If you are in Bengal, bored with beach holidays and looking out for a quick weekend trip, then set off to Coochbehar for a different kind of experience. It is one of the most beautiful district towns of West Bengal enveloped with significant history and nostalgia. A day is generally enough to explore the town and its must-visit locations; however, the town can be selectively explored in even less than a half day and it’s nevertheless enjoyable.
What to See in Coochbehar
There are a number of sightseeing options in Coochbehar. Here the significant places as below.
1. Coochbehar Rajbari (Palace)
The main attraction of the town is its sprawling historical Palace. Standing high amidst an enormous area of land, surrounded by enchanting gardens, musical fountains and lake, the captivating architecture of the palace casts a spell on the visitors. Disturbed by the attacks of Bhutan during the 18th century, the monarchy of Coochbehar allied with the British East India Company and became a friendly state. In 1887, under the patronage of Maharaja Bhupbahadur Nripendranarayan , F. Barkel built the Coochbehar Palace, highly influenced by the architecture of St. Peter’s Church of Rome and Italian art. A whopping amount of Rs. 8,77,203 was spent from the royal treasury. The Dome, Durbar Hall, Corinthian pillars, the grand museum, billiards room, dining hall, dancing hall, library, kitchen and many more rooms are open to visitors which takes on a time travel of the glorious past. Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur was the princess of Coochbehar.
Towards the south of the palace is located ‘Sagardighi’ pool where visitors can go for boating. Every weekend – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and on holidays, light and sound show is conducted from sunset to 8:00 pm. Musical fountains are add on from 4:00 pm to 7:30 pm. The royal temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is situated towards the west of ‘Sagardighi’.
2. Madanmohan Temple
The second main attraction of the town is the temple of Madanmohan (Lord Krishna), where resides the deity of the royal family. The 200-year-old royal idol of Lord Krishna made of gold was seated on a silver throne and worshipped since ages till it was stolen. Presently, a replica idol of the deity is worshipped daily in this temple.
The temple architecture is worth mentioning. Built in 1889, the temple has a ‘Charchala’ structure. The entire temple complex looks amazing in the evening and it is worth visiting the temple during the evening prayers.
Opposite the temple is ‘Bairagi Dighi’ which has a park and a dedicated Kameteshwari Temple of the 17th century.
The archaeological sites of Gosanimari Rajpat is another attraction of Coochbehar. According to archaeologists, the remains of the Pala and Sena dynasty are still buried under the ground here and preparations are being taken to start excavation soon.
4. Dhuliabari and Ghughumari
Those who are interested to know local craft and art, can visit Dhuliabari and Gughumari village. The weaving of colourful mats, locally known as ‘Shitalpati’ can be seen live. Mats can also be bought here. There is also an ancient Shiva temple.
5. Baneshwar Shiva Temple
About 10 km from Coochbehar, on the way to Dinhata-Alipurduar, is situated the famous Baneshwar Shiva Temple. As per mythology, this temple was built by Demon Banasur. There is a turtle pond adjacent to the temple. According to folk lore, the turtles arrive through secret tunnels at night and reside in the pond to watch over Lord Shiva.
Interested tourists can also visit the Vaishnava pilgrim site of Madhupur, 8 km away on the way to Coochbehar-Falakata. A sepulchral temple in the memory of Shree Shankaradev, the founder of Vaishnava religion is built in Madhupur.
7. Other Places to Visit
Within the town premises, other places of interest could be New Dispension Church, Purani Masjid, Jenkins School, Library, etc. For birdwatching, you can visit the marsh land of Rasikbil, 45 km away from Coochbehar. It is a hub of birds – Laser Whistling Duck, Painted Stork, Openbill Stork, Kingfishers, Egret, Northern Pintail, Rudy Shell Duck, Cormorant, Grey Lag Goose and many more. Apart from birds, Rasikbil also has a rescue centre for leopards, children’s park, aquarium, pea fowls, ghariyal, etc. Surrounding the 175 hector area of Rasikbil are the forests of Sal (Shorea robusta), Shishu (Dalbergia sissoo) and Teak. For those who can afford a longer trip, can move to Alipurduar and Buxa.
How to Reach
There are a lot of trains to reach New Coochbehar station from where you can take an auto or hire a car to reach Coochbehar town, 4 km away. You can also hire a car for the day for your entire trip from here.
Where to Stay
If you intend to stay back in Coochbehar, there are a lot of hotels to stay put for different budgets.
It would be best if you can visit the town and the other places in a day trip and head off to Rajabhatkhawa via Alipurduar (24 km) and have your night stay. Next day, explore Rajabhatkhawa before boarding the return train from Alipurduar.
Madhurima is a digital marketing specialist, editor and content marketer. She is also a published writer on the web. When she is not working, she is either travelling or writing her travel stories to share to the world. She believes in inspiring people to travel and shares her travel diary on her travel blog, mangoladydiaries.com.