West Bengal is a mosaic of the small-town and the sophisticated. A city with
a soul, Kolkata, is its cultural centre and still bears the imprint of its
Victorian past and the British Raj. The murky river Hoogly, its creaky trams, the
Victoria Memorial, and the world-renowned Eden Gardens cricket stadium areall
part of the State's famous heritage. Outside the city, Shantiniketan,
established in 1863, is possibly the most famous university town in the country.
Ititially associated with Nobel laureate, poet, novelist and playwright
Rabindranath Tagore, the complex has retained its prestige, but the area is now
a popular location for the holiday homes of the rich. Once a trade hub,
Murshidabad, a town on the banks of the Bagirathi is no longer a commercial
centre, but is remembered for its past. Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah's tomb at the
Khusbagh, or Garden of Happiness, is among the most visited monuments there. The
Gangetic delta in West Bengal is rich in plant and animal life. The Sunderbans,
which was declared a National Park in 1984, covers a stretch of mangrove swamp,
and a few islands and small rivers near the Bay of Bengal. Home to the Royal
Bengal Tiger, the Sunderbans have the largest tiger population in the country.
This is one of the three large national parks in the state - the other two being
Jaldapara and the Dooars.