West Bengal, stretching from the Himalayas to the seas, offers a remarkable range of destinations and experiences within a single state. It is a land of contrasts—in climate, vegetation, scenery and landscape.
It has always been a traveller’s delight as there are fantastic trips set around the misty and romantic hill stations of Kalimpong and Mirik, diverse wildlife and verdant tea gardens of the Dooars, historical monuments and temples of Murshidabad and Bishnupur, wide and splendid beaches of Digha and Mandarmoni and the lush forested islands and meandering rivers of Sunderbans—destinations that are great revelations.
The Government of West Bengal is aiming at making tourism more sustainable by offering an authentic travel experience that is conscious of conservation values and reflects community conscience.
In order to promote rural tourism, ecotourism and cultural tourism, the Government of West Bengal has created a Homestay policy to promote the rich culture and ethnic diversity of the state through community based tourism, ensuring equitable sharing of benefits to the local communities. As an implementation of this policy, the Village Eco Tourism project has developed 12 Blue Homestays in the Dooars area, including Alipurduar, essentially for tribal families for augmentation of alternative livelihood.
Cultural Tourism is helping Bengal go global. Several destination-specific cultural events like the Bishnupur Music Festival are being created to familiarise tourists with local traditional music and culture, promote local crafts and increase visibility of local artisans. In order to promote local craftsmanship, a Rural Craft Hub has been established in Panchmura where tourists can see the local terracotta artisans at work, participate in terracotta workshops and learn the history of the craft and associated rituals.
Blue Homestays in the Dooars area to promote rural tourism.
Bishnupur Music Festival to promote cultural tourism.
Rural Craft Hub n Panchmura to promote local crafts.
Sunderbans Tiger Reserve to promote wildlife tourism.
Tea gardens in Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling to promote tea tourism.
The biggest delta of the world—Sunderbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its mangrove forests showcase highest mangrove diversity and are the only mangrove tiger land of the planet. The Sunderbans Tiger Reserve Management and the WWF India West Bengal State Office has taken special steps to find out ways and means for sustainable development of several villages with the help of local dynamic young men. The positive effects of ecotourism have earned Sundarban the status of Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site and attract a good number of domestic and foreign tourists.
West Bengal is a treasure chest of indigenous handicrafts. Visiting the looms in Bankura where the saris are created is a treat and helps tourists delve deep into the roots of world famous Baluchari Saris. This experience based trip to the weavers colony is giving that exposure to the tourists and is helping the weavers to reap benefits from the increasing footfall and global exposure.
The tea gardens in Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling is promoting tea tourism. Staying in a heritage bungalow, at a home-stay feeling in a tea-village is a really pleasant experience. Trekking in the natural beauty of a lush tea garden, undertaking a tea-testing session, visiting a modern tea factory and even trying one’s hand at plucking tea leaves, an experience one cannot miss.
For more information: http://www.wbtourism.gov.in/