Bengal

Bengal is a cultural and historic region in Asia. It is situated at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. On the north, it is bounded by the Himalayas; on the west by Northern India; on the east by North East India; and on the southeast by Burma (Myanmar).

Regional map of Bengal

When the territory of the British Raj was partioned in 1947, the two new states India and Pakistan each got part of Bengal. Later East Pakistan (the Bengali part) broke away from the rest of Pakistan to become the separate nation of Bangladesh. Today the divisions are:

Bengali is the main language of the region and is widely spoken on both sides of the border. It ranks as the seventh most common language in the world, and second in India, by number of native speakers.

The Grand Trunk Road runs through the region.

Understand

The river basins

Most of Bengal is in the enormous delta area formed by a complex of three rivers. The Ganges flows roughly west-to-east across much of northern India, is historically the country's most important river, and is holy to Hindus. The Brahmaputra is the greatest river of northeast India, and both it and the Meghna are important in Bangladesh. By the time they reach the sea, the combined rivers (called the Padma in this region) are the world's third largest by volume of water discharged. The Brahmaputra, considered by itself, ranks eighth.

At times political units called "Bengal" extended into nearby areas which were not ethnically or linguistically Bengali. When the British defeated the last Nawab of Bengal and his French allies at the battle of Plassey in 1757, they took not only Bengal itself but also the Nawab's other territories, now the states of Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand. Under the British, what is now Assam was administered as part of the Bengal Presidency.

Cities

With over 700 bustling rivers and waterways, Bengal is like the Venetian part of Asia

We list only a few of the most important cities here. For other cities, see West Bengal, Bangladesh, and regional articles under those.

The great cities of the region are:

Two smaller places are very important for tourism:

Other destinations

Get in

There are a number of international airports that facilitate entry into the region.

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