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Coordinates: 22°15'N 87°39'E? / ?22.25, 87.65
Midnapore (also written as Medinipur and Midnapur). is a town in West Bengal, India. The city is the headquarters of, and gives its name to, the Paschim Medinipur district of the state of West Bengal. The town also gives its name to a subdivision of the district.
The town used to be belong to the Midnapore District until the Partition of Midnapore. The undivided Midnapore district had been, at one time, the largest district in West Bengal and indeed, all of India.
The town has a population of c. 150,000 according to the 2001 census. It is situated on the banks of the Kangsabati River (variously known as Kasai and Cossye). On the opposite bank of the river is the industrial and railway hub Kharagpur.
There are conflicting accounts of how the name Medinipur came to be. One account claims that Medinipur was named after a local deity "Medinimata" (literally "mother of the world", a Shakti incarnation). Another account claims that Midnapur was so named because in the heyday the number of mosques rivalled.
A number of prehistoric sites of great interest are being excavated throughout the West Midnapore district. In ancient times the region seems to be highly influenced by Jainism and Buddhism. Coins issued by Samudragupta have been found in the near vicinity of the town.Originally this region belongs to the Kalinga-Utakala (ancient Orissa) empire. The kingdom of Shashanka and Harshavardhana also included part of undivided Midnapore in their kingdom. However, the most significant archaeological site in the region is the bustling port of Tamralipta near present-day Tamluk, a site noted in the travelogues of Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang. Later Chaitanya passed through the area on his way from Puri to Varanasi as documented in the Chaitanya Charitamrita.After the fall of last independent Hindu dynasty of Kalinga-Utkala (ancient Orissa) Gajapati Mukunda Deva in 16th century this region was came under one of the five Sarkars of Mughalbandi Orissa i.e. Jaleshawr Sarkar which was ruled by the Subehdar of Orissa.The north boundary of Jalshwar Sarkar was Tamluk & south was Soro & Dhalbhumgarh in the west to bay of bengal(Purva Sagara) in the east.
Bahadur Khan was the ruler of Jaleshwar Sarkar or Hijli (including Midnapore) during the time of Shah Jehan. He was defeated by Shah Shuja, the second son of Shah Jehan, then the subshdar of Bengal.
During the era of the Muslim rulers of Bengal nawab Alivardi Khan's general Mir Jafar fought successfully against Mir Habib's lieutenant Sayyid Nur near Midnapore town in 1746. This was part of his campaign to regain Orissa and thwart the Maratha attacks on Bengal. Mir Habib came up from Balasore and was joined by the Marathas but Mir Jafar fled to Burdwan leaving Mir Habib to retake Midnapore with ease. Alivardi defeated Janoji Bhosle, a Maratha cheftain in a severely contested battle near Burdwan in 1747 and Janoji fled to Midnapore. The Marathas held on to Orissa including Midnapore until 1749 when it was reconquered by Alivardi. The Marathas continued to raid Midnapore which proved disastrous for the residents.
In 1756 Alivardi died and his successor was Siraj-ud-daulah. On June 20, 1757, he was betrayed by Mir Jafar to the East India Company under the command of Lord Robert Clive at Plassey. This consolidated the Company's hold on Bengal and Orissa (along with Midnapore). The district of Midnapore which included Dhalbhum or Ghatshila, now in Singhbhum, Jharkhand was annexed in 1760 along with Burdwan and Chittagong both handed over to the East India Company by Mir Qasim. The last free king of Dhalbhum was imprisoned in Midnapore town.
Some of the Malla kings of Mallabhum centred around Bankura district also held parts of northern Midnapore district, while the Raj rules of Narajole, Jhargram, Lalgarh, Jamboni, and Chandrakona held sway in their local areas. It is generally agreed that the Raj rulers came from Rajasthan to pay homage to Jagannath but stayed back to carve out their own territories under the supremecy of the Hindu empires of Orissa.
Midnapore is famous for its contribution in the history of Indian freedom movement since it has produced a seemingly endless list of martyrs. During the British Raj the town became a centre of revolutionary activities starting from the Santal Revolt (1766-1767) and the Chuar Revolt (1799). The Zilla School, now known as Midnapur Collegiate School was the birthplace of many extremist activities. Teachers like Hemchandra Kanungo inspired and guided the pupils to participate in the Indian Freedom Movement. Three British District Magistrates were assassinated in succession by the revolutionaries Bimal Dasgupta , Jyothi Jibon Ghosh, Pradoot Bhattacharya , Prabhakangsu Pal,Mrigan Dutta,Anath Bandhu Panja,Ramkrishna Roy,Braja Kishor Chakraborty,Nirmal Jibon Ghosh. Khudiram Bose and Satyendranath Basu were some of the young men that liad down their lives for the freedom of India. Kazi Nazrul Islam attended political meetings in Midnapore in the 20s. Even Raja Narendra Lal Khan, ruler of Narajole, who donated his palace on the outskirts of town, for the establishment of Midnapore's first college for women, had been implicated, (although it turned out to be false) for planting a bomb.
Khudiram Bose was born in the Habibpur in 1889 and studied at Midnapore Collegiate School up to the eight standard. He was first caught by a policeman for distributing seditious leaflets in Midnapore in 1906. He was an anarchist at heart and protested against the moderate policies of Surendranath Banerjea. Khudiram was sentenced to death for a failed attempt to kill Magistrate Kingsford. Satyendranath was executed on the 21st November 1908. Noted freedom-fighter and Bengal Province Congress Committee President, Birendranath Sasmal practiced at the Midnapore High Court for a few years.
Rishi Rajnarayan Basu, one-time tutor of Rabindranath Tagore Asia's first Nobel Prize winner, was headmaster of the Zila School in 1850. He founded a girls' school, a night school for workers, and a public library. The Rajnarayan Basu Pathagar (library) is still in existence near Golkuar Chowk.
Not only Hindu activists but Muslim statesman originated or spent time in Midnapore. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy founder of the Awami League, a prominent political party in Bangladesh, and the 5th Prime Minister of Pakistan hailed from a prominent family of Midnapore.
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Climate and geography
The climate follows a hot tropical monsoon weather pattern. Summers last from April to mid-June with diurnal highs ranging from the upper 30s°C to the mid 40s°C and lows in the low 30s°C. However extensive daily heat is often followed by evening rains known as kalboishakhis or dust-storms Monsoon rains can last from mid-June to late August or even September with rains from the southeast monsoon typically contributing the lions-share of the annual rainfall of around 1500 mm. Winters last for 2 to 3 months and are mild; typical lows are from 8 °C - 14 °C. Allergies are common in winter and spring due to the high content of particulate dust in the air.
Midnapore is 23 metres above sea-level. Soils near the Kangsabati River are alluvial with a high-degree of clay or sand depeding on the locality; whereas soils towards Rangamati are essentially lateritic. Vegetation is essentally same of that common to South Bengal with extensive eucalyptus and sal forests on Northwest side of town. In fact the sal forests form part of the Dalma Bengal-Jharkhand Range. Arabari, the forest range which was the site of India's first Joint Forest Management scheme is only 30 km away. A unique problem faced each year by inhabitants is the fear of elephant attacks. Hordes of marauding elephants attacking human habitation in villages in Midnapore district have come as close to the town as Gurguripal, 6 km away. However, the town itself has never been attacked.
Train :- Midnapore is well connected not only to larger cities in the region, but also to smaller towns and villages in the district. Midnapore Railway Station is on the Howrah-Adra and Howrah-Purulia express train routes. Many major express trains pass through Midnapore including the Delhi-Puri Nilachal Express, Howrah-Lokmanya Tilak Samarsatta Express,Puri-Patna Express and New Delhi-Bhubneshwar Rajdhani Expess. In addition, there are a number of local trains that ply between Howrah and Midnapore. The proximity to Kharagpur, a major hub of the Indian South-Eastern Railway system, only 30 minutes or less by train, makes Midnapore well connected with the major cities of India.
Bus :- A bus terminus(Central Bus Stand) serves the greater Midnapore area. Many
buses ply to smaller towns in the districts of Midnapore West, Midnapore East, Burdwan, Bankura, and Purulia in West Bengal, to districts of Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj and Baleswar in Orissa.
Selected thoroughfares of Midnapore have been expanded and maintained in an ongoing "Megacity" project started in 1997. Unfortunately, the vast majority of roads are in a state of disrepair. Some of the smaller roads in the town are unpaved and are hardly usable during and after the monsoon months. To compound the problems faced by inhabitants there are a limited number of bridges crossing the Kasai river affording entry from Howrah and Kolkata.Nevertheless the ongoing construction of the new interstate highway system which passes by Midnapore has reduced the time it takes for inhabitants to reach Kolkata. Recently the traffic signaling system had been started in this city and it is helping very much in controlling the city's traffic.In recent years, the roads have not been able to keep with the vehicular traffic especially the increasing numbers of two-wheelers (motorcycles, scooters), cycle rickshaws, and bicycles. Incidentally, within the city the cycle rickshaws are one of the only modes of public transportation since effective lobbying by rickshaw-pullers who depend on this for their livelihood has prevented the introduction of town buses and auto rickshaws.
Historic attractions :- The Jagannath Temple at Nutan Bazar (upload photo) was built in 1851 and was supposedly at the request of a descendant of the Ganga dynasty of Orissa. Other temples from the 18th century include the Hanuman-jeu Temple in Mirzabazar, the Sitala temple at Barabazar, and the Habibpur Kali Temple. One of the oldest temples in the town is the Rukmini temple at Nutanbazar which was built in the 17th century. The Ramakrishna Mission also has a temple adjacent to an elementary and high school. The goddess Kali at the Battala temple is an important temple in the locality, but is a more recent addition.
There are numerous majars and dargahs dotting the town. Jora Masjid (twin mosques) is probably the most famous in the town and is the site of a famous annual urs. Among the majars, Dewan Baba's majar near the District Court and Fakir Kua near the bus terminus are locally revered. According to local legend, the water of the well at Fakir Kua majar has mysterious healing powers, although the veracity of this claim is debatable.
One of the major temples frequented by locals are the Chapaleswar and Mahamaya temples at Karnagarh located approximately 10 km north of the town. Both were built in the early eighteenth century. This temple is also of historic importance as being a hotspot of the Chuar Revolt during the Indian Independence Movement.
Outstanding Hindu and Jain temples are also located in the village of Pathra a few kilometers from the town. Although a site of hundreds of small temples dating back into antiquity, many of the temples are in a state of disrepair due in part to lack of any sort of preservation, succumbing to the waters of the Kasai River, and theft of bricks by locals. An NGO Pathra Archaeological Preservation Committee, founded by Yeasin Pathan, has successfully persuaded the Archaeological Survey of India to restore the temples. 2,000,000 Indian rupees were sanctioned for this cause in 1998 and many of the temples have been restored. Remarkably secluded in location, this archaeological site is relatively unvisited due to lack of hype and its inaccessibility.
In the heyday of Brahmo Samaj, Midnapore became a major centre of this society. Rishi Rajnarayan Basu, one of the luminaries in the Brahmo Samaj movement, worked as the head master of the Zilla School. The dilapidated hall of Brahmo Samaj, "Brahmo Samaj Mandir" near Midnapore Collegiate School is a silent reminder of the Brahmo presence of yesteryears. Some of the old administrative and educational buildings dating back more than 150 years are still functioning today.
Cultural distinctiveness :- Life, in general, is slow-paced in Midnapore, as a sort of tribute to the mofussil provincial heart of the town. Midnaporeans in general are laid-back and friendly. It is not uncommon for shops to open late and to close during the hours of the afternoon in the hotter months of the year. Also shops can close for tea and sporting events such as cricket and World Cup football. Tea-shops and paan-stalls abound and there is a high concentation of mishtir dokaan (sweet-shops). Here you can find one of the very famous sweets in Bengal - 'Khirayer Gogjaa'.Adda or Bengali gossip is prevalent and widely enjoyed.
The local dialect of Bengali is different from standard Kolkata pronunciation and though not as Oriya-centric as the dialects of Contai and Dantan, does show minor similarities with Oriya. Speech is very informal and the talebossho, murdhenoshho, and dontesho are often pronounced differently from the standardized West Bengal dialect.
A significant fraction of the population of the undivided district descended from Vaishnavites - the followers of Shri Chaitanya - although they follow the rituals and caste system of mainstream Hinduism now. Many migrated from Orissa and merged to form a unique Bengali culture. In fact, since the area was part of Orissa earlier, it is better described as a mix of Bengali and Oriya culture. There are Marwari and Bhojpuri speakers and a number of speakers of Hindi in the town as well. Many of the Muslims of the town speak in a pidgin dialect with a mixture of Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, and Bhojpuri words.
Midnaporeans have often been criticized for being "unsmart" and "uncultured" on account of their agrarian roots, but few have taken such criticisms to heart.
Entertainment :- Since many Midnaporeans are fond of walking, a number of parks have come up in recent years.Gopegarh Heritage Park is a good picnic spot for families and youth and was opened in 2001. Booking for sheds and boating facilities can be arranged at the Forest Range Office. Another major park has come up near the Police headquarters (also known as "Police line"). Many people can also be seen in the cooler morning and evening hours walking near the riverfront.There are a number of major theaters in the town including the Aurora, Mahua and Hari Cinema Hall. But Aurora, Mahua are closed now, only Hari Cinema Hall is still running A number of private and government operated halls include the Zilla Parishad Hall, Vivekandanda Hall (inside Midnapore College), and Vidyasagar Hall. These are often the venue for numerous cultural events like the hosting of dramas, concerts, poetry-recitals, and dance programs. Some of these are venues for numerous "Melas" or canivals hosted each year on adjacent grounds such as the Midnapore College-collegiate ground, Church School ground (for the Christmas fair), and the river ground (for large political assemblies).The bank of Kangsabati River (also variously known as Kasai and Cossye) is great for sightseeing and fishing and a popular destination for picnics during the Christmas and New Year's breaks. Unfortunately the bank is being eroded by new construction, brick-kilns and new communities.
Religious beliefs and festivals :- There are a number of festivals, many of religious import that are held in Midnapore each year. Urs of the venerated Maulana Syed Shah Murshed Ali al Qadri Pir Saheb is a major occasion for Bengali Muslims of West Bengal and Bangladesh. This is held each year near the Jora masjid (twin mosques). Milad-un-Nabi is also celebrated with the bursting of fireworks. Many devout Muslims observe fasts during the month of Ramadan, which ends in celebration at Eid ul-Fitr. Eid ul-Adha locally known as Bakhri-Eid is also celebrated. During the Remembrance of Muharram, processions throng the streets enacting mock stick-fights in remembrance of Husayn ibn Ali.
In the Bengali month of Asharh, (roughly corresponding to mid-September), Rathayatra is celebrated as is the case in the rest of Bengal and Orissa. A fair is hosted near the local Jagannath temple. And during Christmas, a fair on the grounds of Nirmal Hriday Ashram is well participated. The church is opened to all on this occasion and people from all communities throng the prayer hall to take a glimpse of the beautiful murals narrating the life of Jesus. The resident students recreate the scene of Jesus' birth with clay models.
Apart from that, the regular Bengali festivals like Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, and Kali Puja are well attended. In the last few years, local clubs and communities have competed with each other for designing the best Durga Puja murtis (idols), mandaps (interior of abode), and pandals (bamboo and cloth makeshift enclosures) with hundreds of thousands of rupees often being spent by each club. In recent times, the Pujas hosted by Rangamati Sharbajanin Club, Keranitola, Burdge Town, Chottobazaar, Raja Bazaar, Bidhan Nagar, Ashok Nagar, and Judge's Court have been highly rated. Other common Pujas in the worship of Sitala, Jagaddhatri, Holi, Janmashtami, Manasa, Kartika, and Ganesh are common but not such a major cause of celebration.
Vishwakarma Puja is remarkably popular in the town. Unlike in Kolkata, Vishwakarma Puja is not celebrated with flying kites. With respect to its tribal history, people in Midnapur fly Kites to celebrate "Baraam Puja", the day of a tribal god. This is on the last day of the bengali month of Poush, i.e. Poush Sankranti. Apart from kite-flying, a fair is also held on Poush Sankranti. It has a rural flavour and is characterized by the trading of handicraft and household goods. The items of trade include spades, knives and other iron tools, combs and other goods made of buffalo-horn, baskets (jhuri and dhama) and platters for husking (kula) made of bamboo and cane, etc. Bheema Puja is another Puja that is not widespread elsewhere.
Vidyasagar University is the first and only university of the town. It has a beautiful campus in the eastern part of the town. There are 39 colleges in the districts of East Midnapore and West Midnapore, affiliated to this University.
- Midnapore College was created out of the Midnapur Collegiate School in 1873. Though under Vidyasagar University now, it was originally under Calcutta University . It is located in Raja Bazaar, a busy area of the town.
- Midnapore Law College is a relatively recent addition. This is situated near the river Kansabati at Dakbungalow Road .
- Midnapore Medical College is also a newborn institute, the newest medical college in West Bengal . After a lot of controversy regarding its recognition by the Medical Council of India, it has finally been permitted to conduct the MBBS course under section 10(A) for 2005-06.
- K.D. College is dedicated to the study of commerce.
- Vidyasagar Teachers' Training College (also known as B. Ed. College )
- Raja Narendra Lal Khan Mohila Mahavidyalaya ( Gope College :) This is the only women's college in the district. The campus is located on premises donated by the Raaj rulers of Narajole.
- ITI is a technical vocational institute located in Rangamati near the Kasai River .
- Vidyasagar Institute of Health, Rangamati offers courses in medical and paramedical technology.
- Midnapore Homeopathy medical college
- Midnapore Collegiate School (for boys) established in 1834, is one of the oldest schools in Bengal as well as India . The students and teachers of this school made contributions in Indian Freedom Movement during the British Rule. ------- Details »
- Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyabhawan.
- Nirmal Hriday Ashram is a school run by Catholic missionaries and has both girls' and boys' section. It runs a primary section in the morning. Locally it is known as the "Church school".
- Midnapore Town School ------- Details »
- Midnapur Collegiate School for Girls.
- Vidyasagar Vidyapith, popularly known as Bangla School is also a rather old institute. This has separate boys' and girls' section.
- Mission Girls is one of the girls' schools. Mahasweta Devi, Magsaysay Award recipient completed elementary school here. ------- Details »
- Rishi Raj Narayan Balika Vidyalay, popularly known as Aligung Girls School , is another school for girls.
- Paharipur Girls' High School
- Vidyasagar Shishu Niketan: The only ICSE affiliated school in the town.
- Medinipur Shilpi Chakra. This is a non-traditional institute for the teaching and practice of art and craft. It arranges regular exhibitions and hosts a permanent gallery in its campus in Sepoy Bazar.
- D.A.V. Public School . Midnapore.
- Royal Academy , Najarganj.
- S.M.I.High Madrashah (H.S.),Mirzabazar, Midnapore (Estd.-1924)( Popularly known as madrasah school.Only madrasah in town imparting co-education)
Many people in Midnapore town enjoy going on walks and are increasingly
becoming more health-conscious, a witness to which is the proliferating gyms and
clubs. The best achivement is done by heptathlete Susmita Singha Roy,who has attained an Olympic standard in bejing 2008.She achieved that with a tally of 5866 points, against the single-entry criterion of 5800 points on the qualifiers at bhopal. Susmita,an ex-student of aligunj girls school,had started her career as a long jumper. The great Midnapore Swimming Club is a destination for avid swimmers.Amit Kumar Jana was the first one to represent bengal from this club. Amit was a part of bengal subjunior school team in school games,Pune,October 1995 where he won a silver in 200 IM & a gold in 4x100 freestyle relay(national record). in june,1996 Amit got selected again in bengal U-14 team for the national meet in Jaipur and won a gold in 4x100 freestyle relay(national record).Amit,a role model for many young swimmers that time,was one of the major names in intra bengal swimimg competitions tried to continue his swimming in Bangalore while studying engineering but finally called it a day in 2002.The streak continues as Suman Barat got selected in bengal school team at 1997 & won a gold in 4x100 freestyle relay & swimmers like dipsekhar kar, Ratul dhar, Khushal das & anirban manna. Durghesh Narayan Ray has participated in many long distance swimming competitions where as Ambarish roy, a state level swimmer has represented Bengal in Trialthon. Midnapore swimming club owns the only diving board in the district & has major success in diving. Saheli roy was the first one to represent bengal in diving from this club followed by Balaka kushari & niladri sekhar majumdar. the later two got selected in bengal diving team for national games-2007 in gowhati. Alongwith swimming & diving, Midnapore swimming club has a good record in waterpolo also. right now, the young bigrade is working hard ubder coach Babunnath (Nis), Samir Saha (bengal diving coach) & Santanu ghosh (bengal sub junior coach, Goa, jun-2007) Aurobindo Stadium hosts a number of sports events many of which especially in association football are junior National level events. Midnapore's schools and colleges are usually well-ranked in soccer tournaments. Midnapore Sports Development Authority (MSDA) had already prepared a sports complex including modern gymnasium and indoor stadium near Sepoy Bazar and oversees many of the sporting activities in the town. in every 23rd january(birthday of Netaji Subhaschandra Bose) there is a 10 mile roadrace in midnapore to pay homage to the great hero.