Top Places To Visit In West Bengal

When I imagine West Bengal, the picture consists of a Baul music playing in the background with the complimentary chuckles and hushed tone conversation of ladies in white and red sarees. I also imagine these big beautiful eyed ladies discussing prices of the jewelry worn by them and how their kids are performing excellently in their dance, music and art classes and their schools. I imagine a group of men gathered outside a drama/dance and music theatre, with one side of the cheek slightly puffed with the deposition of fresh paan (betel leaf) while they discuss the Rabindra Sangeet performance held earlier in the month. When I think of West Bengal, I automatically start to get the aroma of mustard-cooked fish and the sweetness of Sandesh in my mouth… Bengal is one place that I wish to explore. If you are also someone like me who delights in taking a deep look into the rich culture and history of a place, then the state of West Bengal gives you millions of reasons to be there and explore its nooks and crannies.

Kolkata

Kolkata is the face of West Bengal; it’s like the city offers a glimpse of what the entire state is about. From its elegant British Raj buildings to the sprawling gardens, from its historical colleges to its buzzing nightlife, and delicious food to sweets, Kolkata possesses all the necessary factors to be one of the finest places to visit not only in West Bengal but in India. Home to a spawning generation of poets, writers, film producers, and Nobel Prize winners, the city is also a cultural capital of the country. Expect to be wooed by the nominal prices of things, the hand-pulled-rickshaws, meandering streets with old-fashioned houses and an innumerable variety of sweets.

Highlights:
  • Howrah Bridge
  • Jorasanko Thakurbari
  • Park Street
  • Indian Museum
  • Victoria Memorial
  • Birla Temple
  • Calcutta Racecourse
  • Eden Gardens
  • Marble Palace Mansion

Darjeeling

Other than Kolkata, Darjeeling is the place that gives West Bengal its unique identity. A much-celebrated hill-station in India, Darjeeling is the destination that provides the opportunity to unwind amidst the scenic and serene environ. Blessed with tea estates, red rhododendrons, white magnolias, birds of different species, colonial-era buildings and the Toy-Train facility, this hill station in West Bengal is a perfect holiday destination in India. Trekking, river rafting, and bird watching are some of the activities that you can indulge in Darjeeling apart from enjoying sightseeing and the Toy-Train ride.

Highlights:
  • Kanchenjunga
  • Sandakphu
  • Tiger Hill
  • Peace Pagoda
  • Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
  • Batasia Loop
  • Lava
  • Everest Museum
  • Barbotey Rock Garden
  • Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Neora National Park

Bishnupur 

Known for its ancient temples dating back to 15th century, Bishnupur is the history lovers’ paradise. Situated in the Bankura District, Bishnupur has had some beautiful terracotta temples and prosperous Balucheri Saree industry. It is believed that art and culture flourished here during the reign of the Malla Rulers who were the patrons of painting and music. The temples here stand proof of the gorgeous architecture that this place once was adorned with.

Highlights:
  • Jorebangla Temple
  • Rasmancha
  • Pancha Ratna Temple
  • Radha Govinda Temple
  • Gate of Old Fort
  • Keibul Lamjao National Park
  • Loukoipat Ecological Park
  • Sarbamangala Temple

Shantiniketan 

A small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district, Shantiniketan is known better as the Treasure Trove of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. This small town is situated about 212 kms and home to a university town, Visva-Bharati. Tagore founded an Ashram here in 1863 and became the initiator of the Brahmo Samaj. The Shantiniketan campus is adorned with splendid sculptures, frescoes, murals, and paintings of Rabindranath, Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar, Binodbehari Mukhopadhyay. It is also popular for its Baul Singers and fairs and festivals like Poush Mela (December), Joydev Mela (January), Basanta Utsav (Holi) (in March).

Highlights:
  • Uttarayan
  • Vichitra
  • Poush Mela or Utsav (Dec.)
  • Vasantotsav (Mar./Apr.)
  • Sriniketan
  • Bakreshwar
  • Kendubilwa or Kenduli

Digha 

A sea-side city, Digha is an ideal weekend destination from Kolkata. Digha is extremely popular amidst tourists for its pristine beach and that is why one must book their tour well in advance, especially on the weekends. Make sure to try the fried fish that the locals sell; collect sea shells; follow trails left behind by crabs, and sip on coconut water while lazing under an umbrella on the beach.

Highlights:
  • New Digha Beach
  • Shankarpur Beach
  • Talsari Beach
  • Udaipur
  • Marine Station/Aquarium of Zoological Survey of India
  • Temple at Chandaneswar

Bankura 

Bankura is a district in West Bengal that boasts about the fine terracotta temples, dense virgin forests, rolling hills, and several scenic spots. Bankura district includes Bishnupur, which has been mentioned in the blog separately. Apart from Bishnupur, Bankura district is also famous for Mukutmonipur, which is situated on the confluence of Rivers Kansabati and Kumari. There is a lake in Mukutmonipur that offers a stunning reflection of the azure sky above making it a delightful sight to see.

Highlights:
  • Biharinath Hill
  • Susunia Hills
  • Mukutmonipur Dam
  • Rasmancha
  • Garh Darwaja
  • Krishna-Balaram Temple
  • Ganesh and Nandi Statue

Midnapore

The town Midnapore, also called Medinipur is a pilgrim center in West Bengal as it is home to a few ancient temples and mosques. The place is also famous for the memorials of many freedom fighters. Situated on the banks of the Kangsabati River, Midnapore is known for its sweet shops that sell the fine quality of famous Bengali sweet – ‘Khirer Goja’ or Bengali Gossip.

Highlights:
  • Bahiri
  • Chandrakona
  • Jhargram
  • Shankarpur Beach
  • Dantan
  • Garbeta
  • Bargabheema Temple
  • Kurambera Fort
  • Jora Masjid
  • Egra
  • Dandeswar Mahadev Temple
  • Baptist Mission Church
  • Keshiari

Siliguri 

Siliguri is a picturesque town offering spectacular views of Himalayas. It is quite famous for its tea gardens and a thick forest. The city is located on the bank of the Mahananda River and is a beautiful place to stop by if traveling to Darjeeling, Kalimpong or Sikkim. If you wish, you can also visit the colorful Salugara gompa that is about 5kms from the main town and is adorned with an imposing Chorten-like spire. Siliguri is also an ideal place to shop for Chinese knock-offs in the bustling Hong Kong Market, which is off the Sevoke Road in the heart of town.

Highlights:
  • Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chilapata Forest
  • Coronation Bridge
  • Kanchenjunga Stadium
  • Surya Sen Park
  • Isckon Temple
  • Shorea Forest Recreation Center
  • Fulbari Barrage
  • Sevoke, Kalijhora, Mongpong

Murshidabad 

Located on the bank of River Bhagirathi, Murshidabad is an ancient city in West Bengal. It is believed that the city was on its height of glory before the British rulers shifted the capital to Kolkata. The town still bears memories of Nawabs that once ruled here and contributed in the city’s beauty by building mosques, tombs, and gardens. They even set up industries of ivory, gold and silver embroidery and silk weaving. Murshidabad today is a center for agriculture, handicrafts, and sericulture.

Highlights:
  • Hazarduari Palace Museum
  • Imambara
  • Wasef Manzil
  • Jalangi River
  • Nasipur Palace
  • Katra Mosque
  • Jahankosha Canon
  • Katgola

Hooghly 

Probably one of the most famous places in West Bengal, Hooghly is reckoned to be the place, where Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sarada Devi stayed for several years. It also has historical significance as it was colonized by Portuguese, French and the Dutch and one can still see the influence of the colonization in the architecture here. So, this moderately bustling destination is for those who enjoy spending time exploring the stories of a glorious past.

Highlights:
  • Chandannagar Museum
  • Srirampore
  • Bhadreswar
  • Tarakeshwar Temple
  • Hooghly Imambara
  • Hangseshwari Temple
  • Deer Park
  • Sri Ramakrishna Math
  • Garh Mandaran

Kalimpong 

Kalimpong is a lovely hill station in lower Himalayas, situated at an elevation of 1250m. Overlooking the Teesta River, Kalimpong is an ideal destination for nature lovers as the place is blessed with bounties of nature and offers incredible views of the Himalayas and the tranquil environment to attain peace of mind. One gets to witness the traditional handicraft and a wide array of orchids in a flower market here. Kalimpong is also a religious center of Buddhism and has monasteries that house some rare Tibetan Buddhist scriptures.

Highlights:
  • Deolo Hill
  • Graham’s Home
  • Kalimpong Cactus Nursery
  • Pine View Nursery
  • Jaldhaka River Valley
  • Tharpa Choeling Gompa
  • Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa
  • Tongsa Gompa
  • Zang Dhok Palri Phodang

Kamarpukur 

A village in Hooghly district, Kamarpukur is an ancient place that invites all the history buffs. A visit to this place adorned with old buildings, temples, and tanks can take you back in time. Kamarpukur is also considered sacred as it was here that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa was born.

Highlights:
  • Jairambati Math
  • Mukundapur Temple
  • Yogi Shiva Temple
  • Gopeshwar Temple
  • Matri Mandir

Jalpaiguri 

Enjoying a beautiful topography, Jalpaiguri is a blissful destination in West Bengal for nature lovers. Since it is easy to access Darjeeling and Sikkim from here, you would find the city bustling with tourists all year round. The name Jalpaiguri came from the word ‘Japan’, meaning ‘Olive’, which grew in this town and the suffix ‘Guri’ means a place, so Jalpaiguri is the ‘Place of Olives’. The name is also said to be associated with Jalpesh or Shiva, who is the presiding deity of the entire region. The whole topography of Jalpaiguri is crisscrossed with rivulets, rivers, and hills making it nature lovers’ haven.

Highlights:
  • Dooars
  • Gorumara National Park
  • Buxa Tiger Reserve
  • Mendabari Fort
  • The Baptist Church
  • Panjhora River

Mirik 

Dubbed ‘Nest in the Hills of West Bengal’, Mirik is a beautiful hill town in Darjeeling district at the height of 1767m. The town is situated at a distance of about 49kms from Darjeeling and has a beautiful long lake that is fed by perennial streams. A floating fountain in the middle of the lake is the highlight of the place. Mirik is also adorned with thousands of Cryptomaria-Japanica trees. It certainly is one of those places where one can attempt a solo trip to India. A boat ride in the lake is an ideal thing to do in Mirik along with trekking.

Highlights:
  • Devi Sthan
  • Deosi Dara
  • Rameetay Dara
  • Sumendu Lake
  • Rai Dhap

Cooch Behar

A land influenced greatly by the Mughals is Cooch Behar in Jalpaiguri District. Cooch Behar is not only famous for the Mughal influenced monuments but is also known for massive water bodies. The place was once the only planned town in North Bengal region and one can still see the remnants of the royal heritage here. It makes a great destination for those who have a keen interest in learning about the rich history of Bengal.

Highlights:
  • Cooch Behar Palace
  • Chilapara Forest Range
  • Rasik Bil
  • Madan Mohan Bari
  • Dangar Ayee Temple

Birbhum 

Called the ‘Land of the Brave’, Birbhum is a district in West Bengal that holds great importance in the history of the state. Birbhum is known for its red soil houses. The most prominent place in the district is Shantiniketan, which has already been discussed separately in the blog. Apart from it, Tarapith, Bakreswar, Kankalitala, Labpur, Nanoor, Joydev Kenduli, Dubrajpur, Nalhati, Patharchapuri, Rajnagar, Hetampur, and Kaleswar Shiv Mandir other places to visit in the district.

Highlights:
  • Shantiniketan
  • Dubrajpur
  • Hetampur
  • Fullara
  • Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Temple of Nandikeswari
  • Kankali Pith

Barrackpore 

Barrackpore is a land rich’s beauty as well as history. It was here the famous Sepoy Mutiny originated and this has earned Barrackpore a special mention in the history of India. Very few people know about Barrackpore but it is worth a visit for those who take a keen interest in history. There are places like Dakshineswar, Gandhi Memorial Museum, Gandhi Ghat, and Rishi Bankim Sangrahasala that are must-visit for history lovers, whereas, nature lovers can enjoy picnics at Mathura Beel.

Highlights:
  • Mangal Pandey Park
  • Gandhi Museum
  • Jawaharkunja Garden
  • Gandhi Ghat
  • Bartholomew Cathedral
  • Indira Gandhi Water Treatment Plant
  • Kali Temple
  • Tarakeswar Temple

Kurseong 

Located at an altitude of 1458m, Kurseong is a beautiful and lesser-known hill station in West Bengal. About 30kms from Darjeeling, Kurseong is blessed with salubrious climate all through the year, which makes it an ideal summer destination in West Bengal. What attracts most about this place is the utter peace that it provides. It is worth mentioning that some of the famous poems and songs of Noble Laureate Rabindranath Tagore were composed in Kurseong and such is the magic of this place! Also the famed painter, Abanindranath Tagore, and great composer Atul Prasad Sen found inspiration for some of their famous works around Kurseong. The lovely tea estates and Raj-era buildings add charm to this place.

Highlights:
  • Makaibari Tea Estate
  • Eagle’s Crag
  • Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Museum
  • Castleton Tea Estate
  • Gidhapahar Mandir Temple
  • Deer Park
  • Ambotia Shiva Mandir Temple
  • Bhangzang Salamander Lake
  • Sitong
  • Kettle Valley

Mandarmani 

Famed as the longest drivable beach in India, Mandarmani is indeed one of the best places to visit in West Bengal. Located about 14kms from Chaulkhola in East Midnapore District, Mandarmani is the fastest growing tourist attraction in West Bengal. Locally called Mandarboni, the village offers a tranquil atmosphere amidst which the travelers can unwind and loosen the grip. The beach at Mandarmani is the perfect spot to watch the sunrise; one can also enjoy water sports like surfing, jet-skiing, banana boat rides, ATV bikes and bungee trampoline here. It is to be noted that several water sports are conducted during the Digha-Mandarmani Festival held here in January every year. The festival also showcases performances by several music bands. For those of you who like to shop, the objects and ornaments made from seashells and oysters are available in plenty here.

Highlights:
  • Mandarmani Beach
  • The Delta

Sunderbans

Here is what makes West Bengal eligible for praises, the Sundarban. Being the world’s largest delta and also the largest Mangrove Forest, Sunderban is on the bucket list of many travel aficionados around the world. It is the River Malta that divides Sundarban Reserved Forest into Sundarban Tiger Reserve (on the east) and Reserved Forest of South 24 Parganas Forest Division. A 5400 sq km of non-forest, the inhabited region along the north and north-western fringe of mangrove forest; Sundarban is bounded by River Muriganga on the west and Harinbhahga and Raimangal Rivers in the east. It is the biosphere reserve that has received the recognition of UNESCO under its Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme in November 2001. Sundarban National Park, forming the core area of Sundarban Tiger Reserve has also received recognition as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. It is to be noted that Sundarban Tiger Reserve has the highest tiger population in the world.

Don’t think that these are the only places to see in West Bengal; there are plenty of others and some even I have no clue about. 

Khushi Anand

Hello! Great to meet you! I’m Khushi Anand, a university student who’s always looking out for new places to explore and stories to tell. With my colorful creativity, I want to take you guys on the adventure of a lifetime. www.khushianand.com

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