7 Reasons to Visit the Princely State of Cooch Behar
Cooch Behar is a small town located in the Northern part of West Bengal. Coochbehar was once a princely state and holds a significant place in Indian History. The nearest railway station is that of New Coochbehar and the nearest airport is Bagdogra both of which are very well connected with the rest of the country. From these places, the rest of the journey can be continued approximately in 4 hours by road.
Here’s a list of the reasons why you should locate this small town on the map and plan your itinerary to this corner of West Bengal.
This town was once a princely state ruled by the Koch Dynasty who are an indigenous tribe of this part of Bengal. Surrounded by the states of Assam and the Country of Bhutan, this place was once a dominant ruling kingdom and a centre for strategic political activity. For the ones who do not know the last queen of Jaipur, Maharani Gayatri Devi was a princess of this kingdom. Cooch Behar became a district in the state of West Bengal in independent India and a part of the Indian Union only in the year 1950.
Cooch Behar Palace
Constructed by the then king Maharaja Nripendra Narayan in the year 1887, the Coochbehar Palace is a remarkable example of the classical Western style of architecture prevalent in most parts of British dominated Bengal. Also known as the Victor Jubilee Palace, it is built on the outlines of the Buckingham Palace, London. Most of the parts inside the palace is now a museum and houses all the artefacts and belongings of the royal family. Perfectly manicure lush green gardens now surround the entire palace thus making is wonderfully scenic.
The Madan Mohan Temple is the most visited and famous of all of the other temples located in and around Coochbehar. It is a beautiful white structure that is home to numerous other Hindu deities apart from Lord Krishna. Madan Mohan is another name of Lord Krishna. You can see the Bairagi Dighi located just opposite to the Madan Mohan Temple. Visit this place to feel the tranquillity and spiritual presence. Apart from this, there are other temples such as Baneswar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Ardhanariswar Temple, Madhupur Dham Temple that you may pay a visit to as well. Some of these temples are ancient and magnificent due to their simplistic but elegant architecture.
Water bodies are always a treat to the eyes. There are numerous lakes that accentuate the beauty of Coochbehar. “Dighi” is the word for lakes in the local dialect and therefore the names of these lakes always end with a dighi such as Sagar Dighi, Lamba Dighi, Bairagi Dighi, Lal Dighi etc. These lakes become home to many migratory birds during the winter and is thus a pleasant sight to watch.
The Raas/Raash Festival
The Raas or Raash festival or the Raash Mela is one of the main Hindu festivals of Cooch Behar. This festival is of historical significance and is celebrated in honour of Lord Krishna and Radha in the month of December with utmost grandiose. The Yatra (procession) is a significant part of the festival. It is somewhat similar to the Rath Yatra in Orissa. However, instead of a Rath (Chariot), the chakra ( a cylindrical structure made of bamboo and decorative paper et al) is taken for procession around the town. The Muslims decorate and prepare this Chakra which symbolises fraternity and secularism in the town. This festival is worth experiencing because of the colour, fun, frolic it exudes. The Mela is also a great place to source some cool handicraft that is indigenous to this region.
Pic Courtesy: Wikipedia.
If you love bird watching or are simply a nature lover, then you must visit Rasikbeel which is a small lake. This lake becomes a home to many species of migratory birds during the winter. This place takes approximately an hour to reach from the Cooch Behar town and is very picturesque.
Places of interest around Cooch Behar
This place is at a proximity of various other places of interest in the northern part of Bengal. North Bengal is definitely an offbeat location and still remains unknown to mainstream tourism. It is abundant in views that are of utmost aesthetic value. Whether it be the seamless expanses of tea estates or simply the lush green wilderness of the region, North Bengal will not fail to amaze any nature lover. Jaldapara National Park or Gorumara National Park are the perfect places for a wildlife lover. If tea estates are what you want to see, then head towards places like Gairkata or Matiali or Samsing abundant in beautiful tea estates that date back to the British rule. Other touristy places such as Darjeeling, Bhutan and Gangtok are also very near to Coochbehar.
This part of the country is an offbeat travel destination but it definitely has the power to leave you spellbound and longing for more. The greenery, the cleanliness, the purity in the air and the serenity you may experience here is unparalleled. So just pack your bags and plan your next trips to places that are offbeat as these.
Until then happy travelling and happy exploring!