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Calcutta is the largest metropolis in India. It was the capital city of the British in India and the style of the `Burra Sahib' can still be seen in some parts of the city. More than 10 million people have made it their home and this does not include the thousands that comprise the floating population. There are important industries here and it is a bustling trade centre and has a port. The city offers great activity for those who love music, theatre, movies arts and sports, specially football. The Durga Puja celebrations during the month of September/October is a time for mind-boggling activity and celebrations.
Places to see
Howrah Bridge on Hoogly river
This massive iron structure on the river Hoogly is an important landmark of Calcutta. The beautiful Dakshineswar Kali Temple is 10km away. On the bank of the river is the beautiful Navaratna temple (With nine towers) dedicated to Bhabatarini. (Goddess Kali). It was built by Rani Rashmoni.
Across the river is Belur Math, headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. Join in with the devotees to watch the evening aarti (light ceremony). The main temple dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa is a magnificent one with remarkable architectural specialities. From different angles a mosque and a church. 5km further is the interesting waterfront of Serampore, originally a Danish colony. Across the river is the old British settlement of Barrackpore. The principal attraction is the Gandhighat. At the Gandhi Museum here, galleries depicting the life of Gandhiji and Barrackpore is also associated with the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. Accommodation, there are quiet comfortable Tourist Cottages run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation.
The strand at Chandannagore, 39km, is enchanting. You can also visit the Clock Tower, among many other heritage buildings. The Octagonal Dutch Church and settlement is at Chinsura, 45km away. This was a Dutch settlement. Among the remains of the bygone days are three barracks, a church, a cemetery and the Fort Gustavus.
The Portuguese settlement at Satgaon and Hooghly was founded in 1577 and stormed by Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor, in 1632. The Hooghly Imambara and the Portuguese monastery and church at Bandel, 48km away, are Places worth visiting.
The Hanseshwari temple with unusual carvings and unique structure and the Basudeva temple located at Bansberia, is 47km away.
South along the banks of the Hooghly, is the holiday resort at Raichak and 48km away is Diamond Harbour, where the Hooghly flows into the Bay of Bengal, a beautiful resort by the side of the river Hooghly, at its widest before it turns to meet the sea. There is a Tourist Lodge at Diamond Harbour run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation.
You can access all these places by rail and road, but a ferry ride will make it an unforgettable experience.
This area is referred to as the lungs of the city and the lawns here provide the much needed greenery in the town. It is flanked by the river on one side and the Chowringhee lane on the other. Many events are also organised here ranging from football matches to political meetings.
Victoria Memorial is made of white marble and is a legacy of the Raj. There is a museum which has a collection of articles from the british empire. There is also an Art Gallery.
This is 48 metre high and is next to the Eden Gardens.
The famous Eden garden stadium, a lake and a Burmese pagoda are situated here.
The Birla Planetarium
It is one of the largest in the world.
The Zoo is one of the largest in India. It houses various species of plants and animals.
The Indian Museum and an art gallery is located in Chowringhee. The Academy of Fine Arts, Nehru Children's Museum, Netaji Museum, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Rabindra Bharati Museum and the Ashutosh Museum of Indian Art are some of the museums worth a visit.
The Armenian Church, Nakhoda Mosque(Rabindra Sarani), Rabindra Sadan, St Paul's Cathedral, Raj Bhavan, St John's Church, New Secretariat, General Post Office, Writer's Buildings, High Court, National Library, Marble Place, Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Jorasanko and the Kalighat Temple are also worth a visit.
About 180 kms from Kolkatta lies Digha West Bengal's premier sea side resort. From Kolkatta one drives on the National Highway 6 for about 50 kms and then takes the Halsia road. Another bifurcation takes one to Digha. After the highway the journey id on the state roads. Digha has a very long beach which is quite hard. Bathing should only be done at safe spots. Digha has a good eating joint too especially for Bengali and sea food. One can combine a visit to Digha with visits to the fishing village or Shankarpur (10 kms short of Digha) and Talsiri in Orissa (7 kms from Digha) which has a very good beach.
SINGHALILA NATIONAL PARK
Singhalila National Park has a rich variety of wildlife and is also an ideal place for trekking It is the highest national park in West Bengal. The trekking trail is on the eastern Himalayas covers an area from Maneybhanjang near Darjeeling, via Tonglu to Sandakphu and Phalut. Nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri and the nearest airport is Bagdogra.
MAHANANDA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
The forests near the Mahananda river cover an area of 160 sq kms and provides sanctuary to a variety of animals and plants. Elephants, migratory water birds, the rare mountain goat(Serow), a few tigers and herds of Gaur, leopards, wild boars, deer, monkeys, jungle cats, porcupines, civets, monitor lizards and snakes can be spotted here. The sanctuary also has trekking trails from Sukna like the Golaghat, Deorali and the Latpancher-Mana track. Sukna is the nearest town, 7 kms from Siliguri.
GORUMARA NATIONAL PARK
It is a small sanctuary and is home to the Great Indian one-horned Rhinoceros. The Indian Elephant and the Indian Bison are also found here. Siliguri is the nearest railway station.
It is at an altitude of 2600 feet from sea level and is a popular 2 hour trekking trail from Santrabari and Mahakal.
For further information contact:
West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation, Calcutta.
There is a bird sanctuary here near river Kulik. Malda is the nearest town and is 80 kms from here, Calcutta is 420 kms away.
It is a commercial town and is important because it is a getaway to Darjeeling and nearby hill resorts. Calcutta is the nearest airport(585 km).
It is a small town famous for its mangoes. Gour Bara Sona Mosque, Firoz Minar, Dakhil Darwaza, Qadam Rasul, tomb of Taz Khan, Lukochuri Darwaza, Chika Mosque, Pandua-Adina Mosque, Salami Darwaza, Qutab Shahi Mosque and Eklakhi Mausoleum are a few of the places to visit in the town. Calcutta(340 km) is the nearest airport.
It is 200 kms from Calcutta. A few places to see here are Hazardurai Palace, Imambara, Jafarganj Deorhi, Kat Gola, Katra Mosque, Motijheel Palace and Khus Bagh. some places which are near Behrampur and are worth a visit are Tope Khana, Rani Bhawani's Temple at Baranagar, Cossimbazar Palace and Maharaja Nanda Kumar's Palace.
Planning a visit to West Bengal read through travelogues to plan your trip
The best time to visit West Bengal is October to March
October-March is relatively less humid and is the time of the 10 day Durga puja festival. Sunderbans is also opened at this time for visitors. In summers the temp goes to 38 degrees, and the humidity levels are very high. In winters the temperatures may fall to 10 degrees. Teesta Tea and Tourism Festival is held in November.
The hilly areas of Darjeeling and Kalimpong is best visited from March to June. June to August is the rainy season here.