Every part of India is replete with either ancient and recent history or brimming with natural beauty. The eastern part of India comprising of the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand take us back to the ancient traditions of learning in our country. These states have been home to great social and religious reformers who have attracted the attention of the entire world with their understanding of human nature and values. A journey through these states gives an interesting experience of witnessing the country’s highly enlightened past, whether it is in the field of learning, religion or the great temple architectures. There are sea beaches, lakes, waterfalls, national parks and collieries too.
The places worth visiting in West Bengal are Kolkata, Mayapur, Sundarbans, Digha, Bakkhali, Vishnupur, Mayapur, Darjeeling, Mirik and Kalimpong.
Kolkata (Calcutta)- Journey through Kolkata, the largest metropolis in India, is really an amazing, interesting
experience as you pass through the hustle-bustle of modern life amidst the huge British era buildings. World famous personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Subhas Chandra Bose and many other artistes and reformers lives here. While in Kolkata visit Dakshineshwar Kali Temple ( where Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Guru of Swami Vivekananda, stayed as preist to the deity), Belur Math (set up by Swami Vivekananda), the majestic Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge, National museum (largest in India), Botanical garden (world’s largest/oldest banyan tree), Alipore zoo and Birla Mandir.
Kolkata is a heaven for shoppers as you can buy artistic handicrafts and handloom items at reasonable rates. Garia haat and Bada Bajar are famous shopping areas. There are innumerable mouth watering street food too, again quite cheap.
Shantiniketan- Shantiniketan is the site of the international University set up by the great poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The place is adorned by splendid sculpture, murals and paintings by Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose and others. Festivals accompanied by songs, dance and drama are held here throughout the year.
Mayapur- Mayapur was home to Chatainya Mahaprabhu, the inspirer of the Krishna consciousness throughout the world. The temple built here by ISKCON has a truly calm, divine effect on visitors.
Vishnupur- Vishnupur is famous for temples and terracotta items.
Wildlife- Sundarbans are evergreen mangrove forests where you can easily sight tigers, crocodiles and dolphins. Jaldapara Sanctuary houses single horned Rhinos besides other wildlife.
Sea beaches- Digha and Bakkhali are beautiful calm sea beaches on the Bay of Bengal.
Hill Stations- Darjeeling, Mirik and Kalimpong are picturesque hill stations of WB.
When to visit- October to March is the best time to visit West Bengal. The grand Durga Puja celebrations are held in October. December-January witnesses large Book fairs, handloom fairs, trade fairs etc. If you are a plant/flower enthusiast do visit the amazing annual flower show held during January-February. (All in Kolkata).
March to June is the best time for the Hill stations.
Orissa is famous for ancient Temples, lakes, siver filigree, handloom and appliqué work. The places of tourist attraction in Orissa are- Bhubaneshwar, Konark, Puri, Dhauli, Udaigiri, Khandagiri, Ratnagiri and Chilka Lake.
Bhubaneshwar- The capital of Orissa, Bhubaneshwar is the ancient temple city of India, which once had more than 2000 temples. Relics of many ancient temples can be seen all over the city, the most elegant one being the Lingaraja Temple.
Dhauli- Dhauli is a picturesque Buddhist destination situated at the foot of Dhauli hill. The Buddhist Stupa in Dhauli is among the many stupas that Emperor Ashoka had built to spread the message of Lord Buddha. This place still retains the major edicts engraved on a mass of rock. There is also the all white Peace Pagoda or the Vishwa Shanti stuopa built by the Japanese in 1972.
Puri- Puri is famous for the Lord Jagannath Temple where the famous annual Rathyatra is held in the month of June-
July. Puri’s sea beach on the Bay of Bengal attracts sea lovers. The sand sculptures made live by artistes on the beach is amazing.
Konark- The 13th century Sun Temple is an awesome example of India’s ancient temple architecture and philosophy. The sea beach at Konark is beautiful but dangerous.
Udaigiri and Ratnagiri- These are caves used as monasteries by Buddhist monks.
Khandagiri- Khandagiri caves are sculpted caves used as residential blocks by Jain monks in the 17th century.
Chilka Lake- The brackish water Chilka Lake attracts a lot of migratory birds.
When to visit- October to March is the best time to visit Orissa.
Bihar has both religious and historical importance as Lord Buddha ( founder of Buddhism), Lord Mahavir (founder of Jainism) and Guru Gobind Singh (10th Sikh Guru) were born and lived here. The places of interest in Bihar are- Patna, Rajgir, Nalanda,Deoghar, Vaishali, Kushinagar, Bodhgaya and Pawapuri.
Patna- Patna is one of the oldest cities, known as Patliputra in ancient India. The famous spots in Patna are- Har Mandir Takht (built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, it contains the belongings of Guru Gobind Singh), Golghar ( built in 1780, a huge granary for the British army), Kumhrar (has ruins of ancient Patliputra), Sher Shah Suri Masjid, Pathar ki Masjid (built by son of Jehangir on the bank of Ganga), Sadaquat ashram (India’s 1st President Dr. Rajendra Prasad lived here after retirement), Patna museum, Jalan Museum and Sonepur (Cattle fair).
Rajgir-Rajgir is a scenic place, situated in a valley, 15 km from Nalanda. It is a small hill town where Lord Buddha and
Lord Mahavir spent some time. Places of interest in Rajgir are- Jarasandh Ka Akhara (Bhim & Jarasandh fought one of the Mahabharat battles here), Jivakameavan Garden ( Lord Buddha got his wound dressed here by the physician Jivak), Cyclopean wall ( a 40 km long wall that encircles Rajgir in the pre-Mauryan period), Ajatshatru Fort ( built in 6th century), Vishva Shanti Stupa ( has to be reached by ropeway, being located on a hill), Venu van, Karanda tank, Bimbisar jail, Jain temple, hot springs at the foot of Vaibhav hill, Pippala cave, Swarna Bhandar and Gridhkuta.
Nalanda- Nalanda is one of the most famous ancient place of learning, the most ancient university of the world, found
in the 5th century AD. Ruins of the university can be seen in Nalanda.
Deoghar- One of the 12 Jyotirlingams (Shiva temple) of India, Baidyanath Dham, is in Deoghar.
Vaishali- Lord Mahvira was born in Vaishali and Lord Buddha preached his last sermon here. There are stupas and temples in the city. The famous Ashoka Pillar is in Vaishali.
Kushinagar- This is the place of Lord Buddha’s Mahaparinirvan or death.
Bodhgaya- Lord Buddha attained enlightenement under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya.
Pawapuri- Pawapuri is a Jain pilgrimage, 38 km from Rajgir. Lord Mahavir had his last breath here and was cremated here around 500 BC.
The places of interest in Jharkhand are- Parasnath, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad and Ranchi.
Parasnath- Parasnath is a Jain pilgrimage which has 24 Jain temples for each of the Jain Tirthankars. Temple
dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar, Parshvanath, is on the highest peak, where pilgrims need about three hours to climb.
Hazaribagh- Hazaribagh has a wildlife sanctuary which houses wild boar, leopard, Nilgai and birds. Other sight seeing places here are Canari Hill, Rajrappa falls, Surajkund hot spring and Palamau National Park.
Dhanbad- The richest mineral wealth of India is in and around Dhanbad. The Collieries and dams are worth visiting in Dhanbad.
Ranchi- Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, is a city full of waterfalls, lakes, hills, forests and temples.
When to visit- Best time to visit Bihar and Jharkhand id from October to March.