About East India
Calcutta, (now Kolkata), is the ideal base for a tour of East India. Tourists travel to Patna, or Varanasi, or Bhubaneshwar, using Kolkata as their starting point. However only a few take an extensive tour of West Bengal.
It would be best to take the night train to Malda, stay in the tourist lodge there, tour Gaur and Pandua and from there return by bus to Baharanpur in the south and stay at the tourist lodge there. A taxi from Baharanpur to visit Murshidabad and Baranagar is ideal. Since Baranagar is on the banks of the Bhagirathi river, one can go by boat and take a rickshaw from there, too. From Baharampur, go to Barddhaman and from there to Kalna and Guptipala. Bishunupur is two hours away by bus or taxi. Stay in the tourist lodge there and visit the terracotta temples by rickshaw. From here, Kolkata is four hours away by bus or train. If you take a taxi, you can also visit Atpur. The hotels in these places are very basic. High and medium range hotels are available only in Kolkata, which also has low budget hotels. Some of the quality hotels are the Oberoi Grand, Lytton Hotel and Fairlawn Hotel.
Sikkim is inviting for its cool, mountainous towns and its intriguing Buddhist gompas (monasteries). Foreigners can get a free 15-day permit from the District Magistrate’s office in Darjeeling or the Sikkim Tourism offices in Delhi, Kolkata and Siliguri. The easiest way to reach Sikkim is to fly from Kolkata to Bagdogra. Gangtok is a four-and-a-half-hour journey by road from the airport. Norhill Hotel, is one of the better quality hotels in Gangtok. Phodong, can be visited either by taxi, van or bus, but a trip to Pemayangtse will involve an overnight stay. Hotel Mount Pandim in Pemayangtse has rooms with spectacular views, but as there are no heaters, it is quite cold. From Gangtok, the gompas in Tashiding and a visit to Rumtek can be covered in the same trip.
Kalimpong and Darjeeling though similar to Sikkim, lie in West Bengal. Gangtok to Kalimpong is 3 hours by road and Kalimpong to Darjeeling two-and-a-half hours. Travel to Kathmandu is possible from Darjeeling via Siliguri. Visas can be obtained at the border. The journey takes 24 hours.
Flying from Delhi to Kolkata and visiting Varanasi, Khajuraho, Bodhgaya and Agra is a recommended, short-duration itinerary.
Surface transport will be necessary for visiting Buddhist sites. Fly to Patna from Kolkata or take a train (9 hours).
Stay in Hotel Pataliputra is advised. A trip to Vaisali takes two hours, while getting to Maner takes 45 minutes. A one-way trip to Bodhgaya is possible, but one has to pay the return fare too. It takes one and a half hours to get to Nalanda. Those who are interested in Jainism can visit Pavapuri. Pavapuri to Rajgiri is a 30-minute journey. Bodhgaya via Gaya will take about two hours. Here you can stay in Hotel Centaur Hokke in Rajgiri and go to Gaya by bus. Hotel Bodhgaya Ashok in Bodhgaya is recommended. Barabar Hills, can be visited from Gaya by taxi. You can also cross the border and enter Benares and visit Sasaram. If you cannot catch the one and only early morning train you will have to stay in an hotel. Since the bus services are bad, it is advisable to take a taxi from Bodhgaya to Benares.
Bhubaneshwar is the starting point of a tour of the architecture of Orissa (Middle Ages). The best option is to fly from Kolkata or take an overnight train (7 hours). Flying from Benares to Bhubaneshwar is also an option, but you cannot fly back. Stay at Kalinga Ashok, close to the railway station and temples. Oberoi Bhubaneshwar, a high class hotel, is far from the temples and therefore not convenient. Hire a rickshaw for a couple of days and see the temples at leisure.
Khandagiri and Udayagiri can be seen in a single trip. Rajgiri is two and a half hours away and Udayagiri is 30 minutes away. Take a bus to Konark and Puri, but if you wish to visit Hirapur, Dauli and Chaurasi, which are en route, hire a taxi. Hirapur is 10 km away and can be reached by bus. It is around 100 km to Konark. There are simple tourist bungalows or travellers’ lodges in Konark. If you stay overnight you can pray to the Sun God at dawn. Puri has good hotels, but non-believers are advised to just visit the place and catch the overnight train, back to Kolkata, since they are not allowed inside the temple.
You have to fly from Kolkata or from Kathmandu in Nepal, because the border between India and Bangladesh is closed.
Flying is a much easier option, because most of Bangladesh in the delta basin, is criss-crossed with tributaries. There are not many places to see and there are very few tourists. It is better to take a taxi from the Dhaka tourist office. Dhaka town can be seen by going around in a rickshaw or auto rickshaw and Sonargaon can be visited by taxi. Hotel Abakash is a good place to stay.
From Dhaka, fly to Syedpur and take taxis from there to Dinajpur and stay in hotel Al Rashid. One can take a bus trip to Kantanagar or walk the distance in an hour. You cannot get to the temple without a guide from the village. It is difficult to go from here to Paharpur.
From Jamalganj, the nearest station to the ruins, the view is incomparable, but the road is terrible. Instead, it is recommended that you go to Bogra, stay in Panjolan Hotel and take a trip to Paharpur. Bogra to Rajshahi is three hours by express bus. Panjolan Hotel is the best place to stay. Getting to Kusumbha, from here takes an hour-and-a half and Puthia is an hour away. You can relax in Puthia. Fly from Puthia to Dhaka. It takes 3 hours to get to Comilla, but there are no good hotels there. Take a rickshaw to see the ruins. From Comilla, either return to Dhaka or take the bus to Chittagong (4 hours), stay in Shaukat Hotel and fly back to Kolkata.