Rishikesh Package

West Bengal, an eastern Indian state, is replete with tourism opportunities and has a long and rich history. Bounded on the north by Sikkim and Bhutan, on the east by Assam and Bangladesh, on the south by the Bay of Bengal, and on the west by Orissa, Bihar, and Nepal, West Bengal geographically consists of two parts: the northern districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch-Bihar, and the rest of the state. The area of the state is 87853 sq km & population is 90.32 million. The capital of the state is Kolkata. It speaks Bengali. The north of Bengal is dominated by the Himalayas while the south is made up of fertile plains. The Ganges and the Brahmaputra form a gigantic delta before plunging into the Gulf of Bengal. The state is one of the most watered in the country- between 200 and 800 mm of water during the monsoon months.

The history of Bengal dates back to the times of the Vedas. The Mahabharata mentions some of his kings. Bengal is then known as “Gauda” or “Vanga”. Integrated successively into the Maurya and Gupta empires, Bengal also had its dynasty of independent rulers, the Pala, who expanded the territory to encompass the current Bihar, Orissa, and Bangladesh. Bengal then passed under the control of the Sultans of Delhi, then of the Mughals, then of the nawabs of Bengal.

Bengal is the anglicized form of Banga, the ancient name of a part of the state. The other part was known as Gauda. Both were the kingdoms in the Maurya Empire and the Gupta empire. After a long phase of uncertainty and rule by different dynasties within and outside Bengal, the region experienced a period of peace and prosperity under the Pala kings, from the 8th to the 12th centuries. In the early 13th century Turkish general Muhammad Bhakhtiyar invaded Bengal. The Buddhists of Bengal, persecuted by him, fled to Nepal with their valuable books and images. Intrigues and murders marked the Muslim rule over Bengal for a long time, with a brief spell of Hindu rule in the century. In the 15th century Sri Chaitanya, the great Vaishnav prophet appeared on the scene. In the 16th century, Bengal came under the direct Mughal rule. In 1757, the young Nawab of Bengal, Sirajuddaula, who had been disgusted with the British East India Company’s behavior, clashed with the latter, on the field of Plassey. Under Clive’s leadership, the army of the Company won, due to Sirajuddaula’s commander-in-chief, Mir Jaffar’s betrayal of his master. Siraj was soon assassinated by the treacherous Mir Jaffar’s henchmen. With the Company’s support, Mir Jaffar occupied the throne of Bengal, was soon deposed, and then restored to last a few months. From his weak successors, the Company snatched increasingly power and privileges. At last Warren Hastings obliged the Nawab to retire and became the administrator of Bengal and later the Governor-General of British India in 1773.

In the 17th century, European settlers settled in the region. The English succeeded to implant better than the others and in the middle of the 18th century, they took effective control of Bengal. Calcutta became the capital of the British Raj. At the time Bengal included the present Bangladesh, Bihar, and Orissa and extended as far as Agra. Political decisions were often fragmenting, notably in 1905. But the protests were such that the decision was canceled. In 1911, frightened by increasingly violent nationalist protests, the English moved their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. Victim of a severe famine in 1943 and communal clashes in 1946, Bengal was split in two, at the time of India’s Independence in 1947. The west became West Bengal under secular Indian rule, and the east became East Pakistan under Muslim rule. The latter became Bangladesh in 1971.

The sons of Bengal played a prominent role in the resurrection of India. The English education in India started in Bengal, and at the suggestion of the great Indian reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the first English College was set up in Calcutta in 1817.

West Bengal is still considered the cultural heart of India. Many intellectuals and artists like the poet Rabindranath Tagore and the film-maker Satyajit Ray, were born there. The state is the main producer of jute. It is famous for its tigers, Darjeeling tea plantations, and silk saris.

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