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West Bengal: Know About Its History, Culture And Current Facts

Indian State West Bengal

States and UTs

West Bengal: Know About Its History, Culture And Current Facts

The state through which the British gained a foothold in India has a rich history.

West Bengal is spread over an area of 88,752 sq. km.  It shares its borders with Sikkim, Assam, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand. It shares its international boundaries with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The total length of International borders is about 2,509 km.

West Bengal, along with Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, shares the maximum number of international boundaries (with 3 countries).

Quick Facts

  • Capital – Kolkata (earlier known as Calcutta)
  • Districts- 23
  • Population – 91,276, 115
  • Assembly seats – 295
  • Lok Sabha seats – 42
  • Rajya Sabha seats – 16
  • Literacy rate – 76.3%
  • Sex ratio – 950
  • Life expectancy – 70.2 years.
  • Infant mortality rate-31

Prafulla Chandra Ghosh was the first chief minister of the state which was created on 15 August 1947 when India achieved Independence. The current incumbent Mamta Banerjee belongs to the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC). She was sworn in on 27 May 2016. The current Governor of the state is Keshari Nath Tripathi.

History

Gangaridari Kingdom ruled over Bengal at the time of Alexander’s invasion. Later, Sasanka, who played a pivotal role in North-Eastern India in 17th century, became a king of Bengal. He was succeeded by Gopala, founder of the Pala Dynasty. It was then followed by the Sena dynasty, Muslim rulers from Delhi and the Mughal period.

The Battle of Plassey in 1757 changed the course of history when the English first gained a strong foothold in Bengal and India. Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the country’s capital during the British rule before it moved to Delhi. Bengal was divided into East and West Bengal after India achieved Independence. East Bengal is now known as Bangladesh.

State Exclusives

  • The state has given some great leaders like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Khudiram Bose.
  • Rabindranath Tagore and Rabindra Sangeet also come from the state.
  • Howrah Junction Railway Station is the busiest railway station of the country.
  • Kolkata Metro is the oldest metro in India.
  • The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways is a UNSECO World Heritage site.

Cultural Heritage

  • Bengali is the main language while English and Nepali are also spoken.
  • Durga Puja, Poila Baishakh, Kali Puja, Muharram and Eid ul-Fitr, Rathayatra are the most popular festivals in West Bengal.
  • Major dances of the state are Chhau and Ravindra Nritya.

(Read: Flavours of India: Bangaler Rasogolla and other Geographical Indications)

Tourism

Popular tourist attractions in the state include:

  • Victoria Memorial Hall
  • Eden Gardens
  • Indian Museum
  • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
  • Tiger Hill
  • Howrah Bridge
  • Peace Pagoda (Darjeeling)
  • Kalighat Kali Temple

Trade and industry

Economic activities of the state revolve around:

  • Agricultural produce like rice, pulses, wheat, oilseeds and potato
  • Silk, particularly the famous Murshidabad and Baluchari varieties
  • Jute
  • Coal

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