From the Bay of Bengal to the Himalayan hills
West Bengal is unique among Indian states as it stretches from the sea to the mountains.
To the south, the capital Kolkata dominates the political, economic and cultural life of much of eastern India.
The northern foothills of West Bengal's Himalaya are one of the greatest tea growing areas in the world. Here you find Raj-era hill stations such as the picturesque towns of Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
Starting from its humble origins as a village on the banks of the mighty Hooghly (as the Ganges is called here), to its rise to become one of the most important cities in the world, (or Calcutta, as it is still referred to by many), was the capital of the British East India Company.
The British legacy is evident in the grand Victorian Gothic buildings, impressive churches and wide boulevards. Kolkata is also the centre of the awesome Bengali art and culture. Despite the squalor and the daunting number of its residents, Kolkata retains a majestic charm and is truly a window to the east of India.
A one hour flight to Bagdogra, or an overnight train to New Jalpaiguri, provides access to the spectacular mountain vistas of the north of the state. The nearest hill station is , a quiet little town on the route of the Darjeeling Toy Train, and is home to world famous tea gardens.
You can take the toy train from Kurseong to . Here you can enjoy the atmosphere of the British Raj, the lush green tea plantations, the magnificent views of the Kanchenjunga and the colourful hill people of the north-eastern Himalayas.
is a few hours drive from Darjeeling, a very scenic route passing through rich forest, gigantic trees and tea gardens. Kalimpong is a wonderful centre for mountain viewing, bird watching, hill-walking, and visiting word famous flower nurseries. Kalimpong produces 80% of India's gladioli and is a significant orchid-growing area.