West Bengal has been looming high in my mind for quite some time. For reasons that are more than many; a trip being the foremost of them all. So while I sit down to write a story on West Bengal, what better way than taking the same road like our previous 5 Senses trips. And when it’s about this state, I couldn’t help but start with the ears (no pun intended).
Thus, I start by writing of…
Of Baul iktaras and Rabindra Sangeet.
West Bengal is no place for any Skullcand(ies) or Senheisser(ness). It’s a place so brimming of musical heritage that music is, literally, in the air. Baul singers come in hordes to be a part of Kenduli Mela and Paush Mela in West Bengal. With hair that is often braided, tulsi (basil) bead necklaces, saffron robes and iktaras, Baul singers are a fascinating lot. And then, there’s Shanti Niketan’s Sangeet Bhavan, a must visit if Rabindra Sangeet is what you’re looking for.
Of the wind that smells of Sheuli Phool, Malda Mangoes and Randhuni.
Walking down the bylanes of district Malda in West Bengal, a certain sweet tinge in the wind will assail you. Trace it and you’ll end up in the the mango groves of the world famous Malda mangoes. To make it more enchanting, you’ve the very fascinating aroma of randhuni and sheuli phool (night Jasmine flowers). Much like celery seeds, randhuni seeds are the secret of that special twist in West Bengal’s cuisine. As of sheuli phool, it blooms in the state in sudden, more than welcome white bursts around Durga Puja, with a smell that you’ll never forget.
Of the sights that promise eastern Himalayas, Victoria Memorial, Sunderbans and more.
Open your eyes to the largely uncommercialised and strangely fascinating eastern stretch of the Himalayas. Though Victoria Memorial and Shanti Niketan are the great, much known gems of West Bengal, go trekking on the Sundakfu trail to see a side that you hadn’t imagined. If going off the telecom network route doesn’t interest you, a rendezvous with the Bengal tiger at Sunderbans certainly will. Plus, there’s one thing from West Bengal that you can’t resist from watching – the classics of Satyajit Ray.
Of a cuisine that resembles multi cuisine.
If there’s one state in India that’s clearly in love with its cuisine, it’s West Bengal. Take your pick from kosha mangsho and luchi, mix veg chorchuri, chingri maacher malai curry, macher matha dal, puchkas and more. You might even find the solution to the never ending tussle between Hyderabad and Kolkata over biryani. Play the judge and tell India who wins? Let your taste buds decide. Here’s the list of Kolkata’s best local food joints for some help.
Of the really touching fabrics!
Those rich, essentially West Bengal saris, famously known as tant and baluchari saris, should be tucked in your bags when you leave from West Bengal. More of a matter of pride for the weavers of the state, both tant and baluchari are the great loves of every fashionista. So much so, that a huge number of saris are exported every year. And no, these aren’t the ones that are arduous to put on. Tant is essentially woven out of cotton threads and is surprisingly lightweight. To add more to West Bengal’s touch, it’s one of the most hospitable places in India too. Touched yet?
Now, as I put my itinerary for West Bengal in place, you might as well pack your bags too. For any suggestions, tips or anything, write down a comment right here. Till then, happy travelling.
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