West Bengal is a state in eastern India, between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. Its capital, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), retains architectural and cultural remnants of its past as an East India Company trading post and capital of the British Raj. The city's colonial landmarks include the government buildings around B.B.D. Bagh Square, and the iconic Victoria Memorial, dedicated to Britain's queen.
Historically the name Bengal embraces today's West Bengal, Bangladesh, Tripura and southern Assam's Barak Valley. Referred to as Bongo in the Mahabharata (Great Hindu Vedic epic poem of the Bharata dynasty), Bengal was part of the Mauryan empire in the 3rd century BC, and was later controlled by, among others, the Guptas, the Buddhist Pala empire, Hindu Sena dynasty and the Muslim Delhi Sultanate, these last three all governing from Gaur. Delhi's governors established independence as the Bengal Sultanate in the 14th century, ruling from Pandua, then Gaur. The Mughals invaded in the mid-16th century, and Bengal became one of the richest provinces in their empire, a centre for silk, muslin, pearl, cotton and ships, with its capital at Dhaka, then from 1704 at Murshidabad. Following the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, Bengal became an independent Islamic state under its nawabs.The British East India Company established a trading post at Calcutta in 1690, which quickly prospered and outshone earlier-established European outposts along the Hooghly River belonging to the Portuguese, Dutch and French. Annoyed by rapid British expansion, Nawab Siraj-ud-daula marched out of Murshidabad and easily took Calcutta in 1756.
West Bengal is best visited between October and March which is winter season in the state. Summers are scorching, and it is best to avoid any trip during this time. Between October and March, the weather is cold and pleasant, and one can enjoy a good time at the beaches as well as the hill stations. Most attractions in the state are open to the tourists only during these months, and one can get to see the brilliant monuments, heritage buildings and architectural marvels that the state houses.
If you are wondering how to reach West Bengal then there are several options to get there, based on which city you want to get to. One of the most popular destinations of this part of the country, West Bengal is home to a plethora of tourist destinations. In short, it is an ideal destination for all sorts of travelers, be it families, solo travelers, honeymooners or groups of friends. One can visit West Bengal via air, road or trains, the state is well connected to all parts of the country via all the three options. As always, flights are the quickest way to get to the state, but then again there are some destinations where only road and rail connectivity is available. Traveling via road or rail is preferred by many because of the beautiful views on the side of the roads or railway tracks.
For those wondering how to reach West Bengal by air, it would be good to know that West Bengal can be said to be adequately well connected by air to all major destinations across the country as well as most parts of the world. Almost all private and government operated airlines offer regular flights to West Bengal. Some of the major airports of the state include the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, Balurghat Airport, Bagdogra Domestic Airport, Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport, Malda Airport and Cooch Behar Airport. There are a few others in the state as well, which serves mostly private aircrafts or smaller planes. The airports are all well connected to the city center, via buses and taxis.
If thinking about how to reach West Bengal by train, then the best way to reach West Bengal is via railways, since the state is very well connected to the rest of the country via high speed trains, express trains as well as passenger trains. The main railway stations of the state are in Kolkata including Howrah Railway Station and Sealdah Railway Station. In Siliguri, the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station is a major one near Siliguri, whereas Asansol Junction is an important one for reaching Asansol and the nearby areas. Other important railway stations include Malda Town, Barddhaman Station, New Cooch Behar Station, Haldibari Railway Station, Azimganj Junction and Raiganj Railway Station among several others. These railway station connect almost all parts of the country, through the main cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and more to West Bengal.
Thinking about how to reach West Bengal by road? Reaching West Bengal via the road is a good and easy option. The state enjoys extensive road network, and is well connected to most major cities of India via national and state highways. The highways connect the state to neighboring states such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. Even cross border roadways are well maintained and connect the state to places such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. One can drive their own vehicle, or take a bus to their destination from West Bengal. Private as well as government operated buses are easily available for passengers, with frequent rest stops and gas stations on the way. The most taken highways include NH2 and NH16 among others.
West Bengal is famous for its arts and crafts, its unique and beautiful ethnic wears, its delicious sweets and snacks as well as its premium quality tea. Once you are in West Bengal, you would not have to wander much for shopping. At every hook and corner of the state, you will get so many things worth buying that you will be confused, as to what to buy and what not. While the Government Emporia are available everywhere, even the private shops are also not lagging behind. If you are a good bargainer, shopping from the roadside vendors, who offer a good variety, will be the best deal in the state.Your will get immense varieties of ethnic wears in West Bengal, both for men and women. However, it is better to buy those attires and textiles which are the specialty of West Bengal only. So, you should concentrate on the exquisite Bulchari saris, also known as Bengali silk saris and Batik work Saris. If you love embroidery, choosing between Kantha, Chikan, Kashida and Zari work will be really difficult for you. In this case, if you have got the budget, buying one of each kind is advised. Ethnic wear for men, like sherwani and kurta-pajama, are also available in lots of varieties and textures.
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 jewellery worn by them and how their kids are performing excellently in their dance, music and art classes and in their schools. I imagine 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 really 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.