Midnapore (; also written as Medinipur and Midnapur) is the district headquarters of Paschim Medinipur district of the Indian state of Paschimbanga. It is situated on the banks of the Kangsabati River (variously known as Kasai and Cossye). This area had taken a pioneering role in India's freedom struggle. a large number of freedom fighters who had bravely faced the gallows are the sons of the soil of midnapore. In order to free their motherland of the yokes of bondage, They had willingly sacrificed themselves in the freedom pyre.
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 those in Medina.
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 (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, Gajapati Mukunda Deva in 16th century, this region came under one of the five Sarkars of Mughalbandi Orissa i.e. Jaleswar Sarkar which was ruled by the Subehdar of Orissa. The north boundary of Jalshwar was Tamluk and south was Soro and Dhalbhumgarh in the west to the Bay of Bengal 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 chieftain, 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 in the Bankura district held land in northern Midnapore district, while the Raj rules of Narajole, Jhargram, Lalgarh, Jamboni, and Chandrakona held sway in their local areas. The Raj rulers in Rajasthan would pay homage to Jagannath but carves out their own territories under the supremacy of the Hindu empires of Orissa.
Midnapore is notable for its contribution in the history of Indian freedom movement since it has produced many martyrs. During the British Raj, the town became a centre of revolutionary activities, such as the Santal Revolt (1766 1767) and the Chuar Revolt (1799). The Zilla School, now known as Midnapore 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 laid down their lives for the freedom of India. Kazi Nazrul Islam attended political meetings in Midnapore in the 1920s. Raja Narendra Lal Khan, ruler of Narajole, who donated his palace for Midnapore's first college for women, had been implicated, (although it turned out to be false) for planting a bomb. An illustration of Khudiram Bose a notable freedom fighter 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 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 21 November 1908. Noted freedom fighter and Bengal Province Congress Committee President Birendranath Sasmal practiced at the Midnapore High Court.
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 also Muslim statesmen originated or spent time in Midnapore. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy founder of the Awami League, a prominent political party in Bangladesh, and the fifth Prime Minister of Pakistan, hailed from a prominent family of Midnapore.
Climate and geography
Midnapore is located at and is 23 metres above sea-level.
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. Daily heat is often followed by evening rains known as kalboishakhis or dust-storms (loo). Monsoon rains can last from mid-June to late August or even September with rains from the southeast monsoon 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.
Soils near the Kangsabati River are alluvial with a high-degree of clay or sand, whereas soils towards Rangamati are lateritic. Vegetation incluces eucalyptus and sal forests on the northwest side of town. 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. Elephant attacks on humans are common in this area, although the town itself has never been attacked. Hordes of marauding elephants attacking human habitation in villages in Midnapore district have come as close to the town as Gurguripal, 6 km away.
Midnapore is 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 and express train routes. Many local and passenger trains ply all day between Howrah and Midnapore as well as Adra and Midnapore. Apart from these local trains, many major express trains also pass through Midnapore including the Delhi-Puri Nilachal Express, Howrah-Lokmanya Tilak Samarsatta Express, Puri-Patna Express, Ernakulam-Patna Express and New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express. Midnapore is close to Kharagpur, a major hub of the South Eastern Railway is 13 kilometres.
At present the Midnapore Railway Section is undergoing a development process. The station complex is undergoing modernisation.The platforms are being increased in length. Work is in process to double the railway line between Kharagpur Jn. and Midnapore. Apart from an existing railway bridge on the Kangsabati river, a new double line railway bridge has been constructed (carrying traffic from 4 March 2012) to smoothen the railway traffic.
A bus terminus serves the greater Midnapore area, and there are many bus routes to smaller towns in the nearby districts. The bus terminal is called Medinipore central bus stand.
Selected thoroughfares of Midnapore have been expanded and maintained in an ongoing "Megacity" project started in 1997. The vast majority of roads are in a state of disrepair. Some of the smaller roads in the town are unpaved and are 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[NH6]. 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. A set of traffic control signals was recently installed in the city, and this helps control traffic. Motorized and bicycle traffic has been increasing in recent years. Within the city, cycle rickshaws are one of the few 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.
Infrastructure and economy
Electricity is available, although as in the rest of West Bengal, demand exceeds supply. Power outages are common in the summer and monsoon months, although outages lasting more than an hour are becoming rarer. Most businesses and upper middle-class and rich households have backup generators and batteries that they use in times of outages.
Water is a scarce resource in Midnapore. Most of the water comes from the Kasai river, which is shrinking in size every year due to over-exploitation. The municipal water supply is free but not ample; tap water is available for about an hour twice a day and is stored by those who can,,in plastic, metal, or concrete reservoirs or in buckets. The water is of questionable purity prompting the proliferation of individual water purification units.
Sewage disposal is another concern. Many of the lower income-communities in the town do not have adequate plumbing and must rely on refuse-collectors to haul out human waste. Not all drains are covered, causing a proliferation of disease causing flies and mosquitoes. Since Midnapore is drier than many other coastal and humid low-lying towns of West Bengal, this problem is not as acute as it.
Internet service has improved many folds compared to last 5 yrs. BSNL is the sole government sourced provider and the local hub is in Kharagpur. Broadband is available to the public and dialup service, which is touted at 100MB/s,so a pure speed of 2-8 MB/s is gained.There are many cyber cafe (s) spread all over the town which proide high speed internet services for the people.
Possession of PCs is becoming very common at homes and many business firms,so usage of internet has also gained a high peak.Besides the broadband services provided by BSNL,internet usage is also done by dial-up connections provided by the private operators such as AIRBRIDGE WIRELESS BROADBAND, AIRTEL,RELIANCE,AIRCEL and all the other private mobile operators providing mobile services in the town and Wifi is available by Darshan Broadband
Plug-to-surf services are also being provided by some of the operators such as BSNL,TATA,RELIANCE etc.. The internet services are expected to improve more in the coming yrs with more high speed and availability of broadband services by the private operators.
In the 2011 census, Midnapore municipality had a population of 169,127, out of which 85,362 were males and 83,765 were females. The 0 6 years population was 14,365. Effective literacy rate for the 7+ population was 90.01 per cent.
India census, Medinipur had a population of 153,349. Medinipur has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 80%, and female literacy is 71%. In Medinipur, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.
This makes it the second largest town in Paschim Medinipur district after Kharagpur. The town is almost equally divided in terms of population between Hindus and Muslims. The multiple mosques and temples, many predating British rule serve as indication of how co-prevalent the two religions are in this area. It is an important religious spot for the Muslims of India and Bangladesh. Even though the interesting religious mixture would suggest religious tensions, remarkably Midnapore has never witnessed major Hindu-Muslim tensions in recent history.
The economy of the undivided district, according to 1991 and 2001 census statistics, was overwhelmingly agrarian. Being a district town, Midnapore functioned in an ancillary role for the rural district as an administrative and judicial centre. As such many businesses and services revolved around this role, which naturally, has been adversely affected by the division of the district. Midnapore still fills this role and has more physicians, lawyers, teachers, banks, and administrative offices than any other town in either East or West Midnapore district. The medical sector is thriving with the addition of a Medical college and the Vidyasagar Institute of Health Application. Coaching centres that assist students enrolled in the regular and correspondence courses of Vidyasagar University are also common.
Poorer segments of this semi-rural society are involved in transportation, basic agriculture, small shops and manual labour for construction work.
Midnapore is a municipality with 24 wards and 94,738 registered voters (2003 statistics). For a long period of 32 years, it was under the control of the Left Front, in 2009 Trinamool Congress won the municiplaity by a margin of 2 wards.
Chapaleswar (Shiva) temple, Karnagarh
The Jagannath Temple at Nutan Bazar was built in 1851, possibly at the request of a descendant of the Ganga dynasty of Orissa. Other temples from the eighteenth 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 is the most notable in the town and is the site of a notable 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.
The Chapaleswar and Mahamaya temples at Karnagarh built in Orissa style of temple architecture, 10 km north of the town, are two of the most popular temples. Both were built in 10th century by Karna Keshari of Keshari/Soma Vamsi Dynasty of Orissa. 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 kilometres from the town. Hundreds of small temples dating back into antiquity are located here but many 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 donated for this cause in 1998 and many of the temples have been restored. Remarkably secluded in location, this archaeological site is rarely visited as it is inaccessible and little known outside of the immediate area.
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.
The royal ruins at Gopegarh Heritage Park
A view of the Kasai from Gopegarh Heritage Park
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 concentration of mishtir dokaan (sweet-shops). Here you can find one of the very notable 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.
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 picnic spot and boating facilities can be arranged at the ticket counter. The most popular park of the town is Sukumar Sengupta Smriti Uddan (popularly known as Police Line Park) which is near to Central Bus Stand. Other parks are Sishu Uddan and Khudiram Park. 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.
Rangamati Sarbajanin Durga Puja, 2003
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 saint Hazrat Maulana Syed Shah Murshed Ali Alquadri Al Jilani son of Hazrat Syed Shah Mehr Ali Alquadri Al Baghdadi 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.
Science Block of Vidyasagar University
Midnapore College main gate
D.A.V Public School,Midnapore-This is the only CBSE affiliated school in Midnapore town managed by DAVCMC,New Delhi.This school was established in the year 1993 and initially it was managed by Midnapore Marwari Sammelan.Later on after a year or two,it came under the control of DAVCMC,New Delhi.
- Midnapur Collegiate School for Girls.
- Sri Sri Mohonananda Vidyamandir
- 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".
- Paharipur Girls' High School
- Rajnagar Union High School (H.S.),Rajnagr, Daspur (Estd.-1950)
- Rangamati Kironmoyee High School,popularly known as Rangamati High School.
- 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)
- Vidyasagar Shishu Niketan: The only ICSE & ISC affiliated school in the town.
Vidyasagar Vidyapith, popularly known as Bangla School is also a rather old institute. This has separate boys' and girls' section.
Midnapore Art College :- It is the only college which offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts ( B.F.A) degree in whole south Bengal.
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 most notable achievement of a native was by Susmita Singha Roy, who performed at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Susmita, who was an ex-student of Aligunj Girls High School, had started her career as a long jumper.
Aurobindo Stadium hosts a number of sports events many of which are in association football and are junior National level events. Midnapore's schools and colleges are usually well-ranked in soccer tournaments at a national level. Midnapore Sports Development Authority (MSDA) was involved in constructing a sports complex which includes a modern gymnasium and indoor stadium near Sepoy Bazar. MSDA oversees many of the sporting activities in the town.
Every year on January 23, which is the birthday of Indian freedom fighter, Subhas Chandra Bose there is a 10-mile running competition in commemoration.
A number of local Bengali-language newspapers are circulated from Midnapore; notable among them being Sabyasachi, Mednipur Times,Chapaa Khabor, and Dainik Upatyaka. Medinipur.com has started online news service over Midnapore.
The District Library of the Midnapore district is located in the town. The other notable library is Rishi Rajnarayan Library.
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