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Home>>East India>>West Bengal

West Bengal

HISTORY OF WEST BENGAL

During the period of the Vedic age Bengal was called Vanga and is said to have been inhabited by several groups of people belonging to various races. During the Mahabharatha period this area was divided into small kingdoms and principalities ruled by chieftains. The Aryans inhabited Bengal during the post Vedic period. Many dynasties exercised their control over Bengal. The Palas, Pundras, the Sen etc were a few whose rule was noteworthy. The Palas ruled for more than four hundred years. Owing to its favourable location this region had trade with Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka, the Deccan and the Persian Gulf. The Navigable parts of Ganga made it favourable for internal trade and communication. They had contacts till Taxila. In about the 3rd century the Mauryan and the Guptas established their rule. The Palas established their strong rule from about 800AD till the 11th century after which the Senas ruled. The economy, arts and culture of this region developed under the rule of the Hindu dynasties. In the beginning of the 13th century Bengal became a part of the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughals. The influence of the Muslims led to conversions besides development of art and culture and cottage industries that produced items such as Muslin which were in great demand around the world.

The proximity to the sea also resulted in the influence with the foreigners -- the Portuguese in the early 16th century, the Dutch in about 1632, the French influence between 1673-1676, the Danish in 1676 and British in 1690. The increased influence of the British resulted in conflicts with the Nawab. The diplomatic efforts with a series of conspiracies resulted in the ultimate capture of power in Bengal by the British. The battle of Plassey (1757) and the battle of Buxar (1764) sealed the fate of the Mughal rule. The British later brought forth the Dual system of administration. In 1905 the English partitioned Bengal on the basis of religion. Calcutta remained the Capital of the British empire in India till 1911. After that the capital was moved from Calcutta to Delhi.

In 1947 when India became independent Bengal was partitioned between India and Pakistan. India's share came to be known as West Bengal and Pakistan's share was called East Pakistan. Later, the state of Cooch Behar, French commune of Chandranagore and some parts of Bihar were added to West Bengal. Bengal represents the lands that possess a distinct culture with its indigenous art and crafts and make it an important division of the Indian Union.


Even Nature herself has been lavish in her gifts to Bengal. From amongst the nine coas­tal states of India, it is West Bengal alone which is endowed with mountains, sea and forests. It has, as if, risen from the Bay of Bengal, its crown-the snow-white Hima­layas-Sikkim, its beauty spot; Bay of Ben­gal to its South, Bangladesh, Assam to its east and Bihar, Orissa and Nepal to its west.

Geography of West Bengal

Area : 87,853 sq. km
Capital : Calcutta
Population : 67,982, 732 (1991)
Languages : Bengali
Literacy : 57.72% (1991)
Roads  : 57,539 kms
Railways : 3,800 kms
No. of Districts : 17
No. of Bank Branches : 3,990 Major
Ports : Calcutta
Airports : Calcutta, Bagdogra

 

 

  • West Bengal is strategically placed with three international frontiers - Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

  • A hinge between the bulk of Indian territory and the north-east of the country, West Bengal is located at 21°31' and 27°14' North Latitude at the head of the Bay of Bengal and 86°35' and 89°53' East Longitude, with the Tropic of Cancer running through it.

  • The great Himalayas start a distance of only 300 miles from the Bay of Bengal and the coastal tropical rain forest, Sundarbans Physiography

  • The entire Bengal basin is that part of the great Indian shield, which approximately to the east of longitude 87°E, disappears under alluvium.

  • West of it are a number of intracratonic Gondwana basins along the Damodar valley; a few exposures of early Tertiary Age near Baripada (in Orissa) and Durgapur and the late Mesozoic volcanics of the Rajmahal Hills

  • It consists of high peaks of Himalaya in the northern extremes to coastal regions down south, with regions like plateau, Ganges delta etc superseding in between.

  • It may be attractive to note that West Bengal is only state in India where Himalayas are in the north and Sea is at the south, with both Plaines and plateau are covering the remaining region.

Climate

West Bengal has a tropical climate. The plains are hot except during the short winter season. The mountainous region in the north is cold. On account of its height but there humidity is high. The standard tradition speaks of six seasons-Spring, Summer, the rainy, Autumn, mild Winter and severe Winter.

Only four evidently marked seasons with a brief interregnum of spring are observed, namely the hot season, the rainy season, the post monsoon season corresponding to autumn and the cold season. The hot season lasts from mid-March to mid-June, with the day temperature ranging from 38o C to 45oC in different parts of the state. At nights, a cool southerly breeze carrying moisture from the Bay of Bengal is usually present.

The high temperature often causes troughs of short pressure to form on the plains which are compensated by sudden briefs storms known as kal-baisakhi or 'nor-westers', accompanied by thunder showers. These summer storms can be fairly critical. The hills of Darjeeling district are pleasantly cool in summer; the higher reaches are sometimes enveloped in heavy fog. On some days, one is rewarded by the sight of the majestic snow-girt Kanchanjunga and the eastern Sikkim ranges and the greenness of the wooded hills and gorges that abound on all sides.
The monsoon arrives by a middle of June. Its scouts start arriving about two weeks before its normal onset. This is called the Chhota monsoon which breaks the hot spell of summer. The monsoon rains in west Bengal are caused solely by the current of wind from the Bay of Bengal.

Variability is a characteristic feature of the monsoon in west Bengal as well as Bangladesh and Orissa which all receive the impact of the south-west Bay current. Breaks in the continuity of rain are not unusual; the resultant thoughts of low pressure develop into cyclone storms especially towards the end of the season and in early autumn.

A welcome change in the weather begins to be specifically felt towards the end of September. Autumn in West Bengal is the period for festivity in the fields the golden grain of paddy starts ripening and is harvested towards the end of the season. The conclusion of the round of the festivities marks the onset of the winter in mid-November.

Winter, which lasts about three months, is mild over the plains, the average minimum temperature not falling 15o C. It is attended by a cold and dry northern wind, substantially lowering the humidity level. Winter is the season for the rabi crops-pulses, potato and vegetables and citrus fruits that grow on the Darjeeling hills.

There occurs a short interregnum of clouds and rain usually the last week of December and the first week of January, caused by the incursion of the western monsoon coming all the way from the Arabian Sea. The cold is harsh on the hills and there are sometimes sleet and snowfall on the higher reaches during the days of rain.

The weather gets warmer by the middle February, which heralds a brief spring period lasting about a month during which the deciduous trees break out in young green leaves and flowers. But this mellow season is too short-lived and the temperature is turned on until with the coming of April, clammy summer comes in full explosion and the yearly cycle of seasons rolls on once again.

Languages spoken in west Bengal are : Bengali English

Bengali :
Bangla ( Baņla) is an Indo-Aryan language of South Asia that evolved as a successor to Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit. Bengali is the English word for the name of the language and for its speakers; in Bengali, the language itself is called Bangla (pronounced: IPA: ['baŋla]), a term that now has greater currency in English. From this point forward, Bangla will be used to refer to the language.

With more than 200 million native speakers, it is the fourth or fifth most widely spoken language in the world (after Mandarin, Spanish, English and Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu). It is also the fourth most spoken language in terms of native speakers [1]. Bangla is the second most commonly spoken language in India (after Hindi). Along with Assamese, it is geographically the most eastern of the Indo-European languages.

As a result of the Bengal renaissance in the 19th and 20th centuries, much of India's most famous literature, poetry, and lyrics are in Bangla; the works of Rabindranath Tagore (the first Asian to be awarded a Nobel Prize), for example, are in Bangla. Many of the reformist religious, philosophical, and political movements that began in that era were led by Bengalis.

HOW TO REACH

West Bengal is has a smooth connection with the national and international air network. The international (Netaji Subhash International Airport) and domestic airports of Kolkata, Dumdum, is located 15 km from the city center. The Bagdogra airport at Siliguri connects the state with places in and around the state.

Three more airports, namely, Balurghat, Coochbehar and Malda also give an option of domestic flights. West Bengal owes a major railway network. Kharagpur railway station has the longest railway platform in India.

The Howrah railway station is one of the most accessed railway heads in India. New Jalpaiguri railhead connects Darjeeling with other places of the country by toy train. The national as well as state highways connect West Bengal with major cities in and around the state.

The state transport corporation also runs regular buses connecting these places. There are also private tour operators that provide luxury coaches to access the nearby places.

phal, Guwahati, Agartala, Bagdogra, Lilabari, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Jamshedpur, Aizawl and Rourkela.

International carriers connect Calcutta with Rome, London, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, New York, Osaka, Moscow, Kathmandu and Dhaka.

Air : Calcutta is a good place for competitive air fares to other parts of Asia. Most airline offices are around Chowringhee. Flights are usually with Air India, Indian Airlines, Thai International, Royal Nepal Airlines or Tarum Romanian. Netaji Subhash Airport is situated at Dumdum, around 17km northeast of the city centre.  Indian Airlines connects Calcutta with Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Patna, Ahmedabad, Port Blair, Ranchi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Visakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar, Ban- galore, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Silchar, Im

Rail : Calcutta is served by two railway station, Haora (Howrah) and Sealdah and is connected to major cities all over the country. At Howrah Station, platforms 1 to 16 are in the old main building, platforms 17 to 22 are in the new annex next door. The tourist railway booking office is on the 1st floor at 6 Fairlie Place near BBD Bagh. It's open Monday to Saturday from 9an to 1pm and 1.30 to 4pm and on Sunday between 9am to 2pm.

Road : Calcutta is connected by an extensive network of national highways with major cities and towns of tourist interest nearby. Buses generally depart from the Esplanades bus stand area at the northern end of the Maidan near Chowringhee Road. But there are a number of private companies which have their own stands. Buses to and from the South generally use the bus stand near Fort William at Babu Ghat.

Local Transport : Taxi -Yellow top taxis are much cheaper in Calcutta than some other Indian Cities. Rickshaw -Calcutta is the only city to have hand-pulled rickshaws many of which are hired for the day by the pullers. These sort of rickshaws only exist in small parts of central Calcutta and they are restricted to the small roads. Across the river in Howrah or in other Calcutta Suburbs, there are auto and cycle-rickshaws.

 

More Attractions in West-Bengal

>> Kalimpong

>> Kurseong

>> Mirik

>> Rungli-Rungliot  

 

More Information About West-Bengal........

 
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