From the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, Eastern India consists of five states: Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Sikkim and West Bengal. Although economically less developed than other regions of India, Eastern India is culturally rich and perhaps the most welcoming to outsiders.
Forests abound in wildlife, breathtaking waterfalls and fascinating tribal culture.
You can discover the religious sites or enjoy some time at the beach in this state.
|West Bengal |
A state with some of the marvellous landscape features and cultural heritage.
Experience the natural beauty of the Himalayas with its valleys, forests and waterfalls.
A contrast with some of the oldest cave paintings in India and some of the fastest industrialising cities.
Bihar is often considered part of Eastern India because of its geography, but it has been included in the Plains to group it with Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, to which it is culturally closer.
Here are nine of the most notable cities.
- 2 Bhubaneswar — a temple city and capital of Odisha
- 4 Darjeeling — hill station and the tea capital of West Bengal
- 5 Jamshedpur — famous for park and cricket stadium, an industrial city
- 6 Kolkata (Calcutta) — also known as "City of Joy", the capital of West Bengal is one of the most populous cities in the world and the commercial hub of eastern India
- 1 Gorumara National Park, West Bengal — rolling grasslands and forest is rich with herbivores such as the Indian rhinoceros and elephants birds, reptiles and amphibians
- 2 Hazaribagh National Park, Jharkhand — similar to Betla National Park, the park has tigers, panthers and spotted deer. There are several towers from which tourists can view the beautiful and scenic surroundings as well as spot wildlife in their natural habitat
- 3 Kanger Ghati National Park, Chhattisgarh — a dense area with several waterfalls and limestone caves. Several species of animals and a wide tribal population are present in this beautiful park. The diversity of landscapes makes ideal habitats for many species. Wildlife includes tigers, langurs, sloth bears, lizards, snakes, peacocks and parrots.
- 4 Khangchendzonga National Park (Kangchendzonga National Park), Sikkim — there are many glaciers located in the park. Animals such as musk deer and snow leopards make their homes here
- 5 Nandankanan Zoological Park, Odisha — a zoo and botanical garden in the capital city (Bhubaneswar). It is home to white tigers and several endangered animals. In addition, one can visit several aquaria, a reptile house and the orchid house
- 6 Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal — the largest mangrove forest in the world, where you might even spot a Bengal tiger
Eastern India features Kolkata, once the capital of British India, and the temple cities of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Konark. The region stretches from the mountains to the coast, resulting in fascinating variations in climate. It is also the mineral storehouse of India, having the country's largest and richest mines.
Eastern India includes multiple states, and the locally spoken languages vary from one state to another. However, Hindi is used and understood widely, unless one is speaking to someone from a remote Benagli/Odiya/Sikkimese village. Bengali is the primary language in West Bengal. Odia (Oriya) is spoken in Odisha. Nepali is the preferred language in Sikkim. People of Gangtok and Darjeeling do understand Bengali and Hindi because these places are tourism destinations. English usage is limited mostly to the urban areas. A dialect of Hindi called Bhojpuri is widely used in Jharkhand.
'Namaste' or 'Namaskar' is the usual way of starting a conversation with someone. 'Bhaiya' or 'Dada' (only in Bengal) is the common way of addressing a man and 'Didi' is used to address a woman. 'Dhanyavad' (meaning 'thank you') is used at the end of any conversation.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU IATA) is the gateway to Eastern India. There are airports in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Siliguri, Durgapur, Bhubaneswar etc. Air connectivity is fair in this part of the country.
Howrah and Sealdah are two of the busiest railway stations in the world. Kolkata is very well connected to the rest of the country by the railways. Tatanagar (Jamshedpur), Rachi, New Jalpaiguri (Siliguri), Malda, Asansol, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Brahmapur, Jhadsuguda, and Sambalpur, are some of the most important railway stations of this region. Kolkata is also connected to Dhaka by rail and the train running between the two cities is called Maitree Express.
One might consider travelling by local trains which generally operate from Sealdah and Howrah stations. They serve as a quicker option of reaching suburban areas when compared to buses. However, one might come across huge number of passengers who are not always friendly in these trains. Generally, the trains are crowded while going towards Kolkata from 8AM to 11AM and from 4PM to 9PM while leaving Kolkata. That said, it sure is an experience to see the locals getting around and buy some snacks from the passing sellers.
All major cities and towns of Eastern India are well connected by roads and bus services are good. Each state has their own government-run bus services. Apart from this, there are private operators providing effective bus services all over the region. Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Durgapur, Gangtok, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Raipur, Ranchi and Siliguri are some of the major bus hubs in this region.
====From North-Eastern India====
Bus travel to some points in North-Eastern India is faster via Bangladesh (visas will be required for entry into Bangladesh as well as for re-entry into India). If you're heading to points in North-Eastern India (Tripura for example) beyond Bangladesh, then there is a regular bus service between Dhaka and Agartala, the capital of the Indian state of Tripura. Two BRTC buses leave daily from Dhaka and connect with the Tripura Road Transport Corporation vehicles, running six days a week with a roundtrip fare of 600 Bangladeshi takas. There is only one halt at Ashuganj in Bangladesh during the journey. Call ☏ +880 2 8360241 for schedule. Other entry points to North-Eastern India through Bangladesh are Hili, Chilahati / Haldibari and Banglaband border posts through Northern Bangladesh and Tamabil/Dawki border post for a route between Shillong (Meghalaya) and Sylhet in North-Eastern Bangladesh, and some others with lesser-known routes from north-eastern Indian regions. Although scheduled bus services to Shillong from Kolkata through Dhaka may not be available, you can get to those points via land routes going through Sylhet and then on to Tamabil–Dawki border outposts. Enquire at the Bus Service Counters for details.
Eastern India is diverse in terrain, from the Himalayan mountains of Sikkim and Darjeeling to the beaches of Digha and Puri and the tablelands of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The Chilika Lake in Odisha and the Sundarbans in West Bengal are some of the popular tourist spots in the region.
Besides the natural beauty, Eastern India boasts several historical and cultural sites, including the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, the terracotta temples in Bishnupur and the Jagannath Temple in Puri.
Kolkata is famous for its cuisine. The signature food item however would be roshogolla (rasgullah). Sandesh is a close second which is also a sweet. Kolkata is famous for its street food culture and one can find innumerable shops dotting the streets with various food items. Rolls (similar to taco but not exactly so), momos, chowmein, etc are commonly sold items. As Kolkata is home to India's largest ethnic Chinese community, Bengalis have a liking towards Chinese food but that is not authentic Chinese. They are Indianised version of Chinese foods and different from what you would find in China.
Bengali cuisine typically consists of rice, dal, fish curry, chicken curry, mutton curry, prawns, shukto, dorma, etc.
It is said that a trip to Kolkata remains incomplete if you do not try the Kolkata-style biryani. It is a combination of scented rice with piece(s) of chicken or mutton with potato and sometimes egg. Mishti doi (sweetened yogurt) is the favourite dessert in that region. One may also try other sweet items like pantua, chamcham, chhanabara, chhanaar-jilapi and jalebi. Fuchka is another very popular street food which should be tried. Jhal muri is spiced puffed rice. Shingara (also called samosa), gutki, dalpuri, kochuri, various kinds of chops are some of the best snacks of the region.
Cuisines of Odisha and Jharkhand are very similar to that of Bengal. However, Odia cuisine, especially from the sea-side region use salt water fish which is very nicely prepared and a must have. Lithi is one snack which is a must if you are in Jharkhand.
This is a major tea-growing area of very long standing, so take some time out to have tea from a roadside shop, as they very arguably make the best tea in the world.
In Sikkim, look for the mildly intoxicating tongba, a millet-brew.
Verify the hygiene of eateries, as food-borne illness is a major concern in this area.
- It is popular to take a trip to Nepal in order to enjoy the Himalayan mountains. Trains to the border are available from Kolkata.
- Bangladesh — There are numerous bus options between Eastern India and Bangladesh. The most common way is the regular comfortable air-conditioned buses from Dhaka to Kolkata via the Benapole border post.