Behala (Bengali: বেহালা, Behālā) is a neighbourhood in South West Kolkata, in the Indian state of West Bengal. Behala was officially known as South Suburban Municipality until it was merged with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) in January, 1984. Now it is broadly spread across Ward Nos. 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131,and 132 of the KMC and is divided into two Vidhan Sabha constituencies: Behala Paschim and Behala Purba. Behala, Parnasree, Thakurpukur, Haridebpur and Sarsuna police stations serve this area under the South West Division of Kolkata Police also known as Behala Division (The division comprises Behala, Sarsuna, Haridebbpur, Thakurpukur, Parnasree and Taratola).
Behala is one of the oldest residential areas of the city. The Sabarna Roy Choudhury's, one of the oldest zamindar families of western Bengal and the trustee of Kalighat Kali Temple lives here. It is also home to Sourav Ganguly, former Indian national cricket captain and Sovan Chatterjee, the present Mayor of Kolkata.
Behala is also an important industrial area of the city. There are many factories and industries which include the manufacturing units like chemicals, plastic and plastic recycling, spray painting, metal plating and galvanizing. There are many schools, hospitals, banks and other important institutes in the region.
The Durga Puja celebration of Sabarna Roy Choudhury family at Barisha was launched in 1610 by Laksmikanta Majumdar, making it the second oldest family Durga Puja in western Bengal. Today Durga Puja at Behala is marked by exotic theme-based sarbojanin pujas. Barisha Chandi Mela, a 10-day fair held every year in November–December since 1792, is another notable festival. The major landmarks at Behala are West Bengal State Archaeology Museum, Sabarna Sangrahashala, Behala Airport, Sonar Durgabari, Barisha Chandi Mandir, Siddheshwari Kali Temple(The oldest temple) etc.
The word Behala is commonly believed to have its root in Behula, the name of the female protagonist of Manasamangalkavya. Alternatively, the name may have been derived from the Bengali term Bahulapur ("land of many rivers" or "dark city"). "Bahula" is also an epithet of the goddesses Chandi and Kali. Rev. James Long, who used to live in this parts, described Behala as Byala in one of his early writings. It is also known that Behala comprised many small villages before the whole place was urbanised and each village here had a suffix -behala with its name i.e. Bazarbehala, Tamtelbehala, Bnorshebehala (Barisha), Sorshunnobehala (Sarsuna) etc. Names like Rajarbaganbehala, Sahapurbehala, Naskarpurbehala and Santoshbatibehala are also found in the old proceedings of South Suburban Municipality.
Behala was once a part of the Sunderbans. The history of Barisha dated back to the Pala Era. In the 12th century, Barisha was a small village of farmers, fishermen and honey-gathers when a Kulin Kayastha named Dhananjay Mitra settled here. During the reign of Akbar Barisha came under the lordship of Basanta Roy who set up his capital at modern-day Sarsuna. Roy’s nephew and the king of Jessore Pratapaditya murdered him and incorporated Barisha with his kingdom. After the Mughals defeated Pratapaditya, Laksmikanta Majumdar of the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family was given jagirdari of a vast tract of land by Raja Man Singh in 1608. The three villages of Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kalikata were basically parts of a khasmahal (an estate) belonging to the Mughal emperor himself, whose jagirdari rights were held by the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family.
On 10 November 1698, to the dissatisfaction of the entire Sabarna Roy Choudhury family, the British East India Company signed the rights of the villages- Kalikata, Gobindapur and Sutanuti (which later merged to form the city of Calcutta).
Settlement in the area dates back to the 1797, but its urbanization is relatively recent. Population growth started in Behala after the partition of India.
'Aath-chala'-the ancestral home of Sabarna Roy Choudhury's zamindari could be regarded as the most ancient historical structure (though mostly ruined) in the entire city of Kolkata. It is the structure, sitting under which under a lease from the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family on 10 November 1698.
Today, Behala encompasses one of the largest suburban agglomerations of the city of Kolkata. It consists of many small localities like Parnasree Pally, Taratala,Sahapur, Behala Tram depot, Manton, Behala Chowrasta (Barisha), Sakherbazaar, Silpara, Kadamtala and Behala Thakurpukur. Huge growth of population especially since the early eighties resulted in the area being on the radar of both the daily wage earners, common populace and educated classes. Due to this enormous and unplanned growth, the traffic is by and large dependent on the arterial Diamond Harbour Road, in spite of the availability of the parallel James Long Sarani (Commonly known as Rail Line since the old and now defunct Kalighat Falta Railway ran here) as an option. During the construction the Taratala fly-over, a large portion of traffic flowed through James Long Sarani to avoid construction activity, causing development of other areas of Behala.
Encroachments by street-hawkers of the sidewalks on both sides of the busy Diamond Harbour Road is a major problem. Areas like Behala Tram Depot, Behala Chowrasta and Behala Sakher Bazar have been added to the 'Calcutta Green Zone' and traffic moves at a snail's pace during the peak office hours. A tramline used to run through the centre of Diamond Harbour Road from Joka to Behala Tram Depot till around 2005 and often the people moved faster in the trams, the service on this stretch has been withdrawn due to the elevated metro railway construction on the Diamond Harbour road which will run from Joka to B B D Bag. Previously it was well connected by tram lines towards the north. However the trams were stopped when the flyover at the Taratala junction was constructed.3D Sakherbazar - Milk Colony
3D/1 Sakherbazar - Milk Colony
12C Pailan - Howrah Station
12C/1 Shibrampur - Howrah Station
12C/1A Konchowki - Howrah Station
18A Greenfield City - Howrah Station
18B Muchipara – Kankurgachi
18B/1 Dakghar - Nonadanga Chinamandir
18C Kestormore - Anandapur
18D Sarsuna College - Howrah Station
21/1 Kadamtala - Sealdah
75 Roypur - Babughat
77 Budge Budge - Esplanade
83 Falta - Babughat
83A Babughat – Sherpur
210 Raichak - Esplanade (Express Bus)
222 Behala Chowrasta - Dunlop
235 Amtala - Salt Lake
11A Diamond Park - Howrah Maidan
21 Silpara - Howrah Maidan
119 Thakurpukur - Rajabazar
120 Behala Chowrasta - B.B.D. Bagh
121 Behala Chowrasta/ Shakuntala Park - Howrah Station
131 Joka - Ruby Hospital
132 Budgebudge - Band Stand
178 Behala - Rajabazar
SD4 Thakurpukur - Garfa
SD5 Sonarpur - Khariberia
SD8 Bibirhat - Nandibagan
SD9 Esplanade - Noorpur
SD9/1 Esplanade - Noorpur
SD14 Taratala - Sahararhat
SD16 Sirakole - Mukundapur
SD18 Esplanade - Diamond Harbour/South Bishnupur/Raidighi
SD19 Esplanade - Patharpratima / Gangadharpur
SD22 Esplanade - Dighirpar
SD22/1 Esplanade - Nainan
SD26 Esplanade - Burul
SD27 Dostipur – Usthi – Akra Fatak
SD28 Dakghar – Jadavpur Central Park
SD31 Taratala - Jhinki Hat
SD76 Amtala - Ruby Hospital
SD81 Budge Budge - Budge Budge ( circular route)
JM3 Sarsuna College - Ultadanga
AC12D Howrah Station - Joka
AC49A Airport Terminal - Behala 14 Bus Stand
AC52 Howrah Station - Amtala
3A/2 Sarsuna - Salt Lake (CSTC depot)
7 Sarsuna - Howrah Station via New Alipur
7A Sarsuna - Howrah Station via Khidirpore
M7C Sosthir More - Howrah Station
M7D Sonamukhi Bazar - Kankurgachi
M7E Bagpota - Howrah Station
M14 Behala - Bengal Chemical
S3A Thakurpukur - Sealdah
S3B Behala 14No Bus Stand - Kankurgachi
S3W Joka - Ecospace
S12D Thakurpukur - Howrah Station
S16 Thakurpukur - Karunamoyee
S22 Shakuntala Park - Karunamoyee
S45 Shakuntala Park - Kolkata Railway Station
S48 Behala Chowrasta - Airport Gate No.1
S48A Behala Chowrasta - B.B.D.Bagh
C37 Amtala - Howrah Station
ORD2 Joka - Howrah Station
VS6 Esplanade - Diamond Harbour
Esplanade - Ramganga
Esplanade - Usthi
Esplanade - Bakkhali
Esplanade - Namkhana/Kakdwip
Trams used to be extremely popular vehicles for commuting to and from several parts of Behala, but of late the trend has seen a reversal. The only tram service was from Behala Tram Depo to Joka [Now being stopped due to new Metro project].
Behala is served by the Majherhat & Brace Bridge railway station on the Sealdah South section of Kolkata Suburban Railway.
Behala was also served by Gholesapur and Sakherbazar railway station of Kalighat Falta Railway (KFR), which has been closed in 1957.
Behala Airport more commonly referred as Behala Flying Training Institute (BFTI) or Behala Flying Club (BFC) is the second of the two airports in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area and other being the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. There are plans to upgrade the airport. Recently a helicopter service has been started to connect Kolkata with Durgapur by air.
Former President Ms. Pratibha Patil laid the foundation stone of Joka to BBD Bagh Metro Rail Project in presence of Central Finance Minister and Governor of West Bengal in September, 2010.Vidyasagar Hospital, Brahmo Samaj Road
South Suburban hospital
James long hospital
Vivekanada Hospital, Parnasree Pally
Durga Puja, as it is in the rest of West Bengal, is the most popular festival in Behala. The family Durga Puja celebration of the Sabarna Roy Choudhurys, launched in 1610 by Laksmikanta Majumdar, is the oldest recorded Durga Puja observation in Behala as well as the second oldest in western Bengal. Today altogether six Durga Pujas are being held in the Barisha branch of the family: Aatchala, Baro Bari, Mejo Bari, Benaki Bari, Kalikingkar Bhawan and Majher Bari. Durga Puja is also observed by many other old families of this area as well as by numerous local clubs.Jora Mandir Haldar Barir Durga Pujo is one of the oldest Durga Pujas of Kolkata. It has crossed its 327 yrs of commencement. The puja is conducted by the descedants of Lakkhi Narayan Haldar inside there premises.
Kali Puja is also observed with great reverence in Behala. A 15-day fair is held at Parnasree Pally by Sarkari Abasan (Behala College ground), Parnasree Club and Surja Sangha during Kali Puja. Shankar Paik’s Kali Puja at Pathakpara attracts many people not only for the colourful soirees but also for the Sada Kali (white Kali) idol along with traditional puja of Behala Bijoyee Sangha at Manton. Yuva Gosthi at Roybahadur Road arranges an Annakut festival during Kali Puja. Other noted Kali Pujas are observed at Jayrampur Jala, Rabindra Nagar, Begor Khal, Sreema Palli areas. Behala Siddeshwari Kali Temple and Halder's Kali Temple at Behala Bazar attracts many people during the occasion. Among the family Kali Puja celebrations, the houses of Bhabani Bala Dasi and Shib Dulal Basu are quite famous.
There are famous Jagatdhatri Pujas also.
The area of Behala boasts of quite a few auditoria, movie theaters and hosts art fairs on a regular basis. The most prominent auditorium of the region is Sarat Sadan, which is a part of the Manton Shopping Complex. The movie theaters in Behala are distributed along the length of the Diamond Harbor Road and the most notable ones are Ajanta (near Pathakpara), Ashoka (near Manton),Elora (near Tram depot) and Pushpasree (near Sakherbazar).
Music is yet another aspect of the cultural life in Behala.Sourav Ganguly – Indian cricketer, Indian captain, a cricket analyst and commentator
Arnab Mondal - Indian footballer
Sovan Chatterjee – present mayor & MLA [Behala (E)] of Kolkata
Partha Chatterjee – MLA [Behala (W)] and Minister for Industries of Government of West Bengal
Anjan Choudhury – director of Bengali commercial films
Pijush Ganguly – Bengali actor in films, television and stage
Biswajit Chakraborty – Bengali actor in films, television and stage
Arin Paul – Bengali Film Director
Aniket Chattopadhaya – director of Bengali films
Indranil Sen – Bengali singer, holds record for singing title songs of maximum number of tele-serials
Bickram Ghosh – percussionist, and Page 3 celebrity
Dona Ganguly – Odissi dancer
The Diamond Harbour Road is dotted on both sides with shops and eateries. Clothes, jewellery, electronic items, sports goods, books and footwear can be found in a multitude of stores all along the stretch from Taratala to Manton. Recent additions to the shopping scene include shopping malls and factory outlets.
Apart from the standard stores, the pavements of Behala are crowded with hawkers selling everything from toothpicks to bedsheets.
Schools in Behala are affiliated with the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE). Major schools in this region are Vivekananda Mission School, Joka, M.P Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School & National Gems Higher Secondary School (which are rated amongst the top 8 ISC Schools in Kolkata),Orient Day School is also one of the oldest ICSE recognised school in this region. Barisha High School,Barisha girls high school, Behala Blind School, D.A.V Institutions (formerly D.A.V Public School), Behala Arya Vidyamandir, Vidya Bharati,Bidya Bhaban, Orient Day School, Bratachari Vidyasram, Behala High School, Behala Girls High School, Behala Shyamasundari Vidyapith etc. Behala College, Sarsuna College, Thakurpukur Vivekananda College and Vivekananda Women’s College, affiliated with the University of Calcutta are three major colleges in the area. The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Joka is also very close to Behala.Douglas Grounds (Oxford Mission)
State Archaeology Museum, Satyen Roy Road
Sabarna Roy Chowdhury Family houses at Barisha
Sabarna Sangrahashala, Baro Bari, Barisha