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Thu, 21 Jun 2018      
West Bengal is a state in eastern India. With Bangladesh, which lies on its eastern border, the state forms the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. To its northeast lie the states of Assamand Sikkim and the country Bhutan, and to its southwest, the state of Orissa. To the west it borders the states of Jharkhand and Bihar, and to the northwest, Nepal.
Remnants of civilisation in the greater Bengal region date back 4,000 years, when the region was settled by Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic peoples. The exact origin of the word Bangla or Bengal is unknown, though it is believed to be derived from the Dravidian-speaking tribe Bang that settled in the area around the year 1000 BC. After the arrival of Indo-Aryans, the kingdom of Magadha was formed in 7th century BC, consisting of the Bihar and Bengal regions. It was one of the four main kingdoms of India at the time of Mahavira and the Buddha, and consisted of several Janapadas. During the rule of Maurya dynasty, the Magadha Empire extended over nearly all of South Asia, including Afghanistan and parts of Persia under Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC.


West Bengal is on the eastern bottleneck of India, stretching from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. The state has a total area of 88,752 square kilometres (34,267 sq mi).The Darjeeling Himalayan hill region in the northern extreme of the state belongs to the eastern Himalaya . This region contains Sandakfu (3,636 metres/11,929 feet)—the highest peak of the state. The narrow Terai region separates this region from the plains, which in turn transitions into the Ganges delta towards the south. The Rarh region intervenes between the Ganges delta in the east and the western plateau and high lands . A small coastal region is on the extreme south, while the Sundarbans mangrove forests form a remarkable geographical landmark at the Ganges delta.

Darjeeling is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal . It is the headquarters of Darjeeling district , in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya at an average elevation of 6,982 ft (2,128 m). During the British Raj in India, Darjeeling's temperate climate led to its development as a hill station (hill town) for British residents seeking to escape the heat of the plains during the summers, becoming known as the Summer Capital.
Tiger Hill:
The highest spot in the area at 2590m, Tiger Hill is near Ghoom, about 11km from Darjeeling. The hill is famous for its magnificent dawn views over Kanchenjunga and other eastern Himalayan peaks. On a clear day even Mount Everest is visible. Every day a large convoy of battered Land Rovers leaves  Darjeeling at 4.30am, which means that in the smaller lodges you get woken up at this time every day, whether you like it or not. It can be very cold and very crowded at the top but coffee is available. There is a view tower. Halfway down the hill a temple priest causes a massive traffic jam by anointing the steering wheel of each vehicle for the return trip. Many take the jeep one way and then walk back - a very pleasant two hour trip.
Kanchenjunga Views:
At 8598m, this is the world's third highest mountain. From Darjeeling, the best uninterrupted views of it are from Bhan Bhakta Sarani. The name Kanchenjunga is derived from the Tibetan Khang (snow), chen (big), dzong (fortress or treasury) nga (five) - big five peaked snow fortress, or big five peaked treasury of the snow.
Senchal Lake :
Close to Tiger Hill is Senchal Lake, which supplies Darjeeling with its domestic water. It's a particularly scenic area and popular as a picnic spot with Indian holiday-makers.
Bhutia Busty Gompa:
Not far from Chowrasta is this colourful monastery, with Kanchenjunga providing a spectacular backdrop. Originally a branch of the Nyingmapa sect's Phodang Monastery in Sikkim, it was transferred to Darjeeling in 1879. The shrine here originally stood on Observatory Hill. There's library of Buddhist texts upstairs which houses the original copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Ghoom Gompa:
More correctly known as Yogachoeling Gompa, this is probably the most famous monastery in Darjeeling and is about 8 km south of town, just below Hill Cart road and the train station near Ghoom. It enshrines an image of the Maitreya Buddha. Foreigners are allowed to enter the shrine and take photographs. As Ghoom is frequently swathed in mists, and the monastery is old and dark, it is often affectionately called Gloom monastery
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park:
This zoo was established in 1958 with the objectives of study, conservation and preservation of Himalayan fauna. The animals are well cared for by dedicated keepers. To protect and breed the dwindling stocks of wild animals, to educate the public and instill in them a sense of the worth of these wonderful creatures, it is necessary to keep them in pseudo-natural habitats. The zoo houses India's only collection of Siberian tigers and some rare species, such as the red panda and the Tibetan wolf.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) & Museums :
Entered through the zoo, on Jawahar Rd West about two km from the town, the HMI runs courses to train mountaineers, and maintains a couple of interesting museums. The Mountaineering Museum contains a collection of historic mountaineering equipment, specimens of Himalayan flora and fauna and a relief model of the Himalaya. The Everest Museum next door traces the history of attempts on the great peak. Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who conquered Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953, lived  in Darjeeling and was the director of the institute for many years. He died in 1986 and his statue now stands beside cremation spot just above the institute.

The nearest airport to Darjeeling is Bagdogra about 94-96 kms away from Darjeeling. There are direct flight connections with Delhi, Calcutta and Guwahati. Tourists heading for Darjeeling can get direct taxis/cabs to Darjeeling from Bagdogra or one can head towards Siliguri first and get a transport there.

Darjeeling is connected to Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan and all of its surrounding hills. The major access to Darjeeling is via Siliguri which is connected to all the major cities.

The closest Railway Station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) about 88 kms away from Darjeeling. It has direct railway connections with Calcutta, Delhi, Guwahati, Varanasi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and other major cities of India. Once in NJP one can avail of taxis directly to Darjeeling or take an auto-rickshaw or rickshaw upto Siliguri and thus proceed to Darjeeling by getting a taxi as mentioned above in "By Air".

Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas . It is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest in area after Goa . The thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and the east and Bhutan in the southeast. The Indian state of West Bengal borders Sikkim to its south. Despite its small area of 7,096  square kilometers (2,740 sq mi), Sikkim is geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas. The climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine. Kangchenjunga , the world's third-highest peak, is located on the border of Sikkim with Nepal. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination owing to its culture, scenic beauty and biodiversity.
The earliest recorded event related to Sikkim is the passage of the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche through the land in the 8th century. The Guru is reported to have blessed the land, introduced Buddhism in Sikkim, and foretold the era of monarchy in the state that would arrive centuries later. In the 14th century, according to legend, Khye Bumsa, a prince from the Minyak House in Kham in Eastern Tibet, had a divine revelation one night instructing him to travel south to seek his fortunes. His descendants were later to form the royal family of Sikkim. In 1642, the fifth-generation descendant of Khye Bumsa, Phuntsog Namgyal, was consecrated as the first Chogyal(king) of Sikkim by the three venerated Lamas who came from the north, west and south to Yuksom, marking the beginning of the monarchy.
The thumb-shaped state is characterized by wholly mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with an elevation ranging from 280 metres (920 ft) to 8,585 metres (28,000 ft). The summit of the Kangchenjunga is the highest point which falls on the border between Sikkim and Nepal. For the most part, the land is unfit for agriculture because of the precipitous and rocky slopes. However, certain hill slopes have been converted into farm lands using terrace farming techniques. Numerous snow-fed streams in Sikkim have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the state. These streams combine into the Teesta and its tributary, the Rangeet. The Teesta, described as the "lifeline of Sikkim", flows through the state from north to south.[citation needed] About a third of the land is heavily forested.
Rumtek Monastery and Dharma Chakra Center
Rumtek Monastery is situated on the opposite side of the Ranipul Valley at a distance of 24 kilometers from Gangtok. Rumtek Monastery is the seat of Gyalwa Karmapa- the head of the Kagyupa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The main structure however, is a recent one-it was built in the 1960's by the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa when he set up base in Sikkim after fleeing from authoritarian Chinese rule in Tibet.
Pemayangtse Monastery
Pemayangtse Monastery is situated at a distance of 112 kilometer from Gangtok. It is Sikkim's most important Gompa. Framed by snowcapped mountains Pemayangtse Monastery makes a stunning sight. It was built during the reign of the third Chogyal Chador Namgyal in 1705. Since then it was rebuilt many times. The main festival takes place in February.
Tashiding Monastery
Tashiding Monastery is located in West Sikkim at a distance of 145 Kilometers from Gangtok. Tashiding Monastery holds a strategic position on the top of a hill between Rathong and Rangit rivers. Tashiding Monastery has one unique characteristic: the monastery is gold topped. It is regarded as one of the holiest Buddhist Gompas in Sikkim.
The principal trekking area is the Dzongri area of West Sikkim. The trekking routes pass through beautiful villages.
Pelling, the laid back, scenic, but rapidly swelling hamlet is situated at 2,085 m above sea level about 2 km beyond Pemayangtse.  Pelling is famous for the magnificent view of the snow-capped mountains of Khangchendzonga. High above the forest covered hills, in an amphitheatre of cloud, snow and rock, the entire route from Yuksam over Dzongri La to the Rathong Glacier can be seen.
Kalimpong is a hill station in the Mahabharat Range (or Lesser Himalaya) in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located at an average elevation of 1,250 metres (4,101 ft). The town is the headquarters of the Kalimpong subdivision, a part of the district of Darjeeling. The Indian Army's 27 Mountain Division is located on the outskirts of the town.

The nearest airport is Bagdogra in West Bengal and is 124 kms (about 4 hrs drive) from Gangtok, which is connected, with all the major cities in India. You can also avail the helicopter service operated by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation daily from Bagdogra to Gangtok, which takes about 20 mins.

The nearest railway station is at New Jalpaiguri, which is about 125 kms from Gangtok(about 4 hrs). New Jalpaiguri is well connected with all the cities in India.

Gangtok is connected by road with Siliguri, Darjeeling and Kalimpong by the National Highway 31 A. There are regular Sikkim state transport buses between Gangtok and Siliguri.Private buses, jeeps and taxis can also be hired from Siliguri and Bagdogra.
The Buddhist Circuits are the Places of all High Significance Holy Sites of Buddhism ; where Lord Buddha was born, attained Enlightenment, preached first Sermon and reached Nirvana.
Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar are the primary pilgrimage places of Buddhist Circuits associated with the life and teachings of the Lord Buddha. There are numerous other sites where the Buddha and the saints that followed traveled during his life after his transformation, which are held in deep veneration. Visitors can travel through this Buddhist Circuit today, to savor the splendid beauty and great appeal of Buddhism.
Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Kapilavastu district of Nepal, near the Indian border. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi is said to have given birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who in turn, as the Buddha Gautama, gave birth to the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE. Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha, the others being at Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya, and Sarnath.

Lumbini has a good road network. There are several land routes that you may take from India to reach Lumbini. From Gorakhpur (India), there are several modes of land transport that take you across to Nepal and Lumbini in turn. From Sarnath and Benaras you may travel to Bahraich and via Nepalgunj reach Lumbini but this route is very long. There is another entry from Janakpur near Sitamadhi in Bihar. There are several passes that joins Nepal with Tibet and Mainland China. These roads are in terrible shape and can only be traversed by gas-guzzler SUVs.
Bodh Gaya or Bodhgaya is a city in Gaya district. in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous for being the place of Gautama Buddha's attainment of nirvana (Enlightenment).Historically, it was known as the Bodhimanda (ground around the Bodhi-tree), Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and Mahabodhi. The name Bodh Gaya did not come into use until the 18th century. The main monastery of Bodhgaya used to be called the Bodhimanda-vihara (Pali). Now it is called the Mahabodhi Temple.

Although Bodhgaya has no airport of its own, there is an airport in Gaya, which is 17 kms away from Bodhgaya. Most airlines from the important cities of India touch Patna, which is 135 kms from Bodhgaya.

The nearest railway station is also Gaya.Trains from all major cities of India stop at Gaya.Indian Railways has introduced a new train, Buddha Parikrama that caters to Buddhist spiritual tour by linking all the places associated with Buddha and Buddhism.

Bodhgaya is the main bus stop and is located near Sujata Bridge on the Falgu River on the northeastern edge of the town. The nearest transport hub is Gaya, a major point on historical Grand Trunk Road There are regular direct bus services from Gaya, Patna, Nalanda, Rajgir, Varanasi. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation run buses from Patna- Bodhgaya route twice a day.
Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Singhpur, a village one km away from the site, was the birth place of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Jain Tirthankar of the present age (Avasarpini), and a temple dedicated to him, is an important Jain pilgrimage.

The nearest airport to Sarnath is Varanasi, which is an important domestic airports in India. Nearly all public and private airlines operate regular flights to Varanasi connecting it to cities like: Delhi, Mumbai, Khajuraho. You may also approach Varanasi from Katmandu.

Sarnath lies only 10kms away from Varanasi by road. Varanasi as a major tourist destination and an important city in Uttar Pradesh is networked to a number of other important cities in India.

The nearest Railhead for Sarnath is also Varanasi, which is one of the main Railway Stations in the region. A large number of important trains link Varanasi to the rest of India.
Kushinagar, Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha died.

The nearest airport from Kushinagar is Varanasi, several airlines operate regular flights to connect Varanasi to Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Patna.

A good network of roads connects Kushinagar to other parts of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Gorakhpur (51 km), Sravasti (254 km), and Sarnath (266 km) and Agra (680 km) are linked to Kushinagar by road.

The nearest railway station from Kushinagar is Gorakhpur, which is an important railhead in Uttar Pradesh. Regular trains network Gorakhpur with major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi. One can reach Gorakhpur and Kushinagar in turn, from any part of the country by rail.
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