Southeast Bengal is a region in West Bengal, India, consisting of the districts of Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, Nadia, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas.
- 5 Howrah — Kolkata's twin city, the second-largest in the state, with the largest railway complex in India
- 7 Kolkata — also known as the "City of Joy", centre of Bengali culture, current capital of West Bengal and former capital of British India until 1911
Hooghly and Howrah districts
- 4 Bibhutibhushan Wildlife Sanctuary (Parmadan Forest) — a safe haven for a healthy population of nearly 250 deer
North 24 Parganas district
South 24 Parganas district
- 14 Samukpota — known as a "Green Mall," this village offers an extensive collection of palm trees plus other plants, gardening tools, yoga instructions and South Indian food
- 15 Sundarbans National Park — wildlife sanctuary with Royal Bengal Tigers and deer found in forests and mangrove swamps
The historical triple cities of Chandannagar-Hooghly-Serampore along the western bank of river Hooghly are called the "Little Europe of India" as the cities have their own fragrance of history and culture and they were colonies of France, Portugal and Denmark respectively. Along the eastern bank of the river, Kolkata has been the major centre of rich culture, heritage and economy in Southeast Bengal since the British rule in India.
Southeast Bengal has thousands of years of rich heritage as part of the Bengali kingdom of Bhurshut, also known as Bhurishrestha. Besides, the region's culture and food have elements left over by European colonists and merchants who have settled here since the 16th century, with the first European to reach this area being the Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama.
Southeast Bengal is the economic and transport hub of West Bengal, and the region is often called the gateway to Eastern India. It is the home to two of the busiest railway stations in India (Howrah and Sealdah) and the Port of Kolkata.
Southeast Bengal contains a sizeable industrial belt along the Hooghly River. There are a number of industrial complexes, including one of the largest car manufacturing plants in India, the Hindustan Motors plant in Uttarpara. The once-flourishing manufacturing belt still has some units working well, but the industrial area is no longer in the pink of health and is often in the news for the wrong reasons.
Southeast Bengal is on the Indian half of the Ganges Delta. The region is known for its fertile fields, sub-tropical and mangrove forests, East Kolkata Wetlands and the maze of distributaries in the Sundarbans region.
Bengali is the most widely used language but a sizable part of the population can converse in Hindi or Urdu. Most people understand basic English, even if they cannot speak it.
National Highway numbers 12 and 19 terminate at Dankuni, near Kolkata. Both highways are part of the Golden Quadrilateral that connects four megacities of India. NH 19 is also part of the Asian Highway 1 (AH 1) that continues further east to Bangladesh and eventually to Japan.
Southeast Bengal boasts numerous attractions, both natural and man-made. To see all the places worth visiting in this region, even a fortnight visit is arguably inadequate. That said, below are some highlights.
The Howrah Bridge and the Victoria Memorial are the two most prominent landmarks in Kolkata. Besides, the Bandel Church, the Dakshineswar Temple, the Hooghly Imambara, the Kalighat Temple, the Kapil Muni Temple and the Taraknath Temple are some of the most notable places of worship in this region. Other notable attractions include Krishnanagar Palace, the Indian Museum, the National Library and Science City.
The Alipore Zoo in Kolkata and Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden in Howrah are the two natural attractions along the Hooghly River. However, adventure seekers should never miss the Sundarbans, famous for Bengal Tigers and mangrove forests.
Southeast Bengal is a paradise for food lovers as street food is not only cheap but also safe in most of the region. One can try roshogolla, a sweet meal associated with Kolkata.
Southeast Bengal has faced several cyclonic storms in recent years, the most notable of which are Aila (2009) and Amphan (2020). Monsoon rains in Greater Kolkata may reach terrible levels and breed diseases like malaria or dengue. Keep yourself updated with latest weather news and take precautions against such natural disasters.