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Top 16 Places to Visit in West Bengal

Top 16 Places to Visit in West Bengal

By CarolUpdated Aug. 19, 2021

The beautiful state of West Bengal is a cauldron of ethnicities, cultures, religions, people, and languages. The state is also home to some of the most beautiful landscapes, forests, and beaches in India.

West Bengal’s capital, Kolkata, is its most popular destination, where one can visit many famous landmarks, such as the Victoria Memorial and Fort William. The state is also world-renowned for being home to the rare one-horned rhinoceros, which is housed at Jaldapara National Park.

Highlights

  • The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, built between 1906 and 1921, is a structure of exquisite white marble that was built as a memorial to the deceased Queen Victoria.
  • Tiger Hill in Darjeeling is a popular spot to experience the sunrise.
  • Sundarbans National Park is home to the royal Bengal tiger and is known to have the largest mangrove forests in the world.
  • The Chandrodaya Temple in Mayapur is dedicated to Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
  • Jaldapara National Park is one of the few places in India where one can see the rare one-horned rhinoceros.

1. Kolkata

Recommended duration of visit: 3–4 days

Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal and India’s second-largest city. Being the former capital of the British Empire, the “City of Joy” has evolved into a growing metropolis, combining old colonial-era charm with modern hipster culture.

The Victoria Memorial is a white marble structure built as a memorial to the deceased Queen Victoria. It is a replica of the Victoria Memorial in London. Surrounded by a well-conserved garden, the building has a 16-foot-tall (4.8 meters) bronze statue of victory mounted on top.

Another surviving monument from the British era is Fort William. Built in 1696, the fort was constructed with bricks and mortar. It now serves as the home for 10,000 interns of the Indian Army, and is equipped with a swimming pool, a firing range, and a boxing stadium.

Perfect for: people interested in architecture

Insider tip: there are light-and-sound shows held at the Victoria Memorial from October to June.

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2. Darjeeling

Recommended duration of visit: 2–3 days

Darjeeling is amongst the most beautiful hill stations in East India. Located at over 2,000 m above sea level (6,500 feet), the town is surrounded by tea plantations and is blessed with a great view of the world’s third-highest mountain, Kanchenjunga.

For trekkers, one can visit Tiger Hill located 13 km (8 miles) from Darjeeling. It is a popular spot to watch the sunrise. At its highest point, one can also admire the sight of Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga sitting amidst the clouds.

Another place to spot the distant Mount Kanchenjunga is Nightingale Park. The park previously served as the private courtyard of Sir Thomas Tartan's bungalow. It is now open to the public, and one can unwind by taking a stroll and admiring the beautiful views of the snow-capped mountains.

Perfect for: nature lovers

Insider tip: the best time to visit Tiger Hill is from October to April.

3. Kalimpong

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Another popular hill station to visit in West Bengal is Kalimpong. Situated 50 minutes east of Darjeeling and at an elevation of 1,250 m (4,100 feet), it is famous for its panoramic view of valleys and Buddhist monasteries. It is also well-known for its finely crafted Tibetan handicrafts.

Buddhist monasteries are abundant in Kalimpong. The Jang Dong Palriffo Brang Gompa, commonly known as Durpin Monastery, was built by the Dalai Lama in 1976. The place offers a peaceful and calm atmosphere where one can admire the Buddhist paintings on its walls.

A unique attraction in Kalimpong is Morgan House. Built by textile merchant George Morgan in the 1930s, the mansion, which has now been converted into a lodge, is a great example of colonial architecture. There are legends of the place being haunted.

Perfect for: people interested in architecture

Insider tip: the Morgan House is best visited from March to June and September to December.

4. Sundarbans National Park

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Sundarbans National Park is home to 78 species of mangroves — it is the largest mangrove forest in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site also serves as a tiger reserve for the royal Bengal tiger and is a biosphere reserve.

There are many types of mangrove trees in this park, like Sundari, Gewa, Keora, Dhundul, Kankra, and Goran. You can also find several species like Porteresia coarctata (a South Asian wild rice), Myriostachya wightiana (a long grass 1–1.5 m (3–5 ft) tall), and golpata (nipa palms), and other types of plants like speargrass and khagra grass.

Sundarbans National Park is particularly famous for being home to around 400 Bengal tigers. In addition, you can also find 15 mammal species like deer and leopards, eight bird species like buzzards and eagles, and 17 reptile species like crocodiles and snakes.

Boat safaris (AC and non-AC) are available for travelers to traverse across the park’s water bodies and see the animals in their natural habitat. Safaris are conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Perfect for: animal lovers

Insider tip: the best time to visit Sundarbans National Park is from September to March.

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5. Bishnupur

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

The small town of Bishnupur is renowned as the birthplace of terracotta, and is filled with terracotta temples and pottery. The temples here were mostly built during the 17th and 18th centuries by the Malla dynasty rulers.

The Jorebangla Temple was built in 1655 by King Raghunath Singh. The temple was constructed out of laterite bricks and displays classical do-chala (double-curved roof) style terracotta architecture. Its panels and walls depict the lives of the previous rulers and stories from the epic Mahabharata.

Rasmancha is the oldest brick temple in Bishnupur. Built in 1600 by King Bir Hambir, the temple is enclosed by a passageway and has a pyramid-like tower encircled by turrets. The main attraction here is the big cannons from the Malla period on display and the idols of Lord Krishna.

Perfect for: history lovers

Insider tip: Bishnupur is best visited from November to February.

6. Mayapur

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Located at the confluence of the Ganga and Jalangi Rivers, Mayapur is a lesser-known pilgrim city filled with temples that are mostly dedicated to Lord Krishna. The city is believed to be the birthplace of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of Lord Krishna.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Chandrodaya Temple is dedicated to Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON. The highlight of the temple complex is the shrine of Srila Prabhupada, which is a marble dome that glows when in contact with sunlight.

Another temple to visit is Yoga Peeth. It is believed to be the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a Hindu monk considered to be the “Supreme Personality of Godhead”. Here, travelers can visit the hut which houses clay models and statues displaying the life and philosophies of the monk.

Perfect for: temple lovers

Insider tip: November to February is the best time to visit Mayapur.

7. Kurseong

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Popularly known as the “Land of Orchids”, Kurseong is a quiet hill station located close to Darjeeling. This place is home to breathtaking waterfalls and temples, and offers its visitors panoramic views of snowy mountains. 

Kurseong is surrounded by tea plantations. Travelers can visit some of the plantations like Makaibari and Ambotia. The plantations also offer guided tours where travelers can meet the workers and learn the art and science of tea processing.

The Ambotia Shiva Temple is one of the most popular temples in Kurseong. The temple is perched atop the Ambotia tea estate. Not only is the temple renowned for its religious significance, but it also offers amazing views of the surrounding lush forests and a nearby orange orchard.

Perfect for: Nature lovers

Insider tip: The nearest airport from Kurseong is Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri.

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8. Jaldapara National Park

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Jaldapara National Park is a great alternative to Kaziranga National Park in Assam to see the rare one-horned rhinoceros. Aside from the rhinoceros, the park is also home to elephants, Bengal tigers, spotted deer, barking deer, sambhar deer, bison, wild pigs, and hog deer.

This national park is a paradise for bird watchers. It is amongst the very few places in India where you can find the Bengal florican. Other birds that flock here include the crested eagle, Pallas’s fish eagle, and shikra. Reptiles like pythons, monitor lizards, kraits, and cobras can also be spotted.

Travelers can choose between elephant and jeep safaris to see the many animals in the park. There are three elephant safaris each day, from 5.30 a.m. to 9 a.m., priced at INR 750, and three jeep safaris, from 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at INR 1,800.

Perfect for: Animal lovers

Insider tip: Jaldapara National Park is open from October to May.

9. Barrackpore

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Barrackpore is a historical city located near Kolkata. It was the first place where the British built their barrack or cantonment in 1772. After India was captured by the British, the city served as a retreat for the local governor-generals and viceroys.

When visiting Barrackpore, one should definitely visit the Gandhi Museum. This museum comprises five galleries filled with 800 photographs of freedom fighters, a study center, and a giant library containing rare books, including some from Mahatma Gandhi's collection.

For those looking for some peace and quiet, you can take a stroll through Mangal Pandey Park. Dedicated to Mangal Pandey, the first nationalist to rise against British oppression, the park is filled with thick trees and colorful flowers. Visitors can also see a statue of him at the park.

Perfect for: history lovers

Insider tip: the Gandhi Museum is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Wednesday.

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10. Murshidabad

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Murshidabad served as the capital of Bengal during the Mughal Empire, up until British rule. As a result, the city is filled with palaces and mosques which reflect a classic Mughal style of architecture.

The magnificent Hazarduari Palace is situated on the banks of Bhagirathi River and is spread across an area of 41 acres (16 hectares). The palace reflects a combination of Italian and Greek styles of architecture. Inside, there is a museum containing 18th-century artifacts like paintings, swords, and statues.

Located south of Hazarduari Palace, there is another smaller but equally beautiful palace called Wasif Manzil. Built by the former governor of Murshidabad, Nawab Wasif Ali Mirza Khan, the palace is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India and has been converted into a museum housing numerous marble statues.

Perfect for: History lovers

Insider tip: Photography is not allowed inside Hazarduari Palace.

11. Digha

Recommended duration of visit: 2–3 days

Digha is a beach town located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal and is renowned for its untouched beaches, scenic views, temples, research centers, and museums. It is a favorite destination for families looking forward to spending a pleasurable weekend.

New Digha Beach is one of the city’s most famous beaches. It is more popular than Old Digha Beach as it is bigger, more accessible, and less crowded. Aside from being a popular spot to have a relaxing time, it is also famous for its alluring sunrise and sunset views.

Udaipur Beach in Digha is one of India’s most pristine and exquisite beaches. This is another great place to spend some quality time with your family. Adventure lovers will also love this place for its multitude of water sports activities like speed boat and banana boat rides.

Perfect for: families on vacation

Insider tip: the best time to visit Udaipur Beach is from October to February.

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12. Mirik

Recommended duration of visit: 1 day

Mirik is a beautiful hill town located amidst the Himalayan valleys. Situated in the district of Darjeeling close to Siliguri, the town offers scenic views of the magnificent mountains and lakes surrounding it.

The most famous attraction of Mirik is Sumendu Lake. The lake is over a kilometer long (3,250 feet), with a 20-meter-long (80 feet) arched footbridge across the lake called the Indreni Pull. Visitors can also go boating on the lake and ride a pony by the lakeside.

A visit to Mirik is incomplete without visiting the tea plantations there. Travelers can spend an hour or two leisurely walking through the lush tea gardens. You can also see the workers picking tea leaves and watering the plantation.

Perfect for: Nature lovers

Insider tip: The nearest airport from Mirik is the Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri.

13. Siliguri

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Known as the “Gateway to Northeast India”, the city of Siliguri is located in the Jalpaiguri and Siliguri districts. It is the third-largest urban area in West Bengal after Kolkata and Asansol, and is the second-largest metropolitan city in West Bengal, after Kolkata.

The Salugara Monastery, also known as “The Great International Tashi Gomang Stupa”, is located 6 km (4 miles) from Siliguri. The monastery was established by Tibetan Buddhist monks and followers of the Dalai Lama. The main attraction here is the 30 m (100 feet) tall stupa perched atop the monastery.

Established in 1997, the North Bengal Science City (commonly referred to as Science City) is located 7 km (4 miles) away from Siliguri. Inside, travelers can visit areas like the Earth Exploration Hall and Space Odyssey to learn about various concepts of science demonstrated through movie clips and 3D models.

Perfect for: families on vacation

Insider tip: Science City is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

14. Shankarpur

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Shankarpur is another beach town in West Bengal that is a favorite destination for travelers looking for a weekend getaway. Located 14 km (9 miles) east of Digha, the town provides its visitors beautiful isolated beaches, calming winds, and old-world charm.

Digha Beach, located 14 km (9 miles) from Shankarpur, is known for its cleanliness and golden sands. The beach is popular for being one of the best spots in India to go sunset viewing. It was the favorite holiday destination of Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India.

The clean water, white sand, and calming winds make Shankarpur Beach a great tourist spot. This is the perfect place for visitors to relax under the sun and enjoy the coconut water and seafood available at the few shacks there.

Perfect for: beach lovers

Insider tip: December to April is the best time to visit Shankanpur.

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15. Cooch Behar

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Cooch Behar or Koch Bihar is a city located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. It is the only planned city in North Bengal and was the seat of the princely state of Koch Bihar.

The city’s most famous attraction is the Cooch Behar Palace or Rajbari. Constructed by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan in 1887, the palace was designed in the same style as the Buckingham Palace in London. The Durbar Hall is the main attraction of the palace, featuring a metal dome with a cylindrical louver on top and huge Corinthian columns.

Madan Mohan Temple is a Hindu temple that was built by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan in 1885. Like many other temples in Bengal, this temple features a dome built above the cornices of its four rooms and houses deities like Madan Mohan, Tara Ma, Kali Ma, and Ma Bhawani.

Perfect for: history lovers

Insider tip: photography is not allowed inside Cooch Behar Palace.

16. Bankura

Recommended duration of visit: 1–2 days

Bankura is a city located north of Dhaleshwari River and is around 40 km (25 miles) southwest of Durgapur. The city was an industrial hub for rice and oilseed grinding, cotton weaving, metalwork manufacturing, and railway workshops.

Susunia Hill is a great destination for trekkers from around the world. The area is covered with different species of plants ranging from beautiful shrubs to rare medicinal plants. Trekkers can climb up the hill and see the amazing view of the Eastern Ghats covered with lush green vegetation.

Another great place to enjoy the scenic beauty of the natural world is Jhilmili. Located around 70 km (40 miles) away from Bankura, the area is situated on a hill covered with lush green forests. The place is the perfect destination for those looking to get away from city life.

Perfect for: nature lovers

Insider tip: rock-climbing programs and training sessions are available at Susunia Hill.

Explore West Bengal with Asia Highlights

West Bengal is full of attractions ready to be discovered by everyone in the world. To start planning a trip to West Bengal, contact Asia Highlights. We can tailor-make a trip that best fits your interests in some of the most recommended places in West Bengal.

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