Must see attractions in West Bengal

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kurseong

    Makaibari

    If you like tea, you should visit this celebrated organic and biodynamic Darjeeling tea estate. Walk-in visits to the processing factory, with huge sorting and drying machines, typically last 30 to 45 minutes (mornings before 9am are the best time to see the production process). For a more in-depth experience, reserve a day ahead through Makaibari Homestays for a day tour, which includes a factory visit, a plantation walk with tea plucking, lunch in a local homestay, and tea tasting.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Darjeeling

    Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

    The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, known affectionately as the toy train, made its first journey along its precipice-topping, 2ft-wide tracks in 1881 and is one of the few hill railways still operating in India. It has had Unesco World Heritage listing since 1999. Two-hour 'joy rides' from Darjeeling to Ghum and back satisfy most people's toy-train urges. There are normally around six of these pulled by antique steam locomotives daily, and three or so with diesel engines.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Darjeeling

    Singalila National Park

    Singalila National Park covers the Indian side of the scenic Singalila Ridge, the Darjeeling region's finest trekking area, along the India–Nepal border west of Darjeeling. As well as providing fantastic views of the eastern Himalaya, the park is home to extensive rhododendron forests, a gorgeous site when blooming in late April and May. The most used park entry point is near Tumling, on the road from Mane Bhanjang, 25km from Darjeeling, to Sandakphu.

  • Sights in Sunderbans Tiger Reserve

    Sundarbans Tiger Reserve

    The 2585-sq-km Sundarbans Tiger Reserve has 100-plus Royal Bengal tigers lurking in its impenetrable mangrove forests and sometimes swimming its delta channels. Other residents of the forest include Gangetic dolphins, water monitors, 5m-long saltwater crocodiles and luminiscent kingfishers. Entry and guide fees, payable at the reserve's Sajnekhali Ecotourism Centre, depend on which areas you are visiting. If you're on an organised trip from Kolkata, they are normally included in your price.

  • Sights in Murshidabad & Berhampore

    Hazarduari

    Literally meaning 'house of 1000 doors', the Hazarduari was built in very English Neoclassical style for Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah in 1829–37. Not all of its 1000 doors are real, though: some are just motifs on walls. The palace houses an astonishing collection of antiquities, and its compound is also home to the beautiful Nizamat Imambara (1847), a clock tower, and two elegant Medina Mosques (one between the Hazarduari and Imambara, another inside the Imambara).

  • Sights in Shantiniketan

    Uttarayan Complex

    Ranged around tree-lined avenues, gravelled courtyards and exotic gardens, the Uttarayan Complex, in the heart of the Visva-Bharati campus, includes five architecturally very varied houses, from art deco to rural Bengal, in which Rabindranath Tagore lived at different times and did a lot of his writing. Also here is a museum of Tagore exhibits and memorabilia (including his ancient Humber car).

  • Sights in Gaur & Pandua

    Eklakhi Mausoleum

    The large, beautiful Eklakhi Mausoleum at Pandua gets its name from the reputed ₹1 lakh (₹100,000) cost of building it back in 1431. It's a domed brick square with an octagonal interior chamber and exquisite tile and brick ornamentation on the outside. The three tombs inside are thought to be those of Sultan Jalaluddin and his wife and son.

  • Sights in Gaur & Pandua

    Adina Masjid

    The vast Adina Masjid, just west off NH12 (old NH34), 19km north of Malda, was India’s largest mosque when constructed by Sikandar Shah in the 14th century. It originally had nearly 400 small domes and some 90 brick arches.

  • Sights in Bishnupur

    Jor Bangla Temple

    The 'twin hut' structure of Jor Bangla is covered in particularly exquisite terracotta ornamentation.

  • Sights in Darjeeling

    Observatory Hill

    The hill rising above Chowrasta is home to several much-visited temples, approached through a flurry of colourful prayer flags and hanging bells. The main summit temple is sacred to Mahakala, a Buddhist protector deity also worshipped as a wrathful avatar of Shiva. It is staffed by a Hindu priest and Buddhist lama sitting side by side in an admirable display of religious coexistence. A 300m path up to the summit starts about 100m along the eastern Mall road from Chowrasta.

  • Sights in Darjeeling

    Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

    Within the zoo precinct, the prestigious HMI was founded in 1954 and has provided training for some of India’s leading mountaineers. Its fascinating Mountaineering Museum exhibits evocative memorabilia from the 1922 and 1924 Everest expeditions, which set off from Darjeeling, as well as more-recent summit attempts – including the successful 1953 climb. Just outside the museum are Tenzing Norgay's samadhi (cremation spot) and a Tenzing statue. The intrepid Everest summiteer was a director and adviser at the institute for many years.

  • Sights in Darjeeling

    Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre

    Established in 1959, this refugee centre includes a Tibetan Buddhist temple, workshops producing carpets, woodcarvings, wool and woollen items, plus a home for the aged, a kindergarten and a clinic. Visitors are welcome to wander through the workshops. There’s also an interesting, politically charged photographic exhibition on Tibetan history. The handicrafts are for sale in the showroom. A quick walking approach is to take the lane down beside Hotel Dolphin on The Mall and zigzag downhill about 1.2km (asking directions a few times).

  • Sights in Kalimpong

    Durpin Gompa

    Kalimpong’s largest monastery, formally known as Zangtok Pelri Phodang, sits atop panoramic Durpin Hill (1372m) and was consecrated by the Dalai Lama in 1976. There are impressive murals in the main prayer room downstairs, presided over by Padmasambhava (the Indian sage credited with spreading Buddhism in Tibet in the 8th century), interesting 3D mandalas (visual meditational aids) on the 2nd floor, and stunning Khangchendzonga views from the terrace. Prayers are held at 6am and 3pm.

  • Sights in Kalimpong

    Deolo Hill

    On a clear day, the morning views of Khangchendzonga from this hilltop park, about 500m higher than the town centre, are simply superb. After savouring the views you can have breakfast (8.30am to 11am) at the Deolo Tourist Lodge here, and then walk down to Kalimpong via Dr Graham’s Home. It's a 9km walk or drive from the town centre; a one-way taxi costs around ₹300.

  • Sights in Darjeeling

    Japanese Peace Pagoda

    Perched on a hillside 2km south of the town centre, the gleaming white, 28m-high Peace Pagoda is one of more than 70 pagodas built around the world by the Japanese Buddhist Nipponzan Myohoji organisation. During the drumming puja (prayers) sessions in the neighbouring temple, visitors are offered a hand drum and encouraged to join in the rituals. Getting here involves a pleasant walk along Gandhi and AJC Bose Rds, past the curiosity-inspiring Institute for Astroparticle Physics and Space Science.

  • Sights in Sunderbans Tiger Reserve

    Sajnekhali Ecotourism Centre

    This tree-shaded complex on the northern edge of the tiger reserve acts as the reserve's official gateway and contains the forest range office (where park fees are paid), the Mangrove Interpretation Centre (open 8.30am to 5pm) with exhibits and information on the Sunderbans, a watchtower, terrapin and crocodile hatcheries and the state government–run Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge. Recent tiger sightings are chalked on a blackboard in the range office.

  • Sights in Darjeeling

    Yiga Choeling Gompa

    Yiga Choeling Gompa, the Darjeeling area's most famous monastery, founded in 1850, houses up to 40 monks of the Gelugpa school. The serene temple has wonderful old murals and enshrines a 5m-high statue of Jampa (Maitreya; ‘Future Buddha’) and 300 beautifully bound Tibetan texts. It's on the western edge of Ghum, 6km south of Darjeeling: from Ghum station, walk 100m west along the main road towards Darjeeling, turn left at the sign for the monastery and go 600m.

  • Sights in Darjeeling

    Himalayan Tibet Museum

    This well-thought-out museum (one large room) is a good, colourful introduction to Tibet and its culture. The attractive displays introduce the Dalai Lama, stupas, and Tibetan religion, script, medicine, history and geography with just the right amount of information to avoid overload. Exhibits include fine thangka (Tibetan cloth paintings), a 3D map of Tibet and a sand mandala (a visual meditation aid symbolising the universe).

  • Sights in Up the Hooghly

    Hanseswari Temple

    About 6km north of Bandel, Bansberia is home to the imposing Hanseswari Temple, devoted to an avatar of the goddess Kali. With 13 pinnacled sikharas (Hindu temple-spires) it looks like something you’d expect to see in Moscow. Within the temple premises is the small but elegant terracotta-tiled Vasudev Temple, which resembles the famous terracotta temples of Bishnupur.

  • Sights in Up the Hooghly

    Hooghly Imambara

    Between Chinsurah and Bandel, you can climb the lofty clock tower of the romantically crumbling Imambara, which has breathtaking views of the Hooghly River and houses a giant mechanical clock. The building was inaugurated in 1861 as a centre for learning and worship, and its grand Indo-Saracenic profile offers some very interesting photo ops.