India is a fascinating country of a thousand different identities. It is so vast and varied that discovering them all requires several trips – or one very long one. Today we will be taking you to West Bengal. The Indian province is home to Darjeeling, a little town of global renown thanks to its incomparable tea.
West Bengal is located in East India on the border with Bangladesh. Visitors are guaranteed a unique, timeless experience due to the incredible variety of landscapes and atmospheres.
The main metropolis in West Bengal is the renowned city of Calcutta. It is considered to be the country’s cultural capital and the birthplace of many artists and intellectuals. This hub is a blend of contrasts, and surprises await at every turn. As the third-biggest city in India with a population of 4.5 million people, everywhere in Calcutta buzzes with life everywhere and all the time. The thousands of intermingling pedestrians, the unbelievable number of diverse vehicles constantly rumbling by, and the stark signs of poverty can be found alongside stunning examples of architecture – although many buildings are dilapidated. This is not a city to be visited, but rather a place in which to immerse yourself. Explore its mazes of streets and admire the countless colors of its inhabitants’ clothing…
Delicious tea in a magical setting
Darjeeling is a village perched at more than 6,500 feet of altitude in the Himalayan foothills offering breathtaking views over the mountain range. The easiest access is either by road, or on the beautifully quaint steam locomotive known at the Toy Train. It slowly snakes its way up the slopes leaving its passengers with unforgettable memories.
Upon arrival, the tea plantations stretch as far as the eye can see. The tea bushes are organized into gardens, with each having its own plants and production methods. You can visit the plantations, and even help harvest the tea leaves depending on the season. The first harvest takes place every year in late March. This is when the temperature rises and the days grow longer, after the tea bushes have hibernated for five months. The first shoots are delicately picked in a process known as the first flush. The result is a light, elegant tea offering an exquisite taste and fresh, vegetal, and slightly spicy notes. Darjeeling is often referred to as the “champagne of teas” thanks to its delicate character. It can be enjoyed on its own in order to experience the full potential of its sophisticated aromas. Other harvests follow throughout the year based on the seasons.
From the city and the mountains to the forest
West Bengal is known for its crafts such as canvases, silks, saris, and objects made with rosewood and sandalwood. But visitors will especially be impressed by the incredible harmony between its rich plant and animal life.
Those looking to dive into the heart of nature should head to the Sunderbans Reserve, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on the Ganges delta, it offers a combination of land and water. Visitors will find one of the world’s biggest mangrove forests (swamplands), as well as aquatic mammals, birds, monkeys, deer, and reptiles. And of course the renowned Bengal tiger, an increasingly endangered species whose cause is supported by Kusmi. The reserve can also be explored by boat for an even better experience.
Are your bags already packed? Perfect! Now you just have to wait for the end of the monsoon season. Don’t forget your camera – you won’t believe your eyes!