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Howrah Tourism

Howrah often referred to as the doorway to or the twin city of Kolkata, is a bustling yet appealing town located on the western bank of the mesmerising River Hooghly flowing through West Bengal. One mention of the name and even a non-visitor would immediately envision the image of Howrah Bridge, which is a world-famous attraction that has not only put the town on the world map but has also made Howrah a significant transportation hub of the state.

The name is derived from a Bengali word, Haor, which means fluvial swamps and describes the geology of the region which occupies about 1500 square kilometres area of the state. Its topography makes it an exciting place to explore, but the town has also developed quite a lot over the years. Howrah has not just remained a famous tourist destination in the country but has also recently been recognised as an essential industrial hub in the state.

The town is up for big things, but it has never quite forgotten its super-charming and heart-warming culture. The interesting amalgamation of its traditions, history and present keeps it going. This unique mix sort of adds to the charm quotient of the town which attracts tourists every year in unimaginable numbers to witness a new facet each time they visit. When in Bengal, Howrah cannot be missed. A couple of days here is sure to make one’s visit worthwhile. Read on to know more about this delightful town in West Bengal.

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History

Howrah and some neighbouring regions were once ruled by the Bhurshut Kingdom some 500 years ago. Cesare Federici, an explorer from Venice, is said to have visited the region between 1565 – 1578. A proof of this is an old journal belonging to him in which he has mentioned a commercial port and a place called Buttor. Researchers have identified the port to be River Hooghly through which massive ships could sail and Buttor as the present day Bator. The Consultation Book of the Bengal Council (belonging to the time of the British East India Company) also mentions Howrah/ Harirah along with four more hamlets located on the western bank of River Hooghly. The book dates back to 1714 and was made to bring about the settlement of villages on the banks of the river when Farrukshiyar became the emperor. Around 1728, the region that now forms present day Howrah district was considered part of either the Muhammad Aminpur Zamindari or the Burdwan Zamindari. The area came under complete control of the East India Company in 1760 after the battle of Plassey and the Hooghly and Howrah district was formed twenty-seven years later. Howrah was, however, separated from Hooghly district in 1843 and continues to be an independent district in the state.

Culture

What makes Howrah truly unique are its people and its culture. The state is the birthplace of Rabindra Nritya Natya and Tagore Songs composed by Gurudev, Rabindranath Tagore. Howrah was once the motherland of Kazi Nazrul Islam who wrote and composed the Nazrul Geeti. Music and dance take precedence of course because classical dance and music coming from the region are famous all over the world. There are no festivities without them and, it is also believed, that there is no life without them. Locals have a special inclination towards theatre and drama too. It is, therefore, no surprise why there are so many artists coming from the region. If one wants to delve deep into the enticing and captivating artforms from the region, they may choose to visit the Anand Niketan Kirtishala Museum. It is the most recommended attraction in the town to know about this rich cultural and historical heritage.

Festivals

With a rich cultural heritage, it is evident that Howrah will have many colourful festivals celebrated with great enthusiasm. Mid-April brings the Poila Baisakh which is the Bengali New year. The day is considered auspicious for new establishments, projects etc. which begin with offering prayers and sweets to Goddess Kali. Durga Puja, which is celebrated in September-October is another festive time which shouldn’t be missed here. The town bustles with activities and colourful pandals housing intricately decorated idols of Goddess Durga and the traditional drums, bells and conch shells before every ritual. It is the call to unite and offer prayers to the goddess during this week-long festive time. Then follows Kali Puja/ Jagaddhatri Puja/ Diwali in October/ November. December is Christmas time and New Year in January with February bringing the auspicious time to worship Goddess Saraswati. Then there’s the Dol celebration which coincides with Holi in March. June brings in Eid-ul-Fitr after a holy month of Ramadan followed by Independence Day on 15th August.

Restaurants and Local Food in Howrah

Howrah survives on its delicious local cuisine and a language that sounds sweeter than Mishti Doi. Its location makes it one of the best places in India where one can find mouth-watering seafood recipes.

The Doi Maach which is fresh local fish cooked in a curd gravy, the steamed hilsa fish (also called Bhapa Illish), fish fry, prawn curries etc. are some of the best delicacies to try. After trying all the fish recipes, one can move to the local chicken and mutton delicacies, especially the chaap, the malai curries and the biryanis. For the vegetarians, there’s the authentic Khichudi, Sweet Pulao, Aloo Torkari, Shukto etc. that are as famous as the non-vegetarian dishes. Then there’s street food – rolls, kachoris, jhalmuri, dal puri, momos, samosas and masala tea that are worth a try too. Then to finish the eating spree, one must head to the nearest sweet shot for deserts like Roshogulla, Malpua, Mishti Doi, Rasmalai, Kalakand, kheer etc. without any regrets, because for many tourists, a trip to Howrah does not happen often.
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How To Reach Howrah

Howrah is connected to other regions in West Bengal by road, rail and by air. For tourists coming from outside the state, rail and air travel is perfect.

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