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West Bengal History

During the period of the Vedic age Bengal was called Vanga and is said to have been inhabited by several groups of people belonging to various races. During the Mahabharatha period this area was divided into small kingdoms and principalities ruled by chieftains. The Aryans inhabited Bengal during the post Vedic period. Many dynasties exercised their control over Bengal. The Palas, Pundras, the Sen etc were a few whose rule was noteworthy. The Palas ruled for more than four hundred years. Owing to its favourable location this region had trade with Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka, the Deccan and the Persian Gulf. The Navigable parts of Ganga made it favourable for internal trade and communication. They had contacts till Taxila. In about the 3rd century the Mauryan and the Guptas established their rule. The Palas established their strong rule from about 800AD till the 11th century after which the Senas ruled. The economy, arts and culture of this region developed under the rule of the Hindu dynasties. In the beginning of the 13th century Bengal became a part of the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughals. The influence of the Muslims led to conversions besides development of art and culture and cottage industries that produced items such as Muslin which were in great demand around the world.

The proximity to the sea also resulted in the influence with the foreigners -- the Portuguese in the early 16th century, the Dutch in about 1632, the French influence between 1673-1676, the Danish in 1676 and British in 1690. The increased influence of the British resulted in conflicts with the Nawab. The diplomatic efforts with a series of conspiracies resulted in the ultimate capture of power in Bengal by the British. The battle of Plassey (1757) and the battle of Buxar (1764) sealed the fate of the Mughal rule. The British later brought forth the Dual system of administration  In 1905 the English partitioned Bengal on the basis of religion. Calcutta remained the Capital of the British empire in India till 1911. After that the capital was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. 

In 1947 when India became independent Bengal was partitioned between India and Pakistan. India's share came to be known as West Bengal and Pakistan's share was called East Pakistan. Later, the state of Cooch Behar, French enclave of Chandranagore and some parts of Bihar were added to West Bengal. Bengal represents the land that possess a distinct culture with its indigenous art and crafts and make it an important part of the Indian Union.

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Last Updated on : 9th April 2015