Ranaghat town has existed since the British invaded India. A myth is still prevalent that the name of the town came from the bandit 'Rana Dacoit', who used to pillage this area 500 or 600 years back and he used to give pujas to the goddess Kali to thank her. A more likely origin for the name of the town comes from Rani (Queen) or Rana (a Rajput warrior) and Ghat (steps leading to the river).
A large percentage of the population are the families of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh, who fled during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 with Pakistan. There are also many families who had extensive ties to foreign investments in the town. Ranaghat also played an important role in the struggle of freedom of India.
This is the home town of some Bengali notable personalities. Sahairam Das was a group member of Chittagong armoury raid. He was transported to Andaman Cellular Jail. Film actress Raakhee Gulzar was born and brought up in a refugee colony in Ranaghat. Athlete and olympian Soma Biswas hails from Ranaghat. Poet Joy Goswami born & brought up in the town near Chotobazar area.
The town is exactly 74 kilometres north of Calcutta and 26 kilometres south of Krishnanagar, Nadia District headquarters. The Bangladesh border is very close to the town. It is located on the banks of River Churni.
Ranaghat and Taherpur police stations have jurisdiction over Ranaghat, Birnagar, Taherpur and Ranaghat I CD Block.The total area covered by the Ranaghat police station is 250 km2 and the population covered is 624,151 (2001 census).
In the 2011 census, Ranaghat Urban Agglomeration had a population of 235,583, out of which 119,578 were males and 116,005 were females. The 0–6 years population was 18,575. Effective literacy rate for the 7+ population was 86.10 per cent. Male literacy stands at 89.77% and female literacy at 82.33%
As of 2001 India census, Ranaghat had a population of 68,754. Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Ranaghat has an average literacy rate of 84%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 87%, and female literacy is 80%. In Ranaghat, 8% of the population is under 6 years of age.
The following places might be of interest to visitors.
- Pal-Chaudhuri House -- The Pal-Chaudhuri House at Ghatak Para is a historical marvel and a beautiful reminder of the historical importance of the Zamindars of Nadia. The house was built over 250 years ago by Krishna Panti, a hero born in a mud hut, who rose to become one of the greatest merchants of Bengal, through his pious good works and honesty. He was given the title Pal-Chaudhuri and became Zamindar over a huge area of Nadia. He built this house with over 300 rooms for his descendants, employing Scottish architects. The buildings, temples and gardens have intricate terra cotta work, and is one of the only such buildings remaining mostly intact.
- Churni Nodir ghat -- The bank of River Churni is a pleasant break from the scorching heat of summer months. The recently built bridge over the Churni connects Ainshtola (on the west bank of Churni) to Chotobazar on the east bank.
- Siddheshwari Temple -- Temple situated in the heart of the town, Siddheshwaritala, that has existed for over 150 years. Devotees, especially women, pray here regularly.
- Nistarini Temple -- Another temple near the Happy-Club maidan.
- Ranaghat Forest -- Located outside the main township, Ranaghat Forest is a popular picnic spot.
- The Dey Chowdhury house is also a very beautiful ancient piece of architecture and is well-kept.
Ranaghat has a handful of restaurants and hotels which remain very busy during festivals.A historic restaurant named "Adarsha hindu hotel" carries the taste of all sort of foods of Ranaghat & moreover Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay, a famous writer of Bengal used name of this hotel for his book. The town is famous for sweets like Pantua, goja, sandesh etc.
Ranaghat is an important place of business. Small traders from nearby towns and villages purchase goods from Ranaghat Town Bazar. Both wholesale and retail business have developed here. The Economy of Ranaghat and its surrounding region is mostly based on agriculture. Paddy (rice), flour, wheat and fruits are produced by farmers outside the main township. Various dairy products are transported to Kolkata every morning. There is a big market at Nokari only for flowers of various colours. A cold storage had been renovated by former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya at Nokari, located on east half of the town.
The Department of Food Processing Industries of India is planning to set up a market complex exclusively for florists in Ranaghat. Ranaghat has one of the capturing market of flowers in West Bengal.
Another industry which receives immense government patronage is handicraft and boutiques. At least 1000 people depend on this for their livelihood. Aishtala (situated on the west bank of river Churni) is a famous place for textile weaving. Moreover, ready-made garments are trendy clothes of late became very popular among the teens and youths.
IT infrastructure is getting popularised lately.
The land prices in Ranaghat have soared up hugely in last 4 years.
The town boasts a large number of primary and high-schools and a reputed college for higher education.Higher-Secondary schools
Convent of Jesus and Mary
Pal Choudhury High School
Brajabala Girls' High School
Purnanagar Purnachandra High School
Lalgopal High school - separate sessions for boys and girls
Bharati High School
Rathtala Colony H.S. School
Nasra High School
Debnath High School
Hemnalini Girls' School
Ranaghat Yusuf Instituition
Ramnagar Milan Bagan Siksha Niketan
St. Mary's English School (ICSE Affiliated)
Ramakrishna Vedanta Society Vidyapith / Shakti Empowerment Education Program (SEEschool.org)
Hijuli shikhha niketan
Vivekananda Primary School, Estd-1963, 2 no. Mahaprabhu Para.
Brajobala girls' primary school
kshiroda Sundori Primary School, Mahut Para.
Kendriya Vidyalaya, Ranaghat - CBSE affiliated school now in coopers camp.best known for its educational background and achievements.
Ramakrishna Vedanta Society Vidyapith / Shakti Empowerment Education
Holy Child school
Anandamohan Prathamik Vidyalaya
Dayal Nagar Primary School
Mangobindao Primary School
Binapani Academy KG School
Maa Sarada sishu shikhha niketan
St. Mary's College, run by Ranaghat Mandakini educational society
'NIIT Ranaghat' Center 68, Rabindra Sarani, Kamarpara, Ranaghat
The town is inhabited mostly by Bengali Hindus. Durga-puja, like in all other Bengali communities, is the largest and most colourful festival and is celebrated throughout the town. Pujas belonging to the old families of Ranaghat are a few hundred years old. Sadu Bauni and Sharmabari are the oldest of pujas, they are of 700 years or older, both started by Raja Krishnachandra Rai. The Durga idol at Ghatak Bari is made of cement, a permanent structure which is one of the first of its kind in the region. The big budgeted and grand theme pujas are mainly done by Dey Chowdhury Para Sharbojonin, Panthapara, Talpukrpara & Nabarun sangha. East side of this town is famous for Kali puja. There are several clubs like Friends' club, coopers camp, Mahaprabhu sporting club, Beltala club, Sanghamitra club, Netaji sangha, D.L Roy institute organizing such pujas.other major Hindu pujas are celebrated as well. Rath-yatra is another big festival of the town. Every year millions of people from the town and nearby places come to see the rath, enjoy various rides and have fun during the month of June–July at the happy club maidan & swasthyonnati Math rath-yatra-utsav. Recently some local clubs have started celebrating Jagaddhatri puja. A Hindu festival called 'Dol yatra' is celebrated everywhere at the town. A village named 'Harinagar' is famous for 'kirtan', a gathering of Hindu religious people in a motive to know God Krishna, is very popular.
The Christian community celebrates Christmas at Begopara Church outside the main township. It is one of the most beautiful churches of Bengal(probably 3rd largest). During Christmas, people from all religions join the party. Moreover, there is a famous mosque at Nasra-para, outskirt of the town. Hindu-Muslim-Christians are living together in good harmony and peace.
There are some Fortnightly newspapers publishing from Ranaghat. Some of them are Nadiar Sambad, "Ratu" . It published every 3rd and 18th day of English month since 2004/1984. Recently they crosses their 13th /22nd year anniversary.
There are two theatres in the city- Surendra and Ranaghat Talkies.
Cultural programmes are mostly held in the following places.
- Najrul Mancha (also known as Aheli).
- Rabindra-Bhavan - Mostly used by schools and colleges for their annual function. Some renovation is being carried out with this place. The same was scheduled to reopen in the beginning of 2008. But it didn't happen for multiple reasons. The earlier Rabindra-Bhavan having been demolished, the Geetanjali cinema hall has been renovated and renamed as the 'Rabindra Bhavan'.
There is a 'Mukta Mancha'(Open Air Stage) of Milan Mandir Club at Harinagar, a small village in Ranaghat.
Each winter one large cultural program(better known as Mela) takes place in Ranaghat. It is known as 'Ranaghat Utsav'.
Another similar event 'Nadia Mela' used to take place earlier. But it doesn't take place anymore."Nadia Hastashilpa Mela" & "Krishi Mela" of West Bengal government also took place for few years. Now 'Ranaghat Utsav' is considered as the most popular cultural festival in the town.'Ranaghat Book Fair' has also started a few years back.
Cricket and football are the most popular sports. Karate has been a great interest amongst the youth of Ranaghat since the 1980s. Since then many boys and girls have excelled in this field and brought laurels for Ranaghat even from national and international arena.
The city is well connected to the Sealdah railway station through the Sealdah-Ranaghat Line. Local and passenger trains are available every half-an-hour. The Railway Minister recently passed a bill for running an express train in the Sealdah-Lalgola route which would reduce the current 2 hour journey by at least one hour. This project requires significant funding which may prevent it from materializing.
The Railway station at Ranaghat has a long history. The Sealdah-Ranaghat rail connection was made during the British Period. This main line was opened in September 1862. Ranaghat-Kalyani and Ranaghat-Shantipur sections were electrified in the financial year 1963-64.
From Ranaghat railway station, trains travel both north and south. Local trains are available to: Krishnagar City Jn. Railway Station, Shantipur, Gede, Bangaon and Sealdah. A handful of express passenger trains between Lalgola and Sealdah also stop at Ranaghat. An express train Bhagirathi express runs mainly for the office-goers in the morning. It departs from Ranaghat for Sealdah at 8:50 in the morning and in the evening leaves Sealdah station at 6:25pm for Ranaghat. It takes around 1 and half hour in comparison to the 2 hours taken by local trains. Couple of Ladies-onlyl trains; one from Krishnanagar via Ranaghat to Sealdah, another from Ranaghat to Sealdah was inaugurated in the year 2010.
Railway ministries of India are taking steps to make Ranaghat Railway station as a station of national importance. Numerous plans have been considered for the modernization and improvement of the platforms and the surrounding area in the latest Railway Budget of India. But illegal hawkers and traders continue to create hindrance.
The town has three bus-stands, one at Rathtala, one near Ranaghat College and one over GNPC Road oppoaite police phari. CSTC buses plying from Kolkata going to North Bengal also has a stop at Ranaghat on NH-34. Buses ply to Krishnanagar, Hanskhali, Aishmali, Palassey, Bethua and other parts of Nadia district. Some long-distance night buses to north Bengal are also available. People in general, though prefer trains because of ready availability and more convenience.
SH 11 meets NH 12 at Ranaghat.
Auto rickshaw service might be popular in other cities of West Bengal but it is not available here. There are very few private cars.
Nearest airport from the town being the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at Dum Dum, almost 80 km from the town.
There are a few government hospitals and private Nursing-homes in the town. They are:Ranaghat S.D Hospital, Anulia
Ranaghat T.B. Hospital
Central Nursing Home
Life Nursing Home
Ranaghat Nursing Home
Radharani Sheba Sadan
Ranaghat Lions Eye Hospital
Ranaghat Lions Seva Sadan
Netrojyoti Eye Hospital
Manorama Hospitex Hospital