Siliguri

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Siliguri
Metropolitan City / Urban Agglomeration
Siliguri view.jpg
Nickname(s): City of Happiness
Siliguri is located in West Bengal
Siliguri
Siliguri
Coordinates: 26°43′N 88°26′E / 26.71°N 88.43°E / 26.71; 88.43Coordinates: 26°43′N 88°26′E / 26.71°N 88.43°E / 26.71; 88.43
Country India
State West Bengal
District Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri
Named for Largest City of North Bengal, Business hub of the Jalpaiguri division
Government
 • Type Siliguri Municipal Corporation
 • Body SMC
Area
 • Metropolitan City / Urban Agglomeration 48 km2 (19 sq mi)
Highest elevation 644 m (2,113 ft)
Lowest elevation 122 m (400 ft)
Population (2011 census)
 • Metropolitan City / Urban Agglomeration 1,559,275
 • Density 32,000/km2 (84,000/sq mi)
 • Metro 901,489
Demonym Siligurians, Siliguribashi
Languages
 • Official Bengali,Nepali, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 734 001-734 015
Telephone code +91353
Vehicle registration WB 74 / WB 73 2
Lok Sabha constituency Darjeeling
Vidhan Sabha constituency Siliguri, Dabgram-Phulbari
Website www.siligurismc.com

1The coordinates given here are in metric system and based upon the Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Map Center 2005

2 The Vehicle Code given here based upon the Siliguri Sub Divisional Court documentations.

Siliguri (About this sound pronunciation , Bengali: শিলিগুড়ি,Hindi: सिलीगुड़ी )is a city located in the Darjeeling district and Jalpaiguri district in the Indian state of West Bengal. Siliguri is located on the banks of the Mahananda River and the foothills of the Himalayas, it is a principal commercial, tourism, transportation, and educational center of North Bengal. As of 2011, the city had 5 Lakh residents. The city has become an important trade center of West Bengal. The city hosts over 20,000 domestic and 15,000 foreign visitors annually. Siliguri being a commercial hub for the North Bengal, it draws migrants from other states who come in search of livelihood. It is also the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, and to the North East. It is famous for its four 'T's: tea, transport, tourism and timber. In 2011, Siliguri witnessed an economic boom in the organized retail, hospitality and real estate industries due to population growth and its strategic geographical location. It is 42 kilometers away from its twin city, Jalpaiguri.

History[edit]

The antiquity of Siliguri is shrouded in mystery. According to Sailen Debnath, Siliguri means a heap of stones or pebbles; and in the nineteenth century often the area was called Silichaguri.[1] Before the Treaty of Sagauli in 1816 between Britain, India and Nepal, Siliguri played as a transit point between Nepal and the hilly areas of Darjeeling (Doreje-liang) and ‘Karseong’.[1] Sailen Debnath points out that before the rise of Nepal as an expanding power under Prithvi Narayan Shah (1769-1775), Siliguri area, as belonged to trans-Morang zone (i.e., at the meeting ground of western and eastern Morang), was a part of the southernmost fringe of the kingdom of Sikkim. Just to the south of Siliguri, at Phansideoa there was a river port having trade relations with Maldah and thereby with other areas of Bengal and Bihar. The Sikkimese and the Bhutanese (mainly via Kalimpong as it was under Bhutan since the beginning of the eighteenth century) used the river bank near Siliguri in order to go down the Mahananda with their merchandise to Phansideeoa.[1] Siliguri gradually developed as a small town since 1835 when the British occupied Darjeeling; and more since 1865 when they occupied the whole of the Dooars and Kalimpong. The partition of India in 1947 and the creation of East Pakistan and afterwards Bangladesh, paved the path of Siliguri becoming an indispensable transit point and strategically important area; and the same incident led to the rise of population because of the coming of immigrants. The city of Siliguri in its present form started from the bank of Mahananda to Saktigarh, a small village which is now in southern part of the city. When the British East India Company introduced Railway to North East India, it enhanced the importance of the region. The population of the town continuously increased leading to its expansion because of the many immigrants from Nepal, Southern Bhutan and adjacent Indian states apart from eastern Bengal.[1]

Geography[edit]

Location of Siliguri in the Chicken's Neck corridor

Siliguri is located in the Siliguri Corridor or Chicken's Neck - a very narrow strip of land linking mainland India to its north-eastern states. The total area of Siliguri City is 48  km2, most of which lies in Darjeeling district, however a part of the city spreads over neighboring Jalpaiguri district. Siliguri being situated in the plains at the base of the Himalaya mountains, it connects the hill stations such as Gangtok, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik and North East to the rest of India. It is the largest city of North Bengal. The Mahananda River bifurcates the city. The city is surrounded by Forest ranges, which is why it is very much prone to wild animal entrance. It has the unique and unforgettable geographical feature, Nepal lies in the west of the city 10  km from Bagdogra, Bhutan on the North East about 40  km, Bangladesh in the south 0  km from Fulbari.

Climate[edit]

Siliguri has three distinct seasons: summer, winter and monsoon. In summer the temperature reaches 35 degree Celsius.[citation needed] Winters are generally chilled and cool when temperature goes below 2 degree Celsius.[citation needed] During the monsoons (between June and September), the city is lashed by moderate to heavy rains often cutting access to the hill stations and Sikkim. The city is blessed with natural beauty of flora and fauna. The city has several fault line or uplands nearby it is the reason for most frequent earth quakes. The most dangerous earth quake was recorded in the region on 7 July 1988 which was recorded as 9.7 Richter scale followed by the Earth quake of 19 September 2011 which last for 4minutes 17 seconds as per North Bengal University.[citation needed] The climate is suitable for growing tea and the surrounding regions have many tea gardens. The winters are becoming shorter year by year due to urbanization.[citation needed] The city has expanded towards hills which leads to destruction of vegetation, due to which the summers are becoming hot and winters are losing their coldness.

Climate data for Silguri
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 23
(73)
25
(77)
28
(82)
31
(88)
33
(91)
35
(95)
34
(93)
31
(88)
28
(82)
26
(79)
24
(75)
23
(73)
28.4
(83)
Average low °C (°F) 3
(37)
10
(50)
13
(55)
21
(70)
24
(75)
25
(77)
26
(79)
25
(77)
23
(73)
16
(61)
10
(50)
4
(39)
16.7
(61.9)
Precipitation mm (inches) 8
(0.31)
18
(0.71)
33
(1.3)
94
(3.7)
300
(11.81)
658
(25.91)
818
(32.2)
643
(25.31)
538
(21.18)
142
(5.59)
13
(0.51)
5
(0.2)
3,266
(128.58)
Source: Siliguri Weather

Economy[edit]

Siliguri City Centre Mall
Siliguri Orbit Mall (Inox)

Siliguri is described as the gateway to Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The strategic location of the city makes it a base for essential supplies to the above regions. Siliguri has gradually developed as a profitable center for a variety of businesses. As a central hub, many national companies and organizations have set up their offices here. The Hong Kong market near Khudirampally is a chief hub for buying low cost Chinese goods and imported goods, nearby Seth Srilal Market, Sevoke Road and Hill Cart Road is a prominent place to buy daily use goods, and is very popular among people from nearby areas. The four "T"s - tea, timber, tourism and transport - are the main businesses of Siliguri. Many hotels have been built to accommodate tourists.

Bagdogra airport market is one of the shopping hubs in Siliguri. Another important market is at Matigara hut where people from Hills n plains comes for shopping. In recent times, the city has seen the establishment of a number of shopping malls and multiplexes to cater to the growing needs of the populace. The organized retail sector has created a large number of jobs in the region. The presence of Indian army, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Assam Rifles around the city have contributed to the growth of the local economy.

Being a tourist destination, the hospitality sector and tourism sector constitutes an important part of Siliguri's economy. Siliguri is the headquarters of Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of North Bengal, Affiliated Associations of Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The latest development is the development of malls like Cosmos and Orbit. In 2009, the first set of multiplexes arrived in the city: Cinemax and Inox at Orbit.

With the growing economic transactions there has opened up some major banks in the city namely Standard Chartered, HDFC, ICICI, Allahabad, State Bank of India, Axis Bank,Union bank of India, UCO, Vijaya, IDBI and UBKG bank. There are also some other banks such as Bank of Maharastra, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Andhra Bank, Sonali Bank.

As a gesture of international co-operation and friendship, the road network of Siliguri is being used by the governments of Nepal and Bangladesh to facilitate easy transportation of essential commodities, such as food grains. The Silk Route of India, i.e., trade route between India and Tibet (China) is accessible only after crossing Siliguri through Nathula and Jelepla. There are also business routes to Bhutan.

In order to develop the city in a planned manner and to make arrangement for the exploding population of the city, new townships of Uttarayon. The Kanchanjunga Integrated park and Shushruta Nagar-Kawakhali township have been proposed to be built around the fringes of Siliguri.

Siliguri is one of the three satellite IT hub and township that the Government of West Bengal is developing. Some leading IT companies have shown interest and some of them have already started operating. Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority has taken an initiative to develop Siliguri into an IT/ITES[clarification needed] hub. A software technology park is under construction which was to be completed by December 2012. Acclaris, Hinduja and Firstsource are in operation here since 2005.

Transport[edit]

Public transport includes cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, local buses and tempos. There is no metered vehicular transport. While 6-seater city autos ply between two fixed destinations of about 10–15  km, one can hire petrol-driven auto rickshaws from auto stands at a rate fixed by the municipal authorities. A total of 16,000 rickshaws licensed by the municipal corporation and an additional 55,000 illegal ones ply in this increasingly congested city.[citation needed]

Rail[edit]

Siliguri City Urban Agglomeration has five important railway stations:

New Jalpaiguri station

1. Siliguri Town is the oldest station in the area. Opened on 23 August 1880 during the British Raj, this station used to be the terminus for the trains coming from Kolkata, and the starting point for the world-famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway for journey to Darjeeling. It is this station where such world-renowned personalities as Rabindranath Tagore, Chittaranjan Das and Subhash Chandra Bose set their feet on their way to Darjeeling and other places.

2. Siliguri Junction was opened in 1949 and used to be the point of departure of all trains to the north-eastern states, until the broad gauge was extended to New Bongaigaon. Siliguri Junction is the only station in India with tracks of all the three gauges used in India.[2]

3. New Jalpaiguri was opened in 1964 as a totally greenfield project 2.5  km south of the Hasmi Chowk. Considered the most important station in the region, it is also commonly known as "NJP". This station connects the twin cities of Jalpaiguri and Siliguri to the rest of the country by railway. The city of Siliguri has been expanded and included New Jalpaiguri as a ward of Siliguri Municipal Corporation. The Darjeeling Himalayan Toy train is the main attraction of this station. The station is the largest railway station in the northeast with wide parking area and was awarded "cleanest railway of India" in 2011.

4. Bagdogra is situated at Bagdogra, 10km from the city is one important airport terminal in the city. With the extension of broad-gauge railway track to the Siliguri Junction station, people can now travel directly to the heart of the city without having to alight at New Jalpaiguri. This new broad-gauge track extends to the old Dooars metre-gauge track up to Alipurduar and beyond.

5. Naxalbari is situated at further western part of the greater Siliguri city, in the heart of Naxalbari. The railway station has strategic importance as it facilitates not only the people of Naxalbari and Panitanki to connect with the other parts of the country but it also facilitates the people of Nepal (of places like Kakarvita, Dhulabari, and Bittamore) to utilize the railway station as the means of communication with rest of India. The station is to be facilitated with computerized railway ticket reservation center very soon. The new broad gauge track that passes from Siliguri Junction to Aluabari Road (Islampur, Uttar Dinajpur) through Bagdora, Naxalbari, and Thakurganj (Bihar) provides an impetus to travel and trade through this part of the country.

Air[edit]

Bagdogra Airport, airside view

Bagdogra International Airport, Siliguri, situated about 15  km away from the city, is the only airport in the region. The airport is connected to Bengaluru, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangkok, and Paro (Bhutan).

Bus[edit]

The Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus situated next to the North Bengal State Transport Corporation Bus Stop is a major stop for most private and state-owned buses in the region. The Royal Government of Bhutan also operates buses from Siliguri to its border town Phuentsholing. Air conditioned sleeper coach bus service is available from Siliguri to Kolkata, Patna and Assam. Jeeps also link Siliguri to neighbouring hill towns of Darjeeling, Gangtok, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Mirik, Jorethang, Namchi, etc.

The Sikkim Government buses run to various destinations of Sikkim from the Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) bus station near the Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus. There is another bus terminus named P.C. Mittal Bus Stand at Sevoke Road. All buses heading for the Terai and Dooars region the start from here.

Demographics[edit]

Siliguri has experienced a huge surge in population in recent times. Based on Census data of 2011, the city agglomeration had a population of 1,901,489.[3] Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. In Siliguri, 10% of the population is under six years of age. Siliguri has a majority Bengali population. Other minority communities include Gorkhas (Nepali), Marwaris and Biharis. Bengali, Nepali, Hindi, English, Marwari, Bihari, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Punjabi, Gujrati, and Tibeten languages are spoken by the local people of Siliguri.

Siliguri has seen waves of massive immigration over the years, most prominent being the migrants from the erstwhile East Bengal during the Partition of India, Nepal and Bihar. In addition, people from Jharkhand and other parts of India have also come to the city in search of livelihood.[4]

Culture[edit]

Major festivals observed at Siliguri include Durga puja, Chhath Puja, Ganesh puja, Laxmi puja, Saraswati puja, and Dipawali. Baishaki mela is one of the oldest mela in Siliguri. The fashion week during winters are celebrated for entertainment. Various concerts are organized by local clubs, which continues from mid-October to mid-December.

Lot of fairs and carnivals take place in Siliguri. The famous fares in Siliguri are Boishakhi Mela, Hosto Shilpo Mela, Book Fair, Lexpo Fair etc. Most of the fairs happens in Kanchenjunga Stadium.[5]

The city has a rich cultural exercise in it. Apaer from number group theatres, it hosts many music schools, clubs. In special interest section, there are Automobile club, Laughing club or Cine Club. The city hosts an active and well equipped astronomy club too, Sky Watchers Association of North Bengal

Education[edit]

SIT(Siliguri Institute of Technology)
Siliguri(SIEM)

Siliguri has always been the hub of education in the Terai and the Dooars region. Apart from the residents of West Bengal, students from neighboring states of Sikkim, Bihar and Assam and neighboring countries of Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh come here to pursue education.

Siliguri's schools are run by the state government or private organizations, many of which are religious. Bengali and English are the primary languages of instruction; Nepali and Hindi are also used.[6][7] Schools in Siliguri follow the "10+2+3" plan. After completing their secondary education, students typically enroll in schools that have a higher secondary facility and are affiliated with the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, the ICSE, or the CBSE.[6] They usually choose a focus on liberal arts, business, or science. Vocational programs are also available.[6] Siliguri Boys High School (SBHS) is the oldest school of the city founded in 1918.

Siliguri has two engineering colleges, viz. Siliguri Institute of Technology & Surendra Institute of Engineering & Management. Siliguri College established in 1950, is the oldest higher educational institution in the city. Other colleges are Suryasen Mahavidyalaya, St. Xaviers College, Bagdogra College, Naxalbari College, Gyan Jyoti College.

The North Bengal Medical College, located in Sushrutanagar, is the sole medical college in the region and is connected to the main city through the 3rd Mahananda Bridge. The University of North Bengal was established in 1962, 10  km away from the main Siliguri city, in Raja Rammohanpur. Approximately 80 colleges are affiliated to the university, with approximately 36,000 and 1,500 students enrolled in graduate and post-graduate courses respectively, every year.

Media[edit]

  • Radio: In addition to All India Radio, Siliguri has four private FM radio stations in Nine FM 91.9 MHz, Radio High 92.7 MHz, Red FM 93.5 MHz and Radio Misty 94.3 MHz.[8]
  • Television : Siliguri receives almost all the television channels that are received by the rest of India. Apart from the state-owned terrestrial network Doordarshan, cable television serves most of the homes in the town, while satellite television is common in the outlying areas and in wealthier households. Besides mainstream Indian channels, the town also receives some Nepali and Bangladeshi Television Channels. Local news broadcasts, sporting events, and concerts are broadcast live or delayed via cable to many households. DTH services both by government and private companies are also available such as Tata Sky, Dish TV, Videocon d2h, Digital TV (Airtel) and Big TV (Reliance). Siliguri has three local channels - CCN, AMAR CABLE and HTV.
  • Internet: Internet cafes can be easily found in the main market area, served through broadband services provided by BSNL and other private companies like MetroNET (Orange Networks) and Sinet (CCN).

Sports[edit]

Table tennis, cricket, taekwon-do, chess and football are the most popular sports here. The Kanchenjunga Stadium is the city's only outdoor stadium and have hosted national and international level matches. The stadium houses the SAI sports hostel for athletes. There is an indoor stadium at Deshbandhupara in the southern part of the city. This new stadium has facilities for lawn tennis, badminton and table tennis as well as other indoor sports. However, the city is best known for being the training grounds for table tennis players. Siliguri has produced a number of national champions like Mantu Ghosh, the Gold Medal winner in the 1996 and 1999 SAF Games, Subhajit Saha and Nandita Saha. In recent years the close proximity of the Teesta river has made Siliguri a destination for the white water rafting enthusiasts. Indian international cricketer Wriddhiman Saha also hails from Siliguri.

Visitor attractions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Sailen Debnath, The Dooars in Historical Transition ISBN 9788186860441
  2. ^ "IRFCA Trivia:Does any station have all three gauges present?". 
  3. ^ http://censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/paper2/data_files/India2/Table_3_PR_UA_Citiees_1Lakh_and_Above.pdf
  4. ^ "Bangla immigrants to be pushed back". The Times Of India. 5 November 2001. 
  5. ^ "Lexpo". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Annual Report 2007––2008" (PDF). Department of School Education, Government of West Bengal. p. 69. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "List of schools in Kolkata". West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Siliguri Radio Stations

External links[edit]