Siliguri, in the Indian state of West Bengal, is a prominent tier-II city. It’s the district capital, hence it’s “Twin Cities” with Jalpaiguri, which is right next door. The Indian state of West Bengal is home to this sprawling metropolis, which includes portions of the Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts. Siliguri is the “Gateway to Northeast India” due to its prominence in the tea, lumber, and tourism industries. Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is surrounded by the Mahananda River and the Teesta River. After Kolkata and Asansol, Siliguri is West Bengal’s third most populous city.
The Historical Roots
· Middle Ages History
Siliguri’s history goes back to the Middle Ages, and it’s a fascinating one. Sailen Debnath defines “Siliguri” as a pile of stones or pebbles. This area was known as “Shilchaguri” up until the 19th century, when the Dolka forest began to thin out. Siliguri was a tiny farming settlement in the Kingdom of Sikkim. After its conquest by the Kingdom of Nepal in 1788, Kirati and Nepali Lepchas moved into the area.
This was the heyday of trade between Malda, Bengal, and Bihar and a river port on the Mahananda located south of Siliguri in Phansidewa. The Bhutanese and the Sikkimese also made advantage of this waterway commerce route to import products into their respective countries.
· Modern History
Originally called Dagapur, Siliguri was a tiny neighbourhood in the city’s northern portion, on the banks of the Mahananda River. Siliguri’s fortunes improved after the 1815 Treaty of Sugauli was signed between Britain and Nepal, making it a hub between the Darjeeling hills and the rest of Nepal. Due to its central location along important commercial routes, Siliguri grew swiftly as a minor city beginning in the year 1815.
Darjeeling and the surrounding Dooars region were conquered by the British in 1865 so that they could establish tea plantations there and ship the leaves back to England. In 1880, the Siliguri Town railway station and the Toy train between the station and Darjeeling were introduced to facilitate export. In 1907, Siliguri was able to become a sub-divisional town because to this progress.
When Bengal was split in 1947, creating West Bengal and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh), the “Siliguri Corridor” was created. As a result, many people from other parts of India moved to Siliguri in search of the city’s superior amenities. Siliguri became a municipality in the year 1950.
· Recent Developments
After Guwahati, Siliguri is the largest and fastest-growing city in eastern India. This is a far cry from the city’s humble beginnings. During the years 1971-1981, Siliguri’s population grew by a whopping 57.8%. Recognising this progress, Siliguri came under the Integrated Urban Development Project programme in 1981.
The population of Siliguri increased by 46.8 percent between 1981 and 1991. A treaty between India and China for trade through Nathu La Pass sped development and increased Siliguri’s possibilities as an international transportation and logistics hub. The city of Siliguri, India, formed its own municipal corporation in 1994 to oversee municipal services and government. Siliguri is now the third-largest city in West Bengal, after only Kolkata and Asansol.
Siliguri’s coordinates are 26.71°N 88.43°E, putting it in a prime position at the eastern Himalayan foothills. Within the Siliguri Corridor, sometimes called the Chicken’s neck, the city sprawls over an area of 260 square kilometres. The city is split in half by the Mahananda River, which flows through it from north to south. The Teesta River also flows near to the city. Siliguri’s average elevation is 122 metres (400 feet). The high proportion of sand and silt to clay in the Terai region’s sandy soil makes the area prone to earthquakes.
The weather in Siliguri is humid subtropical, so expect hot summers, mild winters, and a monsoon season. Summertime lows are around 18-22 degrees and highs can reach 32 degrees, with a yearly average temperature of 23.2 degrees. August is the hottest month with an average temperature of 27.1°C, which can rise to over 35°C on rare occasions. The average high throughout the winter months is a mild 20-25 degrees Celsius, while the average low is a chilly 6-9 degrees. With an average low of 16.4°C, January is the coldest month of the year. The highest temperature ever recorded in Siliguri was 41.9 degrees Celsius, and the lowest was 1.9 degrees Celsius.
Siliguri receives an average of 3340 millimetres of precipitation annually. The rainy season lasts from June to September, with the wettest month being July. The winters are dry. Consistently high humidity is a year-round phenomenon.
The 2011 Census found that 701,489 people called the Siliguri UA/Metropolitan region home. This figure includes the populations of both the Silig’uri municipal corporation and the Dabagram municipality. The gender breakdown of the population is 51.44 percent male and 48.55 percent female. Scheduled Caste people make up 8.84% of the population and Scheduled Tribe people make up 1.25 % of the population in the Siliguri municipal area. Siliguri has a literacy rate of 77.64%. Approximately 32 percent of the city’s population resides in the city’s 154 notified and 31 unnotified slums.
Siliguri, the Gateway to Northeast India, is a city with a rich history, strategic importance, and unique geographical features. From a sleepy farming community, it has grown into a bustling metropolis and major transit hub. Siliguri’s continued importance in linking the North-East to the rest of India and its neighbours can be attributed to its pleasant year-round weather and rapidly expanding population.