West Bengal is the cultural capital of India. It has constantly produced thoughts, ideas and events which have brought forth freshness and rejuvenation in the society both in India and the world. This strength of West Bengal needs to be taken forward with greater vigour from a tourism perspective to give tourism an unmatched strength in the State. The specific components of Cultural Tourism which will be focused upon will include Fairs and Festivals Tourism, Heritage Tourism, Arts and Crafts Tourism, Cuisine Tourism, Film Tourism, Family, Relatives and Friends Tourism, and Village Tourism.
To remain competitive, West Bengal will also focus on tourism products which are contemporary and which provide a reason for people to travel. These would include Shopping Tourism, Convention Tourism, Leisure and Amusement Parks Tourism, Medical Tourism, Rail Tourism, Highway Tourism, Sports Tourism, Know-Your-Own State Tourism, Special Tourism Zones, and other tourism products.
Formerly the capital of the British empire before the government was shifted to Delhi, Kolkata has a distinct tinge of its royal past lingering in every nook and cranny of the city. If you want to soak in some of the city’s regal past, take a walk along the streets of North Kolkata, which houses some of the oldest mansions in the city, swathed with vines and a persistent sense of aristocratic pride. Kolkata is home to Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral house, which has now been converted into a museum and houses a staggering collection of family portraits and paintings. There are plenty of ghats all over the city where you can sit and enjoy the sunset while sipping on tea, one of the most noted of these being the Prinsep Ghat, which offers stunning views of the Vidyasagar Setu in the backdrop. Close by is Millennium Park, which is a beautified waterfront park from where you can avail boat rides and cruises.
Places to visit: Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge, Indian Museum, Belur Math, Birla Planetarium, and so many other places.
Jaw-dropping locales, mesmerising sunrises, the untouched beauty of the hills, the old-world charm of the past, and the welcoming smiles of the local people all add up to make Darjeeling one of the most beautiful hill stations in Eastern part of India. Spread over a steep mountain ridge, nestled amidst acres of lush green tea plantations, Darjeeling stands at the height of 2,050 meters above sea level, thus boasting of cool climes all year round. This scenic hill station is the perfect getaway for a romantic honeymoon and is just around 700 kilometres away from Kolkata.
There is a reason the city is known as the ‘Queen of the Himalayas’. The lush green slopes dotted with women plucking tea leaves is a sight as mesmerising as no other. There are over 86 tea estates in Darjeeling that are responsible for producing the worldwide famous ‘Darjeeling Tea’. Have a cup of locally brewed chai at the tea estate, or get down amidst the plantations to pluck a few tea leaves yourself, you are free to take your pick!
Places to visit: Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Batasia Loop, Tiger Hill, Nightingale Park, Darjeeling Ropeway
Beach town situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, Digha is a popular tourist destination known for its untouched beaches and scenic views, especially among people in West Bengal. Digha is a one-stop destination for families looking forward to spend a pleasurable weekend. One of the best features of this hamlet is its varied and diverse tourist attraction spots. Known for its magnificent beaches, religious temples and high-tech research centers and museums, this most popular sea resort of West Bengal has a lot to offer for people of all age groups. Digha’s sceneries can also offer you the pleasure experienced in witnessing areas that have minimal human impact and are relatively untouched.
Places to visit: Shankarpur Beach, Talsari Beach, Amarabati Park, Udaipur Beach
Situated on the banks of the river Mahananda, Siliguri is a tiny hill station nestled in between the Himalayan foothills and the Doar region of West Bengal. Also known as the Gateway to North East India, Siliguri serves mainly as a base for tourists to camp in before moving out to explore nearby tourist attractions such as Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Gangtok. However, Siliguri itself is a perfectly good holiday destination, with sufficient things to see and do. When visiting Siliguri, a close-by tourist attraction that most people visit is Mirik. Around 50 kilometres from Siliguri, Mirik is famed for its picturesque beauty, its pristine Sumedu Lake, and its monastery. Sumedu Lake offers fishing activities and boat rides for tourists, which is a wonderful way to relish the breathtaking view of the hills bordering the lake on all sides.
Places to visit: Salugara Monastery, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Dudhia, Sevoke Kali Mandir, The Science City
Known for hosting the biggest mangrove forests in the world, Sundarbans National Park is located in West Bengal, India. It is also a Tiger Reserve and a Biosphere reserve that provides a complete nature’s circle to the tourist right from ‘Royal Bengal Tigers’ to roaring rivers and beautiful estuaries. Sundarbans National Park is a part of Sundarban delta that is covered with Mangrove Forest and the largest population of the Bengal Tigers. It is a UNESCO world heritage site with a large variety of birds and reptiles including salt-water crocodile. This forest has the largest number of Sundari trees known for their aerial roots. The Sundarbans epitomize wilderness with its meandering rivers, springs, creeks and estuaries. It is a declared Tiger Reserve, home to the Royal Bengal Tiger – an almost extinct species who swim in the saline water and are often man-eating varieties.
Known to few, mainly as Rabindranath Tagore’s home and now a university, Santiniketan is a small town located in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. The town comprises mainly of Visva Bharati University. The University was set up by Rabindranath Tagore’s father and later popularized by him to radically change the concept of education in India. Today, this beautifully laid out university and small sleepy town has acquired the status of a unique tourist haven, where lines of knowledge and aesthetic brilliance merge.
Places of interest: Tagore’s Ashram, Rabindra Bhaban Museum, Amar Kutir, Khoai Mela, Chhatimtala, Poush Mela
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Happy holidays folks!