West Bengal has been under the reign of the Mughals, French, Portuguese and British. All their cultures have left a mark in the form of historical monuments that tell the tales of the past. Love history? Here are nine historical places you must visit in Bengal.
History Buffs! Here Are 9 Places In Bengal You Can Get Your History Fix From
If you are a history buff, you must visit Bishnupur. Well known for its Hindu temples made from local terracotta, as you go temple hopping, you will notice four distinct types of temple designs. The most famous being the pyramid-shaped Rasmancha established around 1600. Ornate carvings adorn the walls of Jor Bangla Temple. Madan Mohan Temple is decorated with scenes from Hindu mythology, including the Mahabharata. The place is also famous for its terracotta jewellery, pottery and artefacts.
Shantiniketan will take you back to the time of Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore. This small town near Bolpur is where Tagore lived and penned many of his literary classics. Rediscover Tagore by visiting his various houses and museum. Wander about the world-famous Vishwa Bharati University and marvel at its architecture and design or lose yourself in the music of Baul singers.
The princely state of Cooch Behar has a lot of history surrounding it. The sculptures, coins, temples and mosques of the medieval and late medieval periods reveal that the ancient kingdom of Kamrup played a role in the development of the present Cooch Behar. Go here for the Cooch Behar Palace, a major tourist attraction. Built during the reign of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan, the palace is modelled after the Buckingham Palace, London.
The gateway to North Bengal, Malda, with its rich history and heritage, was previously known as English Bazaar. From Malda, you can visit Gaur and Pandua. Gaur was the capital of three dynasties of ancient Bengal - the Buddhist Palas, the Hindu Senas and the Muslim Nawabs. Pandua, once the alternate seat of power to Gaur, has the third largest concentration of Muslim monuments in Bengal. You must visit the Lukochuri Gateway here. Built during the reign of Emperor Shahjahan, this gateway remains as a representation of Mughal rule in India.
Chandernagore retains a generous slice of its colonial past which is an experience you must not miss. With the fragments of its past that have stood the test of time, Chandernagore offers a charming French escapade with a distinctive Bengali twist. Don’t miss visiting the Patal Bari (named so because a portion of the house is submerged by the Hooghly river!), an architectural marvel that often finds mentions in Bengali literature.
During Emperor Jahangir’s reign this place was named Badh-e-dewan (district headquarters). Burdwan owes its historical importance to being the headquarters of the Maharajas of Burdwan, the premier noblemen of lower Bengal. Less than 100 km from Calcutta, the town was witness to the glory days of Bengal and every inch of its soil bears imprints of the past. Start your tour of the town at the majestic Curzon Gate or Bijoy Toran. Don’t miss visiting the Burdwan Rajbari.
Murshidabad as we all know was the capital of Bengal during the Mughal reign. It was named after Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, the Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. In 1757 the historic battle of Plassey was fought here between Nawab Siraj Ud Daula and Lord Clive. History Buffs, need we say more? Go here for the Hazarduari Palace. Once a site for holding the ‘Durbar’ (meetings of the Nawabs), it is now a museum housing priceless relics that will give you a peek into the Mughal lifestyle.
The erstwhile capital of the British Raj, Kolkata is dipped in rich history. With architectural gems strewn all around, the city is a delight for history lovers. Be it the Victoria Memorial or Fort William or Belur Math, there is history in every nook and cranny of the city. If you want to soak in some of the city's regal past, take a walk along the streets of North Kolkata, which houses some of the oldest mansions in the city.
As a traveller, you will love exploring Serampore as it is studded with many historically rich places. Situated only 25 kilometers away from Kolkata, this old colonial town used to be the major seat of Danish power in Bengal back in time. Go on a trip down memory lane as you explore the Serampore College, St Olav’s Church and Goswami Rajbari.