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Howrah, or Haora, is one of the largest cities in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is an important transportation hub of West Bengal and a major gateway for Kolkata. It is the headquarters of Howrah district and the Howrah Sadar subdivision. Howrah is located on the western bank of the Hooghly River.


Howrah bridge in night 1 (448671154).jpg
Sheffield of India[1]
Howrah is located in West Bengal
Howrah is located in India
Howrah is located in Earth
Coordinates: 22°35′04″N 88°15′59″E / 22.58444°N 88.26639°E / 22.58444; 88.26639
Country India
StateWest Bengal
DistrictHowrah district
 • TypeMunicipal Corporation
 • BodyHowrah Municipal Corporation
 • MayorRathin Chakraborty
 • Police commissionerShri Devendra Prakash Singh
 • Total95 km2 (37 sq mi)
12 m (39 ft)
 • Total1,077,075
 • OfficialBengali and English
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Telephone code91 (33)
ISO 3166 codeIN-WB
Sex ratio904 /
Lok Sabha constituencyHowrah
Vidhan Sabha constituencyHowrah Uttar, Howrah Madhya, Howrah Dakshin, Shibpur



The name came from the word HaorBengali word for a fluvial swampy lake, which is sedimentologically a depression where water, mud and organic debris accumulate.[citation needed] The word itself was rather used in eastern part of Bengal (now Bangladesh), as compared to the western part (now West Bengal).[3]


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.[4] As per his description, this was a location into which large ships could travel (presumably the Hoogli River) and perhaps a commercial port.[4] This place is identifiable with the modern day neighbourhood of Bator.[4] Bator was also mentioned in the Bengali poetry Manasamangal written by Bipradas Pipilai in 1495.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] The deputation was successful except for these five villages.[7] By 1728, most of the present-day Howrah district was part of either of the two zamindaris: Burdwan or Muhammand Aminpur.[7] 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.[8] In 1787, the Hooghly district was formed, and till 1819, the whole of the present day Howrah district was added to it.[9] The Howrah district was separated from the Hooghly district in 1843.[10]


Dependent on definitions and geographical boundaries Howrah is measured as either the 2nd or 3rd largest city in West Bengal (behind Kolkata, and perhaps Asansol). As of 2011 Indian census, Howrah had a population of 1,077,075 with 244,135 households.[2] [note 1]

In the 1896 census of British India, Howrah had a population of 84,069, which grew up to 157,594 in the 1901 census.[11][12] 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%.[11]

Howrah town population by year[12][note 2]
Year Population % increase Males Females
1896 84,069
1901 157,594 99,904 57,690
1911 179,006 13.59 114,566 64,440
1921 195,301 9.10 128,472 66,829
1931 224,873 15.14 145,120 79,753
1941 379,292 68.67 246,959 132,333
1951 433,630 14.33 268,412 165,218
1961 532,692 22.84 325,493 207,199
1971 737,877 38.52 439,457 298,420
1981 744,429 0.89 421,636 322,793
1991 950,435 27.67 528,396 422,039
2001 1,007,532 6.01 547,068 460,464
2011[2] 1,077,075 561,220 515,855


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.[13] In 1823, Bishop Reginald Heber described Howrah as the place "chiefly inhabited by shipbuilders".[14] 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.[15]

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[1], Howrah is known as an engineering hub, mainly in the area of light engineering industry.[1] There are small engineering firms all over Howrah, particularly around Belilios Road area near Howrah station.[16] However these businesses are declining in the 21st century.[1]

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.

Civic administrationEdit

Howrah Municipality was established in 1862.[17] From 1896, it started supplying filter water across the city.[18] During 1882–83, Bally Municipality was formed separating it out from Howrah.[11] As per the Howrah Municipal Corporation Act of 1980, Howrah became a municipal corporation,[19] in 1984. The corporation area is divided into fifty wards, each of which elects a councillor.[20] The Mayor-in-council, which is led by Mayor and supported by Commissioner and officers, is responsible for administration of the corporation area.[20] 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

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.[21]

The first station after Howrah terminus that serves the Eastern Railway is Liluah, which is located in the municipal area of Howrah.[21] 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 kilometres (190 mi).[22] Howrah hosts a branch of the Grand Trunk Road – this was built, starting 1804, by the Public Works Department of the British administration.[23] The road starts at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden[24] and connects to the main road near Chandannagar.[23] Howrah also connects the metropolitan region to the national highways – NH 2 and NH 6 are connected to Vidyasagar Setu via the Kona Expressway.


Howrah Bridge

Howrah and Kolkata are separated by the Hooghli River, and connected by four bridges on the river Ganges. These are the:

The cantilever style Howrah Bridge and the cable-stayed Vidyasagar Setu are counted among the longest bridges in the world within their types.[25]

Other transportEdit

There are ferry services available, between various jetties in Howrah and Kolkata, which was introduced in the 1970s.[21] 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 for four months every year.
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.[26] Forest Ministry of the State Government of West Bengal intends to convert the lake to a 'wildlife conservation centre'.[27]
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.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

Howrah Zilla School, the oldest school in Howrah founded in 1845, is the only Governmental school in Howrah.[citation needed]

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.[28]

Weather and climateEdit

Howrah has a Tropical wet-and-dry climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). The summers here have a good deal of rainfall, while the winters have very little. The temperature here averages 26.3 °C. Precipitation are here averages 1744 mm.[29]

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Weather Online[30]

Notable peopleEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Census data of Howrah can be difficult to compare as the city is sometimes grouped together with the Kolkata and other settlements as the Kolkata metropolitan area. Further care needs to taken to distinguish Howrah town from Howrah district.
  2. ^ Note that Howrah town census area was not stable until 1981


  1. ^ a b c d "Sheffield of India dying an untimely death - Times of India". The Times of India. The Times of India. 20 September 2001. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Primary Census Abstract Data Tables – West Bengal – DDW_PCA1915_2011_MDDS with UI". Census of India. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  3. ^ O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 169
  4. ^ a b c Donald Frederick Lach, p.473
  5. ^ O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 19
  6. ^ O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 22
  7. ^ a b c O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 23
  8. ^ O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 25
  9. ^ O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 26
  10. ^ O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 27
  11. ^ a b c O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 31
  12. ^ a b "A −4 : Towns and Urban Agglomerations Classified by Population Size Class in 2001 With Variation Since 1901". The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Group Companies: Burn Standard Co. Ltd". Bharat Bhari Udyog Nigam Limited. Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  14. ^ O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 165
  15. ^ "Shalimar Paints:About us – Manufacturing Facilities". Archived from the original on 15 January 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  16. ^ Mark Holmström, p.137
  17. ^ "Howrah Municipal Corporation". Official website of Department of Municipal Affairs, Government of West Bengal. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  18. ^ O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 28
  19. ^ "Other Municipal Corporation Acts". Official website of Department of Municipal Affairs, Government of West Bengal. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  20. ^ a b "About us page". Howrah Municipal Corporation. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  21. ^ a b c "East-West Kolkata Metro Corridor: EIA and SIA (Chapter 2)" (PDF). Government of West Bengal. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  22. ^ "Engineering Department". Official website of the Howrah Municipality. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
  23. ^ a b O'Malley & Chakravarti 1909, p. 119
  24. ^
  25. ^ Durkee, Jackson (24 May 1999). "National Steel Bridge Alliance: World's Longest Bridge Spans" (PDF). American Institute of Steel Construction, Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 June 2002. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  26. ^ Suchetana Haldar (15 December 2006). "Birds of many feathers flock to Santragachi". Indian Express. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  27. ^ "Protected Area Update: News and Information from protected areas in India and South Asia". Wildlife Institute of India. February 2005. Archived from the original (DOC) on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  28. ^ Alok Kumar Mukherjee (1991). Howrah, a Study in Urbanization. p. 99.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Howrah Weather". World Weather Online. Retrieved 31 May 2012.


External linksEdit