The ruling ground of many ancient empires, East India has a strong ethnic culture and religious roots. It is a land of undulating hills and plains with luxuriant green cover and a wide variety or rare and exotic flora and fauna. The East of India is a mostly rural region stretching from Jharkhand to the coast of the bay of Bengal. Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) is the largest city in the region, also the temple cities of Puri of Lord Jagannath fame and Bhubaneswar are both in Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). It is connected to the Seven Sister States of Northeast India by the narrow Siliguri Corridor in the north east of West Bengal.
The region was the historical centre of the Nanda, Maurya, Shunga, Gupta and Pala empires that ruled much of the Indian sub-continent at their prime. In medieval India, it was incorporated into the Mughal, Maratha and then the British empire. Islamic invasions in the 13th century resulted in the collapse of Hindu kings and most Buddhists, especially in East Bengal, converted to Islam. East India including Bihar and West Bengal was part of the Mughal Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries. Odisha remained a powerful Hindu dynasty under the rule of Soma/Keshari Dynasty, Eastern Ganga Dynasty, Surya Dynasty till the end of the 16th century.
India's independence movement had strong roots in East India. The feudal land system, established through the Permanent Settlement of Bengal, was unpopular among the peasant cultivators and the numerous agricultural labourers found all over Bihar and Bengal.
The region lies in the humid-subtropical zone, and experiences hot summers from March to June, the monsoon from July to October and mild winters from November to February which is also the best time to visit. The interior states have a drier climate and slightly more extreme climate, especially during the winters and summers, but the whole region receives heavy, sustained rainfall during the monsoon months. Snowfall occurs in the extreme northern regions of West Bengal.
Kolkata, known as the Cultural Capital of India, is the largest city of East Indian region. Located in the state of West Bengal, it boasts 19th-century architectural marvels such as Victoria Memorial and Howrah Bridge. The tea gardens and toy train bring an old-world charm to Darjeeling, whereas Siliguri has wildlife sanctuaries and rivers for a perfect getaway. Adventure thirsty tourists are often seen trekking the trails of Kalimpong or enjoying rafting in its cold river waters.
In East India, Odisha is a state that displays innate architectural prowess. The Sun Temple in Konark and the ancient Jagannath Temple in Puri are fine examples of it. Various unspoiled beaches and caves are also found here.
The majority of the population of East India is Hindu with significant Muslim, and small Christian, Buddhist and Sikh minorities. Durga, Jagannath, Shiva and Rama are particularly popular Hindu deities in this region. Among tribals of the region Hinduism is the dominant religion. Some tribals also follow their indigenous religions (Sarana).
Bengali is the dominant language of West Bengal. Hindi along with Urdu, Maithili, Magahi and Bhojpuri are the dominant languages of Bihar. Hindi, Santali, Khortha and Nagpuri are the dominant languages of Jharkhand; however, some tribals speak their own tribal languages. Jharkhand has accorded second language status to Angika, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Ho, Kharia, Kurukh, Khortha, Kurmali, Magahi, Maithili, Mundari, Nagpuri, Odia, Santali and Urdu.Odia is the dominant language of Odisha.
Cuisine and Clothing
In terms of food, each state of Eastern India has its rich delicacies soaked in traditional herbs and spices. Bengali fish and Rasagola lure you in Kolkata while Chhena Gaja and Rasmalai are lip-smacking dishes of Odisha. The Tibetan food in Darjeeling and Arunachal Pradesh is infused with local herbs lending it a distinct flavour.
Saree is a common dress for women in eastern states of India. Salwar Kameez is also popular among females in Bengal. Women of Odisha wear different types of saris to show their special look. Famous saris include Kataki Sari, Bomkai Sari and Sambalpuri Sari. Similar to females, men also like to wear their traditional outfits. They attire Dhoti, kurta with a Gamucha.