Cooch Behar is a district under the Jalpaiguri Division of the state of West Bengal. Cooch Behar is located in the northeastern part of the state and bounded by the district of Jalpaiguri in the north, state of Assam in the east and by Bangladesh in the west as well as in the south. The district forms part of the HimalayanTerai of West Bengal.
A geopolitical curiosity is that there are 92 Bangladeshi exclaves, with a total area of 47.7 km² in Cooch-Behar. Similarly, there are 106 Indian exclaves inside Bangladesh, with a total area of 69.5 km². These were part of the high stake card or chess games centuries ago between two regional kings, the Raja of Cooch Behar and the Maharaja of Rangpur
Cooch Behar is a flat country with a slight southeastern slope along which the main rivers of the district flow. Most of the highland areas are in the Sitalkuchi region and most of the low-lying lands lie in Dinhata region.
The rivers in the district of Cooch Behar generally flow from northwest to southeast. Six rivers that cut through the district are the Teesta, Jaldhaka, Torsha, Kaljani, Raidak,Gadadhar and Ghargharia.
Among the tourist attractions in Cooch Behar, what strikes first in our mind is the Rajbari or the palace of the Kings and the adjoining royal buildings as well as the endless royal facts & stories. In fact, being the place of the Raj (monarchy), the district captures the bygone glorious past in the moods of local people even today. The peace loving people of Cooch Behar even boast of this beautiful city where the Maharajas (kings) used to stay and never tires, if not laments in excitement, narrating the Raj stories.
It is obvious that anyone who has visited Cooch Behar city cannot keep sound in not appreciating this beautiful planned city with infrastructure quite similar to any modern planned city. Moreover, the place is so quiet & calm, void of the hassle-n-bustle of busy cities. And above that the climate here like the rest of North-Bengal is just fine to let you feel the freshness & beauty of nature all around.
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Idealised from the concept of classical European style of Italian Renaissance, this magnificent palace was built by the famous Koch king Maharaja Nripendra Narayan in 1887. Raised on a base of 1.5 metres in height, this double storied brick building covers an area of 4768 square metres. It extends 120 metres from north to south and 90 metres from east to west. The frontal facade consist of a series of arches resting by an alternate arrangement of narrow and broad piers to contain single and double Corinthian pilasters respectively.
A porch is projected in the center to provide main entrance to the building through the Durbar Hall. Recalling the memory of St. Peter’s Church at Rome, the Durbar Hall is dodecagonal in shape, resting on four arches supported by massive Corinthian pilasters and projecting a lantern at the top. The intrados of the dome is relieved in stepped patterns and flanked by a small elegant balcony with twelve window openings at the base. In the center of the Durbar Hall, the marble floor contains the royal insignia in pietradura. The building contains more than fifty rooms/halls of varied dimensions which include the bedrooms, dressing rooms, billiard room, kitchen, dinning hall, dancing hall, library, toshakhana and the ladies gallery. Certain rooms deserve special attention for their beautiful paintings in the ceiling as well as in the interior wall surface.
Madan Mohan Temple
Situated in the heart of the Cooch Behar town. Constructed by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan during 1885 to 1889. Deities of Lord “Madan Mohan” , “Ma Kali” , “Ma Tara” , “Ma Bhavani” adorn the campus. On the occasion of Rush Purnima the traditional Rush Yatra along with Rush Mela , one of the biggest festivals of North Bengal, is celebrated every year in Cooch Behar.
Heritage Buildings of Cooch Behar city
- Old District Magistrate’s Office or Collectorate Building
- Moti Mahal or Kalyan Bhavan – Restored/Renovated in 1997 as Kalyan Bhavan. Accomodates the district offices of Backward Classes Welfare Department.
- Lalbag – Office of the CMOH Cooch Behar. Has a campus of more than 3 acres (behind Telephone Bhavan)
- Head Post Office – Beautiful structured heritage building
- Carmichael Ward – This heritage building is now one of the units of Maharaja Jitendra Narayan (MJN) Hospital. Presently under restoration & repair by the Government
- Ananda Ashram – Being used as residence of Dist. Level Officers. Presently residence of DSP (crime)
- Bhola Ashram – Being used as residence of Dist. Level Officers. Presently residence of Executive Engineer (PWD)
- Parijat Villa – Being used as residence of Dist. Level Officers. Presently residence of District Session Judge
- Circuit House – I – Being used as residence of Dist. Level Officers. Presently being used as Guest House of Government. This heritage building is being used by the Indian Army
- Chilarai Barrack – This heritage building is being used by the Indian Army
(one battalion of Army is stationed in Cooch Behar)
- Acharya Brajendra Nath Seal (ABNS) College – Established in the late 19th century, this college was earlier known as Victoria College.
- Jenkins School & Hostel – Established in 1861, it continues to be a premier educational institute of the State. Hostel building of Jenkins School, also attached to the same campus is the College Hostel.
- MJN Club – More than 60 years old club; established by Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan. Still being used as a club; has a large campus with games & sports facilities like Tennis, Cricket, Table Tennis, Billiards etc.
- Rani Bagan – Samadhi Sthal’ or crematory of the Royal family – now being restored as garden/children’s park.
- Victor Palace – A project of restoration of the building has been taken up by the district administration.
- Hiranyagarbha Shiva Temple – Situated at the western side of Sagar Dighi. Inside the temple a ‘Shivalinga’ is installed. Constructed during the period of Maharaja Harendra Narayan.
Holy Places of Kochbihar
- Borodevi Bari – Situated at Debibari of Cooch Behar Town. Idol of Goddess Durga is installed inside this temple which has the influence of European architecture. Durga Puja at Debibari is of major attraction during Saradutsav.
- Baneshwar Temple: Situated at a distance of about 10 km to the North of Cooch Behar town, the temple has a ‘Shivalinga‘ 10 feet below the plinth level. Also present in the temple is ‘Gouripat’. By the side of the main temple is another temple which has the statute of ‘Ardhanariswar’ installed. On the occasions of Madan Chaturdashi and Dol Purnima this statue is carried temporarily to the Madan Mohan Temple of Cooch Behar town. This has given it the fame as ‘Movable Baneswar‘. There is a big pond within the temple campus having a large number of tortoise. Some of the tortoises are very old and big in size. At Siva Chaturdashi a big mela is held here for a week.
- Madhupur Dham temple – In 1489, Shankaradeva performed his last journey to Cooch Behar when Maharaja Nar Narayan requested him to preach the teachings of the neo-Vaishnava cult. It was in his honour that the Madhupur Dham was built in the 16th century. This place has a special significance for the devotees of Acharya Shankaradeva.
- Madan Mohan temple, Mathabhanga – Situated near the S.D.O.’s office, this temple is domed at the top. Statues of Krishna andBalaram are established in the Temple. Ratha Jatra, Raas Jatra, Janmastami and DoleJatra are celebrated here every year.
- Siddhanath Siva temple, Dhaluabari – Situated at a distance of 7 km from Cooch Behar Town on the way from Cooch Behar to Dinhata, this beautiful temple epitomizing terracotta as a mode of art. Constructed byMaharaja Harendra Narayan and Maharaja Shibendra Narayan during 1799 to 1843 the Temple has 5 dome like peaks, but at present the largest middle one has been damaged.
- Kamteswari temple – Situated at a distance of about 8 km west of Dinhata railway station, the original temple is now destroyed. The present temple has been established by Maharaja Pran Narayan in 1665. Inside the temple the throne of Debi is situated. Beside the main temple 2 smaller temples also exist at the back-side of the temple courtyard. At the gate a ‘Tarakeswar Sivalinga’ exists. A large number of festivals are observed here of which the Batha Festival of Debiin the month of Magh is worth mentioning.
- Siddheswari Kali Bari – Situated at a distance of 11 km from Cooch Behar town (one km from Baneswar), it was constructed around 1830 by Maharaja Harendra Narayan. The temple houses the idols of Goddess Siddheswari. There is the holyKamranga tree by the side of the temple.
- Dangar Ayee Temple – Situated at Gunjabari in Cooch Behar town. Constructed by the 1st Queen i.e. Dangar Ayee, Kameswari Debi, of Maharaja Shibendra Narayan during 1839 to 1847. It is famous as the ‘Aunt’s House’ of Lord Madan Mohan and hence the locality is known as Gunjabari.
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