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India
East India

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The Victorian capital city of west Bengal that recently turned 300 years old, Calcutta, is the land of Tagore’s Gitanjali and Mother Teresa’s ‘Missionaries of Charity’. 

Across Howrah bridge this city is the nucleus of the eastern region, bustling with ceremony or ritual, or the more earthly vocation of soccer. The terracotta temples at Vishnupur, are a treat to behold.  

Shantiniketan, the Gurukula university, founded by Rabindranath Tagore as an ashram, and famous for its open air classes is now a cultural and creative centre of India .  

The Great Bengal tiger roams the marshy mangroves of Sunderbans, considered the largest estuarine forest in the world. (west Bengal tourism offers a 2 day trip in the company of armed rangers into the Sunderbans).  

Bihar in the foothills of the Himalayas is the land where Buddhism and Jainism sprouted and flowered. Buddhist Viharas (monasteries), and sacred pilgrimages like Bodhgaya where Buddha attained enlightenment; Nalanda the 5th century university of Buddhist learning and Rajgir (sacred for Jains as well), are the religious, cultural and archaeological sites in Bihar . Gaya near Bodhgaya is an important Hindu Pilgrimage.  

Along the south-eastern coast lies Orissa. The Capital city Bhubaneshwar is a city of temple, the renowned Lingaraj temple amongst them. An hour’s drive away, at Puri, every   year in June- July, the ‘Rath Yatra’ of Lord Jagannath is held.

The 13th century sun temple at Konarak, 65 kms away from Bhubaneshwar is an artistic wonder sculpted in the shape of a chariot drawn by seven horses. For three evenings in the last the surrounds come to life with the streams of music, the jingle of anklets and the beat of percussion, as experts of Indian dance perform at the famous annual Konarak Dance Festival.  

There are two famous beaches in Orissa other than the one at Puri Chandipur and Gopalpur on sea both fine beaches. Gopalpur provides very good facilities for surfing and sailing.  

Chilika in Orissa is India ’s largest salt water lake. The astounding variety of birdlife seen here includes the itinerant Siberian Crane.

A ‘toy train’ plies from New Jalpaiguri station up the hills amongst terraces of tea the Darjeeling . Mt. Everest and Kanchenjunga form an ideal backdrop for this land of the celebrated CTC and Darjeeling tea. Clamber atop a howdah and ride elephant-back into the marshes of the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary the main sanctuary for the Indian one-horned Rhinoceros.   Amongst the bamboo forests of Assam lies the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. Manas, besides being home to the rare golden langur, offers excellent facilities for trout fishing.  

400 species of Orchids bloom in the ever green hills of Sikkim , often called the last Shangri-La. A flower festival is held here every year in the months of April- May.  

Arunachal Pradesh on the north eastern border is the threshold to India . Here stands the majestic Tawang over 350 years old, the largest Buddhist monastery in India . Towards the eastern border with China and Burma , the Brahmaputra river forms a lake, a hole pilgrimage for Hindu’s Brahmakund.  

The clouds literally open up at Cherrapunji, in Meghalaya. Believed to be the wettest place in the world, it receives 45 inches of rain annually. Shillong, the capital perched at 4,900 ft is known as the ‘ Scotland of the East’. The inscription on the war memorial at Kohima in Nagaland reads, “When you go home, tell them of us and say, For your tomorrows we gave our today.” 

Trade goes don briskly at the women’s market in lmphal, the capital of Manipur. There is a museum here which displays tribal artifacts. Further to the south lies Mizoram, a mountainous terrain, and cut into deep gorges by the rain fed rivers.

Tripura’s legacy of craft exctica is evident at the exquisitely crafted Ujjayant Palace and the Neer Mahal in capital Agartala. 67 kms away, at Udaipur , the ancient capital, are the ruins of the Tripura Sundari temple.

In the small state of Manipur, there is a wonderful floating sanctuary on the Logtak lake, the Keibul Lamjao National Park , home ht the rare Thamin deer.  

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