22 Places to Visit in West Bengal

West Bengal, India’s cultural melting pot, combines the arts, the city, the countryside, the mountains, and nature. These diverse places to visit in West Bengal offer it all, whether you’re intellectually inclined and want to be among writers and wandering minstrels, or adventurous and want to roam with rhinoceroses.

1. Kolkata: City of Joy

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Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, was officially known as Calcutta until 2001, but it has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last decade. Kolkata has evolved into India’s “cultural capital,” no longer associated with slums, poverty, or Mother Teresa’s inspiring work. It’s a contradictory city with a captivating soul and sadly neglected crumbling buildings where time seems to have stopped in some places. Kolkata is also India’s only city with a tram/streetcar network, which adds to the city’s old-world charm.

2. Sunderbans National Park: Mangrove Forest

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The Sunderbans is one of the most beautiful places to visit in West Bengal. This magnificent tangle of mangrove jungle is the world’s largest — and the only one where tigers can be found! It stretches into Bangladesh and is made up of 102 islands (about half of which are inhabited). The Sundarbans is only accessible by boat, and exploring it in this manner is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, don’t expect to see any tigers. They’re extremely shy and prefer to stay hidden in the reserve.

3. Darjeeling: The Queen of Hills

Image Source: Saurabh Chatterjee (Flickr)

Darjeeling is one of India’s top 11 hill stations, known for its lush tea gardens. Tea is central to the majority of the top things to do in Darjeeling. The town, on the other hand, has a spectacular view of Mount Kanchenjunga (the world’s third-highest peak) and some interesting monasteries, local markets, handicrafts, and Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine. Darjeeling was part of the kingdom of Sikkim before being developed by the British in the mid-nineteenth century, and it was also briefly ruled by invading Gorkhas from Nepal. This distinguishes the town’s culture from that of other tourist destinations in the state. Take the historic Darjeeling mountain railway toy train to get there.

4. Kalimpong

 

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Kalimpong, a less-touristy option under three hours from Darjeeling, is a good option for places to visit in West Bengal if you want to avoid the crowds. The town is situated on a ridge with a view of the Teesta River, which divides it from Sikkim. It was ruled by the Sikkimese until the king of Bhutan took control in the early 1700s. In 1865, the British reclaimed it. Buddhist monasteries, adventure activities, trekking, and nature walks are among the attractions. In the area, there are numerous hills and villages to visit.

5. Shantiniketan: Bhubhandanga

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Shantiniketan, a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district, is better known as the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Treasure Trove. This small town is about 212 kilometres away and is home to Visva-Bharati University. In 1863, Tagore established an Ashram here and founded the Brahmo Samaj. Rabindranath, Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar, and Binodbehari Mukhopadhyay’s sculptures, frescoes, murals, and paintings adorn the Shantiniketan campus. The Baul Singers, as well as fairs and festivals such as Poush Mela (December), Joydev Mela (January), and Basanta Utsav (Holi), are all popular ( in March ).

6. Bishnupur: Origin of Terracotta

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Terracotta was invented in Bishnupur, and the city is known for it. The main attractions are the remarkable terracotta temples and terracotta pottery. Malla dynasty rulers constructed the temples primarily in the 17th and 18th centuries. After a long period of Islamic dominance, there was a revival of Hinduism with devotion to Lord Krishna during this time. The result was temple architecture that blended Bengali-style curved roofs with Islamic domes and arches, as well as Odia-style duel domes and arches (sanctum). Scenes from Lord Krishna’s life, as well as scenes from the Hindu epics The Ramayana and The Mahabharata, are carved into the terracotta tiles of the temples. Reproductions of the tiles can be found all over the place. Beyond Bishnupur, the district is home to more spectacular terracotta temples.

7. Mayapur: Pilgrim Town

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Mayapur is a laid-back pilgrim town with a special significance for Lord Krishna devotees. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a 15th-century Vedic spiritual leader who is thought to be an avatar of Lord Krishna, is said to have been born there. Srila Prabhupada, who founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and spread the “Hare Krishna movement” throughout the world, revived and brought his teachings to the west in the twentieth century. Mayapur is home to ISKCON’s headquarters as well as a magnificent temple complex dedicated to Srila Prabhupada.

8. Mandarmani: Longest Beach

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Mandarmani, known as India’s longest drivable beach, is one of the best places to visit in West Bengal. Mandarmani is the fastest growing tourist attraction in West Bengal, located 14 kilometres from Chaulkhola in the East Midnapore District. The village, known locally as Mandarboni, provides a tranquil atmosphere in which visitors can relax and unwind. The beach at Mandarmani is a great place to watch the sunrise, and water sports such as surfing, jet-skiing, banana boat rides, ATV bikes, and bungee trampoline are available. Several water sports are held each year during the Digha-Mandarmani Festival, which takes place in the month of January.

9. Digha

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Digha, a seaside city, is a great weekend getaway from Kolkata. Digha’s pristine beach is extremely popular with tourists, which is why tours must be booked well in advance, especially on weekends. Make sure to try the fried fish sold by the locals, collect seashells, follow crab trails, and sip coconut water while relaxing on the beach under an umbrella.

10. Bankura: Temple City of Bengal

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Bankura is a West Bengal district known for its fine terracotta temples, dense virgin forests, rolling hills, and scenic spots. Bishnupur is part of the Bankura district. Apart from Bishnupur, Mukutmonipur, located at the confluence of the Kansabati and Kumari rivers, is a popular tourist destination in Bankura. In Mukutmonipur, there is a lake that reflects the azure sky above, making it a beautiful sight to behold.

11. Midnapore: Medinipur

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Midnapore, also known as Medinipur, is a pilgrimage centre in West Bengal, with several ancient temples and mosques. Many freedom fighters’ memorials can also be found in the area. Midnapore, which is located on the banks of the Kangsabati River, is known for its sweet shops that sell high-quality ‘Khirer Goja’ or Bengali Gossip.

12. Siliguri: The Gateway of Northeast India

 

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Siliguri is a picturesque town with breathtaking Himalayan views. It is well-known for its tea gardens and dense forest. The city, which lies on the banks of the Mahananda River, is a lovely place to visit if you’re on your way to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, or Sikkim. You can also go to the colourful Salugara gompa, which is about 5 kilometres from the main town and has an imposing Chorten-like spire. Siliguri’s bustling Hong Kong Market, located off Sevoke Road in the heart of town, is also a great place to shop for Chinese knock-offs.

13. Hooghly:  Hugli-Chuchura

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Hooghly is considered to be one of the most famous places to visit in West Bengal because it is where Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sarada Devi stayed for several years. It also has historical significance because it was colonised by the Portuguese, French, and Dutch, and the influence of colonisation can still be seen in architecture. As a result, this moderately busy destination is ideal for those who enjoy spending time learning about the past.

14. Jalpaiguri

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Jalpaiguri, with its lovely topography, is a wonderful destination for nature lovers in West Bengal. Because it is so easy to get to Darjeeling and Sikkim from here, the city is bustling with tourists all year. The name Jalpaiguri is derived from the word ‘Jalpai,’ which means ‘Olive,’ which grew in this town, and the suffix ‘Guri,’ which means ‘Place,’ so Jalpaiguri literally means ‘Place of Olives.’ Jalpesh or Shiva, the presiding deity of the entire region, is also said to be associated with the name. Jalpaiguri’s entire topography is crisscrossed with rivulets, rivers, and hills, making it a naturalist’s paradise.

15. Mirik

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Mirik, a hill town on the banks of a large lake, adds to North Bengal’s bounty. Mirik, nestled in the Himalayan Valley, offers more than just beautiful mountains and lakes. West Bengal tourism is incomplete without Mirik, which offers everything from romantic boating experiences to temples for the faithful and orchids and gardens for nature’s child. The densely populated, but not overcrowded town also has viewpoints for quiet contemplation and traditional Indian Bazaars where you can splurge. Going to Mirik for the ideal hill station getaway is an idea that will never fail you.

16. Dooars: Floodplains

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Dooars is a local name for the floodplains of North-East India around Bhutan, which stretch from the Teesta in the east to the Sankoshi in the west. Because the Dooars are the gateway to Bhutan, the name ‘Dooars’ was derived from the word ‘door.’ Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Siliguri, and other towns and districts in this region make up the Dooars. Imagine the mighty range of Eastern Himalayan mountains in the background, a band of thick forests, rich in species of Flora and Fauna, continued with tea gardens, and cut here and there by water bodies. Dooars is smack dab in the middle of it all. This is the gate you don’t want to rush through.

17. Kurseong: Land of White Orchids

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Kurseong is a peaceful hill station located on the Siliguri-Darjeeling highway. Most of the year, the weather in Kurseong is milder and pleasant. During the monsoon season, the rain gods are especially generous, as the town is drenched for days on end. The rains are desperately needed by the area’s flora and fauna.

It’s difficult not to be enchanted by the sight of tea plantations and lush green forests set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. At sunset, the sky becomes a kaleidoscope of the most beautiful colours. In the town, you can see British remnants in the form of churches and schools.

18. Haldia: The Heritage Capital of West Bengal

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Haldia, which is often dismissed as merely a river port serving Kolkata, has more to offer India than just foreign trade. Haldia is poised to become West Bengal’s next major tourist destination, thanks to its diverse collection of heritage sites, temples, and local markets. Haldia is one of those rare places that combine the beauty of monuments with the bounty of nature, from marine drives to palaces. Explore this untouched land of legends, which has yet to be tainted by tourism or commercialization.

19. Bardhaman

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Bardhaman is ideal for a weekend getaway because it combines religion, nature, man-made marvels, and the proverbial old-world charm. Take a group of people who are the most diverse. Even if they don’t agree on much else, they’ll all agree on one thing: Bardhaman’s Splendor. This unique Bengali town has an air of its own and maybe the only place in India that can appease every mind and mindset.

20. Malda

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Malda is the ideal destination for those looking to reconnect with their roots. The charming town of Malda, located at the confluence of the rivers Mahanadi and Kalindi in West Bengal’s interiors, about 350 kilometres from Kolkata, is known not only for its mango orchards but also for its rich history and heritage. Every street and every corner of Malda is literally covered in Indian history. The district’s popular products include mango, silk, and jute. A large area is devoted to mulberry plantations and mango orchards.

21. Cooch Behar

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Cooch Behar is a small planned town in North West Bengal that was once the Koch dynasty’s province. Coch Behar is a good weekend getaway spot for eco-tourists and those interested in history and archaeology. Cooch Behar is a district in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri division, located in the state’s northeast corner, bordered to the south and west by Jalpaiguri, Assam, and the Indo-Bangla border. Cooch Behar is a close-knit small town with happy residents who are proud of their city’s cultural diversity and heritage.

22. Raichak

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Raichak, a riverside town only 50 kilometres from Kolkata but a world away, is a breath of fresh air in its ultra-urban and commercialised surroundings. This town manages to be a getaway you will not want to miss, with the Hooghly river on its side and numerous forts that add to its earthen charm.

Don’t get the impression that these are the only places to visit in West Bengal; there are plenty more. So, if you’ve been to a place in West Bengal that isn’t on the list but deserves to be explored, let us know about it in the comments section below.

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