History and heritage at its best
West Bengal is one of India’s most ethnic regions, known for its vibrant mix of cultures and traditions.
This paradise for heritage houses many important religious and cultural sites. Bengal has always been termed as a must visit the region in India for travelers. In this article, let’s sum up the top places that hold rich cultural value in Bengal, waiting to be explored by the wanderer-hearts!
The capital city of Bengal holds numerous ancient treasures that display the roots of tradition and ethnic diversities, as well as artistic movements. The St. John’s Cathedral in Kolkata is famous for its unique architecture and gothic style of buildings.
This church has history beautifully displayed in its build, with beautiful murals and embellishments. The Dakshineshwar temple is another sacred embodiment that is popular for the traditional pujas and the spiritual air that surrounds Bengal.
It is one of the important holy places for pilgrims in Kolkata. The Mahakali temple enshrines the Goddess Kaali and is believed to be the demolisher of evil. The temple is made in the glory of the Goddess Durga.
Kolkata is a place that is best visited during the annual ‘Durga pujo,’ when the city embraces colors, light, and festivities for 9 whole days and nights.
Despite being a bustling metro city, Kolkata offers cultural felicities due to the mixing of the diverse ethnicities in the state- from Hindu and Muslim to Christian and Buddhism as well.
Victoria Memorial is an Indo-Saracenic style building that was constructed from 1901 to 1921 by the then Viceroy of India to commemorate the British Queen Victoria.
Famous for its unique architecture and the use of white marble, Victoria memorial is the house of many unique artifacts and photographs in history that takes one back to yesteryear Calcutta.
The Victoria Memorial is one of the most important tourist places of interest and is phenomenal for its depiction of the Victorian era at its best. Another notable feature that fascinates people is the floating angel of victory located on the top of the building that has intrigued tourists and architects for years.
This city lies 130 Km north of Kolkata– the capital of West Bengal and has some historically preserved sites that have fascinating cultural value. One such important destination is the Iskcon Puspasamadhi mandir which is a famed complex of Lord Krishna’s devotees.
The Vedic Planetarium temple, Srila Prabhupada’s Bhajan Kutir and Pushpa Samadhi Mandir, Chandrodaya Temple, Sri Mayapur International School and Institute for Higher Education and Bhakti Vedanta Academy (gurukul) are all present in the campus of Iskcon Puspasamadhi mandir. The largest Hare Krishna community in the world is located in ISKCON here, where Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Sri Navadvipa Dham.
Religious Vaishnava festivals such as Kirtan Mela, Gaura Purnima, and
Navadvipa Mandal Parikrama are celebrated every year in Mayapur in a grand manner. The ISKCON temple is known for its amazing service and hospitality. It facilitates guesthouses, canteens, and shops for tourists who come here looking for serenity and a taste of Indian spiritual culture.
Bishnupur is an ancient historical city that houses several Terracotta temples which are some of the oldest brick temples in the world. Constructed by Vaishnavites, these temples are famous for their unique architecture. These temples have beautifully carved images of deities that sum up India’s religious and sacred entities.
The other prominent temples in this city are the Jor Bangla temple (constructed in the ancient Chala and Bangla styles), Sridhara and Madan Gopal temples (which are pyramid shaped) and the Kalachand, Nandalal, and Radhamadhab temples (which are nine spired and are carved out of hand driven rocks with square plinths).
All the temples date back to the latemedieval period when the architecture of diverse styles was on the rise. These amazing structures are bound to impress tourists with their depictions of the divinity and clear-cut construction, combined by the fact that every temple has a story behind how, when and why it was built.
Bardhaman is another important East Indian city that is home to historically relevant places for tourists and travelers. Some of the important religious places in Bardhaman that should be included in a traveler’s guide are
• Kankaleshwari Kali temple (which is famous for its 200-year-old abode of
the goddess Kali)
• The Shrine of Sarvamangala (built for the goddess of auspiciousness)
• The 108 Shiva temple (famous for its Maha Shivratri celebration)
• Birhata Kalibari (another temple made for the Goddess Kali)
• Damodhareshwar (a temple dedicated to the deity Shiva)
• The Christ Church (one of the oldest and popular churches in India)
Mirik is a serene, charming and quiet location in Bengal which is known among tourists and travelers as a prime spot for relaxing. Apart from its natural and scenic entices, Mirik is home to the Don Bosco Church– which is the biggest catholic church in Darjeeling.
Constructed during the Colonial era, this church has amazingly carved replicas of deities and has an air of ancient beauty and architecture. It is located near the Bokar monastery and close to the tingling viewpoint that gives you the panoramic view of the Mirik Lake and Darjeeling’s world-famous tea gardens.
Cooch Behar is one of the oldest Bengali towns lying in the north-eastern
corner of Kolkata and has many religious sites that are captivating to the heart of a traveler. One such spot is the Raj Bhari palace which has a rich history associated with the Cooch dynasty.
The palace’s architecture is an amalgamation of both classic western and Indian, with its arcades and piers being the highlights. Cooch Behar also has the well-known Madan Mohan temple of the Cooch Behar royal family. Another important temple here is the Baneswar temple that houses an underground Shivalingam and a tortoise farm that is yet another fascinating feature of this place.
The land of red soil Birbhum is notable for the renowned Shantiniketan established by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and is also famous for its cultural festival called Poush Mela celebrating the harvest season. It is one of the ethnically popular places attracting a number of tourists every year and is a vibrant center of converging traditions. Yet another locally popular spot is the Nalhateshwari temple, after which the Nalhati town is named.
It is a truly enticing heavenly abode for Kali and Shakti believers. The shrine here dates back to centuries and is known as a good place to meditate and cultivate spirituality.
Kamarpukur is an ancient religious town where Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was born. The townhouses several shrines and religious centers, old, historical buildings and temples such as the Mukundapur Temple, Yogi Shiva Temple, Jairambati Math, Matri Mandir, and the Gopeshwar Temple. Filled with art, relics, and stories, these ancient temples are must-visit places for historians and religious enthusiasts.
Located in the lower side of The Himalayas, Darjeeling is popular for being serene and rich in culture. Besides having scenic mountains, an alluring view of the sunrise and sunset and mesmerizing tea estates, Darjeeling is also home to cultural and ethnic indulgences that have their roots in Bengal.
The ancient Tibetan Ghum monastery here is popular for its 15-feet tall Buddha statue. Another ancient wonder, Peace Pagoda is a Japanese monastery that focuses on converging cultures and religions and is captivating with its intricate carvings, wall murals, and architecture that projects Japan’s ethnicity. Situated on the top of the enchanting Mirik hills of Darjeeling is the famous Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling Monastery.
This is a must-visit places for any traveler who is stepping foot in West Bengal.
Surrounded by breathtakingbeauty and home hundreds of monks, this ancient monastery has been a retreat center since the 80’s. Here, you can learn about Buddhism’s impact on India, the ancient teaching and see the hand-carved pieces of art and paintings that have been preserved in the lap of nature. You can also get an amazing view of the beautiful Mirik valley and town from the monastery.
Bengal is a place that has a lot to offer to a soul that has a thirst for ancient history. We hope this article gave you a fair chunk on the top places you can visit to find your spirituality and witness culture and heritage-rich, preserved, and at its absolute best.