|Metropolitan City/Urban Agglomeration|
|Nickname(s): Gateway City to Northeast India|
|Named for||Largest city of North Bengal,|
|• Type||Municipal Corporation|
|• Body||Siliguri Municipal Corporation|
|• Police commissioner||K Jayaraman (IPS)|
|• Metropolitan City/Urban Agglomeration||260 km2 (100 sq mi)|
|Population (2011 census)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
734 001-734 015
|Vehicle registration||WB 74 / WB 73 2|
|Lok Sabha constituency||Darjeeling|
|Vidhan Sabha constituency||Siliguri, Dabgram-Phulbari|
1The coordinates given here are in metric system and based upon the Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Map Center 20052 The Vehicle Code given here based upon the Siliguri Sub Divisional Court documentations.
Siliguri ( pronunciation (help·info)) 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[update], the city had 700,000 residents. It is the second largest city in Northeast India after Guwahati and the second largest in West Bengal after Kolkata. It lies 42 kilometres (26 mi) from Jalpaiguri. The city has become an important trade centre of West Bengal and hosts over 20,000 domestic and 15,000 foreign visitors annually. Siliguri being a commercial hub for North Bengal, it draws migrants from other states who come in search of livelihood. It is also the transit hub for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, and to the North East. It is noted 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.
The city of Siliguri began on the banks of the Mahananda River at Saktigarh, a small town which is now in the southern part of the city. When the British East India Company introduced railways to Northeast India, it enhanced the importance of the region. The population of the town continuously increased leading to its expansion because of many immigrants from Bangladesh, Nepal, southern Bhutan and adjacent Indian states.
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 260 km2, most of which lies in Darjeeling district; however, a part of the city spreads over neighboring Jalpaiguri district. As Siliguri is situated in the plains at the base of the Himalaya mountains, it connects 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, making the sighting of wild animals common. Siliguri stands in a unique geographical niche; Nepal lies in the west of the city 10 km from Bagdogra, Bhutan to the northeast about 40 km, China to the north about 180 km at Nathula Pass in Sikkim, Bangladesh to the south about 0 km from Fulbari.
The city has several fault lines or uplands nearby which is the reason for most frequent earthquakes. 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 earthquake of 19 September 2011 which last for 4 minutes 17 seconds.
Siliguri has three distinct seasons: summer, winter and monsoon. In summer the temperature reaches 35 degree Celsius. Winters are generally chilled and cool when temperature goes below 2 degree Celsius. 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 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. The city has expanded towards hills which leads to destruction of vegetation, due to which the summers are becoming hot and winters are losing becoming warmer.
|Climate data for Silguri|
|Average high °C (°F)||23
|Average low °C (°F)||3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||8
|Source: Siliguri Weather|
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 haat where people from Hills and plains come 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, Indian Air Force, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Assam Rifles around the city has 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 in trade is the establishment of malls like City Centre, Cosmos and Orbit. In 2009, the first set of multiplexes arrived in the city: Cinemax at Savin kingdom and Inox at City Centre and Orbit.
With the growing volume of economic transactions some major banks have opened their branches in the city - namely Standard Chartered, HDFC Bank Ltd., ICICI Bank Ltd., Allahabad Bank, State Bank of India, Axis Bank Ltd., Union Bank of India, UCO Bank, Vijaya Bank, YES Bank Ltd., IDBI Bank, Bank of India, United Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Corporation Bank, Punjab National Bank and Uttar Banga Kshetriya Gramin Bank etc. There are also some other banks such as Bank of Maharastra, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Andhra Bank, Sonali Bank, Syndicate Bank, Federal Bank Ltd., South Indian Bank, IndusInd Bank Ltd. etc.
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 Uttorayon, Kanchanjunga Integrated Park, Vastu Vihar, Susan township 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.
The city of Siliguri is managed by the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC). The Corporation consists of 47 directly elected councillors, who are led by the Mayor of Siliguri, a titular position mainly acting as an ambassador and representative of the city. Actual executive power is vested in the Municipal Commissioner, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service who is appointed by the Government of West Bengal.
Public transport includes cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, "Toto" 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.
Siliguri City Urban Agglomeration has five important railway stations:
- Siliguri Town is the oldest and the smallest station in the area. Opened on 23 August 1880 during the British Raj, this station used to be the terminus for 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.
- 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.
- New Jalpaiguri was opened in 1964 as a totally greenfield project 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) south of the Hasmi Chowk. Considered the most important station in the region, it is also commonly known as "NJP". This station connects the two 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.
- Bagdogra is situated at Bagdogra, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) 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.
- 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.
Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri, situated about 15 km away from the city, is the only airport in the region. The airport is a customs airport and civil enclave with connections to Bengaluru, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangkok (Thailand), and Paro (Bhutan).
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.
Siliguri has experienced a huge surge in population in recent times. Based on Census data of 2011, the city had a population of 513,264, while the population of Siliguri UA/Metropolitan is 705,579. 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, Bodo, Punjabi, Gujrati, and Tibetan languages are spoken by the local people of Siliguri.
Siliguri has received waves of 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.
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 continue from mid-October to mid-December.
Lot of fairs and carnivals take place in Siliguri. The famous fairs in Siliguri are Boishakhi Mela, Hosto Shilpo Mela, Book Fair, Lexpo Fair, Kanchenjunga trade fair etc. Most of the fairs happens in Kanchenjunga Stadium.
The city has a rich culture. Apart from a number of theatres, it hosts many music schools, clubs. In special interest section, there are automobile club, laughing club and cine club. The city hosts an active and well equipped astronomy club too, the Sky Watchers Association of North Bengal The city have many markets which sell cheap but good quality Chinese products.
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,Pakistan 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. 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 Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, or the Central Board of Secondary Education. They usually choose a focus on liberal arts, business, or science. Vocational programs are also available. Siliguri Boys High School (SBHS) is the oldest school of the city founded in 1918. Siliguri Baradakanta Vidyapith. Margaret (Sister Nivedita) English School,Siliguri Girls High School, Siliguri Hindi High School, Nirmala Convent School,Don Bosco School, St. Josephs' High School, Hindi Balika Vidyapith School, and G.D. Goenka Public School etc. are some old and reputed schools.
Siliguri has two engineering colleges, viz. Siliguri Institute of Technology and Surendra Institute of Engineering & Management. Siliguri College established in 1950, is the oldest higher educational institution in the city. Other colleges are Siliguri College of Commerce, Siliguri Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Surya Sen Mahavidyalaya, St. Xaviers College, Bagdogra College, Naxalbari College, Salesian College and 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.
- Newspaper: English-language newspapers in Siliguri, including the Times of India (Kolkata editions), The Economic Times, The Asian Age, The Statesman and The Telegraph, are widely circulated. Several Bengali newspapers, including Uttarer Saradin, Uttarbanga Sambad, Bartaman, Ganashakti, Aajkaal and Pratidin are available. Leading Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar is also published from here. International news agencies like Reuters, AFP and AP have correspondents here.
- 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.
- 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. Direct To Home services 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).
- Mobile phone: The area is served by cell phone companies such as Idea, Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, BSNL, Reliance Communications, Tata Indicom, MTS, Tata Docomo and Virgin Mobile. It has 3G network of BSNL, Reliance Communications, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, and Aircel.
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 Sports Authority of India 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.
Places of interest
- Salugara Monastery
- Coronation Bridge
- Surya Sen Park
- Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary
- North Bengal University
- Sailen Debnath, The Dooars in Historical Transition ISBN 9788186860441
- "IRFCA Trivia:Does any station have all three gauges present?".
- "Bangla immigrants to be pushed back". The Times Of India. 5 November 2001.
- "Lexpo". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- "Annual Report 2007–2008" (PDF). Department of School Education, Government of West Bengal. p. 69. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "List of schools in Kolkata". West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- Siliguri Radio Stations
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- AIR Siliguri
- Siliguri Municipal Corporation
- Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority
- Information on Siliguri at West Bengal Government website