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State of India - West Bengal
QUICK FACTS Climate (Degree C.): Summer - Max: 40, Min: 24, winter - Max: 26, Min: 17 | Best Season: October - March | Languages Spoken: Bengali, Hindi and English | Capital: Kolkata

The mysterious land of West Bengal, beyond doubt has an extraordinary assortment of landscapes and cultures, ranging from the dramatic hill station of Darjeeling with the joyous ride of the famous Toy Train, the vast mangrove swans of the Sunderbans, prowled by Royal Bengal Tigers. The colonial heritage is strong here. You can't miss the iconic Victoria Memorial, built in 1921, its shape symbolic of the Kolkata skyline or the three storeyed Raj Bhawan which was once the residence of the Governer General. They are today now a silent sentinel of the pre-independence bygone glory of India.

Geography of West Bengal:
West Bengal is bordered by Nepal and Bangladesh and the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, Assam, and Meghalaya in different directions. From north to south, it stretches from Himalayan Mountain to the Gangetic plain and the Bay of Bengal.

History of West Bengal:
West Bengal, the gateway to eastern India is shrouded in history that dates back to antiquity. There are historic references to the state that are found in the Vedic annals as well as the chronicles of the Murayan, Gupta and Mughal eras and the musty archives of the Pala and Sena dynasties. However the downfall of the Mughal Empire led to the oppressive British Rule when India became an established trade colony of the East India Company. The home of five Nobel Prize winners, West Bengal has produced numerous well known personalities in the history of India. The world famous film director Satyajit Ray ("Lifetime Achievement" Academy Award winner) was also born here. The birthplace of Rabindra Nath Tagore, West Bengal gave birth to innumerable well known poets and writers who enriched the world literature ceaselessly.

Tourist Places of West Bengal:
West Bengal has some of the most scenic tourist places with two beautiful hill stations - Darjeeling and Kalimpong; dense woods packed with exotic wild lives - Sunderbans, Dooars and Jaldapara; pristine beaches - Digha & Shankarpur. It is also a sea of cultures with Shantiniketan, where Tagore founded one of the world's renowned universities and the temples of Vishnupur, historical monuments - Victoria Memorial & Raj Bhawan as well as religious sites - Kalighat, Belur and Dakshineshwar.

Fairs & Festivals of West Bengal:
The festivals of the state of West Bengal are characterized by joyous ceremonies, enthusiasm, fun and celebration. There is a saying in Bengali "baro mase tero parbon"- means 13 festivals in 12 months. The most popular festival celebrated in West Bengal is Durga Puja where all the people come out in the streets and celebrate this four day festival. Kaali Puja, Swaraswati Puja, Laxmi Pyja, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Jayanti, Ganga Sagar Mela, Holi (Dol Jatra), Id, Ramzan, birth anniversary of Rabrindranath Tagore, New Year and Christmas, all these festivals are celebrated with devotion and abundance. The Pandols (mostly bamboo and cloth structure) are the proofs of creativity of the Bengalis.

Cuisine in West Bengal:
Cuisine plays a huge role in defining the culture of West Bengal. A Rice and fish dish seems to be the favorite of Bengali people. Rohu, katla, bhetki and hilsa are the most popularly consumed fishes in West Bengal. Mustard oil is the all time favorite medium of cooking in the Bengali cuisine. Panchphoran is a spice that is very common and widely used in this state's cuisine. Prawn curry with coconut milk is a wonderful delicacy here. The Bengali sweets are popular all over India. Rasagolla, sandesh, misthi doi, gulab jamun are just a few of these classic sweets. Sweets are almost compulsory in every occasion. The sweets of Bengal have also become a prime attraction for the tourists.

Shopping in West Bengal:
Well known all over the world for its handicrafts, West Bengal is an excellent shopping destination. Items made of shola, conch-shell, Dhokra and metal cast items, Paintings, Leather work, Jute Products, Cane & Bamboo work and mats, Clay models and terracotta items (horses) are few items which are mostly purchased by tourists. Silks of Bengal were much acclaimed the world over, since ancient times. The most well-known Bengal Silk saree, which carry its legendary name, is the Baluchari saree - a product of exquisite design, and fabulous weaving technique. In recent times both the Baluchari and yet another outstanding, traditional Bengal Saree, the Daccai, has led to nationwide and worldwide popularity and renewal of interest in Bengal silks. Darjeeling in West Bengal produces the finest quality of tea in the world which would add to our shopping list.