city in Cooch Behar district, West Bengal

Cooch Behar (Bengali: কোচবিহার), also spelt Koch Bihar, is a town in the Northern Plains of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and the remnants of its royal heritage. Being one of the main tourist destinations of West Bengal, housing the Cooch Behar Palace and Madan Mohan Temple, it has been declared a heritage town.

Façade of the Cooch Behar Palace

UnderstandEdit

HistoryEdit

Surprisingly enough, Cooch Behar is the only planned town in North Bengal. It was the capital of a princely state under the Koch Dynasty of the Kamata Kingdom. During the British Raj, Cooch Behar was the seat of the Cooch Behar State, ruled by the Koch Kingdom, often described as the Shiva Vansha, tracing their origin from the Koch tribe of North-Eastern India. Under an agreement between the ruler of Cooch Behar and the Indian Government at the end of British rule, Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan transferred full authority, jurisdiction, and power of the state to the Dominion of India, effective 12 September 1949. Eventually, Cooch Behar became part of the state of West Bengal on 19 January 1950.

ClimateEdit

Cooch Behar
Climate chart (explanation)
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
 
12
 
 
23
9
 
 
 
19
 
 
26
12
 
 
 
45
 
 
30
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168
 
 
31
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380
 
 
31
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683
 
 
32
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933
 
 
31
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618
 
 
32
25
 
 
 
522
 
 
31
24
 
 
 
165
 
 
31
21
 
 
 
12
 
 
29
15
 
 
 
7.4
 
 
26
11
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Source: Climatological Normals 1981-2010
Imperial conversion
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
 
0.5
 
 
74
49
 
 
 
0.7
 
 
78
53
 
 
 
1.8
 
 
85
61
 
 
 
6.6
 
 
88
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15
 
 
88
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27
 
 
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88
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24
 
 
90
77
 
 
 
21
 
 
88
75
 
 
 
6.5
 
 
87
69
 
 
 
0.5
 
 
84
60
 
 
 
0.3
 
 
78
52
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

Cooch Behar has a moderate climate characterized by heavy rainfall during the monsoons and slight rainfall from October to March. The town does not experience very high temperatures at any time of the year, but the humidity makes it feel hot. The daily maximum temperature is 32.2 °C (90.0 °F) in August, the hottest month and the daily minimum temperature is 9.4 °C (48.9 °F) in January, the coldest month. Due to the action of strong winds from the Bay of Bengal towards North-Eastern India, the town experiences intense thunderstorms occasionally with ice pellets during the months of March and April.

ReadEdit

  • The Cooch Behar State and Its History of Modernity (1839-1950) by Joydeep Pal. This book is great for people who are really keen about knowing the history of this town. (ISBN 9789350742778)
  • Thirty-Seven Years of Big Game Shooting in Cooch Behar, the Duars, and Assam by Bhūpa, Nṛipendra Nārāyaṇa. Written by the former king of Cooch Behar, it provides a wide look at the way the royals used to spend their time, especially hunting. (ISBN 9780282103545)
  • Language History Of The Kamta And Cooch Behar Region by Matthew Toulmin. Presents a glimpse of the language spoken in the former state of Koch Bihar. (ISBN 9788175968974)

TalkEdit

As in most of West Bengal, Bengali is the main language in Cooch Behar. However, the Bengali language spoken in Cooch Behar is different from Standard Bengali and even uses first-person pronouns like mui and ham. The dialect is known by different names, including Rajbanshi, Rangpuri, Kamtapuri etc.

Get inEdit

By planeEdit

Cooch Behar does have an airport (COH IATA) but no services are available. The nearest airport with commercial flights is Bagdogra Airport (IXB IATA) in Siliguri, which handles daily flights from all major cities in India and fortnightly international flights to and from Paro and Bangkok. A bus or taxi from Siliguri to Cooch Behar takes at least 4 hours.

By trainEdit

See also: Rail travel in India
  • 1 New Cooch Behar Junction railway station. Main railway station, on the northeastern outskirts of the town. Handles daily passenger and cargo services to and from all major cities of India.    
  • 2 Cooch Behar railway station. Also known as the old station, it is centrally located but sees limited traffic. Handles daily passenger services to and from other parts of the district.    

By carEdit

Cooch Behar is well connected by national and state highways. NH 17 and NH 27 are the principal highways and are the best ways to get here from Siliguri or Guwahati.

Get aroundEdit

Getting around Cooch Behar can be quite hectic. There are rickshaws, public transport like bus and rental cars. Operators of electric rickshaws, locally known as totos, can charge huge fares on seeing a tourist. Usually, toto rides are short and cost ₹10-15 per person (as of 2022). It is recommended to use totos instead of public transport to get around in the town as public transport vehicles are packed with people, at least most of the times. Walkarounds are usually safe and can be done easily. Cycling is a good option but it's not at all like Copenhagen.

SeeEdit

 
Torsa River near Cooch Behar
 
Madan Mohan Bari
  • 1 Cooch Behar Palace (Rajbari), Bus Terminus, Kesab Rd, +91 89020 14983, toll-free: +91 358 222 7348, . Sa-Th 10AM-5PM (closed Friday). This is the main attraction of Cooch Behar. The palace shows the acceptance of European idealism of the Koch kings and the fact that they had embraced European culture without renouncing their Indian heritage. Tickets can be booked at- Archaeological Survey of India.    
  • 2 Cooch Behar Railway Museum, Cooch Behar Railway Station. Daily 1PM-5PM (Tuesday Closed). A minuscule version of the National Rail Museum. The museology is based on the theme ‘Role of Railways in Development of Dooars region'. The architecture of the building resembles the architecture of the Madan Mohan Temple. It displays old railway dating back to the 1890s of the Cooch Behar State Railways. ₹20-₹40.
  • 3 Madan Mohan Temple, MJN Rd, toll-free: +91 358 222 2225. Daily 9AM-8PM. A holy Hindu temple which hosts the Ras Purnima event. A Ras Chakra is also built each year.
  • 4 Sagardighi, Sagardighi Rd. 24 hours daily. Large rectangular pond surrounded by government offices & used by both residents & migratory birds.    
  • 5 Sal Bagan, Sal Bagan Rd (turn right from the Cancer Centre Road). 24 hours daily. A park full of Sal trees. Great place for walking and relaxing. Has a view of the airport and a railway line.

DoEdit

  • 1 Nara Narayan Park, Nripendra Narayan Rd, Morapora. Daily 9AM-5PM. A great park to go with family and kids. It has a child playing area and features a toy train. It has lush green gardens and also has some animals in an enclosure. There are 2 waterbodies in the park hosting water sports like boating and bubble swimming.
  • 2 Bhavani Cinema Hall, Raj Rajendra Narayan Rd. Daily 9PM-9PM. Good place for movies in a busy street. Mostly Bengali movies are aired. ₹50-100.
  • 3 Jaya Cinemas, City Mall, East Khagrabari Rd. Daily 9AM-9PM. One of the best places to watch movies in the town. Refreshment facilities are available too. English and Hindi movies are mostly aired here. ₹110-260.
  • 4 New Cinema Hall, Bangchatra Rd, New Town. Daily 9AM-9PM. Great place to watch movies with friends and family. Mostly Bengali and occasionally Hindi movies are aired. ₹50-100.
  • 5 SVF Cinemas, PRM Market City. Daily 9AM-9PM. A multiplex in the town airing Hindi and Bengali movies. Refreshment facilities are also available. ₹70-180.

EventsEdit

It seems there is nothing much to do for visitors unless it's the festive season. Festive season is from October-January and there is a lot of fun around the town. Visitors would surely enjoy the festive season, especially the Ras Mela and Durga Puja.

  • Trade fairs are organised alternatively every month by the state government.
  • Cooch Behar Yearly Book Fair – hosted by the state government every year. It hosts a wide range of books of all genres. So, book-lovers are also welcomed.

LearnEdit

Cooch Behar has the Cooch Behar Panchanan Barma University which provides many courses related to science, arts and commerce. There are numerous colleges, the most popular being the A.B.N. Seal College which also provides distance education services for IGNOU.

WorkEdit

Cooch Behar, in the recent years has seen massive economic development. There are always vacancies in jobs. There is not much work opportunities for foreign travellers but both international and domestic visitors can help out NGOs and educational institutions.

BuyEdit

 
The Madhupur Satra located in the outskirts of the town.

There are almost all kinds of store in the town. There are multinational stores like Reliance Trends, Max, Adidas and many more. For authentic Bengali outfit in the town, Laxmi Narayan Bastralaya is suggested. Here are some stores where you can buy some quality stuff.

ClothingEdit

  • 1 Laxmi Narayan Bastralaya, Raj Rajendra Narayan Rd, +91 358 222 8563. Daily 10AM-10PM. A century-old store with a wide range of collection of garments. Known for women's garments.

GroceryEdit

  • 3 Samabayika General Store, Sunity Rd, +91 99335 68804. M-Sa 10AM-7PM (closed Sunday). Great shop stocked with all kind of snacks and other necessities.
  • 4 Reliance Smart, Nripendra Narayan Road, opposite ACDC CLUB, Gowala Patti, toll-free: 1800 102 7382, . Daily 7AM-10PM. A one-stop destination for all groceries.

ElectronicsEdit

  • 5 Reliance Digital, S.N Road East (next to Reliance Trends Building, Badur Bagan), +91 35822 22178, . Daily 11AM-10PM. You can get all kinds of electronic devices, mainly TVs, smartphones, speakers, gift cards, and laptops

Shopping mallsEdit

  • 6 PRM Market City, Nripendra Narayan Road, Gowala Patti, . Daily 9AM-11PM. Largest shopping mall in the town. Includes many clothing stores, food courts and a movie theatre.
  • 7 City Mall, East Khagrabari, New Cooch Behar Road. Daily 10AM-10PM. Located in the outskirts of the town. Has a play area, movie theatre, food courts and clothing stores.

Street marketsEdit

If you're not afraid to haggle and bump elbows in bazaars, street markets are for you. You can find everything at a cheaper price than the malls. If you are a foreigner, it is not recommended to visit the street markets as they are full of scams and touts. But still if you want to visit, you would want to learn how to bargain as the sellers will overprice everything. Always bring your own bag. Non-reusable plastic is banned in the town, but still many sellers would illegally give the products in non-reusable plastic bags.

  • 8 Bara Bazaar (pronounced as boro bazaar), Biswasingha Road and Rup Narayan Road. Daily 9AM-11PM. The biggest street market in the town. Includes clothing stores, cosmetic stores, food courts, street food vendors, hotels, jewellery stores, restaurants and many more. ₹200.
  • 9 Cooch Behar Bazaar, Nripendra Narayan Road. Daily 7AM-10PM. One out of the two main street markets. You can find everything like vegetable stores, fish and meat stores, hardware stores, ATMs etc ₹100.
  • 10 Baburhat Bazaar, Baburhat. Daily 9AM-2PM. Known for its quality vegetables and wide variety of fish. ₹200.
 
Statue of Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan, the last Maharaja of Cooch Behar.

ATMs and cashpointsEdit

There are many ATMs in and around the town on every corner. All the ATMs accept foreign cards as well. There is only one foreign exchange in the town.

  • 11 State Bank of India E-Corner, Sagardighi (near Sagardighi branch), toll-free: 1800 425 3800, . 24 hours daily. Accepts all cards. Can get a bit busy during rush hours. It has passbook update kiosk, cash withdrawal and deposit kiosk, ATMs and a coin vending machine.

Foreign exchangeEdit

  • 12 HDFC Bank, Opposite Rash Mela Ground,Silver Jubilee Road, +91 75739 19585. 9AM-5PM (closed 2nd and 4th Saturday each month). The only foreign exchange in the town.

EatEdit

Many restaurants are scattered throughout the town. The food, mainly a mixed Bengali cuisine though North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, etc. can also be found. Prices are quite affordable though may have minor variations.

BudgetEdit

  • 1 Mitali Restaurant, Rup Narayan Road. Daily 10AM-10:30PM. Great Indian food. Famous for its Mughlai Parantha
  • 2 Samrat Sweets, Rup Narayan Road. Daily 7AM-9:30PM. One of the best sweet shops in the town. Usually crowded. Known for its Samosa
  • 3 Food Trucks area, Sagardighi, MJN Rd (Near Shahid Bagh). Daily 5PM-9PM. A crowded place full of food trucks offering many types of food in the evening.

Mid-rangeEdit

  • 4 Golpo, PRM Market City. Daily 10AM-9:30PM. Huge range of quality food. You can get almost anything you want. Ranging from burgers to full meals; from authentic food to international meals; from drinks to bakery
  • 5 Mio Amore, Nripendra Narayan Road. Daily 10AM-9PM. Reasonably priced. Great food and is known for its wraps, hot dogs, and cakes.
  • 6 The Aromas of Punjab, Nripendra Narayan Road. Daily noon-10PM. Great Punjabi food and also offers other Indian delicacies
  • 7 KFC, PRM Market City, +91 80427 54444. Daily 11AM-11PM. Restaurant chain known for its buckets of fried chicken, wings & sides.
  • 8 Domino's Pizza, Biswa Singha Rd, toll-free: 1800 208 1234, . Daily 11AM-11PM. A restaurant chain offering a wide range of pizzas & a variety of other dishes & sides.

SplurgeEdit

  • 9 Restaurant Monarch, Biswa Singha Road. Daily 9AM-11PM. Part of Hotel Yubraj, Great restaurant and great food
  • 10 Restaurant Tara, Biswa Singha Road. Daily 9AM-11PM. Part of Hotel Ellora. Great food and services. It is a bit pricey.
  • 11 Royal Palace Restaurant, Sunity Road. Daily 9AM-11PM. Great food. It can handle large number of guests

DrinkEdit

You can have some beer and other drinks at most of the bars. Note that drinking in public is normally frowned upon. For refreshments, a cup of tea is the best. You can visit cafés for some espresso and soft drinks are available almost everywhere.

  • 1 The Table Talk Cafe & Bistro, Biswa Singha Rd, North. Daily 11AM-10:30PM. A well designed cafe and a bistro known to be cosy. Great for a quick coffee break.
  • 2 The Hot Box, B.S Road, behind Swad restaurant, +91 79082 87790. Daily 11AM-10PM. Laid-back, neon-lit hookah lounge dishing up unpretentious snacks, plus mocktails.

SleepEdit

  Note: To avoid the unsavoury, corrupt, and thoroughly untrustworthy booking services based in Kolkata or Siliguri, it is best to get a place to stay on arrival without advance reservation.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget ₹1000
Mid-range ₹1000 to ₹3000
Splurge ₹3000

There are many hotels to stay in Cooch Behar. They aren't that pricey and provide great services. Most of the hotels are within the town but you can also find smaller hotels in the outskirts. Booking the hotels online is a good option as booking in-person might be hectic.

BudgetEdit

Mid-rangeEdit

SplurgeEdit

Stay safeEdit

Cooch Behar PoliceEdit

The Cooch Behar Police is the police force serving Cooch Behar district and they will always help you. In case of emergency, dial 100. Otherwise, there are police outposts spread everywhere. Civic Volunteers are present in almost every street and can be asked for help.

Emergency numbersEdit

  • Emergency Number, 112.
  • Police, 100.
  • Fire, 101.
  • Ambulance, 102. or dial the nearest local hospital
  • Women's Helpline, 1091.
  • Child distress Helpline, 1098.

Stay healthyEdit

  Note: Eating street food from street vendors can be fun, however, do not eat unhygienic or open food. There are plenty of restaurants offering street food in a potentially more hygienic environment.

Summer starts in late April and continues till early July. It is very sunny here, meaning that proper hydration is of the utmost importance. Keep yourself covered in summers to avoid a heat stroke. Drink a lot of water — around 3 litres a day — particularly in the summer. The temperature usually exceeds 40 °C (104 °F). Don't forget sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Drink only bottled water or packaged water to avoid water-related illness and eat well-cooked food.

ConnectEdit

Cell phone coverage in the town is excellent. There are three major service providers offering a wide variety of plans. Among them are Airtel, VI (formerly Vodafone) and Jio. Airtel is the preferable one as it provides high quality calls and great internet speed all across the town.

To call Cooch Behar from abroad you will need to dial the international prefix for your country, followed by India's country code +91. If you want to dial a landline no. from a mobile, then you have to add the area code of Cooch Behar, 03582 before the number.

Internet services are unreliable in some parts of the town. Most stores have broadband connections. Both the railway stations have free high-speed Wi-Fi services but you need an Indian mobile number to register and receive the One-time password.

Postal servicesEdit

 
The Cooch Behar Head Post Office in a sunny afternoon.

India Post has a wide coverage in Cooch Behar, providing both domestic and international services. Apart from this, private courier services are also available which also offer fast domestic and international services. Some of the popular ones are DTDC and Blue Dart (part of DHL). Services of FedEx can also be availed at a slightly higher cost, as its nearest hub is located in Siliguri.

CopeEdit

Power outages are common in the town, mostly in the summers. Power in the town is operated by West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL). For power related issues, you can contact their helpline 19121 and +91 35822 27011. or docket your complaint at their website. Most of the hotels and stays have power backup facilities, so you won't stay in the dark. Google Maps is a reliable source for navigating around the town.

 
The Façade of the Cooch Behar Railway Museum

NewspapersEdit

Local newspapers can be handy and reliable sources for day-to-day updates about the town. The town has number of newspapers and other publication that list local happenings. There are different options for newspapers including daily, weekly and bi-weekly. Some of the popular newspapers are Uttarbanga Sambad, Bartaman, Anandabazar Patrika and The Statesman.

Animal hospitalEdit

Diagnostic centreEdit

NearbyEdit

 
Rasikbil Bird Sanctuary
  • 6 Gosanimari Rajpat, Kamtapur, . Daily 8AM-6PM. Ruins of the palace of the Khen rulers dated to 14th-15th century AD. Excavations have surfaced many artefacts. In popular belief, it is said that a sage had cursed the palace, which made it to slowly go down the surface. No entry fee.
  • 7 Madhupur Dham temple, Matikata, Madhupur. Daily 9AM-5PM. Built in the honour of the Assamese preacher Sankardev. It has a very peaceful environment. Great place to look at Assamese culture.
  • 8 Rasikbil Bird Sanctuary, Rasikbill, +91 76040 44479, . M-Sa 11AM-4PM (closed Sunday). A bird sanctuary with many other animals like tigers, monkeys, deers, crocodiles and snakes. Mostly known for its lake where during the migrating season, many birds get attracted and live here for the entire season. Some birds are storks, ibis, spoonbill, kingfisher, parrots, owl and many others.    

Go nextEdit

  • Jaldapara National Park — a great place to view wildlife. It has the second largest population of one-horned rhinoceros after Kaziranga National Park.
  • Gorumara National Park — in the Dooars region of the Himalayan foothills, it is a medium-sized park with grasslands and forests. It is primarily known for its population of Indian rhinoceros.
  • Alipurduar — on the east bank of Kaljani River on the foothills of the Himalayas, the town is a gateway to Bhutan and northeastern states of India.
  • Jalpaiguri — famous for its traditional handicrafts especially cane and bamboo crafts.
  • Phuentsholing — a border town in southern Bhutan and is the main entrance point to the Himalayan nation.
  • Siliguri — in the foothills of the Himalayas, surrounded by tea gardens. There are many large shopping malls and restaurants offering international cuisine.
Routes through Cooch Behar (National Highway routes)
SiliguriMalbazar  W   E  GuwahatiEnds at  
SiliguriJalpaiguri  W   E  BongaigaonGuwahati


Routes through Cooch Behar (State Highway routes)
SiliguriJalpaiguri  W   E  JaigaonAlipurduar



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