Rising out of the Bay of Bengal, panning through primeval mangroves and bustling rice paddies and ascending into the mighty Himalayas, West Bengal is famed for its cultural and natural wealth.
The state capital, Kolkata, is also known as the ‘cultural capital of India’ and is birthplace to all forms of creative expression from traditional folk music and dance to Asia’s first Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore.
With a history spanning empires from the Gupta to the British, West Bengal has spearheaded to the forefront of science, higher learning, and social reform, including the Bengal Renaissance.
Modern patrons of the arts can choose from an array of music, dance, theatre and film; all coming to a head in festivals like Durga Puja, Poila Baishakh (the Bengali New Year) and Buddha Purnima, amongst many other religious and social ceremonies.
Bengali sweets are integral to its culture as it is an ancient custom amongst both Hindu and Muslim Bengalis to distribute sweets during festivities. Following on this, cuisine is part of the attraction of the area and can be sampled at street stalls or high-end restaurants with everything from popular pithas (sweets) to tangy hilsa rice and fish dishes.
In addition to culture, cuisine and wildernesses, West Bengal is also a destination for the favourite national sport of India, cricket.
Bengali sweets | A live performance in Calcutta | Sunrise over the Himalayas on a tea plantation
A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India’s net domestic product