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West Bengal Tourism And Travel Guide
17° C / 62.6° F
October to February
7 to 8 Days
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (14 kms)
Howrah Railway Station (5 kms)
Located in the eastern part of India, West Bengal is an important state with a rich past. It is endowed with unique geographical features, boasts of an amazing cuisine and is a shopper’s paradise. It has mixed cultural flavours that divide the northern part of the state with its southern part. For nature lovers, West Bengal has much to offer in terms of tourism. The area abounds with forests, snow-capped Himalayan Mountains, seas of Bay of Bengal and much more. There is no dearth of pilgrimage sites for the more spiritually inclined ones. Here is a snippet of travel guide to see in West Bengal.
How to Reach
West Bengal is extremely well connected with the whole India by air, rail and road.
There are three airports in West Bengal. The oldest and most important is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Dum Dum in the capital city of Kolkata. It has both domestic and international terminals with considerable air traffic. The Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri in North Bengal helps to connect the northern districts with rest of Bengal and some neighbouring areas. Recently Kazi Nazrul Airport has started operations in the city of Durgapur. Tourists can avail of cabs or buses from outside the airport to reach their desired destinations.
One of the 18 railway zones in the country, Eastern Railway has its headquarters in Kolkata. Howrah and Sealdah Railways stations are located in Kolkata. Sealdah connects north-eastern part of the country while Howrah has trains coming from western, southern and central parts of India. There is the New Jaipalguri Station in North Bengal and Ghum Station in Darjeeling. The latter is the highest altitude railway station in the world. Each of these stations helps to connect Bengal with the entire country.
West Bengal has large numbers of National Highways and State Highways that help to connect different parts of the state, neighbouring states of Bihar, Orissa etc. These roads also connect India with neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. West Bengal has well developed public transportation system that helps Bengal connect different places by road.
West Bengal government buses, private carriers, taxis, private cabs help to keep the state connected. The state has a very well developed public transportation system which makes travelling within Bengal easy and hassle-free.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Summer (March to June):
Summer has entire West Bengal sizzling! Beginning from March till end of June, the mercury keeps rising unabated in every part of the state. Temperatures range between 35°C and 45°C. It is humid and hot and people find it tough to get through the months. Tourism is not encouraged during these months as it would be impossible to step out for sightseeing with suffering a heat stroke! There are festivals that Bengal celebrates during these months and if you happen to be in the state you could take part in the celebrations as Bengal celebrates Dol Purnima or Holi and New Year or Noboborsho with gusto.
Monsoon (July to September):
Monsoon sets in by end of June or beginning of July. The state does experience substantial rainfall while the hills have torrential rainfall. Due to heavy rainfall the hilly regions suffer frequent landslides and flash floods. The southern part despite the rainfall continues to experience high humidity. Monsoon is not a very comfortable or pleasant time to be in Bengal.
Winter (October to February):
This is the ideal time for undertaking a trip to West Bengal. The hilly areas have mercury dipping gradually and also experience snowfall. The southern region heaves a sigh of relief as the mercury dips and humidity also takes a plunge. People come out in large numbers to enjoy the lovely weather. There are picnics and outings. You can visit the Sundarban delta region, the lovely coastal areas or visit the north for some great snowfall experience.
Things to Do
There are trekking trails to Tumling, Tonglu, Kalpokhri, Sandhakphu and Phalut. Trekking treats the tourists to some stunning beauty of the surrounding landscape, the snow-capped towering peaks, the sprawling magnificent tea-gardens, waterfalls and deciduous forests. It is worth the effort and is a rejuvenating experience.
Tiger Trail in Sundarbans:
Sundarbans welcomes you to the world’s largest river delta region and is home to over 100 Royal Bengal Tigers. It is a stunning place to be in. It is the nearest you can be to nature surrounded by beautiful mangrove forests, tigers, Gangestic dolphins, and the delta formed by the confluence of Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal. It is truly once in a lifetime experience and a must visit for all wild-life and nature lovers.
Ravishing Tea Gardens of Darjeeling:
A visit to north Bengal without a trip to the magnificent tea estates of Darjeeling and surrounding areas is not considered a trip at all. Darjeeling produces some of the finest tea in the world and it is a flourishing industry up there. Plan a quick trip to the plush green gardens and the tea factory as well for a session of tea tasting. We can assure you it will be worth all your effort and time.
Take a Joy Ride:
A toy train ride surrounded by stunning landscape, mountains, valleys and tea gardens is all that you need to take home a bagful of memories. Darjeeling welcomes you toy train ride, one of the few hill railways still operating in the country. It is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 2 hour ride from Darjeeling to Ghum will leave you wanting for more.
Visit Poush Mela in Shantiniketan:
Welcome to Tagore’s dream town of Shantiniketan nestled in the lap of nature. While a trip to the university and Tagore’s residence is the main attraction; if you are visiting during winter you have the chance to attend the Poush Mela. Held in the Bengali month of Poush, it celebrates the new harvest with much pomp and show. Writers, poets, musicians, artists throng the place from all parts of the world and neighbouring areas. The melodious voice of the bauls and fragrance of Bengali delicacies fill the air.
For the more spiritually inclined, Bengal does not disappoint. There are a large number of temples attracting pilgrims from the world over every year. The famous Dakshineshwar Kali Temple and Kalighat are in Kolkata dedicated to Goddess Kali. There is Tarakeshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and considered extremely sacred. The devotees of Ramkrishna Paramhans throng the Belur Math on the banks of Ganges few kilometres from Kolkata. Even if you are not among the most religious ones, drop in to some of these temples for the experience.
Eating in West Bengal
If you are visiting West Bengal you must be prepared to pile up on that delicious Bengali food. It is hard to come across another community that is so utterly in love with their food. All their emotions find representation in their cooking and cuisine. And rightly so too! The aroma of mustard oil and those flavouring spices, the absolutely amazing variety of fishes, their endless list of vegetarian delicacies, those lovable ‘Luchis’ and heartwarming Kosha Mangsho and lip-smacking Ilish Macher Paturi will leave you wanting for more. And we have not even mentioned the delectable sweets that Bengal is famous for: mishit doi, nolen gurer sondesh and the fluffy juicy rasgullas!
Shopping in West Bengal
When in Bengal you must pick up one of those lovely cotton sarees that Bengal is famous for. Bengal is popular for her artistic weavers and produces some of the best cotton garments in the country. Tangail, dhakai, dhonekhali sarees, her jute products, terracotta jewellery and decorative items and pottery are some of the things you should pick up. Clay handicrafts are beautiful and the intrinsic works display the artistic skill and expertise of their potters. In Kolkata you must visit its famous market places like New Market and Gariahat where you get all kinds of things at affordable prices.