Howrah or Haora, is the third largest city in West Bengal, India, after Kolkata and Asansol. It is also an important transportation hub of West Bengal and a major gateway for Kolkata. It is the headquarter of Howrah district and the Howrah Sadar subdivision. Howrah is located on the Western bank of the Hooghly River.
|• Type||Municipal Corporation|
|• Body||Howrah Municipal Corporation|
|• Mayor||Rathin Chakraborty (Trinamool Congress)|
|• Total||95 km2 (37 sq mi)|
|Elevation||12 m (39 ft)|
|• Official||Bengali and English|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Telephone code||91 (33)|
|ISO 3166 code||IN-WB|
|Sex ratio||904 ♂/♀|
|Lok Sabha constituency||Howrah|
|Vidhan Sabha constituency||Howrah Uttar, Howrah Madhya, Howrah Dakshin, Shibpur|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The name came from the word Haor—Bengali word for a fluvial swampy lake, which is sedimentologically a depression where water, mud and organic debris accumulate. The word itself was rather used in eastern part of Bengal (now Bangladesh), as compared to the western part (now West Bengal).
The history of the city of Howrah dates back over 500 years, but the district is situated in an area historically occupied by the ancient Bengali kingdom of Bhurshut. Venetian explorer Cesare Federici, who travelled in India during 1565–79, mentioned a place called Buttor in his journal circa 1578. As per his description, this was a location into which large ships could travel (presumably the Hoogli River) and perhaps a commercial port. This place is identifiable with the modern day neighbourhood of Bator. Bator was also mentioned in the Bengali poetry Manasamangal written by Bipradas Pipilai in 1495.
In 1713, the Bengal Council of the British East India Company, on the accession of the Emperor Farrukhsiyar, grandson of Aurangzeb, to the throne of Delhi, sent a deputation to him with a petition for a settlement of five villages on west bank of Hooghly river along with thirty-three villages on the east bank. The list of villages appeared in the Consultation Book of the Council dated 4 May 1714. The five villages on the west bank on Hooghly river were: 'Salica' (Salkia), 'Harirah' (Howrah), 'Cassundeah' (Kasundia), 'Ramkrishnopoor' (Ramkrishnapur), and 'Battar' (Bator): all identifiable with localities of modern-day Howrah city. The deputation was successful except for these five villages. By 1728, most of the present-day Howrah district was part of either of the two zamindaris: Burdwan or Muhammand Aminpur. After Battle of Plassey, as per the treaty signed with the Nawab of Bengal, Mir Qasim, on 11 October 1760, Howrah district (then part of Burdwan) came under control of East India Company. In 1787, the Hooghly district was formed, and till 1819, the whole of the present day Howrah district was added to it. The Howrah district was separated from the Hooghly district in 1843.
In the 1896 census of British India, Howrah had a population of 84,069, which grew up to 157,594 in the 1901 census. This rapid growth was due to abundance of job opportunities, which effected in a 100% increase in male population during this period, whereas the female population grew up only by 60%.
Burn Standard Company (BSCL, established in 1781), a major company in heavy engineering industry, which is now part of Bharat Bhari Udyog Nigam Limited (BBUNL), has its oldest manufacturing unit located in Howrah. In 1823, Bishop Reginald Heber described Howrah as the place "chiefly inhabited by shipbuilders". The Howrah plant of Shalimar Paints (established in 1902) was the first large-scale paint manufacturing plant to be set up not only in India but in entire South East Asia.
Jute industry suffered during the Partition of Bengal (1947), when the larger jute production area became part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The foundry industry saw a decline in demand due to growth in steel industry.
Often termed as Sheffield of the East, Howrah is known today as an engineering hub, mainly in the area of light engineering industry. There are small engineering firms all over Howrah, particularly around Belilios Road area near Howrah station.
Even though it is the second largest city in the state, it did not undertake appropriate infrastructure development in the last century. As a result, Howrah is continuing to face its perennial problems like traffic congestion, population explosion and pollution. The ratio of roadspace to the population is too low in this city, even comparatively smaller towns like Baharampur enjoy a better ratio. The emigrant labour force from the rest of the state's rural areas and neighbouring states take refuge in the cheaper quarters in Howrah, bringing the already poor infrastructure to the brink of collapse. Many times such migrations reduce a locality to a poor-infrastructure slum. The name of the novel City of Joy, which has been often the name the Kolkata metropolis been called, is actually based on one such slum of Howrah.
However, recently, work has been done on broadening the national highways and several towns roads. These activities are expected to help in improvement of traffic conditions. Of late, Howrah has seen a lot of new industrial proposals like the Kona Truck Terminus, Kolkata West International City and relocation of the old smoky foundry plants.
Howrah Municipality was established in 1862. From 1896, it started supplying filter water across the city. During 1882–83, Bally Municipality was formed separating it out from Howrah. As per the Howrah Municipal Corporation Act of 1980, Howrah became a municipal corporation, in 1984. The corporation area is divided into fifty wards, each of which elects a councillor. The Mayor-in-council, which is led by Mayor and supported by Commissioner and officers, is responsible for administration of the corporation area. As of August 2015, the Trinamool Congress is controlling the municipal board. The Howrah Police Commissionerate is responsible for law enforcement in the city.
Howrah can be accessed from its many rail links, as well as its transport connections to Kolkata. Apart from the bridges connecting the cities, there are also ferry services between various jetties.
Howrah station is a major railway station serving Howrah, Kolkata and the neighbouring districts. It was established in 1854 when railway line was constructed here, connecting it to the coalfields of the Bardhaman. Howrah Station serves as a terminal for two railway zones of India: the Eastern Railway and the South Eastern Railway, and it is connected to most of the major cities of India.
It is the only station in Eastern India connecting the entire Eastern India with the rest of India. From Howrah both Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway operates connecting various stations of the districts of Howrah, Hooghly, Bardhaman, East Midnapore and West Midnapore. Within Howrah city, there are six other stations: Tikiapara, Dasnagar, Ramrajatala, Santragachhi, Padmapukur and Shalimar Station, all serving the South Eastern Railway.
The first station after Howrah terminus that serves the Eastern Railway is Liluah, which is located in the municipal area of Howrah. Tikiapara, Dasnagar, Ramrajatala and Padmapukur are smaller stations of suburban railway. Santragachhi is a railway junction. Shalimar Station served as a terminus for goods trains and hosted a rail yard since its inception in 1883. In recent years, it has been brought into the network of passenger train stations to reduce pressure on Howrah station. Apart from suburban trains, few long-distance trains have been introduced or moved over here (from Howrah station).
The total road length in Howrah is approximately 300 km. Howrah hosts a branch of the Grand Trunk Road – this was built, starting 1804, by the Public Works Department of the British administration. The road starts at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden and connects to the main road near Chandannagar. Howrah also connects the metropolitan region to the national highways – NH 2 and NH 6 are connected to Vidyasagar Setu via the Kona Expressway.
There are ferry services available, between various jetties in Howrah and Kolkata, which was introduced in the 1970s. The jetties on Howrah side are at Howrah Station, Ramkrishnapur, Shibpur, Shalimar, Bandhaghat and Nazirganj. The Kolkata metropolitan region is also served by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.
Shibpur is a neighbourhood in south Howrah, near Vidyasagar Setu. Through the centuries it has been synonymous with the Great Banyan tree. The Great Banyan tree boasts of having the largest canopy in the world. It continues to grow and covers many city blocks and looks like a forest all by itself. The British established the Indian Botanical Gardens, now known as Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden in 1786 between the Great Banyan tree and the Hoogly River. Here there is one end of the Grand Trunk Road. The Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur now an Indian Institute of Engineering Science & Technology (IIEST) is the second oldest engineering university in India.
There is a famous Rama Temple in Ramrajatala area, where Rama is worshiped for 4 months, starting from Rama Navami to the last Sunday of the month of Shravana. A big fair is held every year on the last day of worship.
Located near Santragachi Railway Station, the Santragachhi Jheel is a large lake that attracts migratory birds during winter. The lesser whistling duck is the most dominant species visible here. Forest Ministry of the State Government of West Bengal intends to convert the lake to a 'wildlife conservation centre'.
Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda, a chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It is located on the west bank of Hooghly River, in Belur, West Bengal, India and is one of the significant institutions in Calcutta.
The Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur is a public engineering and research institution. It is the second oldest engineering institution in India, and is an Indian institute of national importance.
Howrah's schools are either run by the state government or by private institutions. The medium of instruction is Bengali, English or Hindi. Schools are affiliated to the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE), West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE), the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Howrah Zilla School, the oldest school in Howrah founded in 1845, is the only Governmental school in Howrah.
Howrah's first vernacular Bengali medium school was established in 1857 by Kedarnath Bhattacharya, first Indian chairman of Howrah Municipal Corporation. In 1870 it was named Santragachi Minor School. Currently it is named Santragachi Kedarnath Institution, Howrah.