Tourism

The Howrah Station

It is the gateway of Kolkata, the capital 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 transitpoints 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 Railsays. A survey for the East Indian Railway was taken up in 1845 and construction began in 1851. The section of the Railways, a Broad guage railway 5’6’’ was opened in 1854 from Howrah to Hooghly. In 1855 the line was extended up to Ranigunj and in 1862 up to 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 Cuttak, 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 Railway and South Eastern Railway respectively. Howrah station has now become a large imposing building facing the river with clock Tower and twenty long platforms for the passenger trains and 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 centers of abutments and provided a 48 feet roadway and two 7 feet footways. The most novel feature was the removal section which when floated out gage 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 sting girders.

The traffic between commercial Kolkata and industrial Howrah having enormously increased during the first quarter of the 20th Century, the old b ridge 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 was however known as and a reputed cantilever Bridge and is the third largest bridge of its kind in the World having a over-all length if 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 26,000 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 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 in 300 feet. Each tower has a constant width of 11 feet and a tapering from 8’6’’ to4’6’’ 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 Calcutta side are 103 feet deep and on the Howrah side it is 88 feet deep. These monoliths are the heaviest in the world.


Indian Botanic Garden

The Indian Botanic Garden previously known as Royal Botanic Garden with the famous Banyan tree is comprised of 285.05 acres of land 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 Shibpur Engineering College (Now known as Indian Institute of Engineering, Science & Technology) 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 – mahogany, 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’ Monuments, Griffiths Monument, Jack’s Monument, Kurze’s Monument, Roxburg’s monument, Palmyra Bridge, Superintendent’s Office, Curator’s Office, Ladies Cloak Room, Gentelmen’s Cloak Room, Residence of Assistant Curator, Residence of Curator of Herbarium, a large Pavilion, a small Pavilion.

The founder of this Garden was one Colonel Robert Kyd who was one of the Engineers of the East India Company.


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 mind 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 stout 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 1984 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 steam 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 storm 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 tradition prevailing in the neighbourhood, in 1786 when garden was established, the tree was quite a small tree growing on the top of a wild date-tree. According to this tradition the age of the tree would be 238 years now in 2007.


Belur Math & Temple

Belur Math is situated just outside the boundary of Howrah Municipal Corporation on the north and stand on the West Bank of the river Hooghly. It was founded in 1897 by Swami Vivekananda, the great servant 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 build 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 statue 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 head quarter 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 on Sundays and holidays.


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 cities of Kolkata and Howrah by a series of over bridges and situated at a distance of 1.5 k.m. southwards of Ravindra Setu. It is erected on only four pillars and hung on 121 number of iron ropes. The bridge is 458 meters long and 115 meters 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 Industry for shooting purposes.


Gadiara

Situated at the confluence of the rivers Hooghly and Rupnarayan, the scenic beauty of this place touches the heart of any nature loving tourist. Though the site is mainly used by hundreds of daily visitors mainly as a picnic spot, its main attraction lies in watching the rising and the setting of the sun from the top of Fort Mornington. The Fort is also locally known as Clive’s Fort. After winning the historic Plassey war in 1757, Robert Clive constructed this Fort at the strategic location of the confluence of the Hooghly and the Rupnarayan. From the beginning of the twentieth century, the fort is not in use. A portion of the Fort is destroyed in 1942 flood. Standing in a dilapidated condition, the Fort bears the legacy of 200 years of British Rule in India. Besides some private hotels, there is a big Tourist Lodge of west Bengal Tourism Development Corporation just in the vicinity of the confluence.


Garchumuk 

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 adds 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.


Panitras-Samtaber

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 with 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 Abhagir Swarga, Bamuner Meye, Palli Samaj, Ramer Sumati, Mahesh, Srikanta (4th Part).


*Source: 'Wikipidia.org' & 'Tourism Department, Howrah'