Known for its cultural diversity, people, food, music, and literature, West Bengal is also rich in its historical heritage. There are many places in West Bengal where you can witness the charm of architectural grandeur.
Cooch Behar Palace is one such place that had been idealized from the concept of the classical European style of the Italian Renaissance.
Brief History of Cooch Behar:
Located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas Cooch Behar is the only planned city in the North Bengal region with remnants of royal heritage. It is the maternal home of Maharani Gayatri Devi, wife of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur. It is believed that she was the most beautiful woman in the world during her time. During the British Raj, Cooch Behar was the seat of the princely state of Koch Bihar, ruled by the Koch Kingdom. After the independence of India, the princely state was transformed to the present status as Cooch Behar district.
Cooch Behar is well known for its palaces and royal buildings. It also has gained importance from an Archaeological perspective since the excavation of remains at Gosanimari Rajpat where ancient stone sculptures, stone engravings, and water systems were found.
About Cooch Behar Palace:
Cooch Behar Palace is also known as Victor Jubilee Palace. During the reign of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan of the Koch dynasty, this magnificent palace was built in 1887. The palace was modeled after the Buckingham Palace in London. It is a brick-built double-story structure in the classical Western style covering an area of 4,766.8 m2. However, the original palace was 3 storied but was subsequently destroyed by a 19th-century earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale. The whole structure rests on 4 feet 9 inches above the ground.
The palace comprises various halls and rooms that include the Dressing room, Bedroom, Dining hall, Billiard Hall, Library, Toshakhana, etc. Certain rooms deserve special attention for their beautiful paintings on the ceiling as well as on the interior wall surface. The main attraction of this palace is the Durbar Hall. The Durbar Hall is dodecagonal in shape, resting on four arches supported by massive Corinthian pilasters and projecting a lantern at the top. The structure of Durbar Hall will remind you of the St. Peter’s Church in Rome.
The outer complex of the palace is surrounded by a beautiful network of lush green lawns and the inner compound houses some of the most important historical artifacts from the 1800s. According to the List of Monuments of National Importance in West Bengal, the Cooch Behar Palace is an ASI-listed monument.
For Indian/SAARC/BIMSTEC, the entry fee is only Rs. 20 per adult
For Foreigner, the entry fee is Rs. 250 per adult
How to Reach Cooch Behar:
Cooch Behar is well-connected to almost all major cities such as Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, and Guwahati.
The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport which is located at approx. 153 km from Cooch Behar. From the airport, you can avail cab service to reach Cooch Behar.
New Cooch Behar is the railhead that is located approx. 5 km from the main city. It has trains connecting the major cities of the country.
Tourists can avail buses operated by the North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC). There are regular bus services that connect Cooch Behar to the neighboring cities, including Kolkata, Guwahati, Malda, Siliguri, and more.
An ample number of hotels are available in the main city area of Cooch Behar. Here we will mention about few of them:
A 6-minute walk from landscaped gardens at Madan Mohan Bari Temple, this hotel is 1 km from the Cooch Behar Palace Museum and 2 km from the Cooch Behar railway station. Tariff ranges from Rs. 1900 to Rs. 3250 per room including breakfast and lunch/dinner.
Contact no.: 9547570101
This is a budget-friendly hotel which is known for its homely atmosphere. A 5 minutes’ walk from the hotel will lead you to Madan Mohan Temple. Here, you will get a non-AC room at Rs. 225.
Contact : (03582) 222343, 226751
Best Time to visit:
The ideal time to visit is from October to March. During festivals like Ras Utsab, Dol Jatra (Holi), Durga Puja, and Deepavali you can experience the royal legacy of Cooch Behar Rajbari.
Other places to visit in Cooch Behar:
1. Madan Mohan Bari temple
Madan Mohan Bari is an ancient Hindu temple located in the center of the town and is dedicated to Goddess Kali. This temple was constructed under the guidance of Bengali ruler Nripendra Narayan and is one of the biggest centers of faith in the Northern part of West Bengal.
Sagar Dighi is an artificial lake and is one of the largest water bodies in the town of Cooch Behar. The lake is surrounded by ancient political buildings on three of its sides and is popularly known as the administrative center of Cooch Behar.
Rasikbil is a vast lake known for offering jaw-dropping natural beauty. It is a birding paradise for bird enthusiasts just about half an hour distance away from Tufanganj. Spreading over an area of 175 hectares, the lake is surrounded by an emerald, green forest.
4. Kamteswari Temple
There have been various opinions about who built Kamteswari Temple. However, it is now accepted that the original temple was destroyed, and the present temple was built by Maharaja Pran Narayan in 1665. The main temple roof has been built in the Bengal char chala style having a curved cornish with a circular dome atop.
5. Gosanimari Rajpat
Gosanimari is an archaeological site that contains ruins of Rajpat in the ancient city of Kamtapur, capital of Kamata kingdom, occupying a large area of ancient Kamarupa and Vanga. The Kingdom of Kamata was between the 11-12th Century A.D. by the dynasties of Pal & Sen.
Cooch Behar can be described as an amalgamation of history, spirituality, and devotion. So, once you are in West Bengal, you must visit this place at least once.
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