What is special about West Bengal

Explore India: Popular sights in West Bengal

In West Bengal, India's cultural melting pot, you will find a beautiful combination of art, metropolitan flair, country life, mountains and nature. Whether you are more of the intellectual type who likes to mix with writers and musicians, or the more adventurous who loves the proximity of elephants and rhinoceroses as well as the mountains of the Himalayas, there is something for every type of traveler at the following attractions in West Bengal.

Kolkata

The capital of West Bengal, known under its British name Calcutta until it was renamed in 2001, has undergone a dramatic change over the past ten years. Kolkata has developed away from its old image as a city of slums, misery and Mother Teresa and is now the cultural capital of India. In order not to give the wrong impression: The slums in Kolkata have by no means disappeared, only the image of the city as a whole has changed. Despite all the poverty that still exists in some places, Kolkata is a vibrant yet intimate city full of beauty and soul. In addition, Kolkata is India's only city with a tram, which gives it a bit of the charm of yesteryear.

Darjeeling

Darjeeling is famous for its lush, lush tea plantations and is also one of the ten best hill stations in India, those pleasant retreats in the country's hot summer months. From here you have an excellent view of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Darjeeling's most popular attractions include the monasteries, botanical gardens, a zoo and the Darjeeling – Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway, the longest cable car in Asia that - as the name suggests - goes down from the town of Darjeeling to the Rangeet River. The journey takes about 45 minutes and the cabins offer a magnificent view of Darjeeling, the tea plantations and the river bed. Darjeeling is great for walking, visiting tea plantations, villages or markets. However, it is not advisable to visit this region during the monsoon season, as it is one of the rainiest areas in India. (Rainy season from May, in July it rains the most, from the end of September to mid-October the precipitation decreases again).

Sundarban National Park

The Sundarbans are among the top five national parks in India. This huge mangrove delta is not only the largest in the world, but also unique of its kind. 54 islands are distributed in this low-lying estuary and floodplain of four large rivers, including the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, over an area of ​​around 10,000 square kilometers in India and Bangladesh. The only way to visit the Sundarbans is by boat, an experience not to be missed. And to get there, a boat trip from Kolkata down the Hooghly River is the most memorable route. If you want to see tigers in the Sundarbans, however, you need a lot of luck as the shy animals have very good opportunities to hide here.

Shantiniketan

The idyllic university town of Shantiniketan (which means domicile of peace) is only 200 km from Kolkata. The poet and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore founded a school here in 1901, which later developed into the Visva Bharati University, which focuses on the relationship between mankind and nature. One of the main attractions in Shantiniketan is the Uttarayan complex where Tagore once lived. Today there is a museum and an art gallery. Shantiniketan is also a recognized center for traditional handicrafts such as batik, pottery, weaving and embroidery. It is best to visit the city during one of the many festivals that take place here, e.g. B. the three-day Poush Mela (usually in December), with a lot of Bengali folk music, or at Holi (in February / March).

Jaldhaphara Wildlife Sanctuary

If you don't have the time to drive to Assam in the Kaziranga National Park to see the one-horned Indian rhinos in their natural habitat, you can also visit the Jaldhapara Wildlife Sanctuary. There are still around 40 rhinos there that can be seen on an elephant safari. The sanctuary is located at the foot of the Himalayas near Bhutan. Stay at the Hollong Forest Bungalow, a property operated by the Forestry Department and located deep inside the park. Here you can see the wild animals wandering to the nearby river, where they lick salt - and there are definitely rhinos among these animals! (You can book the night in the Hollong Forest Bungalow at West Bengal Tourism, Tel. +91 353 2511979). The sanctuary is open from October to May, and the best time to see rhino is in March and April when the new grass begins to sprout.