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 Places of Interest

Places of Interest in West Bengal (By District)


1. Kolkata
2. Darjeeling
3. Jalpaiguri
4. Kochbihar
5. Malda
6. West Dinajpur
7. Murshidabad
8. Birbhum
9. Nadia
10. Burdwan
11. Purulia
12. Bankura
13. Midnapore
14. Hooghly
15. Howrah
16. North 24 Parganas
17. South 24 Parganas

Jalpaiguri

Jalpaiguri at a glance :
State West Bengal
District Jalpaiguri
Area (Approx.) 6277 sq kms
Language Bengali, Hindi and English
Best Time to Visit September to February
Long Distance Code +91-3561
Importance Doorstep of Sikkim and Bhutan

Jalpaiguri is the last railhead where one can get down proceeding towards the towns of Gangtok and Darjeeling in the far north. Jalpaiguri is also a district of West Bengal, neighbour of the Cooch Behar district and more famous for its Tea Gardens and as the doorstep to the northern state of Sikkim and the country of Bhutan. The district has dense forests and extensive tea gardens. Jute pressing, saw milling and match manufacturing are the major industries.

Places of Interest

Dooars
The Jaldapara Wildlfe Sanctuary
Siliguri
Bagdogra

Dooars

Dooars at a glance :
State West Bengal
District Jalpaiguri
Best Time to Visit October to May
Long Distance Code +91-353
Importance of the Place Famous for the Jaldapara Sanctuary

Dooars is an unmatched area located in the north of the state of West Bengal, full of natural beauty and lengthy stretches of forests and greenery. The Dooars famous for its luxurious tea plantations and the wild life sanctuaries nearby, is actually a stretch of virgin forests with a natural network of the River Teesta with its innumerous tributaries. The eastern Himalayas forming the wonderful backdrop, this place is full of verdant forests having many wild and rare animals. Its proximity to the more known locations such as Cooch Bihar, Siliguri and Sikkim is also the advantage of this place. The Dooars valley is specially noted for its wild life sanctuaries more famous being the Jaldapara wild life sanctuary and the Buxa Tiger Reserve. Originally known as the doors to Bhutan, this beautiful countryside is flourishing today due its unparallel natural beauty. The drive seems to be as if the road cutting through the forests giving one an experience of a lifetime. The wild life sanctuaries have an array of wild life, ranging from the royal Bengal tiger to the small Red Panda and from various species of birds to the great Indian Bison and also various species of deer.

How to reach

The most convenient entry point to Dooars is through Siliguri by road. Regular bus connections between Siliguri and most important spots in the Dooars. Also broadgauge rail connection between New Jalpaiguri and Mal, Madarihat, Nilpara, Jainti, Mainaguri, Dhupguri and Falakata. Metregauge rail connection between Siliguri and most spots.

Places of Interest

The ruins of forts at Nalrajar Garh and Buxa Duar, Jalpesh temple and Totopara, the habitat of the rare Toto tribes.

Dooars are the real treasures of Wildlife.

Where to stay

Forest lodges at Samsing, Chapramati, Garumara, Hollong, Nilpara and Jainti, Bardabri. Also tourist lodges at Mal and Madarihat.

The Jaldapara Wildlfe Sanctuary

Jaldapara Wild Life Sanctuary situated in Alipurduar Sub-Division of Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal is about 124 km from Siliguri. This sanctuary was constituted in the year 1941 for the protection of Wild Life, particularly one-horned rhinos, an animal threatened with extinction. The Jaldapara Wildlfe Sanctuary with an area of 216.51 sq km is a mosaic of woods, grassland, swamps and streams with great diversity of fauna and flora. It is located in the eastern part of Jalpaiguri district not far away from Coochbehar. The River Torsha runs through the Sanctuary. The forest is mainly savannah covered with tall elephant grasses. The Jaldapara Sanctuary is home for the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros. Herds of elephants can frequently be found using it as feeding grounds. Hog deer, spotted deer, barking deer and sambar are found, as are the Indian Bison. Tigers and leopards can be spotted too. There is also a leopard-breeding centre at Jaldapara. The Sanctuary is home for some rare species like the hispid hare, hog badger, wild boar and sloth bears are found here. A rich and varied avifauna is found here as well like the Crested Eagle, Pallas's Fishing Eagle and Shikra. Jungle fowl, peafowl, partridges, the Bengal Florican and Pied Hornbill with Python, monitor lizards, cobras, geckos and about 8 species of fresh water turtles add to the beauty. Besides wildlife viewing, there is scope for unusual holiday activities like elephant riding and leisurely strolls through the towering grass.

Siliguri

A crucial junction which is the doorway to North Bengal, Sikkim and Bhutan, it is also a major intersection in the road transportation network to north-east India. Rapidly emerging as a new commercial hub, Siliguri owes its prosperity to the tea and orange trades. More than anything else, the major attraction of Siliguri in recent years remains its Hong Kong Market, a virtual Pandora''s Box for foreign goods of all kinds.

Siliguri at a glance :
State West Bengal
District Jalpaiguri
Language Bengali, Hindi, English and local dialects
Best Time to Visit October to May
Importance of the Place Biggest Bazar of foreign goods
Long Distance Code +91-353

Distance from Siliguri to :
Jalpaiguri 52
Mainaguri 66
Birpara 116
Dhupguri 80
Gairkata 95
Banarhat 116
Falokata 120
Mathavanga 133
Hasimara 140
Kalchini 152
Alipurduar 180
Malbazar 60
Oodlabari 48
Metali 75
Nagrakata 75
Darjeeling 80
Sonapur 52
Islampur 75
Panjipara 99
Dhalkhola 129
Raiganj 174
Farakka 279
Kaliagang 199
Gangarampur 244
Hilly 313
Dhulian 294
Jangipur 329
Krishnanagar 519
Lalgola 419
Burdwan 594
Asansol 623
Berhampur 384
Balurghat 290
Malda 260
Coochbehar 190
Mirik 52
Kalimpong 70
Calcutta 651
Patna 466
Jaigaon 160
Guwahati 513
Gangtok 114
Phuntsholing 161
Kalimpong 69
Algarah 84
Lava 99
Lolaygaon 120
Naxalbari 25
Kakarvita 33
Kathmandu 600
Kalijhora 27
Bagdogra 8

Bagdogra

Bagdogra… actually the entry point of the North East if one has to reach here by flight. The places like, Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri can be reached by flight to Bagdogra. Hardly 12 kms from Siliguri, the road from Bagdogra to the rest of the towns of North Bengal and North East is the most picturesque road leading to these places.This is a very small place, which has gained importance due to the airport that has been the entry point of the entire region. Taxis and buses can be obtained from the airport at Bagdogra to the desired destination. The choice for lodging and boarding in Bagdogra is very poor. Neither there are any sites of tourist interest in Bagdogra. It is just a transit point for various destinations.

Bagdogra at a glance :
State West Bengal
District Jalpaiguri
Language Bengali and local dialects
Best Time to Visit October to February
Importance of the Place The Entry Point of the North East
Long Distance Code +91-353

Distances from Bagdogra :
Siliguri 12 kms
Darjeeling 93 kms
Gangtok 141 kms
Kalimpong 79 kms

Coochbehar

Coochbehar at a glance :
State West Bengal
District Cooch Behar
Area (Approx.) 3387 sq. km
Language Bengali, Koch, Bhutia, Assamese and English
Best Time to Visit October to April
Long Distance Code +91-3582
Importance of the Place The Land of Koch tribe.

Located in the North of West Bengal, Coochbehar is truly a window to the far eastern states of India. To travel to the north eastern states of India, one has to pass the small sleepy town of Coochbehar. While the district of Jalpaiguri lies in the north and the state of Assam in the east, Coochbehar shares an international border with Bangladesh in the south. With a brief spell of summer and heavy rainfalls during the monsoon season, Coochbehar enjoys relatively pleasant climate throughout the year. The city centers around a huge beautiful lake called the Sagar Dighi and the administrative blocks surround this old structure. The city was specially designed with well laid roads and lakes by a French architect in the mid 19th century and is perhaps the first planned city of India.

Places of Interest

The Raj Bari or the Royal palace
Buildings of Coochbehar
The Madan Mohan Bari
Baneshwar Temple
The Kamateshwari temple

The Raj Bari or the Royal palace

The most important landmark of this ancient princely state that stands regally is the magnificent Raj Bari or the palace of the kings. A bit outskirt from the main city, this huge structure looks even larger from the outside because of its spread eagle shape. Designed by an English architect, who was the favourite among the royalties of Kolhapur, Mysore and Baroda, the palace was built in 1887. Built in Italian style of architecture, this building is a near-replica of the St. Peter's Church in Rome. The interior of the royal palace, especially the Durbar Hall, is a visual treat. The entire palace is furnished with exclusive items of furniture, brought from all over the world. Covering a vast area of around 4,766 sq. meters, this palace has been recently renovated and has been opened for public with museums displaying the artifacts used by the royalty.

Buildings of Coochbehar

The kings of Coochbehar planned the city and built the administrative buildings around the huge lake called the Sagar Dighi. The Sagar Dighi is a huge tank which has been recently cleaned and cleared. A place for daily meetings and appointments, Sagar Dighi, is right in the centre of this small town. Boat rides and cool breeze around has made it all the more popular spot.

Most of the buildings around here are still in use for administrative purposes. Built in brick and coloured in red, these buildings give a typical colonial administrative look. The District Magistrate or the D M building stands royally facing the Sagar Dighi. The Moti Mahal, the head Post Office building, the M J N Hospital building are all built during the 19th century. The 60 year old running MJN club and the Jenkins School, established in 1861 are premier institutions of India.

The Madan Mohan Bari

This more than a century old ancient golden-domed temple is one of the main attractions of Coochbehar. It stands on the north bank of Bairagi Dighi, a large lake situated in the heart of the Coochbehar town. Built in 1889 by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan, the structure of this temple is in Charchala style of Hindu architecture. Inside the temple is an idol of Madan Mohan, an incarnation of Lord Krishna and the royal deity. The idol made of gold and ashtadhaatu, an alloy of eight metals, is nearly 200-year old. The other deities include Ma Kali, Ma Tara and Ma Bhavani.

Baneshwar Temple

Situated at a distance of about 10 km north of Coochbehar town, is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, known as the Baneshwar temple. The temple is reputed to date back to 1100 B.C. and has a Shiva lingam 10 feet below the plinth level. By the side of the main temple is another temple which has the idol of Ardhanarinateswar. On the occasions of Madan Chaturdashi and Dol Purnima this idol is carried temporarily to the Madan Mohan Temple of Coochbehar town, which has given the name of Movable Baneshwar. There is a big pond within the temple campus having a large number of tortoises. Some of the tortoises are very old and big in size and can be fed with puffed rice.

The Kamateshwari temple

A fine example of 17th century Bengali temple architecture, the Kamateshwari Temple is a major attraction in the town of Gosanibari. Nearly 37 km. from Coochbehar, situated at a distance of about 8 km west of Dinhata railway station, original structure of the temple got destroyed. Nonethless, the present structure is also nearly 300 years old, built by Maharaja Pran Narayan in 1665. Dedicated to another incarnation of Goddess Parvati, inside the temple the throne of the goddess can be seen.

Malda

Malda at a glance :
State West Bengal
District Malda
Area (Approx.) 3,733 sq km
Language Bengali, Hindi, English
Best Time to Visit September to February
Long Distance Code +91-3512
Importance The City of Mangoes

Located 365 km north of Calcutta in the north-central portion of West Bengal, Malda, was formerly known as English Bazaar and lies east on the confluence of the Mahananda and Kalindi Rivers. It shares its borders with Murshidabad in the south and Uttar and Dakshin Dinjapur in the north. The eastern borders are shared with Bangladesh and the western boundaries with the state of Bihar. While Rice, jute, legumes, and oilseeds are the chief crops, the abundant and typical Fazli mangoes serve a great economic activity through its trade. Malda may be reached by road-bus service from Calcutta, Murshidabad and Siliguri, and train services from Calcutta and New Jalpaiguri.

Places of Interest

English Bazaar
Gaur
The Baroduari mosque
Chika Mosque
Dakhil Darwaza
Firoze Minar
Kadam Rasool Mosque
Lattan Mosque
Lukachhipi Darwaza
Pandua

English Bazaar

English Bazaar urban agglomeration comprises of Malda town and English Bazaar. A foreign settlement was established in 1680. Malda came to be known as Ingraj Bazaar or English Bazaar when the Dutch, French and the East India Company started trading here. Ingraj Bazaar still houses the district headquarters. It became a municipality in 1867. Malda town is an important railway station in this region. Malda is famous for its mangoes.

Gaur

12 km south of Malda and right on the border with Bangladesh is Gaur, a landscape of lush paddy fields. Gaur has many interesting Muslim monuments.

The Baroduari mosque

The Baroduari mosque meaning a mosque with 12 doors is the largest mosque in gaur. It is a gigantic rectangular structure of brick and stone, with 11 doors instead of 12. The construction of this huge mosque was started by Allauddin Hussein Shah and was completed in 1526 by his son Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah. The Indo-Arabic style of architecture and the ornamental stone carvings makes Baroduari a special attraction.

Chika Mosque

Sultan Yusuf Shah built the Chika Mosque in 1475. Now although almost in ruins, it was a beautiful mosque with ornate carvings on the walls. The mosque derives its name from the Chikas or the bats that used to take shelter in its dome.

Dakhil Darwaza

The Dakhil Darwaza means an entrance gate is very impressive gateway, built in 1425. Made of small red bricks and terracotta work, this dominating structure is more than 21 m. high and 34.5 m. wide. It was once the main gate to the fort which lies in ruins today.

Firoze Minar

A small imitation of the Qutub Minar of Delhi is the Firoze Minar. Very near to the Dakhil Darwaza, it was built by Sultan Saifuddin Feroze Shah during 1485-89. This five-storey tower is 26 m. high and 19 m. in circumference. The first three storeys of the tower have twelve adjacent faces each, and the uppermost two storeys are circular in shape. A spiraling flight of 84 steps takes one to the top of the tower. Built in the Tughlaqi style of architecture, the walls of Feroze Minar are covered with intricate terracotta carvings.

Kadam Rasool Mosque

Within walking distance of the Firoze Minar is the Kadam Rasool Mosque. The mosque contains the footprints of Hazrat Muhammad on stone which gives it the name of Kadam Rasool. On the four corners there are four towers made of black marble, with the spires on top covered with intricate artwork. Sultan Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah built the mosque in 1530. Opposite the Kadam Rasool Mosque stands the 17th century tomb of Fateh Khan, a commander of Aurangzeb's army which is built in the Hindu Chala style. A short distance away is the elegant Tantipara Mosque, with its intricate terracotta decoration.

Lattan Mosque

The Lattan Mosque is said to be built by a dancing girl of the royal court. However, historians believe it was built by Sultan Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah in 1475. Traces of intricate mina work in blue, green, yellow, violet and white on the enamelled bricks lining the outer and inner walls are still visible. It has an arched roof, supported by octagonal pillars.

Lukachhipi Darwaza

The Lukachhipi Darwaza or Lukochuri Gate is located to the south-east of the Kadam Rasool Mosque. Confusion over its builder still reigns. Some believe Shah Shuja built it in 1655, while others say it was built by Allauddin Hussein Shah in 1522. The name means the game of hide and seek and the funny origin lies in the favourite game played by the King with his queens. Built in the Mughal architectural style, this double-storeyed Darwaza functionally acted as the main gateway to the palace.

Pandua

18 km. north of Malda town, Pandua was another ancient capital of Bengal. Deriving its name from Paundrabardhan, Pandua is the third largest concentration of Muslim monuments in Bengal. The main place of interest is the vast Adina Mosque, built by Sikander Shah in the 14th century. It was one of the largest and one of the most imposing mosques in the subcontinent which is now in ruins.

Nearby is the Eklakhi mausoleum, so called because it cost Rs 1 lakh to build. There are also several smaller mosques like the Badi Dargah, Choti Dargah and Qutubshahi Masjid.

Murshidabad

Murshidabad at a glance :
State West Bengal
District Murshidabad
Area (Approx.) 5,324 sq. km
Language Bengali, Urdu.
Best Time to Visit October to February
Long Distance Code +91-3483
Importance The Silk City of Bengal

Around 200 km north of Kolkata, this historical district has stood witness too many changes till date. Named after the first independent Nawab of Bengal, Murshid Quli Khan, Murshidabad is naturally drained by two major tributaries of the Ganga, the Bhagirathi and the Jalangi. While its western portion is the undulating extension of the Chhota Nagpur Plateau of Bihar, its eastern region is a low-lying, fertile, alluvial silt region typical of Gangetic Bengal's deltoid topography, sharing the borders with Bangladesh. On the South are the districts of Birbhum and Nadia and Malda is in the North. The towns of Murshidabad and Lalbagh are adjacent to each other and Lalbagh is considered to be the part of Murshidabad. Not far away from Murshidabad are the Farakka Barrage and the Farakka Super Thermal Power Station. Being historically linked, this place has many historical sites that can be visited. The region is rich in textile and handicrafts. The trademark of Bengali sarees the Baluchuri saree, now a product of Vishnupur was originally woven at Jiaganj of Murshidabad. The Government Silk Research Centre is located here. Exquisite ivory carvings, gleaming brassware and traditional handicrafts are the other specialities of the town. Situated 221 km north of Kolkata, Murshidabad is connected by railway and road. Long distance bus services (to Calcutta, Malda and Siliguri) are available at Berhampore, 11 km south of Murshidabad. Berhampore is also linked by railway service from Calcutta.

Information Centres

West Bengal Tourism
3/2B, BBD Bag (East)
Calcutta 700001
Ph: 248 8271/ 248 5917/ 248 5168
Fax: 033-248 8290

Places of Interest

Nimak Haram Deohri (Traitor's Gate)
Khusbagh (Garden of Happiness)
Hazarduari (Palace of a Thousand Doors)
The Medina Masjid Clock room
Bara Imambara
Nizamatkila
The Jain Parasnath Temple
Char Bangla Temple
Bhavaniswar Temple
Moti Jheel or the Pearl Lake
Karnasubarna
Saidabad
Jiaganj

Nimak Haram Deohri (Traitor's Gate)

It is the place where Siraj-ud-daula was assassinated after the battle of Plassey.

Khusbagh (Garden of Happiness)

It is a boat ride across the river, where Siraj is buried.

Hazarduari (Palace of a Thousand Doors)

It means a palace with one thousand doors and the magnificent marble structure built in Gothic style actually has 900 doors! A premier landmark of the Lalbagh area it is located on the northern part of the Bhagirathi River. Completed in 1837, the Hazarduari, also known as the Nizamat Fort was built as the residence of Nawab Nazeem Humayun Jha, who conducted his durbars here. An interesting museum is maintained in this palace. Exhibits like the portraits of the Nawabs, the things used by them and the armours are on display. A large number of English and Parsi books along with the ancient Pandulipis are in the possession of the palace's archives. A huge cannon is placed in the courtyard of the palace, which could use 18 kg of gunpowder for a single shot.

The Medina Masjid Clock room

In front court yard of the Hazarduari is this clock room, an ornamented replica of Hazarat Mohammed's tomb at Medina, which was built by Shiraj-ud-Daulah with specially imported Karbala clay.

Bara Imambara

It is the largest Imambara of Bengal as the name suggests. This magnificent and majestic structure was built by Shiraj-ud-Daulah's, but got destroyed in fire in 1846. In 1848, Nawab Nazir Mansur Ali rebuilt it which is just opposite the front courtyard of the Hazarduari.

Nizamatkila

It is an Italian style palace of Nawab Mir Jafar, stands beside Bhagirathi river.

The Jain Parasnath Temple is at Kathgola.

Another interesting palace is Wasif Manzil, with its unique collection of curios, paintings, arms and costumes.

The Char Bangla Temple at Baranagore was built in the 18th century by Rani Bhavani.

The Bhavaniswar Temple, too, is one of the finest examples of terracotta sculpture in West Bengal. It is located 23 km from Murshidabad.

Moti Jheel or the Pearl Lake

Located one km south of Lalbagh is the Moti Jheel or the Pearl Lake. It was once used for culturing pearls. The large oxbow lake is overlooked by the desolate ruins of a three-storey palace, built by Nawab Nawajas Muhammad.

Karnasubarna

Karnasubarna was an ancient capital of King Gaureshwar Shashank and is also mentioned as the capital of Bengal in the travelogues of Chinese traveller Xuan Zhuang. The town is also associated with Lord Gautam Buddha, who stayed at Karnasubarna for seven days. A Buddhist Vihar was built in the front courtyard of the King's palace and Emperor Ashok also enshrined the Buddha's presence at Karnasubarna with an Ashok Stupa.

Saidabad

Saidabad located in between the towns of Behrampur and Murshidabad is an important town in history. It was the trading point for Armenian merchants since 1665, and the Armenian Church was built in the town in 1758. A number of Armenian graves can be found within the church compound. Many ancient Hindu temples of Lord Shiva also abound around this Church.

The Kunjaghata Palace, very close to Saidabad's Gorabazaar, belonged to Maharaja Nanda Kumar's son-in-law. The palace although in dilapidated condition has a unique collection of the king's personal belongings. An oil painting of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu presented to the king is also preserved here.

Jiaganj

This small town is famous for its Jain Temples. The Adinath Maharaj Jain Mandir is enormous and the most impressive. The Bimalnathji Jain Mandir is more striking of and has an involved, multilayered, brick-masoned steeple. There is another important Jain Mandir called the Sambhunathji Mandir.

Bardhaman

Bardhaman at a glance :
State West Bengal
District Bardhaman
Area (Approx.) 7024 sq. km
Language Bengali,
Best Time to Visit October to February
Long Distance Code +91-342
Importance The City of Industries

The district of Bardhaman is located in central part of west Bengal, sharing its western borders with the state of Jharkhand. Other neighbours of this district are Purulia, Bankura, Medinipur, Hugli, Nadia, Murshidabad and Birbhum. Bardhaman, also known as Burdwan is an industrial centre of West Bengal. It has India's biggest locomotive factory. Coal -fields and coal trading centers, railway workshops and other major industries like iron, steel and textile factories, make the district into highly developed industrial area. The small town of Burhanpur boasts of oldest steel plants in India. Bardhaman is also a major communications centre lying astride the Banka River just north of the Damodar River. 95 km from Kolkata, Bardhaman is well connected by rail and road.

Places of Interest

Curzon Gate
Tomb of Sher Afghan
Golapbag
Hawa Mahal
Kalna
Temples

Curzon Gate

The majestic Curzon Gate, now known as Vijay Toran, was erected in 1903 in Lord Curzon's honour. The Royal Palace is situated one km from the gate.

Tomb of Sher Afghan

This tomb of Sher Afgan, the last of the Afghan jagirdars in Bardhaman, is located at Pir Beharam in Kanchannagar.

Golapbag

The garden of roses, which also has beautiful water tanks.

Hawa Mahal

A place of major tourist attraction.

Kalna

Kalna, is the confluence of the Shakta and the Vaishnava forms of worship and is only 25 km from Nabadwip. Kalna is well-connected by rail and road. 77 km from Kolkata, 'Ambika Kalna' was the summer residence of the Rajas of Bardhaman. The temples at Kalna are built of bricks with intricate terracotta designs.

Temples

Unique among the temples are the ornate Palki Krishna Chanraji Temple and the Pratapeswar Temple, a 108 temple complex dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temples are divided into two circles with black and white lingas. Not to be missed are the Lalji Temples with 25 spires and the Ambika Temple.

Birbhum

Birbhum is also known as the land of the great poet Guru Rabindranath Tagore and also as the mineral reservoir of West Bengal. It shares its borders with Bihar on the North West tip and the Chota Nagpur area of Jharkhand in the West. Surrounded by Bardhaman district in the South and the South East, the alluvial Gangetic Delta falls on the East. Ajay, Mor, Mayurakshi, Bakreshwar and Dwarka are the principle Rivers of the district. Basically an agricultural district, Birbhum is famous for its Vishwa Bharati University of Shantiniketan and its folk art. It has a huge reservoir of Coal, china clay and Iron ore. Another important thing about Birbhum is that it has the five out of 51 Shaktipiths, important pilgrimages for the Hindu devotees. The whole district is covered with unique red soil called the Rangamati. This soil has been the inspiration for the famous terracotta folk art very peculiar to the area for centuries. The District Headquarters of Siuri is located around 180 km from the state capital of Kolkata and is a huge reservoir of minerals and has a 200 year old ancient Damodar temple.

Places of Interest

Shantiniketan
The Shaktipiths
Nannur
Hetampur, Birsingpur and Rajnagar

Shantiniketan

"Cargo of my life's best treasure", is how the great poet and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore described Shantiniketan. Established in 1863 by his father, Debendranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore started experimental open-air classes for students in 1901 and called it Shantiniketan or the Abode of Peace. Gurudev Tagore developed this small school for five students to a huge educational institution of international repute and called it Vishwa Bharati University. Tagore's vision was a world where man exists in perfect harmony with nature. Shantiniketan is the embodiment of serenity and peace, far removed from the concrete jungle. His motto was to teach one and all blending the east into west and putting the students nearer to nature with all the latest knowledge. He also expected that the knowledge and education from this University would be distributed by the students to the rural area of India. Nearly 220 km from Kolkata, Shantiniketan is the most famous and easily accessible tourist destination of west Bengal. Various courses including science and fine arts are taught in natural environments. The institute has a legacy of great students which include, Gayatri Devi, Maharani of Jaipur, Late Prime Minister of India, Ms. Indira Gandhi, Late Film maker Satyajit Ray and also the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. Some buildings worth a visit on the campus are the Uttarayan Complex where the great poet lived, the Bichitra Bhavan designed by his son and the Rabindra Bhavan that houses a research institute and a museum. The best time to visit Shantiniketan is the time when the University celebrates the festivals unique only to Shantiniketan. The Poush Mela is a winter fair held in December which commemorates beginning of open-air classes at Shantiniketan. Poush celebrations at Shantiniketan feature the main Tagore art forms - dance-drama, music, literature and art. The fair has extensive displays of folk arts and crafts. Its theme is a blend of Birbhum''s Adivasi-Santhal and Baul folk and tribal cultures, alongside Tagorean innovations in art and culture. The Vasantotsav held around the mid March is another festive time when spring is welcomed with cultural programmes and pageants of colour, giving a vibrant look to the whole of Shantiniketan.

The Shaktipiths

According to Hindu Mythology, wife of Lord Shiva Sati went uninvited to her father. She was immensely insulted and in rage she burnt herself alive. When Lord Shiva learnt of his wife's death he started performing the Tandava Nritya, the devastating dance holding Sati's corpse on his shoulders. As the dance progressed all the three worlds began shaking towards destruction. To save the cosmos of annihilation, Lord Vishnu hurled his disc towards the corpse. The disc cut the corpse into 51 pieces which fell on the earth. Shaktipiths were formed wherever the pieces fell and five of them fell in Birbhum. The most famous of them, however, is the Kalighat in Kolkata. The Shaktipiths of Birbhum are Bakreshwar Around 60 km from Shantiniketan and just 19 km from Siuri, this is considered to be the most sacred Shaktipiths. The idol of Goddess Mahishasurmardini marks the spot where Sati's forehead and eyebrows fell. Bakreshwar has nine natural hot springs with rich therapeutic minerals. A huge thermal project 13 km from Bakreshwar is also coming up.

Tarapith It is around 70 km from Shantiniketan and is the place where Sati's eyes fell. Kankalitala Just nine km away from Shantiniketan, this place has a small temple of kali where the Goddess's pelvis fell.
Nalhati Nalhati claims to be the place where Sati's wind pipe fell.
Fullora A small temple marks the place where Sati's lips fell in Fullora.

Nannur

Nannur is the birth place of the 14th century great Bengali poet, Chandidas. The Chandidas Ramayana is famous. But he was murdered by a jealous Nawab. The temple where he used to pray still stands today. The temple of Bishalakhi is dedicated to Goddess of learning Saraswati. It has a rare four armed idol of Saraswati along with Kartikeya.

Hetampur, Birsingpur and Rajnagar

These triplet cities carry the ancient landmarks of the Bengal civilization. There are relics of the Hindu Kings of Birbhum. Hetampur has an oldest college which was a palace earlier of Raja Ramranjan Chakraborty of Murshidabad.

Nadia

Located in the heart of the Bengal delta, Nadia has a fertile land with five major rivers Bhagirathi, Jalangi, Mathabhanga, Churni and Ichhamati flowing through it. Bound by River Hooghly in the west, Murshidabad is in the north and North 24-Parganas and capital of the state Kolkata fall to the south of Nadia. Agricultural activity is of high standard with rice and jute being the major crops. The probable origin of the name of this district goes to the legend which says that a hermit used to perform tantrik rituals by lighting nine lamps or nau diya, on this newly formed island thus giving it a name of Naudiya and later Nadia. The headquarters of this district is Krishnanagar, an ancient town. Today Nadia is famous for its beautiful earthen sculptures made by the local artisans. Teaching Sanskrit has been the unique tradition in Nadia. It was in Nadia that sage Chaitanya Mahaprabhu developed the Vaishnav sect preaching devotion to Lord Vishnu. Nadia District was also the home of the 18th century poet Ramprasad Sen.

Places of Interest

Krishnanagar
Nabadweep
Kalyani
Shantipur
Plassey

Krishnanagar

Earlier capital of King Krishnachandra, now this small village is famous for the beautiful dolls of clay and pottery work. Situated on the banks of the Jalangi River, around 118 km north of Kolkata, Krishnanagar still retains its grandeur with the royal palace or the Raj Bari and a beautiful Durga temple in the grounds. Several cannons used in the battle of Plassey can still be seen on the grounds of the royal palace. Built in Mughal architectural style this royal palace has intricate carvings. Another major attraction is the Roman Catholic Church outstanding in its architecture and sculpture. Inside the church, the life of Christ has been depicted in 27 oil paintings. The grounds contain beautiful wooden statues sculpted by Italian artists.

Nabadweep

Once the capital of Bengal in the 12th century, during the reign of Sen Rulers, today Nabadweep is better known as the birth place of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Located at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Jalangi rivers, 120 km north of Kolkata, nine islands or dweeps that rose from the Jalangi River gave Nabadweep its name. Nabadweep is famous as Varanasi of Bengal. It is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimages and famous for its sanctity. It is the centre for the traditional Sanskrit schools. Nabadweep is also where Shaiva, Buddhist, Shakta and Vaishnav faiths converge. There are nearly 185 temples in Nabadweep alone. Although each one is worth a visit, the most famous is the Sonargouranga, the temple with the golden statue of Sri Chaitanya. The mall town is over crowded during the Rash festival held in the months of Kartik (November).

Plassey

It was here that the famous battle between the British and the Nawab of Bengal was fought in 1757. Plassey is 172 km from the capital city of Kolkata along the national highway. A 15 meter high coloumn erected by the British to commemorate their victory still stands witness to the history.

Shantipur

A small village barely 20 km from Krishnanagar is famous for its hand woven cotton sarees, known as Tant sarees. A weekly market held every Sunday, brings artisans, from far and near, to display and sell their works.

Kalyani

Kalyani is a town in southern Nadia District. It is a university town in which there are five universities or colleges. It is a small and quiet town, with perhaps 20,000 inhabitants. However, there may be half again as many refugees from Bangladesh living in makeshift structures in the town.

Midnapur

Midnapur or Medinipur is the largest district of West Bengal situated in the South Western part of the state. It is also the only district with sea beaches of west Bengal on the thresh hold of Bay of Bengal. It is surrounded by the districts of South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hugli and Bankura and also shares its borders with Orissa and the newly formed state of Jharkhand. With six tributaries of the Ganga and annual rainfall of 160 cm the district is full of dense forests.

Midnapur, the largest district of West Bengal is famous for its beaches, forests and world famous educational institution of Kharagapur. It is also known as the land of great people like Ishwarchand Vidya Sagar, Birendra Sasmal and Matangini Hazra to name a few. Midnapur is also the gateway to West Bengal from the southern and the western parts of the country. Kharagpur is the main junction and boasts of the longest railway platform on whole of India and perhaps Asia as well. Hardly 115 km from Howrah, Kharagpur, is in the suburban rail network of Calcutta.

Places of Interest

Sea Beaches
Tamluk
Hijli
Jamboni
Kharagpur

Sea Beaches

The most famous beach of West Bengal is the Digha beach which lies just 185 km from Kolkata and is six hour drive. It is known as the Brighton of the east and is famous for its flat hard beaches. The beach of Junput, just 40 km away from Digha, was overlooked for some time. But it offers a beautiful sea-view with lines of casuarinas trees. Now Junput has a scientific research centre and the centre for studies in marine biology is the nucleus for the area's sea-fish research and shark oil extraction. Junput also has a farm for breeding ducks. Only 14 km from Digha is the old fishing village of Shankarpur. This fast developing wonderful beach resort has all the advantages of Digha minus the crowd. Apart from the long, tree-lined beach, the main attraction is the Shankarpur Fishing Harbour Project.

Kharagpur

Famous for not only being a big rail junction, this town situated in the centre of Midnapur around 115 km from Kolkata, is also famous for its premier educational institute, the Indian Institute of Technology. It boasts of the longest train platform in the world and connects West Bengal to the southern, central and western parts of India.

Hijli

Hijli is an ancient seaport of Midnapur, enriched by Muslim and British history. Job Charnock, the founder of the British settlement in Kolkata, defeated the local forces here in 1687, planting the first seed of British colonial control in India. It is located at the confluence of Rasulpur and Hooghly rivers, hence has to be reached by ferry from Dariapur. Hijli has the Masnad-I-Ala-Masjid, which was built around 1648-49. A visit to Hijli is also provides an opportunity to see the 400-year old Joramandir of Jagganath or Twin Temples of the Lord of the Universe.

Jamboni

The Jungle Mahal Fort, hidden in the deep recess of tropical rain forests and the ancient Kanak Durga Mandir, reconstructed in 1348, are the prime attractions of Jamboni. The idol of the guardian deity of this Temple, Devi Kanak Durga, is a three-eyed and four-armed ancient idol.

Tamluk

Tamluk was once the capitals of the ancient kingdom of Bengal. Today only ruins are found of the ancient city. But the Bargabhima Mandir of Tamluk is a worth a visit. It has a very old icon of the Hindu Goddess Tara. A huge fair is held at Paush Sankranti every here. The Tamralipta Museum at Tamluk contains artifacts of tamra or copper. Inscribed copper templates comprise the documents of this museum. The museum has preserved a tamralipta of Greek inscriptions. The Tamralipta Museum preserves the historical heritage of Bengal.

Hooghly

Situated in the north west of Kolkata along the River Hooghly, Hooghly was in prominence till Kolkata came into picture. It was a major trading point for the British, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish and also the Mughals. Surrounded by Howrah, Nadia, Bardhaman, Bankura and Midnapur, Hooghly still retains its old glory. It comprises a fertile, low-lying alluvial tract dotted with marshes and abandoned river channels and drained by the Rupnarayan and Damodar rivers.

Places of Interest

Bandel
Antpur
Chinsurah or Chunchura
Srirampur
Mahesh
Chandernagore
Tarakeswar
Kamarpukur
Jairambati

Bandel

It was the first European settlement in West Bengal and still bears the traces of its past. Bandel is the site of the Portuguese settlement. The Portuguese Church and the Monastry were built here in 1599. It was destroyed by Shah Jahan in 1640 but was rebuilt in 1660. The church is the main attraction which is the oldest Christian church in West Bengal, the Church of our Lady of Bandel and is dedicated to Nosa Senhora di Rozario. It was declared a basilica in 1988. The church is built in beautiful Doric architectural style of ancient Greece. Inside there are beautiful paintings depicting scenes from the life of Jesus.

The old port of Bansberia, earlier known as the Saptagram, is just four km from Bandel. The temples of Ananta Vasudeva and Hanseswari are famous here. The Vasudeva temple is constructed in the traditional ekaratna style with curved cornices and an octagonal tower. The temple was built in 1679 by Raja Rameshwar Dutta. The walls of the temple are covered with terracotta carvings depicting scenes from the Hindu epics. The architectural splendour that is the Hanseshwari temple is very nearby. It was started by Raja Narsinghdeo in 1801 and was completed in 1814. In its unique architectural style, there are 13 turrets and the peak is shaped like a thousand petalled lotus. This 21 meter high structure of brick, wood, stone is dedicated to Goddess Hanseshwari, an incarnation of Goddess Kali. Built according to Tantric principles, the five-storey temple carries suggestions of the five main arteries of the human body - Ira, Pingala, Bajraksha, Sushumna and Chitrini. Inside, there is a blue neem wood idol of the four-armed Goddess Hanseswari. Located 48 km north of Kolkata, Bandel may be reached by rail and road.

Antpur

76 km north of Kolkata, is the site of a number of 18th century temples built by Krishnaram Mitra, a Zamindar in Antpur. The temples are built in the aatchala style of architecture. There is the Radha Govinda temple which has exquisite terracotta panels and the vaulted inner roof with coloured mural paintings. The Chandi Mandap has fine artistry in wood. The other temples in and around the area are those of Jaleswara, Baneswara, Gangadhara, Fuleswara and Rameswara.

Chinsurah or Chunchura

Chunchura was a Dutch settlement from 1656 to 1825. This historical town is the district headquarters of Hooghly. It was later exchanged by the Dutch for the British-held Indonesian island of Sumatra in 1825. Fort Gustavus, a church, three barracks and many old tombs stand testimony to the bygone days. The Octagonal Dutch Church built in 1768 is a major attraction. A little to the west of the Church is a Dutch cemetery. Another important place is the Bandemataram House on Joraghat, which was the residence of the great Bengali novelist and poet, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. It was here the national song, Bandemataram, was composed.

The famous Imambara at Hooghly was established by Hazi Mohammad Mohsin in 1836. The gateway is flanked by lofty minarets, the walls are decorated with texts from the Koran and the interior has rich carvings and inlaid marble motifs. The sundial in the garden is of interest to most visitors, and the 35-m. high clock tower offers a wonderful view.

Srirampur

Formerly known as Fedricnagar, Srirampur was the seat of missionary activity from 1793 to 1834. Hardly 25 km from Kolkata, it has held an important place in Bengal's history. It was a Danish settlement till East India Company took over in 1845. The house of the Danish Governor, the Roman Catholic Church and St Olaf Churchstill stands here. There is also a museum in Srirampur College with exhibits about the missionaries, Dr Williams Carey, Ward and Marshman and their activities.

Mahesh, 3 km from Serampur, has a very old Jagannath Temple, where the annual car festival is held in June / July each year.
Other interesting sites in Hooghly are the Sabujdweep, meaning green island, 75 km from Kolkata and Chandananagor, a well laid out French settlement.

Chandernagore

37 km away from Kolkatta, Chandernagore was once a French colony. It is a beautifully laid out town on the bank of the river Hooghly with a lovely promenade that is ideal for strolls. The churches, the convent and the residence of the French Administrator along the strand are interesting buildings left by the French.

Kamarpukur, Jairambati

The eminence of Kamarpukur stems from the fact that it is the native village of Sri Ramkrishna who was born here of February 17, 1836. The Ramakrishna Math and Mision have erected a memorial temple on the sport of his birth. The annual birth-day celebration of Sri Ramakrishna is the principal festival of the village. Regular bus services connect Kamarpukur with Arambagh and Vishnupur. Jairambato, the place of birth of Sri Ma Saradamoni, the consort of Sri Ramkrishna, in the district of Bankura, is quite near Kamarpukur.

Tarakeswar

Tarakeswar is a renowned place of pilgrimage and the greatest centre of the Shaiva sect in West Bengal. 58 km away from Kolkatta, Tarakeswar can be reached conveniently by train. The principal attraction is the temple of Taraknath, an 'atchala' structure with a 'natmandir' in front. Close by are the shrines of Kali and Lakshmi-Narayan. Dudhpukur, a tank to the north of the Shiva temple is believed to fulfil the prayers of those taking a dip in it.

Pilgrims visit the temple throughout the year, especially on Mondays. But thousands of pilgrims visit Tarakeswar on the occasions of 'Shivaratri' and 'Gajan', the former taking place in Falgun (Feb-March) while the latter lasts for five days ending on the last day of Chaitra (mid-April). The month of Sravana (mid-July to mid-August) is auspicious for Shiva when celebrations are held on each Monday.

Bankura

The district of Bankura is locked from all the sides by other districts of West Bengal like the Puruliya, Medinipur, Hugli and Bardhaman. Out of the total area, 1,397 sq. km of the area of Bankura is covered with forest. Bankura is a district to the north of the Dhaleswari (Dhalkisor) river. 185 km from Kolkata, Bankura town is actually the centre for transportation within the district. Situated at a major Grand Trunk Road and rail junction, the district is an agricultural distributing centre. Rice and oilseed milling, cotton weaving, metalware manufacture, and railway workshops are the major industries. Bengal has a tradition of terracotta temples due to the peculiar soil, but Bishnupur temples are the most striking of them all. Also, Bankura boasts of Shishunia hill, a peak rising abruptly from the neighbouring plains. The mountain is 440 meters high but is said to be older than the Himalayas. A district with high percentage of tribal population, Bankura is famous for music, art (the famous terracotta Bankura horse) and culture.

How to reach

There are regular rail and bus services from Kolkata every corner of the district. Tourist accomodations of the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation are available at Bishnupur and Mukutmanipur.

Information Centres

West Bengal Tourism
3/2B, BBD Bag (East)
Calcutta 700 001
Ph: (033) 248 8271/ 248 5917/ 248 5168
Fax: 033-248 8290

Places Of Interest

Jhilimili

Vishnupur

Though the place has very little historical significance, there are a number of temples and places which are noteworthy. The Raghunath Mandir, built in 1639 with terracotta sculpture, the Ekteshwar Mandir, the Methodist Missionary Church and the Christian College are some of them.
Mukutmanipur, Bishnupur, Jhilmil are the main spots of attraction.

Vishnupur

Located in the district of Bankura, this immensely beautiful town Bishnupur, famous for its terracotta temples is around 150 kms from the capital of the state of West Bengal, Kolkata. This peaceful small town is abundant with natural beauty and the most famous terracotta temples. The Legend goes that Beer Hambeer king of the Malla dynasty once asked to loot the priceless jewels that were to pass his town. But instead of jewels it had priceless Vaishnav texts. After reading them the king decided to devote himself to Lord Vishnu and became a Vaishnavite. The name of the town has its origin in the devotion of lord Vishnu. The temples are dedicated to Radha and Krishna and since stone wasn't easily available, royal architects and craftsmen had to get very inventive with the red laterite soil found here to please their kings. Apart from the temples Bishnupur has given birth to the Bishnupur Gharana in Hindustani classical music. It is a distinctive style of music which is still followed and learned. Shopping for souvenirs in this quaint little town is but essential. Various articles made of terracotta including jewellery are exquisite. One of the most beautiful sarees of India are woven here the Baluchari which have mythological scenes from Ramayana and the Mahabharata embroidered on it. Last but not the least Bishnupur's sweets are very famous and tasty and one should leave the ancient town without them. The Jhapan festival held here every August draws snake charmers to honour the Godess Manasa who is the central figure to the cult of snake worship. Snake shows and snake fights are the highlights of the festival. Terracotta is the benchmark of Vishnupur. Vishnupur may be reached by both train and bus. It is linked by rail to Kolkata. There are regular bus services between Vishnupur and Kolkata as well.

Information Centres

Department of Tourism,
Government of West Bengal
2, Brabourne Road
Kolkata - 700 001
Phone: +91-33-2225-4565/8183/4723-25
Fax:+91-33-2225-4565
E-mail: dtwbtour@vsnl.net

Tourism Centre,
3/2 B.B.D. Bag (East)
Kolkata - 700 001
Phone: +91-33-2248 8271/5168
2210-3199, 2243-7260
Fax: +91-33-2248 5168

Places Of Interest

Vishnupur is famous for its beautiful terracotta temples and artifacts. There are many such temples which stand testimony to the exquite craftsmanship of the artisans of the region. We take a brief look at some of them:

Raas Mancha

It is a shrine built in the form of a stepped pyramid, dating back to the early 17th century when Bishnupur was steeped in Vaishnavism. During the Raas Festival, all the Vaishnavite deities of the other temples were carried in a grand procession and assembled here.

Pancha Ratna Temple of Shyam Rai

Built in 1643 by King Raghunath Singha. The walls are richly decorated with terracotta carvings featuring aspects of Lord Krishna's life.

Jorebangla Temple of Keshta Rai

Built by King Raghunath Singha Dev II in the 17th century. The ornate terracotta carvings are set off by the roof in the classic chala style of Bengal architecture.

Madanmohan Temple

King Durjana Singh Deva built the temple in 1694 AD in the ekaratna style, a square flat-roofed building with carved cornices, surmounted by a pinnacle. Impressive carvings on the walls depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas.

The Dol Madol Cannon

It is another landmark that echoes history. In 1742, during the reign of Raja Gopal Singh, this cannon was used to repulse the troops of Maratha leader, Bhaskar Pundit. The 3.8m long cannon has a barrel with a diameter of 28.5cm. Built by experts, its exquisite engravings are clearly visible even today.

Jogesh Chandra Archaeological Centre

It houses artifacts of the Malla kings. Items collected through periodic excavations are kept here.

The temples of Vishnupur are an architectural treasure trove.

Jhilimili

Jhilimili is the total forest area free from wild animals, near the meeting point of three districts of West Bengal; namely Bankura, Purulia and Midnapur. Jhilimili means twinkle or sparkle and no doubt the place is just the way its name suggests. An overnight journey from Kolkata brings you to this place which is inhabited by the tribals and does not have much to see but to experience the beautiful natural and peaceful surroundings.

Sunderban

Situated in the district of South 24 Parganas, which is the southern most tip of the State of West Bengal. The tip reaches out into the Bay of Bengal, forming the world's largest delta. The major Rivers flowing through are Hooghly, Vidyadhari and Matla and the district has Howrah in the north-west and North 24 Parganas in the north-east. The name Sunderban comes from the Sundari trees that grow in the forests, which are called the Ban. These are the famous Gangetic deltas, formed when the rivers Ganga and Hooghly divide into many distributaries reducing the speed of water. The river deposits its silt just as it is about to merge into the sea and in due course the accumulated silt takes the shape of islands on the mouth of the rivers. These provide an ideal atmosphere and environment for the Sundari trees to grow. The Sunderbans are home to many exquisite animals and birds and the most famous Royal Bengal Tigers. Covering a vast area of 1,629 sq. km, Sunderban, where about 200 Royal Bengal Tigers; strong swimmers, bigger and richer in colour than elsewhere in the south Asia; lead an almost natural life, was declared a national park and a world heritage site. The estuaries support a variety of marine life as well which includes the salt water crocodile and the Olive Ridley turtle. Leopards and fishing cats, barking deer and spotted deer, wild boars and monkeys, reptiles and birds along with the tigers can be spotted here.The mangrove swamps and riverine forests cover over 2,500 sq km in the Ganga delta and spread across to Bangladesh. They are said to be the largest estuarine forests in the world. Although the main areas of the sanctuary can only be accessed only by riverine waterways, Sunderban offers an exotic experience to view the beautiful flora and fauna in their most natural conditions. Two thirds of this area today falls in neighbouring Bangladesh and is often hit by powerful cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal Sajnekhali, nearby where lodging and boarding can be availed has a large bird sanctuary. A thrilling cruise through the largest estuarine delta to watch the wild life is a life time experience one should never miss.

Climate

The best time to be in wildlife belts of the region is September-March. Although the luxury tours to the Sunderbans carry on the year round, and the monsoon holds its own magic over tourists on the expanse of the Sunderbans, September-March is the most likely time for tiger-sighting.

How to reach

Come to Sajnekhali by motorboat departing from Canning which is accessible by train and bus services from Calcutta. Cruise along in M.V. Chitrarekha (weekly journey from October to March) for a life time experience. One can also get private boats from Canning, Gosaba and Basanti, Raidighi, Basanti, Namkhana and Najatare are all connected by roadways from Kolkata.

Places of Interest

Bakkhali

Around 130 km south of Kolkata in the south 24 Parganas, on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal is the unexploited beach of Bakkhali. Although the Casuarine lined beach does not fit the popular tourist spot due to its clay beach, rather than sand, this place is a good weekend getaway.

Fraserganj and Jambudweep

Just two km away from Bakkhali is the quaint sleepy fishing village, Fraserganj. Originally, Narayantila, this seaside village was named after the British Andrew Fraser, who tried to develop this village into beach resort, after falling in love with its exotic charm. The resort he built was washed away with the waves but the name remained. A 10 km boat ride from Fraserganj takes you to the mystic island of Jambudweep which submerged in the sea for most time of the year. Ruins of an old light house here are interesting.

Where to stay

M.V. Chitrarekha has excellent arrangements for on-board stay. One can also avail the facilities of tourist lodges at Sajnekhali, Bakkhali and Piyali for overnight stay.

Permissions

For Project Tiger and Sajnekhali Sanctuary
Field Director Project Tiger, P.O. Canning,Dist. 24 Parganas.
Canning 9118-55280, STD 03218-55280

For Other Areas of Sunderbans
Divisional Forest Officer, 24 Parganas,35 Gopalnagar,
Calcutta - 700 027. 479-9032

For Foreign Visitors
Secretary, Department of Forest and Tourism,Government of West Bengal,Writers' Building,
Calcutta - 700 001.Ph.091-033-221-5999

Information Centres

Kolkata

West Bengal Tourism Dev. Corpn. Ltd. (A Government of West Bengal Undertaking)
Netaji Indoor Stadium (West Block), Calcutta - 700 021, India.
(033)248-7302/8286/8242/7318, 210-3194
Fax : (033) 248 8290

Tourism Centre
3/2, B.B.D. Bagh East, Calcutta - 700 001,India.
(033)248-5917/5168/8271/72/73, 210-3201/3199
Fax : (033) 248 5168

The coastal strip of West Bengal, extending from the Gangetic delta land to the border of Orissa, presents some beautiful options in sea resorts - Digha, Shankarpur, Junput, Bakkhali, Sagardwip. All of these offer wide, flat, hard beaches, a gently rolling sea, rows of casuarina forests and a pleasant, warm weather round the year. With the mild winter of the Gangetic West Bengal, the season is on the entire year round. However, the best time of the year is July to March.

Digha

The Southern West Bengal is endowed with the most famous beach on the eastern coast of India - Digha. The beach town of Digha is famous all over for flat, hard beaches. The beauty of this place was discovered as early as the days of Warren Hastings. Digha was known as Beercool at that time. Digha beach is girdled with casuarina plantations along the coast. The sea is calm and shallow for about a mile from the beach making it quite safe for swimming.

Places of Interest around Digha

Chandaneswar

An old Siva Temple, 8 km. from Digha. Also Lankeswari (14 km.) and Kapal Kundala Temple (45 km.) famous for an ancient temple associated with Bankimchandra's novel Kapal Kundala. near Contai may be visited.

Mandarmani

Picnic Resort. 20 kms from Chaulkhola on Kolkata-Digha route.

Shankarpur

Shankarpur, a virgin beach as yet, is a recent discovery. Shankarpur is only 14 km. east of Digha, along the Digha-Contai Road. It is also a regular fishing harbour. It offers nearly all the pleasures of a private beach. This beach too is cupped with casuarina plantations. Shankarpur is now developed as a sea resort with hotels, tourist lodges and other facilities.

Junput

Junput fish firm 40 km,from Digha by bus;it also has a beautiful sea beach with a change at Contai. The place offers beautiful sea-view and lines of casuarina trees. The beach is unspoilt. Brackish water fish cultivation and research are done here by the State Government Fisheries Department. For accommodation, there is an Inspection Bungalow under the Superintendent of Fisheries, Junput.

Bakkhali

Bakkhali is only 132 km from Kolkata. From Calcutta to Namkhana by bus (105 km.), then a short diversion by the ferry across the Hatania Doania river, and then another hour and a half bus journey to Bakkhali. En rout, there is Diamond Harbour (48 km from Calcutta) where there is a comfortable Tourist Lodge for accommodation. At Bakkhali, the beach is long and sandy, the waves twinkling in the sunlight. Dense casuarina groves drape the beach. Red fiddler crabs march in line on the beach.

Sagardwip

A lovely destination combining pilgrimage and fun, situated on an island in the Sunderban, holds the charms of a completely unspoilt beach on the estuary of the mighty Ganga. Sagardwip presents a quiet, silvery expanse of beach and the calm sea provides the perfect setting for a quiet weekend. From Diamond Harbour one has to travel to Kakdwip (30 km. past Diamond Harbour), then to Herwood Point (Lot No. 8), cross the ferry to the other side of the river Muriganga. The other side is Kachuberia. From Kachuberia, a journey by bus, minibus or trekker to Sagar Island. West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation runs direct buses between Esplanade and Lot No. 8 and ferry vessels across the river. On Makar Sankranti day in winter (mid-January), pilgrims from all over India congregate at Sagardwip to take a holy dip at the confluence of the river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal. After the holy dip, they offer 'Puja' at the nearby ashram associated with the legendary sage Kapil Muni. This has been a famous pilgrim centre from the ancient times. Gangasagar Mela, held on the occasion of Makar Sankranti is the largest fair in West Bengal. The lighthouse at Sagardwip provides a panoramic view of the surroundings. There are tourist lodges at Sagardwip and a Youth Hostel. Also dormitory accommodation in a dharamshala run by Bharat Sevasram Sangha.

Frazerganj

The white sand beach, is entirely different from the other beaches. It is pristine pure and holds the charms of a beach unspoilt. It can be accessed from Kolkata, and is a three hours drive on very good roads. The destination is also all too famous for the migratory birds that can be sighted over there.

How to reach

Digha is easily accessible by road from Kolkata, Asansol, Bardhaman, Durgapur, Suri, Bankura and Jamshedpur and partly by rail (upto Kharagpur). The last part of the trip - between Kharagpur and Digha (123 km.) has to be done by bus and taxi.






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