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Things To Do In West Bengal
Located in the eastern part of India, West Bengal is a treasure trove for nature lovers, adventurers and history lovers. There is no dearth of activities that tourists can indulge in. They can go on tiger trails in the Sundarbans, go tea tasting in Darjeeling, take a joy ride on toy trains in Darjeeling, go trekking, take part in the Poush Mela celebrations or undertake a pilgrimage and historical tour to palaces and temples that adorn the state. Bursting with flavours is what Bengal is all about and here are the things you can do here.
North Bengal boasts of a number of adventurous trekking trails. From the eastern part of Indo-Nepal border in the Himalayan ranges begin the exotic trekking to Tumling, Tonglu, Kalpokhri, Sandhakphu and Phalut. You will be treated to some amazing landscape and ravishing beauty of the Himalayas. In Darjeeling you can undertake a trekking expedition through the scenic landscape comprising of Rohini waterfalls, lakes, and sprawling tea estates. You can also undertake the Purbikhola trek in Darjeeling which takes you through the deciduous forests of the Himalayan region. You can sight some exotic birds during your journey. The sanctity and unadulterated beauty of these trekking trails can be a rejuvenating experience for all.
White Water Rafting in Rangpo
West Bengal has some amazing rivers that are perfect for white water rafting. River Teesta and Rangeet near Darjeeling are gorgeous and great for both beginners and expert rafters. As you make way through those raging waves the adrenaline rush that you experience is unparalleled. You can choose shorter or longer route depending upon your preference.
If trekking and rafting are not enough, the more adventurous ones can also indulge in paragliding in Kalimpong and Darjeeling. Soar into the clear blue skies and glide over some of the most beautiful terrains you have ever come across. The take off points are Dello Hills in Kalimpong and Lebong in Darjeeling. Gliding over the majestic mountain peaks and sprawling tea gardens and getting treated to some amazing scenic beauty is certainly an experience of a lifetime.
Tiger Trail in Sundarbans
World’s largest river delta, impenetrable mangrove forests and the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger make a delectable combination that is irresistible. A trip to the Sundarbans will remain etched in your memory for a lifetime. The 2585 sq km Tiger Reserve has more than 100 Royal Bengal Tigers and can be found swimming in the delta or lurking somewhere in the forests. There are so many stories and folklores woven around Sundarbans and its tigers. You will also come across Gangetic dolphins, crocodiles and water monitors here.
Visit the Tea Gardens of Bengal
West Bengal is famous all over the world for the high class tea that it produces. It has sprawling tea gardens in Kurseong and Darjeeling. Go on a plantation walk through the beautiful estates, get a tour of the tea processing factories and stay in Makaibari homestays for an unforgettable experience.
Take a Joy Ride
A visit to Darjeeling without a toy train ride is unthinkable. The toy train or Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has been operating since 1881 and is one of the few hill railways still functioning in the country. Now an UNESCO World Heritage site, it is a two hour ride from Darjeeling to Ghum and it is a mesmerising experience. Sit back and enjoy the stunning locales and landscape and get lost in the beauty of nature.
Visit Poush Mela in Shantiniketan
If you are visiting West Bengal during winter, you must visit Tagore’s paradise in Shantiniketan. Much has certainly changed but has still managed to retain its rustic old world charm. During winter Shantiniketan celebrate Poush Mela to celebrate the harvest and new crops. There is a fair which brings together artists, poets, writers and musicians from nearby and various parts of the world. Listen to the melodious bauls singing the song of life and love, visit stalls selling tribal crafts or simply indulge in some lip-smacking food that Bengal is famous for.
For the more spiritually inclined ones, West Bengal has a large number of temples they can visit. There is the Dakshinehwar Kali Temple on the banks of River Ganges and Kalighat Temple in Kolkata. Both these temples are dedicated to Godess Kali. There is Tarakeshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Tarapith Temple dedicated to Godess Tara or Kali. The Ramakrishna Math Belur is a place of devotion for Ramkrishna Paramhans worshippers.
A Taste of Bengali Cuisine
For food lovers West Bengal is a paradise. Bengal cuisine is bursting with flavours and has some mouth-watering delicacies that you will remember for a lifetime. Vegetarian dishes, non-vegetarian dishes and sweets, you will be spoilt for choice. Bengalis and their love for fish is part of the folklore and when in Bengal you must treat yourself to a taste of Chingri Machcher Malaikari (prawns cooked in coconut) or the famous Iilish Machcher Paturi (steamed Hilsa wrapped in banana leaves). The extremely famous Kosha Mangsho (spicy mutton curry), the all time popular breakfast Luchi Alur Dum (Puri and potato sabzi), the list is endless. What puts Bengali food apart from the rest of the country is use of Mustard Oil or Shorsher Tel and Paanch Phoran (mixture of five spices) in their cooking.
If you are a sweet lover, you may never want to leave Bengal. The delicious Mishti Doi or sweet curd is the show stealer followed by an array of sweets like Roshogolla, Pantua, Langcha, Sandesh, Pithe and the list continues. You will find real Bengal in its food. There are few others who perhaps love their food as much Bengalis do.
Shopping in West Bengal
When you go visiting West Bengal, not to shop is a crime. Bengal is famous for her textiles and you get beautiful cotton sarees. There are ‘tangail’ sarees, ‘dhakai’ sarees, ‘dhonekhali’ sarees which are famous all over the country for their weave. Bengal is also famous for her jute products, terracotta jewellery and artefacts and pottery. Clay handicrafts are beautiful and a must buy as souvenirs. Every city has shopping centres where you can pick up souvenirs of your trip. In the capital city of Kolkata you have some famous market places like New Market and Gariahat where you can shop till you drop.