TOURISM AT HOWRAH
Once known as the ‘Manchester of Bengal’, this District has a number of places of tourist interest, a few of which are the most visited sites in the country and all located in and around the Howrah Municipal Corporation.
Destination Howrah shall consist of the following spots:-
The Howrah Station
The Howrah Bridge or the Rabindra Setu
The Indian Botanic Garden
The Bengal Engineering College, Shibpur
The Belur Math & temple
The second Hooghly Bridge or Vidyasagar Setu
Panitras Samtaber, the birth place of the great Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.
Gadiara- the confluence of the Hooghly and the Rupnarayan.
Garchumuk- the confluence of the Hooghly and the Damodar.
Description of the Spots:-
The Howrah Station
It is the gateway of Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal to the rest of the country. Developed towards the early part of the twentieth century, it has become one of the most important transit points for passengers and goods movement in the country. The present station building will be completing its glorious 100 years in 2006.
Howrah is the terminus of the first Indian Railway system namely East Indian Railways. A survey for the East Indian Railway was taken up in 1845 and construction began in 1851. The section of the Railways, a Broad gauge railway 5'6" was opened in 1854 from Howrah to Hooghly. In 1855 the line was extended upto Raniganj and in 1862 upto Benares. After construction of the first Howrah Bridge in 1874, the Howrah Station was remodeled and improved. The other great line, the Bengal Nagpur Railway, also a Broad gauge Railway, was extended to Howrah in 1900, thus connecting it with Nagpur and Bombay on the West and Cuttuck, Puri and madras on the South. After this, the Station was further remodeled and became a joint Station for E. I. Rly. and B. N. Rly. The old Station was made over to the B. N. Rly. The E. I. Rly. And B. N. Rly. were subsequently renamed as Eastern Rly and South- Eastern Rly respectively. Howrah station has now a large imposing building facing the river with clock Tower and twenty long platforms for the passenger trains & three for the goods trains.
The Howrah Bridge or the Rabindra Setu
The old Howrah Bridge, a floating pontoon Bridge, was opened in October 1874 and made over to Port Commissioners who managed and maintained it. Designed by the late Sir Bradford Leslie, it had a total length of 1528 feet between centres of abutments and provided a 48’ feet roadway and two 7’ feet footways. The most novel feature was the removable section which when floated out gave a 200’ feet clear openings, with a head room of 22’ feet, were also provided for smaller crafts. The adjusting ways or shore spans, one at each end of the bridge, consisted of three 160’ feet long bow string girders.
The traffic between commercial Kolkata and industrial Howrah having enormously increased during the first quarter of the 20th Century, the old bridge was quite insufficient and it was decided to build a new one. The shifting mode of the river Hooghly was dangerous for either a cantilever or a suspension Bridge and hence a Bridge was designed as a sort of combination of the both. It is however known as and reputed as a cantilever Bridge and is the third largest bridge of its kind in the World having a over-all length of 2150’ feet with a single span of 1500’ feet. The new Howrah Bridge was designed by M/s. Rendell, Palmer and Tritton, consulting Engineers. It took 8 years to complete the bridge and 26,500 tons of steel including 18,200 tons of high tensile quality were used. The total cost of construction of the land and all ancillary works, amounted Rs. 3.33 crores.
It is interesting to note that the Bridge expands about 4.8 inches during the heat of the day and contracts an equal length in the cool of the night. Another peculiarity of the Bridge is that the Bridge bends over slightly in strong winds. The framework has also been built to withstand earth-quakes, as Calcutta lies in a seismic zone.
The height of the Bridge at the supporting towers on the both ends is 300’ feet. Each tower has a constant width of 11’ feet and a tapering from 8’-6’’ to 4’-6’’ at the top. The entire structure is laid on main piers of re-enforced concrete monoliths with steel ceiling edges. Each pier is 181’-6’’ long by 81’-6’’ wide and is amongst the largest in the world. The monoliths and grinders on the Calcutta side are 103’ feet deep and on the Howrah side it is 88’ feet deep. These monoliths are the heaviest in the World.
One can have a bird’s eye view of Howrah Station and glimpses of the cities of Kolkata and Howrah along the banks of the Hoogly River standing at middle of the bridge.
The Indian Botanic Garden previously known as Royal Botanic Garden with the famous Banyan tree is comprised of 285.05 acres of land that is about 1000 bighas and lies on the bank of the River Hooghly just outside the Municipal area of Howrah bordering its southern boundary line and adjoins the compound of the Sibpur Engineering College on the South.
This green belt is considered to be the lungs of the highly industrial and urbanized city of Howrah. Use of plastic materials has been banned in the Garden Campus.
In the Garden, beside the great banyan tree we have a fair collection of rare indigenous and exotic plants, beautiful Amazon lilies, climbing plants, varieties of palm, delicate orchids and all sorts of large trees – mahagoguny, teak, walnut etc. We also find here a nursery (not open to the public), a Conservatory, a Palm House, a Herbarium, an Orchid conservatory. We have also a second large Banyan tree. Besides we can find in the Garden the following Monuments and buildings:- Wallich's monument, Kyds' Monument, Griffiths Monument, Jack's Monument, Kurze's Monument, Roxburg's
The Great Banyan Tree
This tree is the chief attraction and also the pride and glory of the Garden. It resembles more like a forest than a single tree and evokes awe and wonder in the minds of the vast multitude of daily visitors. The tree has sent down innumerable roots from its branches vertically to the ground and the roots have grown thick and shout to bear all the appearance of so many trunks. The striking development of the aerial roots from branches is peculiarity of the Banyan tree. The main trunk of the Banyan tree was about 51 feet in girth in December, 1894 and the aerial roots which actually reached the ground at that date numbered 378 and the roots newly formed which did not reach the ground numbered 100. It may be observed that aerial roots are thrown out from such places where support for the horizontally spreading branches is mostly required. The circumference of the leafy dead of the tree, if its sinnosities be followed, is 976 ft. otherwise it is 858 feet. The tree is not symmetrical and the main stem does not stand on the centre of the space covered by it. The long diameter of the space is 287 ft. and the short diameter is 264 feet. during the great Cyclones of 1864 and 1867 several of the largest limbs on the northern and western sides were removed. Breaking of branches by frequent severe storms of wind during the hot season is a regular feature. The southern side has however hitherto entirely escaped damage by storms. The age of the tree is not actually known but according to current of tradition prevailing in the neighbourhood, in 1786 when the garden was established, the tree was quite a small tree growing on the top of a wild date-tree under which a Sadhu used daily to sit. According to this tradition the age of the tree would be 235 years now in 2004.
Bengal Engineering College, Shibpur
It is the premier Engineering college in the State and one of the best Engineering colleges in the country. It is situated on the balks of the River Hooghly at the south-eastern border of the town and the north of the Indian Botanic Garden. The site, comprised of about 50 acres of land, was originally included within the compound of Indian Botanic Garden and selected by Bishop Middleton, the first Bishop of Calcutta for Bishop's College. The main building of the Engineering College – a Gothic structure, was also erected for the old Bishops' College. The land comprised of 62 Bighas was presented by Marquis of Hastings and money was found by Foreign Bible Society and the Church Missionary Society. The foundation stone was laid in 1820 and the College was opened in 1824.
The college is upgraded to the status of a Deemed University in the recent past with facilities of learning of almost all the trades of engineering.
Belur Math & temple
Belur Math is situated just outside the boundary of Howrah Municipal Corporation on the north and stands on the West Bank of the river Hooghly. It was founded in 1897 by Swami Vivekananda, the great savant of India, and other disciples of Sri Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa, who is regarded by the Hindus as an incarnation of God and occupies a place of great
honour amongst the religious leaders of the world. A magnificent temple has been built at a great cost by the unique munificence of two pious American ladies, Miss Helen Rubel and Mrs Auna Worcester.
The breadth of the shrine is 100’ ft and its length, including the prayer hall, is 233’ ft. On a marble pedestal in the shrine is a marble statute of Sri Ramkrishna in his familiar Asana. The prayer hall is 152’ ft. long, 72’ ft. wide and 48’ ft. high.
The math is the headquarters of the Ramkrishna Mission, a society established for the propagation of the orthodox Hindu faith chastened with modern outlook. There is also a large Museum inside the Math on the lives of Sri Ramkrishna and his close disciples. The temple and the Math is visited by countless people, most of whom are religiously inclined, to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Sri Ramkrishna (18th February 1836) in February when a fair is held there. The place also attracts large number of visitors from Kolkata and abroad every day, especially of Sundays and holidays.
Situated at the confluence of the Hooghly and the Damodar, this spot has a quiet scenic beauty. The undulating irrigation canal connecting the two rivers add to the beauty of the spot.
There are two Bungalows of Howrah Zilla Parishad. The new Bungalow is situated in the vicinity of the confluence. There is also one deer park within the campus of the old bungalow.
Though the spot is yet to take a place in the tourist map, it can be developed as a major tourist spot with adequate publicity, proper maintenance of the deer park and beautification of the embankment.
It is the home place of the immortal Bengali novelist Sri Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Though he was a Bengali writer, his great novels and short stories dealing in human emotions are translated in almost all major languages of India. His two-storied dwelling house is situated at Panitras or Samtaber village on the bank of the river Rupnarayan in a perfect lonely village atmosphere of Bengal. The building is now preserved as a Museum where mementoes of Saratbabu like table, chair, chappals, stick, bed, writing tables are kept apart from his works(books),some manuscripts and personal letters. Saratbabu spent twelve years(1926-1938) of his literary life in this place before permanently settling at Kolkata. During this period he created some of his finest stories & novels such as Abagir Swarga, Bamuner Meye, Palli Samaj, Ramer Sumati, Mahesh, Srikanta(4th part).
Second Hooghly Bridge or Vidyasagar Setu
Vidyasagar Setu – otherwise known as the Second Hooghly Bridge opened to the traffic in 1992 is the finest product of modern architecture and technology. It is intricately connected with the cities of Kolkata and Howrah by a series of over-bridges and situated at a distance of 1.5 k.m. southwards of Ravinrda Setu.It is erected on only four pillars and hanged on 121 number of iron ropes. The bridge is 458 metres long and 115 metres wide. One can have a glimpse of a large part of
Kolkata standing at the middle of the bridge. The beauty of the bridge and its background is largely utilized by the Film Industries of India for shooting purposes.