West Bengal is a state in eastern India. With Bangladesh, which lies on its eastern border, the state forms the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. To its northeast lie the states of Assam and Sikkim and the country Bhutan, and to its southwest, the state of Orissa. To the west it borders the states of Jharkhand and Bihar, and to the northwest, Nepal.
* North Bengal
* South Bengal
* Kolkata – a center of Bengali culture and largest city in the state.Also the former capital of the country, known as the City of Joy.
* Darjeeling – a beautiful hill station and center of a major tea growing area.
* Siliguri – a major business and shopping center and second largest city in the state.
* Diamond Harbour
* Historical places
o Cooch Behar
o Sagar Island or Gangasagar
* Wildlife Sanctuaries
o Gorumara National Park
o Sundarbans National Park
West Bengal was born with the partition and independence of India, with millions of refugees pouring into the state. It has since seen a lot of turbulence. Rich in culture and literature, immensely proud of a colourful heritage, it is a place where human values are still held high. A road accident immediately draws the attention and support of passers by. Naturally, such people are generally friendly towards others and in Kolkata, those from outside the state outnumber the locals. With all the variety of life, people coming to the state from outside should leave with a pleasant and favorable impression.
However, anyone visiting the state should be aware of Begalis preoccupation with strikes (bandh). When these occur, all transportation (except train) stops and so travel is impossible. This situation has not only severely hampered economic progress in the state, but is also a major disincentive to tourism. Travelers flying from Kolkata need to take this situation into account and plan to arrive several days early.
The topography of the majority of West Bengal is flat, and as a major rice growing region it is characterized by its lush and green environment. However, with the notable exception of the towns located in the tea growing areas of Jalpaiguri (the area around Siliguri) and Darjeeling, the urban areas tend to be characterless jumbles of concrete boxes devoid of charm.
Bengali is the main language here. Apart from Bengali – English, Hindi, Oriya and Assamese are also widely understood by the local people. In the Darjeeling area the main language is Nepalese.
The total length of surface road in West Bengal is over 92,023 km (57,180 mi); national highways comprise 2,377 km (1,477 mi) and state highways 2,393 km (1,487 mi). The road density of the state is 103.69 km per 100 km² (166.92 mi per 100 sq mi), higher than the national average of 74.7 km per 100 km² (120 mi per 100 sq mi). Average speed on state highways varies between 40–50 km/h (25–31 mi/h); in villages and towns, speeds are as low as 20–25 km/h (12–16 mi/h) due to the substandard quality of road constructions and low maintenance. Total railway length is 3,825 km (2,377 mi). Kolkata is the headquarters of two divisions of the Indian Railways—Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) plies in the northern parts of the state. The Kolkata metro is the country’s first underground railway. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, part of NFR, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The state’s only international airport is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at Dum Dum, Kolkata. Bagdogra airport near Siliguri is another significant airport in the state and recently it has been upgraded to an international airport. Kolkata is a major river-port in eastern India. The Kolkata Port Trust manages both the Kolkata docks and the Haldia docks. There is passenger service to Port Blair on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and cargo ship service to ports in India and abroad, operated by the Shipping Corporation of India. Ferry is a principal mode of transport in the southern part of the state, especially in the Sundarbans area. Kolkata is the only city in India to have trams as a mode of transport and these are operated by the Calcutta Tramways Company.
Several government-owned organisations operate substandard bus services in the state, including the Calcutta State Transport Corporation, the North Bengal State Transport Corporation, the South Bengal State Transport Corporation, the West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation, and the Calcutta Tramways Company, thus leading to mismanagement. There are also private bus companies. The railway system is a nationalised service without any private investment. Hired forms of transport include metered taxis and auto rickshaws which often ply specific routes in cities. In most of the state, cycle rickshaws, and in Kolkata, hand-pulled rickshaws, are also used for short-distance travel.
Within the state the main transport links are trains and buses. Apart from the mail and express trains coming from outside the state (they are generally very crowded), there are a number of fast trains within the state, large number of passenger trains and locals (mostly around Kolkata). Taxis and hired cars are available in most places.
The state stretches from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal and so there are many things to see. Some of the places of tourist interest are listed above. It has wonderful cultural heritage, particularly towards the rural sides. The northern side has beautiful hills and forests, while the south has some nice beaches.
Join a procession! You will find many of them.
Bengal is famous for fish preparations and sweet-meat but some of the vegetarian dishes are also a speciality. In olden times, widows were prohibited from taking anything other than vegetarian food (predominantly they still are but now rules are being broken) and they were principal chefs in large homes. They developed the vegetarian dishes extensively.
In a big city such as Kolkata one will get food as per choice of people from all over the country. Then one gets Chinese, Thai and continental. In most of the other towns it is Bengali cooking, plus Punjabi or North Indian preparations and some South Indian outlets. Mughlai dishes are popular.
West Bengal serves as entry point for some of the neighbouring states, particularly Sikkim and the North East and also for Bhutan. Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also linked with it closely.
Largest city Kolkata (Calcutta)
Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya
Legislature (seats) Unicameral (295)
• Density 80,221,171 (4th)
• 904 /km2 (2,341 /sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Area 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 IN-WB
West Bengal Portal: West Bengal