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West Bengal

West Bengal forms a part of the great Gangetic plains, with the mighty Himalayas crowning it in the north and the vast Bay of Bengal in the south. West Bengal was the home of the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagoreand his Shantiniketan, which continues to be a beacon to the present day.

The state also possesses some beautiful beaches such as Digha. Then there are the Sunderbans or the 'beautiful forests' at the juncture of the Ganga and the sea. A major attraction here is the diverse forms of wildlife including deer, wild boars, monkeys, snakes, crocodiles and, of course, the Royal Bengal Tiger. The Diamond Harbour, at the point where the Hooghly turns south and flows into the open sea, is also worth a visit. In complete contrast to the tranquility of the sea is the hubbub of Calcutta and the quiet and amazing beauty of the hills in and around Darjeeling.

Darjeeling's Toy Train
The 80 km ( seven and a half hour) long journey by Darjeeling's Toy Train on a 2ft wide track up the mountains, offers stunning and breathtaking views of the Himalayas - of rolling tea plantations and wild orchids. While the Batasia Loop & the Tiger Hill are two interesting spots on the way the Observatory Hill offers a magnificent view of the Kanchenjunga ranges.

New Jalpaiguri, the starting point of the hill train to Darjeeling, is well connected by rail to Calcutta, Delhi, Guwahati, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and other places.

Area: 87,853 sq. km
Population: 74.5 million
Capital: Kolkata
Main Language: Bengali
Best time to visit: October to March

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