Santragachhi or Santragachi is a neighbourhood of Howrah city in West Bengal, India. It has a railway station which serves as a railway junction for the South Eastern Railway. Santragachi is mostly a residential locality with a sizeable railway colony with some industries including a privately owned railway goods wagon making unit.
Santragachi is also popular for its large lake known as Santragachhi Jheel which attracts migratory birds such as the lesser whistling duck in the winter months.
The recent development of a new bus stand and bus routes from Santragachi are making it a preferred changeover point for people travelling by railways to Kolkata, specially South Kolkata, via Vidyasagar Setu.
Lesser whistling duck in Santragachhi lake
Location in West Bengal, India
|• Official||Bengali, English|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|ISO 3166 code||ISO 3166-2:IN|
In the early twentieth century, Santragachhi was a large village, with a part within Howrah municipality. According to a legend, the principal family there, the Chaudhuris, who were Barendra brahmins, started staying here 300 years from now. Inspired by them, other Barendra families moved to the place. The railway station of Santragachhi was named after this place, though this place is closer to another railway station at Ramrajatala. The Ramrajatala area was considered a quarter of the area under this village.
The first vernacular school of the Howrah district was established in Santragachhi in 1857 with the help of a government grant. Afterwards the school was amalgamated with "Santragachi Madhya Engreji School" making it an English and Bengali dual medium school and later in 1925, the school transferred to Santragachi Kedarnath Institution. The first girls' school of the Howrah district with Indian management was established in Santragachhi in 1863, with a small grant from the government.
Santragachhi produced good quality of arums (ol: Bengali: ওল). There is a variety of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (elephant-foot yam of arum family) which is named Santragachhi after this place.
Santragachhi is located at .
Other neighbourhoods of Howrah that surround Santragachhi are Ramrajatala, Jagacha, Bakshara, Unsani, and Garhpa.
The erstwhile Bengal Nagpur Railway, now known as South Eastern Railway, was connected to Howrah station in 1900. At this time, the 3-mile-long (5 km) short branch from Santragachhi to Shalimar Station was also created for redirecting heavy traffic of export goods, for further carrying them to Kidderpore dock in Kolkata via large ferry steamers. Santragachhi railway station is now a railway junction. There are plans of developing Santragachhi junction into a full fledged terminal, with more trains originating and departing from here, over the next 3–4 years to reduce congestion at Howrah Station.
Santragachhi is also close to the Kona Expressway, which connects to Kolkata via Vidyasagar Setu and towards rest of the NH 6 and to the NH 2. Santragachhi is the main railway coaching yard of South Eastern Railway's Kharagpur Division. Maintenance of more than 50 long or short-distance trains has been done here. The class-one flat yard consists of a diesel locomotive shed, an electric locomotive shed, washing and sick lines and a railway turntable.
Kolkata Central Bus Terminus, spread over 12.38 acres (5.01 ha) of land, the Central Bus Terminus, is the fructification of the joint efforts by the state transport department, HRBC and the KMDA. While Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority contributed in handing over a vast 12.38 acres of land to install the facility, Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) remained the implementing authority. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the terminus on 27 May 2015. The terminus has a parking capacity for 169 buses, 100 other vehicles and 85 two wheelers.
There are several secondary and higher secondary schools for boys and girls. Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee laid the foundation stone of Santragachi Kedarnath Institution, biggest school in this area. Other governmental schools include Santragachi Kedarnath Institution (Girls), Surendranath Girls High School, Santragachi Bhanumati Balika Vidhyalaya, Jagacha Girl's High School, S.E. Railway Mixed Higher Secondary School, Santragachi Mixed High School, and Santragachi Railway Colony High School, Jagacha High School etc. Private schools include St. Marys Convent School, Maria's Day School, and Usha Martin School. There is also a branch of Kendriya Vidhyalaya, which is affiliated to CBSE Board.
Colleges in the area include Dr. Kanailal Bhattacharya College and Howrah Girls College.
Santragachhi Jheel is a large lake, located next to the Santragachhi railway station. This lake attracts large number of migratory birds in the winter months, particularly in December and January. The number has increased in recent years, as migratory birds have started to avoid destinations like the lakes in Alipore Zoo, Kolkata. Birds like sarus crane from North America and Australia, gadwall, northern shoveller, northern pintail, garganey from north of the Himalayas, and many other local migratory birds such as cotton pygmy goose, and knob-billed duck are spotted here during this season. However, the lesser whistling duck is the most dominant species visible here.
The lake area is owned by South Eastern Railway, though the Forest Department of West Bengal also looks after the place. Every year before the migratory birds are expected to arrive, the Forest department cleans Water hyacinth from the lake, though leaving some portion of it which adds up to an environment suitable for the birds. Efforts are made by local residents, Forest Department and Railways to improve the environment for the birds.
The Forest Ministry of the State Government of West Bengal intends to convert the lake to a wildlife conservation centre.
The Dalal Pukur area of Santragachi host the Tibbetibaba Ashram: Tibbetibaba was a famous Bengali philosopher saint of India. The ashram was established in November 1929. This ashram was given the name of Tibbetibaba Vedanta Ashram by his devotees and disciples. Land for the ashram was bought by a man named Bishnupada Chattopadhyaya. The first brick for the ashram was laid by Tibbetibaba himself. Later, more land for the ashram was bought by a man from the Entally area of Kolkata.