West Bengal offers a colorful variety of experiences to the tourist. Its capital, Kolkata, is as cosmopolitan a city as any. In close proximity lie the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. Coastal areas like Digha and Mandarmani are popular tourism places in this state which attract their fair share of beach lovers. A different travel experience awaits you in places like Bishnupur, Bankura and Shantiniketan, which showcase the rich cultural heritage of the state. Hill stations like Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Labha are exciting getaways from the plains and are known for their distinct culture and lifestyle. Wildlife sanctuaries like Jaldapara and Gorumara draw your attention to its rich wildlife. In pilgrimage destinations like Dakshineswar and Kalighat, you undergo a profound spiritual experience.
The ideal time to visit West Bengal is between the months of October to March.
Currency: Indian Rupees
Official languages: Bengali
The history of West Bengal began in 1947, when the Hindu-dominated western part of British Bengal Province became the Indian state of West Bengal. When India gained independence in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines.
One of the most culturally prosperous states of India, West Bengal is filled with surprises. Be it the different religions all assimilating into one or the lovely cultural events that seem to make up the glorious state that it is. There is much more to West Bengal than big red bindis and dhoti kurtas. There are a lot of elements about the culture of West Bengal, and now we are going to have a look at some of the interesting aspects of it.
West Bengal has a tropical wet-dry climate in the southern part and a humid subtropical climate in the north. The state has a wide varition of precepation with an annual of 64 inches (1,625 mm) per year, of which an average of 13 inches (330 mm) falls in August and less than 1 inch (25 mm) in December.
Citizens of most countries, including the United States, need a visa to visit India which should be arranged in advance. Full details can be found at The Government of India website (http://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/). Citizens of Nepal and Bhutan do not need a visa, while some nationalities may get them upon arrival.
Within the state the main transport links are trains and buses. Apart from the mail and express trains coming from outside the state (they are generally very crowded), there are a number of fast trains within the state, large number of passenger trains and locals (mostly around Kolkata). Taxis and hired cars are available in most places.
Kolkata is normally the gateway to the state but there are entry points all around. Two commercial airports are at Kolkata and Bagdogra. The state has a number of smaller airports. Railways link it with other states from all sides. Major road connections are NH 2 from Delhi, NH 5 from Chennai, NH 6 from western India and NH 31 from Guwahati. Major ports are Kolkata and Haldia. There are a number of smaller ports.
You can get the travelpasses from the conductors in the buses, trams or ferry ticket counters. You would also get them at all POS (Points of Sale) of the WBTC.
Before you leave on your holiday, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:
Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)
We recommend avoiding packing any plastic bags in your luggage before flying to Kenya. You should also remove any items purchased at departure airports from their bags before boarding. Double check your luggage before disembarking in Kenya and leave any plastic bags on the plane.
In case of need or desire to overstay, you are advised to contact the nearest Foreigners' Regional Registration Office.
It is advisable to avail of pre-paid taxi/auto-rickshaws or pay by meter or ask for the fare chart.
Advisable to shop at the Govt. Emporia/Fixed Price Shops to ensure quality and reasonable prices.
Check power voltage before using electrical instruments (220/240 V are available in India)
Keep your valuables in hotel lockers/safe deposit vaults
You are advised to contact the nearest India Tourism Office/State Govt. Tourist Office or Government approved Travel Agents/Tour Operators for local sight seeing and excursion tours.
Fast Trains/Intercity express are available between several tourist centers. Consult the Railway Information Office or India Tourism Office/State Govt. Tourist Office.
Always hire a Govt. approved tourist guide who invariably carries an identity card.
Check about photography permissions/video filming at any monument. Contact the nearest India Tourism Office/State Govt. Tourist Office
Change money only at the Authorised Foreign Exchange Outlets/Banks/Hotels and insist on receipt for money changed.
For guide map of the city/tourist information, contact the nearest India Tourism Office/State Govt. Tourist Office
STD/ISD/FAX facilities are available at small outlets in all parts of the country with yellow sign boards
Observe local tradition/customs while visiting religious places
There is prohibition on liquor in a few states. Check details from the nearest Tourism Office about the same.
Smoking not allowed in public places and vehicles in some states.
Do not buy goods from road side unless and until you feel satisfied
All state government has their own handicraft stall and all good tour operators include it in their itinerary. Try to buy from Government stall only for genuine handicraft.
Don't encourage beggars
Don't accept food/drinks from strangers
Export of Indian Currency is banned
Don't be coerced into shopping by touts/guides/cab/taxi drivers or strangers
Don't bye articles made from rare/endangered species of animals which are banned
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