Oak and fir trees welcome the visitor at Lava. Lava is also known for its leaches. During the rainy season, vegetation around the place gets covered with leaches.

Common tourist places around Lava include Ratnarishi Gumpha, Neora Lake, Silviculture Research Centre, and Chhangey falls. Treks to the Neora valley starts from Lava. Apart from long treks across the valley, small treks are also possible in the region. Common treks include trek to Tiffin Dara, Aluabari etc. The small town is located at a distance of 12 km from Lava at an altitude of 5,500 ft. A spectacular view of the Himalayan snow will take you to a different world. Loleygaon offers panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga.

MIRIK:

Mirik-a nest in the hills is West Bengal's one of the famous hill resort at an altitude of 1767 metres with its own special charm. It is 49 kms from Darjeeling and 52 km from Siliguri. The 1.25 km "Long Lake" is fed by perennial streams. A floating fountain in the middle of the lake is a joy forever and very often, you may find the glory of Kanchenjunga reflected in the lake waters. A rich forest with thousands of Cryptomaria-Japanica trees clothes the slopes on the west. A 3.5 km zigzag foot walk takes you along the lake – a sleek footbridge connects the garden on the east with the woods on the west. Alone or with company, you are sure to enjoy a boat-ride in the lake.

DARJEELING:

Darjeeling conjures visions of snow peaks, serenity of vibrant green hills steeped in splendour, a land of breathtaking beauty crowned by the majestic Himalayas. Darjeeling is one of the most magnificent hill resorts in the world. This heavenly retreat is bathed in hues of every shade. Flaming red rhododendrons, sparkling white magnolias, miles of undulating hillsides covered with emerald green tea bushes, the exotic forests of silver fir - all under the blanket of a brilliant azure sky dappled with specks of clouds, compellingly confounds Darjeeling as the QUEEN OF HILL STATIONS. The crest of Kanchenjunga shining in the first dawn light truly supports the title.

Darjeeling beckons thousands today for a leisurely respite from the bustle of the madding crowd. The traveller - whether a tourist or a trekker, an ornithologist or a photographer, a botanist or an artist - will find in Darjeeling an experience which will remain etched in the memory - forever.

PEDONG:

Pedong is a picturesque hamlet surrounded by pine forests. It is situated 20 km from Kalimpong in West Bengal. Pedong commands magnificent views of the snow ranges of Mount Kanchenjunga. It falls on the ancient Silk Route that connected Tibet with India through the Jelep La Pass. Several short and thrilling treks originate from Pedong leading to the Damsangdugi Fort, a historically important site that witnessed a long ethnic war between the Lepchas and Bhutias. A 300 year old ruin hidden by dense forest at Damsangudi still holds memories of the reigns of the Lepcha kindom.

SANDAKPHU:

Sandakphu, situated at a height of 3636 m above sea level, might not be famous for any tourist destinations, but is a true paradise for all adventure lovers. Trek to the highest point on this hill station and you will get the never seen before views of the Himalayan Range. A long stretch of Himalayas starting from Bhutan till Mt. Everest is visible. River Teesta flows through Sandakphu at quite a pace. The thundering River Teesta also offers a great option for adventure sports especially river rafting. Sandakphu is the only place in the world where you will find a Rhododendron and Silver fir forests. To reach Sandakphu, one has to nearly trek for 12 hrs from Maneybhanjan, which is the gateway to Sandakphu. You can also hire a Landrover from Maneybhanjan.

JORAPOKHRI:

On the way from Mirik to Darjeeling lies a town of untouched natural beauty called Jorapokhri. It is situated only 16 kms from Darjeeling and 85Kms from Siliguri. The presence of a couple of lakes in this area gave rise to the name of this place Jorpokhri. (JOR-means a lake, POKHRI means lakes). The lakes are the main attraction in this place.In and around the lake one can notice the Himalayan Salamander, a highly endanagered species of the reptile family.

LEPCHAJAGAT:

15km form Darjeeling and 77 Km from Siliguri, Lepchajagat, bascially a Lepcha Village, is situated at Sukhipokhri near Darjeeling on the Ghoom-Mirik road. Located on hill slope covered with rhododendron and oaks a forest bungalow offers a magnificent view of Kanchenjunga snow ranges over the forested hills and is the only accommodation available in the area. A nice peaceful location and is ideal for honeymooners. The bungalow has 6 well-appointed rooms and provides excellent food. An ideal place to explore the tranquillity of unknown Darjeeling hills.

MONGPONG:

The journey starts from Coronation Bridge. The first stop on the Dooars express, Mongpong, is a destination in it's own right. Trek through the virgin forests or let the serpentine mud tracks vanishing into the deep woods beckon you on a voyage of discovery. And while you are at it let the moisture laden cool breeze with the fragrance of the forest uplift you.

SUNTALEKHOLA:

One can find here rare one-horned rhinoceros, the mighty bison, leopard, spotted deer, sambar, hog deer, reptiles, huge wild tuskers, wild boars and the rarest variety of animals and birds including plenty of peacocks. Elephant safaris through the Jaldapara forest in search of wild animals, is a memorable experience. Numerous watch towers here allow you to take a real close look at wildlife. Moreover the scintillating light and sound show at Jaldapara guest house adds a wild thrill to your trip.

MURTI:

Located beside the Murti river, this place has a lovely forest resort. With the nature's generosity at it's best, the small village of Murti, by the side of the rivulet Murti, is a desired winter picnic spot for local residents.

CHAPRAMARI:

The Chapramari forest, also a wildlife sanctuary, is located near the NH31 connecting the north-east with the rest of India. Chapramari is famous for its elephant population. It is quite close to the Gorumara National Park.

SAMSING:

At a distance of 82 km from Siliguri, it takes about 3 hours to reach Samsing from Siliguri through the most picturesque landscape. Beside Jaldhaka river, it is famous for it's scenic beauty, orange plantations and forest resort.

JALDHAKA:

All around is a forest so deep and so green, it radiates an ethereal energy. Some of the roads here are so quiet that you can hear the crickets and birds distinctly even at 10 in the morning. Walking around here is a great experience as there is beauty hidden around in every corner.

RAJABHATKHAWA:

Rajabhatkhawa is a small town situated just outside the Buxa Tiger Reserve in the Jalpaiguri district. It is known for its natural beauty, surrounded by forests. It is attractive in it's own way for its nature information centre.

SHANTINIKETAN:

Shantiniketan is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum District of West Bengal and about 21.2 kms north of Kolkata. It is famous due to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose vision became what is now a University town - Visva-Bharati University. The place is now attracts thousands of visitors each year.Shantiniketan was earlier called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local Dacoit), and was owned by the Tagore family. In 1862, Maharishi Devendranath Tagore, the poet’s father, while on a boat journey to Raipur, came across a landscape with red soil and lush green paddy fields. He decided to plant more saplings and built a small house. He called his home Shantiniketan. He founded an ashram here in 1863 and became the initiator of the Bramho Samaj.

MURSHISHIDABAD:

Pre colonial history of Bengal is closely linked with the emergence, growth and decline of Murshidabad. It has governed all the proceedings of the 18th century eastern India and provided the platform from which the colonial interests had launched themselves and subsequently became an Imperial power in 1857. It is quite obvious that such a socio- political stage has enormous potential to engage any visitor from far and wide through its myriad cultural landscape. A seat of power of such a scale attracts lot of wealth, creativity and activity. For example the annual revenue of Bengal paid to the Mughal Emperor amounts to One Crore sicca Taka- in early seventeenth century was an unbelievable amount. In a cunning strategical move, Murshidkuli Khan shifted the administrative power centre of Bengal to the Bank of Bhagirathi- the prime life force of North India and almost in the geographic centre of the Province in 1701.

BISHNUPUR:

Bishnupur is a town in the Bankura District of West Bengal about 132 km from Kolkata. It is famous for its terracotta temples and baluchari sarees. The town has a glorious past that is reflected in its rich architecture, music and handicrafts such as pottery and weaving. It prospered in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Ruled by a line of Hindu Rajas of the Malla dynasty, Bishnupur developed a unique form of architecture and has perhaps the most brilliant and detailed terracotta work in Eastern India that has withstood the ravages of time. The history of Bishnupur can be traced back to 694 AD, when King Raghunath I founded the Malla dynasty. However it was much later in 994 AD that the place was named Bishnupur. The name is derived from the name of the Hindu God ‘Vishnu'. The majority of the people belong to the ‘Vaishnava' sect.

MUKUTMANIPUR:

Located about 200 km from Kolkata and 83 km from Bishnupur, by the side of the river Kangsabati. The main attraction is the dam across the river and the hilly landscape. Green forests and hillocks surround the vast bluish tract of water.Tourists flock here for its stunning natural beauty.

JHILIMILI:

Jhilimili is situated 70 Km away from Bankura Town. It is a beautiful, undisturbed dense natural forest. The road from Ranibund to Jhilimili offers a wonderful view of spectacular forests on varying heights on both sides, finally reaching Jhilimili, which is mounted on the top of a hillock. The sparkle of micaceous soil adds to the beauty of the environment.

GARPANCHAKOT:

Garh Panchakot, near Panchet Dam on river Damodar in Purulia district is less than an hour drive from Asansol (222 km from Kolkata). A thickly forested hill here resonates with the buzz of its resident insects and birds. The Damodar is in its full glory during the monsoon and the winter is good for bird watching. The West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Limited runs a sprawling tourist bungalow here.

DIGHA:

Digha is West Bengal's most popular sea resort. It is located 187 KM south west of Kolkata. Digha has a low gradient with a shallow sand beach extending upto 7KM in length and has gentle rolling waves. The scenic beauty of this place is charming and alluring. The beach is girdled with Casuarina plantations along the coast enhancing its beauty. These trees apart from beautifying also aid in reducing erosion of the dunes.Digha, originally known as Beerkul during Warren Hasting's time was discovered in the late 18th century by the British. It is mentioned as the ‘Brighton of the East' in one of Hastings' letters (1780 AD) to his wife. In 1923, an English tourist named John Frank Smith was charmed by the beauty of Digha and started living here. His writings about Digha slowly gave exposure to this place. After independence, he convinced Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, who was at that time the chief minister of West Bengal to develop Digha as a beach resort.

SHANKARPUR:

Shankarpur is a beach village in East Medinipur district of West Bengal. Shankarpur is about 185 km from Kolkata Beach and is touted to have the best beach In Eastern India. Shankarpur, a virgin beach as yet, is a recent discovery. It is a twin beach of Digha, around 14 km from Digha, along the Digha-Contai Road. Shankarpur has to its credit all the advantages of Digha, minus the crowd. Casuarina groves by the side of a gentle sea and good climate round the year make it a popular beach destination. Apart from the long, tree-lined beach, the main attraction is the Shankarpur Fishing Harbour Project.This beach is mostly empty except on weekends. The mornings are cool, when fishermen can be seen hauling their huge nets out of the sea. The morning sun reflecting on the sea waves in the east, and the local fish-boats on the coast offer excellent photographic opportunities.

MANDARMANI:

Thousands of small crabs crawl around the 13 km. long virgin beach making it look like a simmering field of the red flower Mandar. Years ago the resemblance ignited the imagination of the locals. They named it Mandarboni. In course of time it has become Mandarmani. Mandarmani is a large and fast developing seaside resort village in the state of West Bengal, India. It lies in East Midnapore district and at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal. Mandarmani is connected to Kolkata/Howrah by a highway. It is argued to be the longest driveable beach In India.

Mandarmani boasts of a 13 km long motorable beach, probably the longest motorable beach road in India. This is a drive-in beach. It is an ideal place to relax, far away from the hustle and bustle of Kolkata. The sunrise and sunset are a treat to the eyes. The peaceful atmosphere brings a sense of relief to one's soul. If that is not enough to please your senses, then try to loll on the sand and listen to the waves crashing upon the shore, which will surely drive away your bustling pressure. Relax, swim and enjoy the beach. You are not likely to have many visitors around and that's the beauty of this beach. Activities include table tennis, carrom, beach cricket, beach volleyball, and boat cruises.

TAJPUR:

Tajpur is the latest addition in tourist map of Bengal. The prime attraction of Tajpur is its pristine sea beach fringed with a dense forest of tamarisk trees. The beach is infested with infinite number of red crabs which play hide and seek in the sand. Their presense makes the beach look crimson. There are fishermen's villages in the vicinity, where one can observe the mundane life of fisherman. Just 1 km away is a lagoon with a pleasant surrounding. Tajpur is 170 km from Kolkata. It takes three hours to reach Tajpur by car. Winter is good time to visit Tajpur. Tajpur offers various adventure sports options like para-gliding, rafting, rock-climbing and other activities.

BAKKHALI:

Bakkhali is seaside resort in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. It is located on one of the many deltaic islands spread across southern Bengal. Most of the islands are part of the Sunderbans, barring a few at the fringes. Some of these are joined together with bridges over narrow creeks. This small island juts out into the vast expanse of the Bay of Bengal. It has a 7 km long beach stretching from Bakkhali to Frasergunj with gently rolling waves. These are twin towns now forming one continuous locality. Casuarina trees line the beach. Except on an occasional holiday the beach is not crowded. Even if one part is crowded on a particular day, there will be plenty of barren pockets. A small stretch near Bakkhali has been lit up. It is a hard beach suitable for cycling or even driving. One can enjoy long walks.

GANGASAGAR:

Gangasagar, also known as Sagardwip, is a charming tourist destination, which attracts both pilgrims and adventure lovers. Located on an island in the Sunderban, Sagardwip offers the charms of an un-spoilt beach on the estuary of the river Ganges. Gangasagar offers acres of silver sand and clear blue sky, and the calm sea for visitors who would like to spend their weekend in tranquillity.

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