Calcutta had, until recently, a reputation for squalor and
poverty, but in this vibrant city of 13 million inhabitants sits an
important part of east India's historical heritage in buildings
such as the Marble Palace, the Botanical and Eden Gardens, the
Victoria Memorial, and in the museum. This delta is home to one of
eastern India's many and diverse ecosystems - Sunderbans with its
huge mangrove forests and tiger reserve.
Further to the north the Himalayan foothills are perfect for
trekking. One of the key areas is Darjeeling, where you can stay in
a lodge surrounded by rolling tea plantations and spectacular views
of the Himalayas. From here you can continue north into Sikkim for
a few days walking. Once an independent Himalayan Kingdom like
Bhutan, the state is scattered with monasteries along what was once
the main Himalayan trade route.
Another short flight from Calcutta is Assam, where we recommend
joining a river cruise along the Brahmaputra river to visit
Kaziranga National Park and (hopefully) see indigenous one-horned
rhinos. Further north and east still the forested hills are
populated by tribal people more Burmese than Indian in appearance
Finally, for yet another variety of eastern India holiday,
Orissa's temples and beaches are well worth exploration.