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History of Howrah

Howrah is a very important place situated across the River Hooghly, on the opposite side of Kolkata. The district of Howrah is one of the most important districts in the state of West Bengal. The city of Howrah is steeped in history and culture. The people of the state play a big role in determining the fortunes of the state. Howrah has huge significance in the economy of the West Bengal since a lot of factories are built here. This is the reason Howrah was known as the ‘Sheffield of the East’. The industrial output of the state majorly depended on Howrah. The British played a major role in setting up the factories here.

History of Howrah

The history of the district of Howrah dates back to the period much before the British Rule in India. Howrah was part of the erstwhile Bengal kingdom, known as Bhurshut. This place has been mentioned by the explorer from Venice, Cesare Federici. This particular explorer had travelled to India sometime between the years of 1565 and 1579. He had mentioned in his journal dating back to the circa 1578 about a place known as Buttor. He had written that the place had some kind of a commercial port, and large ships were able to enter the port carrying goods.

The modern place of Bator near Howrah is probably the place Federici had written about. Bator had been mentioned in a Bengali poem known as Manasamangal, which was written by a poet, Bipradas Pipilai, in the year 1495. The modern day places of Howrah, Salkia, Ramakrishnapur, Kasundia and Bator are mentioned in the petition that the British East India Company’s Bengal Council had sent in 1713, to the grandson of Aurangzeb, Farrukhsiyar, upon the latter’s accession to the throne in Delhi. This list of villages was asked to be settled for some dispute. After that the above mentioned places were mentioned in the Bengal council’s Consultation Book on 4th May, 1714.

Howrah Chronology

By the year of 1728, most parts of the present day district of Howrah were under the “zamindari” of either Burdwan or Muhammed Aminpur. This continued till the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The Battle of Plassey saw a big turn of events in the state of Bengal. Mir Qasim became the new Nawab of Bengal. A treaty was signed with him by the British, on 11th October 1760. Howrah district came under the rule of the British East India Company since then. The East India Company formed the Hooghly district in 1787 and the whole of present district of Howrah came under the Hooghly district. Howrah was made into a separate district in the year 1843.

Howrah Railway Station was established in the year of 1854. After this, the actual industrial development was started in this district. The railway line played an instrumental role in bringing the raw materials from various parts of the country to the factories in Howrah. The flour mills started operating in 1855. The Jute mills soon followed suit and were established in the year 1870. There were as many as 5 mills near the Howrah railway station. The new terminus of Shalimar was constructed in the year 1883. That very year, the Howrah-Shalimar railway section started to operate as well. New industries grew up along this railway section as well.

The railway expanded to other parts of the country gradually. By the year 1914, the whole of India was connected by railways. With the expansion of operations of the Indian Railway, the requirement for the repair works and the rolling stocks increased. The railway workshop was built in Howrah during this time, to be able to meet the growing maintenance demands of the railway. During this period of time, the demands for the light engineering works increased as well. A lot of employment opportunities cropped up. Large number of people from the neighboring states started coming to Howrah in search of a job. Thousands of people started to work in the factories in and around Howrah.

The district became a happening place as far as industry and employment was concerned. The migratory workers started settling down with their families in the neighboring areas. A lot of slums grew up in an absolutely unplanned manner all over the district of Howrah. Belur Math was established in the year of 1898, on the banks of River Hooghly, in a place called Belur in Howrah district. This is the world headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. Swami Vivekananda and a number of his disciples played a big role in setting up the mission and making it a giant organization of the world. The religious and social activities held at the Belur Math draw a large number of tourists and devotees from all over the world. This place has helped to put Howrah on the global map.

Present Day Howrah

Today Howrah is a bustling urban city. After Kolkata, the capital of Bengal, Howrah is the biggest city in West Bengal. The Howrah Bridge is the major landmark of the city of Howrah. The city is most identified with the Howrah Bridge. The bridge truly is an engineering marvel and speaks a lot about the architecture of the bridge. The railway station of Howrah is one of the most important stations in India. It connects the eastern part of the country with the rest of India.

Millions of people use the station to reach other parts of the country as well as avail the suburban railway stations of Bengal. In the last few years, Howrah has seen a major change as far as the entertainment industry is concerned. The two shopping malls, namely R.D. Mall and Avani Riverside Mall have come up within a span of a very few years. The people of Howrah can visit these malls to enjoy themselves. They can have good food, watch awesome movies and shop to their heart’s content at these malls.

It can be thus observed that Howrah has a rich and composite history to its name all through the test of time.

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