West Bengal

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Map of West Bengal (Source: India-WRIS)



This historical significance of this state is very important. At the time of Alexander invasion a powerful kingdom called Gangaridai ruled over Bengal. The ancient name of this state were Anga, Banga and Gauda. Maurya and Gupta dynasties ruled this state. In the first half of 17th century great king Sasanka played an important role in northeastern India. After the death of Sasanka, Bengal's people nominated the founder of Pal dynasty, the Gopal. The Palas were followed by the Sen dynasty. In the period of Laxman Sen Muslim invaded this state and established their rule. Bengal was ruled by several Muslim rulers and governors till the Mughal period in 16th century. After Mughals the history of modern Bengal begins with the advent of European and English trading companies. Battle of Palasy in 1757 changed the course of history when the English first gained a strong foothold in Bengal and India. From the middle of the 19th century Bengal became the leader of India. By virtue of western education, the region provided leadership to the whole of India in the social, educational and political fields. Bengal was the leading field in the freedom movement. A galaxy of great and farsighted leaders emerged here. In 1905 it was partitioned into two parts but people's growing movement under the auspices of Congress led to the reunion in 1911. India's National flag first hoisted in Calcutta. India's National Anthem and National Song was the contribution of this state. At the time of independence the state divided into two parts, West Bengal and great city of Calcutta became part of India and the remaining part goes to Pakistan as East Pakistan. In 1956 when the reorganisation of the state took place, some Bengali speaking areas of neighbouring states were merged with West Bengal. In 1971 the other part, East Pakistan, became Bangladesh, a sovereign state.


West Bengal the twelfth largest state in terms of area in Indian Union located in the eastern part of the country stretching from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. This state is bounded on the north by Sikkim and Bhutan, on south by Bay of Bengal, on east by Assam and Bangladesh and on the west by Orissa, Bihar and Nepal. West Bengal has four major geographical regions- the Chotonagpur plateau region in its northwestern parts, the Himalaya mountain region, the lower Gangetic plain region and the coastal belt. Bhagirathi, Mayurakshi, Damodar, Kangsabati, Teesta, Torsha, Jaldhaka, Mahananda, Subarnarekha and Rupnarayan are the main rivers of this state. There are forest areas in the southern part (Suderban), northern Tarai belt and in plateau area of the state.The climate of the state is hot and humid. The breeze is blowing from the sea, however, reduces the humidity. The entire state is belongs to a high rainfall region. Most of the rainfall brings by the southwest monsoon.


The state has international boundaries with Bangladesh in the east, Bhutan and Nepal in the north. The states with which West Bengal shares its boundary are Sikkim in the north, Bihar and Jharkhand in the west and Orissa in the south. The largest cities are Kolkata, Howrah, Asansol, Durgapur and Siliguri. Other important towns include Darjeeling, Kharagpur and Haldia. Kolkata is the state capital. Kolkata is amongst the largest metropolitan regions in the world.


The climate of West Bengal varies according to the location. It varies from moist-tropical in the south-east to dry tropical in the south west and from sub-tropical to temperate in the mountains of north. The climate is cooler in the northern mountains than in the southern plains. The temperature range is from well below freezing point in the hills during the winter to about 45°C in southern parts during the summer. The winter months are generally pleasant in the southern part of the state. Snowfall is limited to the Himalayan regions. The monsoon season lasts from June to September and brings heavy rain. The monsoon brings respite to the parched plains and means a bountiful harvest but they often cause floods and landslides. The winter months are from October to February.

Water Resources

The rivers in North Bengal viz. Teesta and Mahananda flow into Bangladesh were they finally create a huge river system along with the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. The rivers of the North and the Ganges are perennial rivers since they originate in the Himalayas. The important rivers in the plains of Bengal include the Ganges, Hooghly, Rupnarayan and Damodar. The plains of the Ganges and the other associated rivers form one of the most fertile regions in the world. The Ganges flows through the state at one of its narrowest points and flows into Bangladesh.


  • Agriculture
  • Industry
  • Mines & Minerals


Agriculture is the main base of the state's economy. Nearly three fourth persons of the state directly or indirectly involved in agriculture. This state occupies a leading position among the principal rice growing state in the country by contributing 15.3 per cent of the total production of the rice. Other important food crops are wheat, potato, vegetables, oil seeds etc. Major cash crops are tea, jute, tobacco and betel.


West Bengal is one of the industrially developed states in the country. West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), the state agency for promoting industrial development, provided loan to the industrial units. Besides alloy steel plant at Durgapur, there are two more steel plants, one at Durgapur and the other at Burnpur and many mini steel plants. Some of the major industries are engineering, automobiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aluminium, ceramics, leather, foot-wear, bonemetal, bicycle, jute, cotton, leather, tea, paper, glass, textiles, timber processing, fertiliser etc. There are Central Government undertaking factories like fertiliser, ship-building, ordnance, locomotive etc. Small-scale and village cottage industries occupy an important position in the state's industrial development. The handicrafts items of this state are world famous. It holds a good position in foreign exchange earnings. Some of the handicrafts items are wood carving, bamboo items, brass and copper items, ivory products, embroidery etc. Bengal sari is very popular in the country.

Mines & Minerals

West Bengal is enriched with various minerals particularly in the Chotonagpur plateau area. The state is endowed with coal, iron ore, china clay, mica etc. Raniganj is the oldest coal mines in the country.


  • Power
  • Transport
  • Education
  • Health
  • Telecommunication


Power in West Bengal is currently generated by the West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited, West Bengal State Electricity Board, Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation, Durgapur Project Limited, Dishergarh Power Supply Corporation etc.



Important railway junctions are Howrah, Sealdah, Asansol, Bandel, Bardhaman, Kharagpur and New Jalpaiguri.


International airport Dumdum is located near Kolkata. Other airports in the state are Bagdogra, Kalaikunda (Kharagpur), Panagarh (Bardhaman district), Malda, Barrackpore, Behala, Balurghat and Coochbehar.


Calcutta is the most important port followed by Haldia.


West Bengal has a number of tourist attractions, from the hill station of Darjeeling to the Sagar island in the confluence of the Ganga and Bay of Bengal. Some of the important tourist centres are Calcutta, Digha (Sea beach) at Medinipur district, Bakkhali Sea Resort and Sunderbans (famous for Royal Bengal Tiger and Crocodile project) at South 24-Pargana district, Bandel (Church) at North 24-Pargana district, Tarakeswar (pilgrim centre), Kamarpukur (birth place of Sri Ramakrishna) at Medinipur district, Gadiara (picnic spot) at Howrah district, Shantiniketan (work place of Rabindranath Tagore), Bakreshwar (pilgrim centre) at Birbhum district, Durgapur (industrial city) and Bardhaman at Bardhaman district; Mukutmanipur (dam & deer park), Bishnupur (ancient temples) at Bankura district, Ayodhya Hills at Purulia district, Murshidabad (historical palace & museum) at Murshidabad district, Gour and Pandua (historic town) at Malda district, Nawadweep and Mayapur (pilgrim centre) at Nadia district, Darjeeling, Mirik, Kalimpong, Kurseong, (famous for scenic beauty) at Darjeeling district, Jaldapara (wild reserve) and Dooars at Jalpaiguri district.

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