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Cities in West Bengal

About West Bengal

Bengal is situated in the alluvial plain of the Ganga. After independence from the British, Bengal was also divided into west and east. The west became the state of West Bengal, which is now a part of India and the east became East Pakistan and later Bangladesh. The land was divided on the basis of the religion of the people. The region where there was a majority of Hindus became a part of India and the region that had a majority of Muslims, became Pakistan. As in the case of Palestine, dividing the country and its people on the basis of their religion, was an unfortunate experience for India.

From ancient times to the Middle Ages, Buddhism was the main religion in Bengal. Today Buddhist ruins can still be found in Bangladesh. In the 12th century Bengal was taken over by the Hindu Sena dynasty. In the 13th century it came under Muslim rule. Even though the ruler was a Muslim, the citizens were steeped in Hindu culture, which is evident from the Bengali-type Hindu temples found in every nook and corner of West Bengal. West Bengal unlike Orissa, is located in the Delta plains and is not rich in stone for construction purposes. As a result, Bengali houses and temples were made of bricks. To make the temples monumental, raw clay panels were moulded, baked in the kiln and used as decorative cladding over brick walls. This is a unique terracotta style seen only in West Bengal. It is very similar to the Persian (Iran) style of using coloured tiles on walls, because they too lacked natural building stone. Unlike the temples in Orissa, Bengali temples are small and cannot be called very grand, but they reflect the Bengali lifestyle and are appealing structures. Vishnupur with its varied and beautiful terracotta and laterite temples, is a treasure trove of Bengali temples.

In the 18th century, when the British founded the East India Company they made Kolkata (Calcutta) their headquarters. Kolkata (Calcutta) was the capital of British India until they shifted their capital to Delhi. The British built many buildings here and left behind an architectural legacy. Shantiniketan, the university with its unique educational technique started by the first Nobel laureate in Asia, Rabindranath Tagore, is also situated here.

Tagore's open-air university, Shantiniketan.
Fateh Khan's mausoleum with a Bangaldar root, Gaur.
Houses with Bangaldar roofs, Ghurisa.
The new city of Kolkata(calcutta).
A close-up of the eaves of the Gangeshwara Temple, Baranagar.