A low-lying rural region where the pace of life is in stark contrast to that of Kolkata, central Bengal has a few sights to tempt tourists off the Kolkata–Darjeeling route. Shantiniketan, built on the site of Rabindranath Tagore’s father’s ashram, is a haven of peace, and a must for anyone interested in Bengali music, art and culture. The other highlights of the region include a cluster of exquisite terracotta temples in Bishnupur, the ruins of Gaur, the region’s seventh-century capital, and the palaces of Murshidabad, capital of Bengal’s last independent dynasty. With the Maoist insurgency along the borders of Jharkhand and Odisha, the southwestern districts of Bengal have become too dangerous to visit.

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