West Bengal is a state in Eastern India bordered by the countries of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The region is situated on the eastern bottleneck of India, stretching from the Himalayas in the north, to the Bay of Bengal in the south.
West Bengal is known for Nakshi Kantha (embroidered quilt), Darjeeling tea, Santipore Saree, Shantiniketan Leather Goods, Fazli Mango, Khirsapati or Himsagar Mango, Laxman Bhog Mango, Baluchari Saree, and Dhaniakhali Saree.
Major tourist sites in the state include, Raj Bari Palace at Cooch Behar, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway ("Toy Train"), Hazar Duari Palace, Adina Mosque near Malda, Shantiniketan, Bishnupur Terracotta Temples, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, with the Great Banyan Tree near Kolkata, Howrah Bridge at Kolkata, B.B.D. Bagh (formerly called Dalhousie Square) at Kolkata, Dakshineswar Kali Temple at Kolkata, Victoria Memorial at Kolkata, Sunderbans National Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral, etc.
The state capital Kolkata is known as the Cultural Capital of India. During the British colonial era from 1700–1912, Kolkata known as Calcutta served as the capital of British India. Much of the architectural variety in Kolkata owes its origins to European styles.
West Bengal has 15 wildlife sanctuaries and 5 national parks including Sundarbans National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Gorumara National Park, Neora Valley National Parm, and Singalila National Park. Extant wildlife includes Indian rhinoceros, Indian elephant, deer, leopard, gaur, tiger, and crocodiles, as well as many bird species.
The state is home to a thriving cinema industry, dubbed "Tollywood". West Bengal also has a long tradition in folk literature and the unique heritage of Bengali folk music Baul, often accompanied by the ektara, a one-stringed instrument.
Rice and fish are traditional favourite foods. Salt water fish Ilish is very popular among Bengalis and can be called an icon of Bengali cuisine. Ilish is said be cooked in 108 distinct ways. Excellent vegetarian choices include Mochar Ghonto (mashed banana-flower, potato and coconut), Doi Begun (eggplant in creamy sauce) and Shukto, a favourite lunchtime starter combining at least five different vegetables in a milk-based sauce. Bengalis make distinctive sweat meals from milk products, including Rasgulla (syrupy sponge balls), Cham-cham (double-textured curd-based fingers), Mishti Dhoi (curd sweetened with jaggery), Kalojam and several kinds of Sondesh.
Most characteristic are mishti dhoi (curd deliciously sweetened with jaggery), rasgulla (syrupy sponge balls) and cham-cham (double-textured curd-based fingers)
The major festivals in West Bengal include: Lepcha and Bhutia New Year, famous for colourful fairs and traditional dances in and around Darjeeling, Ganga Sagar Mela attracting hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims, Magh Mela when crafts and rural arts take centre stage, Bengali New Year - a state wide holiday celebrating the first day of the Bengali calendar, Rath Yatra celebrated by pulling the juggernaut of Lord Jagannath’s chariot, Jhapan, drawing snake charmers to honour the goddess Manasa, Fulpati - the predominantly Nepali festival celebrated with processions and dancers from across the state, Durga Puja, when beautiful clay idols of the 10-armed deity are immersed in the rivers and Poush Mela - folk music, dance, theatre and Baul songs festival.
West Bengal's climate varies from tropical savannah in the southern portions to humid subtropical in the north. The highest day temperature in the summers is ranging from 38 °C (100 °F) to 45 °C (113 °F). Winter is mild over the plains with average minimum temperatures of 15 °C (59 °F).
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