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Howrah or Haora (Bengali হাওড়া Haoṛa) is an industrial city, a municipal corporation in the Howrah districtmarker, West Bengalmarker, India. It is the headquarters of the district, and also the headquarters of Howrah Sadar subdivisionmarker of the district. Located on the west bank of the Hoogli Rivermarker, it is a twin city of Kolkatamarker. It is West Bengalmarker's second largest city in terms of both area and population. The two cities are connected by the Howrah Bridgemarker (also known as Rabindra Setu), the Vidyasagar Setu (also known as the second Hooghly Bridge) and ferry services between various jetties in the two cities.

Howrah Stationmarker serves as a terminal for two railway zones of India: the Eastern Railway and the South Eastern Railway. There are six other railway stations with the city, including the railway junction at Santragachhimarker and the terminal at Shalimar Stationmarker—all the six are part of the South Eastern Railway network. Two national highways—NH 2 and NH 6—are connected to Vidyasagar Setu via Kona Expressway. One endpoint of the Grand Trunk Road is at the Indian Botanical Gardensmarker here, where the Great Banyan tree stands. Bengal Engineering College, now a university, is a notable educational institution located in the city.

Etymology

The name came from the word HaorBengali word for a wetland, which is typically a depression where water and mud accumulates. The word itself was rather used in eastern part of Bengalmarker (now Bangladesh), as compared to the western part (now West Bengal).

History

History of Howrah dates back to 500 years. Venetianmarker explorer Ceasare de Federici, who travelled India during 1565–79, mentioned a place called Buttor in his journal circa 1578. As per his description, this was the place up to which large ships could travel (in the Hoogli River) and so, it was the dock for loading and unloading goods for those ships. This place is identifiable with the modern day neighbourhood Bator of Howrah. Bator was also mentioned in the Bengali poetry Manasamangal written by Bipradas Pipilai in 1495.

In 1713, the Bengal Council of British East India Company, on the accession of the Emperor Farrukhsiyar, grand son 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 rivermarker 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.

With the establishment of the Howrah Railway Terminus in 1854 started the most important phase of its industrial development. Flour mills were established in 1855, followed by Jute mills and around 1870s, there were five mills near Howrah station. The Howrah–Shalimar Railway Section and the Shalimar Terminus were constructed in 1883.

By 1914 almost every major city in India was served by the Railways and the increased demand for its rolling stocks and repair works resulted in the establishment of railway workshop in Howrah. The light engineering industry grew up after 1914. This industrial boom continued throughout the second world war and brought with it rapid urbanisation phase in unplanned manner creating slums near the industrial establishments.

Today, Howrah is famous for Howrah Stationmarker and Howrah Bridgemarker.

Geography

Howrah is located at . It has an average elevation of 12 metres (39 feet).

Demographics

 India census, Howrah had a population of 1,008,704. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Howrah has an average literacy rate of 77%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 81%, and female literacy is 73%. In Howrah, 9% of the population is under 6 years of age.


As of 1896 census of British India, Howrah had a population of 84,069, which grew up to 157,594 in 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%.

Industry

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 upnot only in India but in entire South East Asia.

Jute industry suffered during the Partition of Bengal , 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 a 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 observe 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 Baharampurmarker enjoy a better ratio. The emigrant labor force from the rest of the state's rural areas and neighboring 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 Kolkatamarker 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.

Politics and civic administration

Howrah elects four Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. Political leaders such as Chittabrata Majumdar, Ashok Ghosh, Swadesh Chakrabortty, Ambica Banerjee, Kanailal Bhattacharya and Priyaranjan Dasmunsi has represented assembly constituencies or the parliamentary constituency of Howrah. All the four assembly constituencies — Howrah North, Howrah Central, Howrah South and Shibpur — along with the assembly constituencies of Ballymarker, Domjurmarker and Sankrailmarker form the Howrah (Lok Sabha constituency).

As per order of the Delimitation Commission in respect of the delimitation of constituencies in the West Bengal, parliamentary constituency no. 25 Howrah will be composed of the same segments except that Panchlamarker assembly constituency will be joining this parliamentary constituency in place of Domjur. Also, Howrah North will be renamed as Howrah Uttar; Howrah South will be renamed as Howrah Dakshin and Howrah Central will be renamed as Howrah Madhya. These three assembly segments along with Shibpur constituency will cover all the wards of Howrah Municipality, and in addition, Howrah Dakshin will contain four gram panchayats under Sankrailmarker community development block.

Howrah Municipality was established in 1862. From 1896, it started supplying filter water across the city. During 1882-83, Ballymarker 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.

Transport

Howrah stationmarker 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 Bardhamanmarker. This station is now part of two zones of Indian Railway: the Eastern Railway and the South Eastern Railway and it is connected to most of the major cities of India. It is also part of the Kolkata Suburban Railway and suburban trains connecting various stations of the districts of Howrah, Hooghlymarker, Bardhaman, East Midnaporemarker and West Midnaporemarker. Within Howrah city, there are six other stations: Tikiapara, Dasnagar, Ramrajatala, Santragachhimarker, Padmapukur and Shalimar Stationmarker, all serving the South Eastern Railway. The first station after Howrah terminus that serves the Eastern Railway is Liluahmarker, which is located in the municipal area of Ballymarker. 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).

Hooghli Rivermarker flows between the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata. Howrah Bridgemarker (Rabindra Setu), a cantilever bridge with one endpoint next to Howrah station, and Vidyasagar Setu, a cable-stayed bridge with one endpoint near Shalimar station, connect the two cities. Both the bridges are counted among the longest ones in the world within their types. Also, between various jetties in Howrah and Kolkata, there are ferry services available, which was introduced in 1970's. The jetties on Howrah side are at Howrah Station, Ramkrishnapur, Shibpur, Shalimar and Nazirganj.

Total road length in Howrah is approximately 300 km. One of the most important road is the Grand Trunk Road which starts from Indian Botanical Gardensmarker in Howrah. This road was built by the Public Works Department of the British administration. Work started on it in 1804 to add this connector to the main branch of the road near Chandannagarmarker. Operational from 1990s, the roads connecting to Vidyasagar Setu from various locations have added up to the roadspace of Howrah. The most important one is 8 km long Kona Expressway, which was built by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA). This road serves as a connector of Kolkata (via Vidyasagar Setu) to National Highway 2 (NH 2) and hence is part of Golden Quadrilateral project. At Nibramarker town of the Howrah district, Kona Expressway joins with National Highway 6 (NH 6) as well. Along with Diamond Harbour Road, this erstwhile State Highway forms the 133 km long National Highway 117 (NH 117), connecting NH 6 to the coastal town of Bakkhali. The Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways accorded National Highway status to these two roads, which formed NH-117 together. However, due to land acquisition issues, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has declared their plan to return these two roads to state government, also pointing out to the heavy traffic on Diamond Harbour Road and to the existence of multitude of underground utilities there.

Neighbourhoods and places of interest

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 Gardensmarker in 1786 between the Great Banyan Tree and the Hoogly Rivermarker. Here there is one end of the Grand Trunk Road.

Located in Shibpur, The Bengal Engineering College is the second oldest engineering college 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 fare 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. 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'.

Citations

References

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