The only planned city in the north Bengal region, Cooch Behar is also one of the largest cities of the state of West Bengal. It is replete with signs of the bygone era, the most prominent of them being the breathtakingly beautiful Cooch Behar Palace.
Cooch Behar is also the birthplace of Maharani Gayatri Devi, the third Maharani of Jaipur and probably India’s most famous queens. The city gets its name from Koch dynasty which ruled the region and Behar from the Sanskrit word vihar meaning house. There is another theory that says that the word Behar is derived from the Sanskrit bihar which means to travel. Cooch Behar is known for its legacy of royal palaces, temples, kings and its natural beauty.
The Ras Purnima fair held at the Madan Mohan Temple is the most popular festival of Cooch Behar
The Cooch Behar Palace, also known as Victor Jubilee Palace, is the main landmark of the city. Designed by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan, it was modeled on London’s Buckingham Palace. The palace is renowned for its grandeur and the monument is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. With verandahs with alternate rows of single and double pillars, the Cooch Behar palace projects out at the northern and southern ends. There is a regal metallic dome on top of the hall which rises to a height of 124 ft and is built in the Renaissance style of architecture
Popular festivals in Cooch Behar include Durga Puja in October along with Raas Purnima when a big fair is organised adjacent to the famous Madan Mohan Temple in the town. Cooch Behar Raas Mela is the oldest in the North Bengal region. Other major festivals celebrated in the region include Poyla Baishakh (Bengali New Year), Rathayatra, Dolyatra or Basanta-Utsab, Diwali, Poush Parbone (festival in the month of Poush according to Bengali-calender), Christmas, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid uz-Zuha and Muharram. During Rathayatra, a small fair is organised at Gunjabari area of the town.
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