Cooch Behar district is a district of the state of West Bengal, India, as well as the district’s namesake town. During the British Raj, the town of Cooch Behar was the seat of a princely state of Koch Bihar, ruled by the Koch dynasty.
The Koch dynasty originated from Mahishya community and has ruled the area around the town of Cooch Behar since the 16th century. The state remained unaffected by the great changes that overtook its surrounding provinces in the decade following the Battle of Plassey in 1757. However, it was invaded by Bhutan in the latter half of the 18th century, which prompted a British Ambassador to Bhutan, George Bogle to enter into a formal treaty alliance with the British in 1775. In 1947, the state acceded to the dominion of India and merged with the Union of India shortly afterwards.
Over time, Cooch Behar has been transformed from a kingdom to a state and from a state to the present status of a district. Before 28 August 1949, Cooch Behar was a Princely State ruled by the maharaja of Cooch Behar, who had been a feudatory ruler under the British Government. By an agreement dated 28 August 1949, Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan of Cooch Behar ceded full and extensive authority, jurisdiction and power of the state to the Dominion Government of India. The transfer of administration of the state to the Government of India came into force on 12 September 1949. Eventually, Cooch Behar was transferred and merged with the province of West Bengal on 19 January 1950 and from that date Cooch Behar emerged as a new District in the administrative map of West Bengal.
Cooch Behar is a district under the Jalpaiguri Division of the state of West Bengal. Cooch Behar is located in the northeastern part of the state and bounded by the district of Jalpaiguri in the north, state of Assam in the east and by Bangladesh in the west as well as in the south. The district forms part of the Himalayan Terai of West Bengal.
A geopolitical curiosity is that there are 92 Bangladeshi exclaves, with a total area of 47.7 km in Cooch-Behar. Similarly, there are 106 Indian exclaves inside Bangladesh, with a total area of 69.5 km. These were part of the high stake card or chess games centuries ago between two regional kings, the Raja of Cooch Behar and the Maharaja of Rangpur.
Twenty-one of the Bangladeshi exclaves are within Indian exclaves, and three of the Indian exclaves are within Bangladeshi exclaves. The largest Indian exclave, Balapara Khagrabari, surrounds a Bangladeshi exclave, Upanchowki Bhajni, which itself surrounds an Indian exclave called Dahala Khagrabari, of less than one hectare.
According to the 2011 census Cooch Behar district has a population of 2,822,780, This gives it a ranking of 136th in India (out of a total of 640). The district has a population density of 833 inhabitants per square kilometre (2,160 /sq mi) . Its population growth rate over the decade 2001–2011 was 13.86%. Koch Bihar has a sex ratio of 942 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 75.49%.
Place of Attraction
Cooch Behar Palace (Rajbari)
Built in the classical European style of Italian Renaissance on the lines of Buckingham Palace in 1887. A recently constructed museum in the rooms of the Palace has added glory to the Royal structure. The vast lawn and beautiful landscaping of the garden have made it more beautiful. It is a must visit
Madan Mohan Temple
Situated in the heart of the Cooch Behar town. Constructed by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan during 1885 to 1889. A divine structure, deities include Madan Mohan the kul-devata of the Koch Dynasty, Ma Tara and Ma Bhavani. The annual Rash Mela is held here in November.
Baneshwar Shiv Temple
Situated at a distance of about 10 km to the North of Cooch Behar town, the temple has a ‘Shivalinga’ 10 feet below the plinth level. There is a big pond within the temple campus having a large number of tortoise. Some of the tortoises are very old and big in size. At Siva Chaturdashi a big mela is held here for a week.
Situated about 10 km west from Cooch Behar Town. In 1489, Shankaradeva performed his last journey to Cooch Behar when Maharaja Nar Narayan requested him to preach the teachings of the neo-Vaishnava cult. It was in his honour that the Madhupur Dham was built in the 16th century. This place has a special significance for the devotees of Acharya Shankaradeva.
Situated at a distance of about 35 km west of Cooch Behar Town, the original temple is now destroyed. The present temple has been established by Maharaja Pran Narayan in 1665 The throne of Devi is situated here. Beside the main temple 2 smaller temples also exist/ at the gate a ‘Tarakeswar Sivalinga’ exists