10 less known amazing facts on West Bengal
Marked by distinctive geographical locations and rich culture as well as heritage, West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India with the scenic beauty of Darjeeling’s hill stations to Sundarbans’s exotic mangrove surrounded by Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh as its border.
West Bengal is also considered the hub of several political revolutions and a doorway to European education. However, there are still lesser-known yet amazing facts about the state.
To know what they are, keep on reading.
- The former capital of British India
Kolkata (then Calcutta) was the first capital of British India. The first governor-general of colonial India, Sir Warren Hastings transferred all important offices to Calcutta from Murshidabad in 1772 after British Raj took over the Mughal in India.
For the convenience of the Calcutta port and other favourable geographical locations that benefited the British rulers, the offices were shifted to Calcutta. Following that the construction of railways started and the Grand Trunk Road which connected Calcutta to Peshawar (now in Pakistan) was completed which resulted in the development of business and industry.
Later, in 1911 the capital of India was moved to Delhi.
2. The Land of Renaissance in India:
Bengal is called as the Land of Renaissance for its contribution to several social reformation and enlightenment of the masses. Many illustrious personalities belonged to Bengal who actively contributed to the freedom fights and brought about a social and cultural change in society for the better. Some of the eminent personalities are Subhash Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, Raja Rammohun Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar to name a few.
Bengal was also considered the doorway to European education. The Asiatic Society in Calcutta founded by Sir William Jones in 1784 aimed at serving as a fountainhead to constitute all literary and scientific activities and also supported the promotion of Western culture in India.
3. Oldest educational institutes in India:
West Bengal being a hub of educational reformation and an intellectual centre has the oldest colleges and universities in the state. For instance, Serampore University of West Bengal ranks first in the list of oldest universities in India. This 202-year-old institution was the first to be granted the status of a university in the country.
The second oldest university in India also belongs to the state of West Bengal. Calcutta University is in the second rank in the list of the oldest universities in India which has garnered accreditation from several educational giants and is affiliated to UGC, NAAC, etc. Calcutta University has a list of notable alumni including Subhash Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Jagadish Chandra Bose, and others. Nobel prize winner economist Amartya Sen has had been a student of the university himself.
The first Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) of India was also founded in Kharagpur, West Bengal. IIT’s are known to be the leading institution in promoting science and technology, not only in India but around the world.
4. Largest museum and library in India:
The National Museum of Kolkata founded in 1814 is the largest and oldest museum in India and the Asia-Pacific region of the world.
The National Library of India, also located in Kolkata is the largest in the country.
5. The largest producer of rice:
West Bengal is a leading state in the domain of rice cultivation. India is one of the largest rice producers, it gets most of its rice production from West Bengal. The presence of the Ganges delta and high temperature and heavy rainfall in the summer as well as the monsoon season provide ideal conditions for rice cultivation in West Bengal.
5.First underground metro in India:
Did you know the first underground metro railway of India was planned and operated in Kolkata, then Calcutta of West Bengal? The first metro city of India has advanced metro connectivity across the northern and southern parts of the city. Among all the metro cities, Kolkata provides the cheapest metro transportation since its inception.
Recently, the state government has also announced the launch of East-West metro connectivity which helps the daily commuters as well as the tourists to reach their desired locations within a short time and with utmost comfort.
7. Only operating tram services in India
The oldest running electric tram system in India as well as the whole of Asia is in Kolkata which adds to the state’s rich culture and heritage. Since 1902, the tram services have been operated across the city, though many other cities such as Chennai, Mumbai, Kerala, Patna among others have shut down their tram services due to traffic congestion.
Many tourists come to Kolkata to experience the ride of the heritage tram and relive the age-old charm of the snail-paced transportation which trails across the City of Joy.
8. Highest railway station in India:
Ghum railway station in the hilly region of West Bengal’s northern part of Darjeeling is famous for being the highest railway station in India. The Darjeeling toy train service spreads across from Siliguri to Darjeeling and is operated by Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
It is one of the greatest tourist attractions in the Darjeeling region as it offers a slow train ride along with the scenic beauty of Kanchenjunga.
9. The Great Banyan Tree
The oldest Banyan tree to exist in the world resides in the Shibpur Botanical Garden of Howrah, West Bengal. The Great Banyan Tree is believed to be almost 250 years old. Many travel books from the 19th century have had a reference to the tree.
The large size of the tree and the great number of aerial roots that grow from the branches and spread vertically to the ground makes it appear like a dense forest rather than as an individual tree. The sight of this magnificent element of nature is an attractive point to many nature-loving tourists visiting West Bengal.
10. Third largest cricket stadium in the world:
After Sardar Patel Stadium in Gujarat and Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia, Kolkata’s Eden Gardens is the third largest cricket stadium in the world and the second-largest as well as the oldest stadium in India.
This stadium has witnessed several iconic matches including the Cricket World Cup finals.
These are some of the lesser-known amazing facts about West Bengal. The beautiful charm of heritage and history will be the perfect tourist destination for your next short trip. Besides all this, West Bengal is well-known for its variety of food and mouth watering sweets.