KOLKATA/CALCUTTA : The City of Palaces, Calcutta was the capital of British India for around 150 years, and boasts much superb colonial architecture. It can also claim to be the intellectual capital of modern India, and is a thriving, bustling, colourful and up to date city, with some excellent shops. In the northern suburbs lie the old French, Dutch and Danish colonial enclaves, still retaining a distinctive flavour.
KALNA : A pleasant agricultural centre, boasting some of Bengal’s finest terracotta temples.
PLASSEY : The battlefield of Plassey, where the foundations of the British Raj were laid, lies close to the river, with a commemorative obelisk.
MURSHIDABAD : Capital of the Nawabs of Bengal, losers at Plassey, and a delightful backwater town full of abandoned mosques, tombs and crumbling palaces. Nearby Baranagar boasts further examples of charming terracotta temples.
FARAKKA BARRAGE : Where the Hugli flows out from the Ganges, this great dam, opened in 1975, protects much of Bengal from flooding as well as generating electricity.
GAUR : First Islamic capital of Bengal, now a collection of superb early mosques and other buildings standing amongst paddy fields and mango orchards.
RAJMAHAL : An early Moghul capital of Bengal on the banks of the Ganges.
MONGHYR : A fine Moghul fort further expanded by the East India Company.
BODDH GAYA : A road journey south of the river is this pilgrimage centre where the Buddha achieved enlightenment. The great temple is surrounded by monasteries housing pilgrims from Tibet, Sri Lanka, Japan and many other countries. En route lie the early Buddhist monastery of Nalanda and the sacred Rajgir Hill..
PATNA : One of the major centres of the East India Company, enriched by opium and indigo plantations, and now boasting a superb museum as well as fascinating mosques and temples. Nearby Sonepur boasts India’s largest and most colourful cattle fair in the autumn.