Sneha Girap

Midnapore

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Languages spoken  Bengali, English
State  West Bengal
District  Midnapore West
Colleges and Universities  Vidyasagar University, Midnapore College, Midnapore Medical College and Hospital, Midnapore Law College, Sukumar Sengupta Mahavidyalaya

Midnapore (Pron:?med?n??p??) is the district headquarters of Paschim Medinipur district of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is situated on the banks of the Kangsabati River (variously known as Kasai and Cossye). This area had taken a pioneering role in Indias freedom struggle. A large number of freedom fighters who had bravely faced the gallows are the sons of the soil of Midnapore. To free their motherland from the yokes of bondage, they had willingly sacrificed themselves in the freedom pyre.

Contents

Map of Midnapore

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History

Midnapore in the past, History of Midnapore

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. 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 the 16th century, this region came under one of the five Sarkars of Mughalbandi Odisha i.e. Jaleswar Sarkar which was ruled by the Subehdar of Odisha. 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.

Midnapore in the past, History of Midnapore

During the era of the Muslim rulers of Bengal nawab, Alivardi Khans general Mir Jafar fought successfully against Mir Habibs lieutenant Sayyid Nur near Midnapore town in 1746. This was part of his campaign to regain Odisha 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 Odisha 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 20 June 1757, he was betrayed by Mir Jafar to the East India Company under the command of Lord Robert Clive at Plassey. This consolidated the Companys hold on Bengal and Odisha (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 Odisha.

Midnapore is notable for its contribution in the history of Indian freedom movement since it has produced many martyrs. During the British Raj, the city 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 Midnapores 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 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 practised at the Midnapore High Court.

Rishi Rajnarayan Basu, one-time tutor of Rabindranath Tagore, Asias 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 Beautiful Landscapes of Midnapore

Midnapore is located at 22.25°N 87.65°E? / 22.25; 87.65 and is 23 metres above sea-level.

Midnapore Beautiful Landscapes of Midnapore

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 Hills, Bengal-Jharkhand Range. Arabari, the forest range which was the site of Indias 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.

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.

Economy

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.

Culture

Midnapore Culture of Midnapore

The Chapaleswar and Mahamaya temples at Karnagarh built in the Odisha style of temple architecture, 10 km north of the town, are two of the most popular temples. Both were built in the 10th century by Karna Keshari of Keshari/Soma Vamsi Dynasty of Odisha. This temple is also of historic importance as being a hotspot of the Chuar Revolt during the Indian Independence Movement.

Midnapore Culture of Midnapore

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. .The Jagannath Temple at Nutan Bazar was built in 1851, possibly at the request of a descendant of the Ganga dynasty of Odisha. 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 city. Jora Masjid is the most notable in the town and is the site of a notable annual urs. Among the majars, Dewan Babas 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.

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.

Religious beliefs and festivals

Midnapore Festival of Midnapore

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.

Midnapore Festival of Midnapore

In the Bengali month of Asharh, (roughly corresponding to mid-September), Rathayatra is celebrated as is the case in the rest of Bengal and Odisha. 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 Judges 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 city. 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 characterised 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.

References

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