West Bengal – the ‘Complete Destination’

West Bengal – the ‘Complete Destination’

March 1, 2015

West Bengal Tourism has announced its plans to engage and reach out to travel trade and consumers throughout the country so as to promote the state as a ‘complete destination.’ Kolkata is the commercial hub of the entire region and also shares its borders with three major SAARC countries, namely, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Not only is the state rich in culture, art and heritage, it is at the same time blessed with natural paradises like the Sundarbans in the south and the Himalayas in the north.

During the last couple of years, the flow of tourists to the state has been steadily increasing. According to union Tourism Department statistics published in 2013, West Bengal stands at the ninth position among the states with respect to domestic tourist footfall, and sixth with respect to international tourist flow.

The state government has taken several initiatives to boost tourism in West Bengal. Going by the current trends, tourism is a fast-growing and thus an impactful sector for the state economy. Keeping this in mind, the state tourism department is participating in all major travel and tourism festivals spanning across India (both in matros and tier II cities like Lucknow, Chandigarh, Nagpur, Vizag and Coimbatore), as well as outside India, and is putting out campaigns in print, on TV, on radio and on digital platforms. The ‘Beautiful Bengal’ TV advertisement has become very popular.

Here is a list of places where one can spend a few blissful days.


Buxa

180 km from Siliguri is the Buxa National Park. The main attractions there are the Royal Bengal tiger, leopard, elephant, clouded leopard, Himalayan black bear, barking deer, gaur, pangolin and python.

From Siliguri, Alipurduar can be approached by train or by road.

Buxa Duar is famous for its prison fort.


Rajabhatkhawa

Rajabhatkhawa is 15 km from Alipurduar, on the Buxa-Alipurduar road. One can spend a night at Rajabhatkhawa, surrounded by the deep forests. It is noted for the Royal Bengal tiger. There is a nature information centre and two forest rest houses.


Bhutanghat

Bhutanghat, 45 km from Alipurduar, is famous for its scenic beauty. It is located beside River Raidak, bordering Bhutan. From the government rest house set amidst the natural landscape, one can enjoy the sight of wild animals crossing the river or grazing in the forest glade near the bungalow. At Bhutanghat, one can buy fresh oranges, which are brought over from orchards on the Bhutanese side of the border.


Samsing-Suntalekhola

Situated at an elevation of 3000 ft, Samsing is a nice, cool, shady place, ideal for nature lovers. The journey to Samsing is a memorable one, as one slowly rides uphill through the picturesque tea gardens of the Dooars on the rolling slopes.

At a distance of 82 km from Siliguri, it takes about three hours to reach Samsing.

Suntalekhola is where many tourists stay overnight. The place is about 4 km further up the road from Samsing. The road ends here, close to a small stream named Suntalekhola ('suntaley' means ‘orange’ and 'khola' means ‘stream’ in Nepali). There are West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC) cottages and a tourist bungalow. Trekkers can trek to Neora Valley National Park from Samsing.


Bindu-Jhalong

A small picturesque hill village on the Indo-Bhutan border,Bindu is a little-known tourist destination in the lower Kalimpong foothills. The journey to Bindu via Chalsa-Khunia-Jhalong is a fascinating one as the road passes through beautiful tea gardens, high forests, river valleys and quiet little villages.

Bindu is a three-hour ride from Siliguri through the Dooars plains.

Jhalong is a popular tourist destination just 12 km ahead of Bindu, renowned for its hydroelectric project. There is a beautiful forest bungalow in Jhalong just beside the Jaldhaka River.


Murti

Murti, along with Jaldhaka, is one of the main rivers of the Dooars region. Murti the place is situated on the banks of the river by the same name, between the Chapramari forest and Gorumara National Park. WBFDC has its forest bungalow, ‘Banani’ in Murti.

It has a lot to offer to nature lovers. If one is lucky, one can see gharials in the river. Elephants are also known to frequent around there. Gaur (Indian bison) and deer are also commonly sighted in the area.


Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary

Chapramari is located in the floodplains of the Murti and Jaldhaka rivers. The forests here provide some of the best views of wildlife in the state. Chapramari provides a breathtaking view of forests against the backdrop of the Kanchanjungha and other Himalayan peaks.

Located close by is the Gorumara National Park, famous for rhinoceros, elephant, gaur, deer, hornbill birds, and other fauna.

Resorts can be booked at both of these forests.

Gorumara is 52 km from Jalpaiguri and Chapramari is 20 km from Gorumara.


Jaldapara National Park

It was established in 1941 for the protection of the Indian one-horned rhino. It is a mosaic of woods, grasslands, perennial streams, sandy river banks and extensive belts of tall grass. It contains a great diversity of fauna, and flora of mixed deciduous forests, grasslands and river banks. Situated in Alipurduar district, it is home to a wide variety of wildlife, prominent among them being the one-horned rhinoceros.

It is easily accessible from Siliguri, a distance of 121 km, and about a four-hour drive away.


Phuentsholing

Phuentsholing is a border town in southern Bhutan, opposite the Indian town of Jaigaon, situated in Chukha Dzongkang. Cross-border trade has resulted in a thriving local economy; the town serves as headquarters for the Bank of Bhutan.

The border clearly separates two very different peoples and cultures. Jaigaon is bustling and loud, similar to many other centres of commerce, albeit with many conspicuous Bhutanese shoppers. Phuentsholing is uniquely more urban than other Bhutanese towns, having absorbed the neighbouring culture, but distinctly far more quiet and orderly.

It is approachable by road from Siliguri.


Totopara

Totopara, 22 km from Jaldapara and 65 kms from Alipurduar, a small village on the bank of Torsha River. It is famous for the aboriginals of the Dooars regions – the Totos. The Totos are one of the most primitive tribe in the world, and Totopara is the only place, where they live. One can experience their unique culture here.


Kalimpong

At an altitude of 1250 m, this tranquil hill station is located on the top of a ridge on the east of the river Teesta. Kalimpong offers many different tour options. Apart from leisure tours, many options are available for adventure lovers such as trekking. The travel attractions of this place also include monasteries, orchid-nurseries and overall the exquisite views over the surrounding countryside.

If you want to go for a shopping spree for crafts during your tour, Kalimpong is the place. The town is famous for its indigenous handicrafts. The artisans here produce Tibetan and Bhutanese handicrafts and jewellery such as wood carvings, copperware like feng-sui bells, tapestry bags, scrolls, paintings and Tibetan jewellery.

From Siliguri, one can reach the place by following the national highway 31A.


Kurseong

Kurseong is a quiet township on the Siliguri-Darjeeling highway. Perched at an altitude of 1458 m, the small town is noted for its secluded charm and Eagle's Crag, which offers a commanding view of the undulating plains below. Because of its lower elevation, Kurseong enjoys a milder and healthy climate throughout the year.

The total area of the town is about 5.05 sq km. Peace, serenity and a healthy climate attract many people here. Some of the famous poems and songs of Rabindranath Tagore were composed in Kurseong. The painter Abanindranath Tagore and the great composer Atul Prasad Sen got their inspirations for some of their famous works around the town. Sister Nivedita, the great disciple of Swami Vivekananda, made Kurseong her home.


Rishop

Rishop or Rishyap, developed very recently, is rapidly becoming a popular tourist spot. Overlooking the Neora Valley, at an altitude of 2,360 m, this hill station at the foot of Tiffin Dara comprises a Lepcha hamlet and a few resorts. An excellent view of Kanchenjungha from ‘Tiffin Dara’ in Rishop attracts tourists to this place. The mountain ranges you can all around Risop include Mt Kharg, Kokthang, Rathung, Kabroo, Talung, Pandim, Khang-Chen-D-Zongha, Simvo, Narsingh and Siniolchu. Seeing the sunrise in Rishop is something people treasure for life.


Nabadwip-Mayapur

Nabadwip (120 km from Kolkata) is the birthplace of the great social reformer and founder of the Vaishnav movement, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The temple town is a major attraction for devotees and tourists. It is a great seat of Vaishnav culture.

Mayapur is claimed by some as the actual birthplace of Sri Chaitanya. The huge ISKCON temple complex in Mayapur is a major crowd-puller, and one can spend a whole day there.


Ayodhya Hills

The Ayodhya Hills are a perfect destination to practice mountaineering and rock climbing. Legends of Ram and Sita are intertwined with the region. The Ayodhya Hills are known for pristine fresh water springs and streams. There are numerous small hills in the area, like Gorgaburu (900 m) and Mayuri.


Dam Dim

Dam Dim falls under Malbazar subdivision in Jalpaiguri district. It is famous for tea gardens and moist deciduous forests. This place lies along the border of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts. Dam Dim is in the lap of the Dooars, situated about 50 km from Siliguri and about 6 km from Malbazar. Travellers can still enjoy the rich colonial culture in the tea gardens of Dam Dim.

National Highway 31 between Siliguri and Guwahati passes over Dam Dim. The New Jalpaiguri (NJP) railway station is the major railway junction near Dam Dim, about 33 km away.


Henry Island

Henry’s Island in the Sundarbans has become one of the most popular tourist areas in the state, and the beach has become one of the most popular in West Bengal. Under the supervision of the Fisheries Department, some 100 hectares of land is being used for pisiculture along with forest conservation.

The sea here is quite timid and as you walk on the slightly blackish sand of the beach, you will see many ships sailing in the distant sea. Some of the birds sighted in Henry’s Island are lesser whistling ducks, Eurasian wigeons, gadwalls, streak-throated woodpeckers, black-rumped flamebacks, kingfishers, common snipes, ruddy turnstones and red knots.

To reach Henry’s Island, you have to turn left from Jelighat stop which is some 4 km before Bakkhali. On driving some 1.5 km, you will come across the lodges one by one.


Junput

The calm waters of the Bay of Bengal, an unspoilt, solitary beach and a grove of casuarina trees make Junput an abode of peace. The museum of the Fisheries Department, with a grand collection of carcasses of rare species of fishes, different kinds of snakes and taxonomies of wild animals, is also a place worth visiting. The temple of Kapalkundala and the lighthouse in Dariapur, at the confluence the Ganga and Rasulpur rivers, near Junput are added attractions. If time permits one can choose to visit Hijli, to the north of Junput, and Dariapur, to the south of Junput.


Jhargram

Jhargram is situated in the western part of West Midnapore district. It is known for its canopy of sal, teak, mahua and piyasal. Beyond the Gangetic plains of Bengal, Jhargram offers the most exotic beauties of undulating topography, culminating in the hill ranges of Belpahari and Kankrajhor in the north and the serene beauty of the meandering Subarnarekha river in the south. Jhargram is a paradise for nature lovers.



Chinpai


Chinpai is a village in Dubrajpur tehsil of Birbhum district,where you can get a feel of peaceful village life. Birbhum, called 'the land of red soil,' is famous for its topography and cultural heritage. Bakreswar power plant is located near Chinpai. The reservoir formed by the erection of the dam on Bakreshwar River, named Neel Nirjan (meaning 'blue solitude'), for providing water to the thermal power plant, is gaining in popularity as a tourist spot.


The beauty of West Bengal




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