Coochbehar is a district and a town in the northeast corner of West Bengal bordering Assam. The district and the town are well known for their historical significance as one of the last independent states of India. The area is also endowed with natural beauty which attracts a large number of tourists here.
The Coochbehar district is bounded in the North by the Alipurduar district which was formed in 2014. In the south is Bangladesh. On the east of Coochbehar is the Dhubri district of Assam and on its west is the Jalpaiguri district of Bengal.
History of Coochbehar
Coochbehar has one of the richest histories of North Bengal dating back to the 11th century when the Pala kings used to rule the area. The area was a continuation of the Kamrup territory of Assam which also has a rich history. Several historical discoveries have been made of the era including at Gosanimari located south of Coochbehar town close to the Bangladesh border. Here one can find the huge mounds which are believed to be the original capital of Kamtapur state.
The Koch dynasty of Coochbehar ruled the area between the 16th century and the 20th century. The kingdom was established by Biswa Singha and is known as the Kamta kingdom. At its zenith, the kingdom was spread in most of North Bengal, parts of the Rangpur district of Bangladesh, and the Bongaigaon and Goalpara districts of Assam. Today the major attraction for tourists visiting Coochbehar is the palace of the Cooch kings lying in the centre of Coochbehar town.
The Bhutanese people also used the area to travel to the plains. There were 18 Doors or Dwars in the area which is the origin of the name Dooars. Several wars were fought between the Cooch kings and the Bhutanese king, remnants of which can still be seen in many places.
After India’s independence, Coochbehar was annexed into India as a district in 1950.
The Coochbehar Palace
During the 19th century, Coochbehar was ruled by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan who built the magnificent palace known as the Coochbehar palace. The palace remains the main attraction of tourists visiting Coochbehar. Presently the palace is maintained and preserved by the Archeological Survey of India which has established a museum inside the palace. The palace and the museum are open for public visits on weekdays between 10 AM and 5 PM except for public holidays.
There are several large water bodies in Coochbehar. In Coochbehar town, there is a large lake called Sagardighi. Another famous lake located in the area is Rasik Bil. The lake is known for migratory birds and there are Leopard and crocodile rehabilitation centre on its side. Many tourists visit Rasikbil and stay at the forest department bungalow beside the lake.
Coochbehar is also known for its Madan Mohan Temple. Madan Mohan is a form of God Krishna. The temple was constructed by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan. Every year during November a fair and festival are organized around the Temple known as the Rush Mela. This is one of the largest rural fairs in North Bengal and is full of the colour and vibrancy of the local culture.
How to Reach Cooch Behar
Cooch Behar town is well connected with the rest of India by Rail and Road. Many of the trains travelling to North East of India pass through Cooch Behar station, Alipurduar town, which is just 22 km away is an even bigger junction. Any train going to North East of India has to pass through one of these two stations. The road connection from Coochbehar with Siliguri and then to the rest of India is also quite good. Cooch Behar also has its airport, but flights to this airport are not regular. People planning to fly has to come down to Bagdogra airport 145 km away. The drive time from Bagdogra to Cooch Behar is close to 4 hours.
The weather of Cooch Behar
The weather for most of the year is pleasant, summer temperature ranges between 27 to 33-degree celsius most of the time, and winter temperatures may go down between 12 and 20 degrees. Monsoon rain is quite heavy here. The ideal season for tourists to visit is between October and March.
Tourist accommodation at Cooch Behar
In the last couple of decades, several hotels have come up in town. Most of the hotels cater to budget or standard categories. Most tourists prefer to visit Coochbehar on a day tour and stay in the nearby area. There are several areas nearby where you can stay in a resort or homestay and pay a day's visit to Cooch Behar. Rasikbil to the west is about an hour's drive and has a couple of rooms managed by WBFDC. Even closer is the Chilapata forest area, just about 45 minutes drive away where there are a plethora of options for accommodation including homestays and resorts. Another area not far from Coochbehar is south of the Jaldapara forest known as the Salkumarhat area. There are several resorts in this area as well and you can reach here from Cooch Behar in just over an hour.
For more accommodation options and travel bookings, you may contact our Humro Tours team.