Behala

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Behala
বেহালা
Neighbourhood in Kolkata (Calcutta)
Behala downtown, from ODRC Govt Housing.
Behala downtown, from ODRC Govt Housing.
Behala is located in West Bengal
Behala
Behala
Location in West Bengal
Coordinates: 22°29′24″N 88°18′54″E / 22.49000°N 88.31500°E / 22.49000; 88.31500Coordinates: 22°29′24″N 88°18′54″E / 22.49000°N 88.31500°E / 22.49000; 88.31500
Country  India
State West Bengal
City Kolkata
Ward 118-132 of KMC
Parliamentary
constituency
Kolkata Dakshin
Assembly
constituencies
Behala Paschim, Behala Purba
Elevation 36 ft (11 m)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN codes 700034, 700060, 700038, 700061, 700008, 700063, 700082
Area code(s) +91 33

Behala (Bengali: বেহালা, Behālā) is a neighbourhood in South West Kolkata, in the Indian state of West Bengal. Behala was officially known as South Suburban Municipality until it was merged with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) on January, 1984.[1] Now it is broadly spread across Ward Nos.118 and 132 of the KMC and is divided into two Vidhan Sabha constituencies: Behala Paschim and Behala Purba.[2] Behala, Parnasree, Thakurpukur and Haridebpur police stations of Kolkata Police serve this area.[3]

Behala is one of the oldest residential areas of the city. The Sabarna Roy Choudhurys, one of the oldest zamindar families of western Bengal and the trustee of Kalighat Kali Temple lives here.[4] It is also home to Sourav Ganguly,[5] former Indian national cricket captain and Sovan Chatterjee,[6] the present Mayor of Kolkata.

Behala is also an important industrial area of the city. There are many factories and industries which include the manufacturing units like chemicals, plastic and plastic recycling, spray painting, metal plating and galvanizing. There are many schools, hospitals, banks and other important institutes in the region.[7]

The Durga Puja celebration of Sabarna Roy Choudhury family at Barisha was launched in 1610 by Laksmikanta Majumdar, making it the second oldest family Durga Puja in western Bengal.[8] Today Durga Puja at Behala is marked by exotic theme-based sarbojanin pujas. Barisha Chandi Mela, a 10-day fair held every year in November–December since 1792, is another notable festival. The major landmarks at Behala are West Bengal State Archaeology Museum, Sabarna Sangrahashala, Behala Airport, Sonar Durgabari, Barisha Chandi Mandir, Siddheshwari Kali Temple etc.

Etymology[edit]

Behula's (top, left) journey, as depicted in the folk art of West Bengal. The word Behala is commonly believed to have its root in Behula's name.

The word Behala is commonly believed to have its root in Behula, the name of the female protagonist of Manasamangalkavya.[9] Alternatively, the name may have been derived from the Bengali term Bahulapur ("land of many rivers" or "dark city").[9] "Bahula" is also an epitaph of the goddesses Chandi and Kali.[9] Rev. James Long, who used to live in this parts, described Behala as Byala in one of his early writings.[9] It is also known that Behala comprised many small villages before the whole place was urbanised and each village here had a suffix -behala with its name i.e. Bazarbehala, Tamtelbehala, Bnorshebehala (Barisha), Sorshunnobehala (Sarsuna) etc.[9] Names like Rajarbaganbehala, Sahapurbehala, Naskarpurbehala and Santoshbatibehala are also found in the old proceedings of South Suburban Municipality.[9]

History[edit]

Behala was once a part of the Sunderbans. The history of Barisha dated back to the Pala Era. In the 12th century, Barisha was a small village of farmers, fishermen and honey-gathers when a Kulin Kayastha named Dhananjay Mitra settled here. During the reign of Akbar Barisha came under the lordship of Basanta Roy who set up his capital at modern-day Sarsuna. Roy’s nephew and the king of Jessore Pratapaditya murdered him and incorporated Barisha with his kingdom. After the Mughals defeated Pratapaditya, Laksmikanta Majumdar of the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family was given jagirdari of a vast tract of land by Raja Man Singh in 1608. The three villages of Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kalikata were part of a khasmahal or imperial jagir or an estate belonging to the Mughal emperor himself, whose jagirdari rights were held by the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family. Even the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family was not keen to allow the British to settle or do trading on these villages, but the British had paid a bribe at the Mughal Durbar to ensure that the deal did not fail. Just prior to their move to Barisha, the Roy Choudhury family had to transfer their rights over Kalikata in 1698, to the East India Company much against their wishes and protests.

Sabarna Atchala

The stretch of Diamond Harbour Road from Taratala to Thakurpukur is a very old settlement, which divides the Behala into three parts - East Behala, South Behala and West Behala. It is populated mostly by citizens of East-Bengal (Before Partition of India Bangladesh was called East Bengal).

Settlement in the area dates back to the 1797, but its urbanization is relatively recent. Population growth started in Behala after the partition of India.

The Sabarna Roychoudhury's 'Aath-chala' could be regarded as the most prominent historical structure (though mostly ruined presently) of the city of Kolkata. It is the structure, sitting under which the British East India Company signed the rights of the villages- Kalikata, Gobindapur and Sutanuti (which later merged to form the city of Calcutta), under a lease from the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family on 10 November 1698.

Modern day Behala[edit]

Today, Behala encompasses one of the largest suburban agglomerations of the city of Kolkata. It consists of many small localities like Parnasree Pally, Taratala, Behala Tram depot, Manton, Behala Chowrasta(Barisha), Sakherbazaar,Silpara, Kadamtala and Behala Thakurpukur. Huge growth of population especially since the early eighties resulted in the area being on the radar of both the daily wage earners, common populace and educated classes. Due to this enormous and unplanned growth, the traffic is by and large dependent on the arterial Diamond Harbour Road, in spite of the availability of the parallel James Long Sarani (Commonly known as Rail Line) as an option. During the construction the Taratala fly-over, a large portion of traffic flowed through James Long Sarani to avoid construction activity, causing development of other areas of Behala.

Due to lack of planning and space, encroachments by street-hawkers of the sidewalks on both sides of the busy Diamond Harbour Road, push the pedestrians to the already busy road. Areas like Behala Tram Depot, Behala Chowrasta and Behala Sakher Bazar have been added to the 'Calcutta Green Zone' and traffic moves at a snail's pace during the peak office hours. A tramline runs up the centre of Diamond Harbour Road from Joka to Behala Tram Depot and often the people moved faster in the trams. Previously it was well connected by tram lines towards the north. However the trams were stopped when the flyover at the Taratala junction was constructed.The trams are no more found in Behala due to the construction of the Metro Railway which will run from Joka to Majherhat.

Transport[edit]

Behala is extremely well connected to most areas of Kolkata by bus. Private buses, govt buses and minibuses fly to Howrah, BBD Bagh, Park Street, Sealdah, Kidderpore, Bidhannagar and other parts of the city from the bus terminuses at Thakurpukur, Sakherbazar, Behala Tram Depot, Parnasree Pally, Barisha and Silpara.

Trams used to be extremely popular vehicles for commuting to and from several parts of Behala, but of late the trend has seen a reversal. The only tram service was from Behala Tram Depo to Joka [Now being stopped due to new Metro project].

The autorickshaws in Behala are notorious for aggravating the traffic congestion during rush hours, but they are used by the common people as a convenient way of travelling to Rashbehari Avenue, Gariahat, Tollygunge, Jadavpur and Rabindranagar comfortably.

Behala has a mind-boggling network of alleys and lanes, and the only vehicle that can take one all the way into the narrowest of streets in the heart of the area is the cycle rickshaw. While rickshaws are not allowed to ply beyond Taratala, they serve as the connecting medium from the Diamond Harbour Road to the inner reaches of Behala.

Taxis are available at most times, although other than the mandatory hours, few taxis would agree to go all the way to distant areas.

Behala is served by the Majherhat railway station on the Sealdah South section of Kolkata Suburban Railway.

Behala has an airport in which Behala Flying Club operates. It is the second of the two airports in the Kolkata Metropolitian area and other being the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. There has been plans to upgrade the airport. Recently a helicopter service has been started to connect Kolkata with Durgapur by air.

Metro Railway[edit]

Former President Ms. Pratibha Patil laid the foundation stone of Joka to BBD Bagh Metro Rail Project in presence of Central Finance Minister and Governor of West Bengal in September, 2010. There will be total 13 stations in this 17 km stretch metro. Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Central Rail Minister promised to finish this project in record time[citation needed] and proposed the name of the stations in the name of some of old famous singers Like Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, Mohini Chowdhury, etc.

Metro railway construction work is currently in progress from February 2011. Currently work is going on between Pathakpara( opposite Behala Balanda Brahmachari Hospital) and Behala tram depot. Metro line will be elevated over the old tram line from Joka to Mominpur and then it will go underground from there till BBD Bag.

Medical Facilities[edit]

  • Vidyasagar Hospital, Brahmo Samaj Road
  • Balananda Hospital.
  • South Suburban hospital
  • James long hospital
  • Vivekanada Hospital, Parnasree Pally

Festivals[edit]

Durga Puja celebration at Sabarana Roy Choudhury family (Atchala), Barisha. This is the second oldest Durga Puja celebration in western Bengal.
An artistic depiction of Durga focusing environmental awareness, Barisha Club, 2010.
Durga Puja pandal in Bengalo-Portuguese style at Behala Nutan Dal, 2010.
A traditional idol of Durga at Barisha Sarbojanin Durga Puja Samiti, 2010.

Durga Puja, as it is in the rest of West Bengal, is the most popular festival in Behala. The family Durga Puja celebration of the Sabarna Roy Choudhurys, launched in 1610 by Laksmikanta Majumdar, is the oldest recorded Durga Puja observation in Behala as well as the second oldest in western Bengal. Today altogether six Durga Pujas are being held in the Barisha branch of the family: Aatchala, Baro Bari, Mejo Bari, Benaki Bari, Kalikingkar Bhawan and Majher Bari. Durga Puja is also observed by many other old families of this area as well as by numerous local clubs. Such clubs include Behala Debdaru Fatak, Mukul Sangha, Behala Natun Dal, Behala Jatiya Sangha, Behala Club, Barisha Club (amalgamation of Srishti and Sahajatri clubs), Sree Sangha, Adarsha Pally, Nandana Yuba Sangha, Behala Young Men’s etc. Most of these clubs has won various prestigious Sharad Sammans or Durga Puja awards and attracts a large crowd of visitors from the other parts of the city every year. Jora Mandir Haldar Barir Durga Pujo (Beside Canton Restaurant - Behala Thana Stoppage) is one of the oldest Durga Pujas of Kolkata. It has crossed its 300 yrs of commencement. The puja is conducted by the descedants of Lakkhi Narayan Haldar inside there premises. The Griha Devata is Shiva and Narayan.

Kali Puja is also observed with great reverence in Behala. A 15-day fair is held at Parnasree Pally by Sarkari Abasan (Behala College ground), Parnasree Club and Surja Sangha during Kali Puja. Shankar Paik’s Kali Puja at Pathakpara attracts many people not only for the colourful soirees but also for the Sada Kali (white Kali) idol along with traditional puja of Behala Bijoyee Sangha at Manton. Yuva Gosthi at Roybahadur Road arranges an Annakut festival during Kali Puja. Other noted Kali Pujas are observed at Jayrampur Jala, Rabindra Nagar, Begor Khal, Sreema Palli areas. Behala Siddeshwari Kali Temple and Halder's Kali Temple at Behala Bazar attracts many people during the occasion. Among the family Kali Puja celebrations, the houses of Bhabani Bala Dasi and Shib Dulal Basu are quite famous.

There are famous Jagatdhatri Pujas also. Local Clubs like Behala Siksha Mandir (Bhangadalan), Behala Bandhu Dal, Dhali Para Sarbojonin are most prominent among them. They Celebrate this puja like Durga Puja for 5–6 days with many cultural programs and events.

Culture[edit]

The 13th Behala Book Fair

The area of Behala boasts of quite a few auditoria, movie theaters and hosts art fairs on a regular basis. The most prominent auditorium of the region is Sarat Sadan, which is a part of the Manton Shopping Complex. The movie theaters in Behala are distributed along the length of the Diamond Harbor Road and the most notable ones are Ajanta (near Pathakpara), Ashoka (near Manton),Elora (near Tram depot) and Pushpasree (near Sakherbazar).

Music is yet another aspect of the cultural life in Behala.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee will lay the foundation stone of an indoor stadium at Behala. Satyajit Ray Stadium, as it will be called, will be the second such sporting venue in the city after Netaji Indoor Stadium.

Famous people from Behala[edit]

Sovan Chatterjee - Present Mayor of Kolkata

Business[edit]

The Diamond Harbour Road is dotted on both sides with shops and eateries. Clothes, jewellery, electronic items, sports goods, books and footwear can be found in a multitude of stores all along the stretch from Taratala to Manton. Recent additions to the shopping scene include shopping malls and factory outlets. State Bank of India, Behala Branch is one of the busiest banking center on the heart of Behala, providing banking solution for years.

Apart from the standard stores, the pavements of Behala are crowded with hawkers selling everything from toothpicks to bedsheets.

Education[edit]

The IIM Calcutta auditorium

Schools in Behala are affiliated with the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE). Major schools in this region are Vivekananda Mission School, M.P Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School & National Gems Higher Secondary School (which are rated amongst the top 8 ISC Schools in Kolkata),Orient Day School is also one of the oldest ICSE recognised school in this region. Barisha High School, Behala Blind School, D.A.V Institutions (formerly D.A.V Public School), Behala Arya Vidyamandir, Vidya Bharati,Bidya Bhaban, Orient Day School, Bratachari Vidyasram, Behala High School, Behala Girls High School, Behala Shyamasundari Vidyapith etc. Behala College, Sarsuna College, Vivekananda College and Vivekananda Women’s College, affiliated with the University of Calcutta are three major colleges in the area. The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Joka is also very close to Behala.

Places of interest[edit]

Sonar Durga– A Durga idol made of gold[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kolkata Municipal Corporation (2011). "About Kolkata". KMC. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Delimitation Commission Order No. 18 dated 15 February 2006". Government of West Bengal. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  3. ^ The Telegraph (2011). "Midnight change of guard- 17 more police stations come under Lalbazar". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Nair, P.Thankappan, The Growth and Development of Old Calcutta, in Calcutta, the Living City, Vol I, p. 11, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-563696-1
  5. ^ Press Trust Of India (7 October 2008). "Ganguly: Bengal's greatest cricketer". Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  6. ^ National Election Watch (2011). "Sovan Chatterjee". Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Clickindia (2011). "Behala". Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  8. ^ Banerjee, Sudeshna (2006) [2004]. Durga Puja: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Rupa & Co. p. 32. ISBN 81-291-0547-0. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Banerjee, Sudhindranath (1398 (Bengali Year)). "Janapad Rupe Name" [Name and Characteristics of the Township]. Behala Janapader Itihas [History of Behala Township] (in Bengali). Kolkata: Progressive Writers' Guild. pp. 45–49. 

External links[edit]

Kolkata/Southern fringes travel guide from Wikivoyage