Archeological excavations at Birbhanpur, on the bank of the Damodar, have revealed a number of stone implements dating back to around 5000 BC. Many of these are hunting implements used by pre-historic hunters. Earlier, some of the excavations at Pandu Rajar Dhibi, on the banks of the Ajay, just beyond Durgapur but in Bardhaman district, revealed traces of a civilization possibly linked with the Indus Valley Civilization.
Research work to reveal the history of Durgapur has not been undertaken on a serious note. Historians believe that this region was a part of the Maurya and Gupta empires, and latar the Mughals. The area was part of the Bardhaman Raj, who ruled on the basis of a lease from the Mughal emperor. Mir Kassem, then Nawab of Bengal, ceded Bardhaman along with Medinipur and Chittagong to the East India Company in 1760 after the Battle of Plassey, and the Bardhaman Raj continued to function under British tutelage.
At around 1765, Gopinath Chattopadhyay got a portion of Jangalmahal (presently within Durgapur) in lease from the Maharaja of Bardhaman. This particular region latar came to be known as Gopinathpur Mouja. Gopinath tried his best to make this dense forest region suitable for human living. Durgacharan, a descendant of Gopinath undertook the incomplete task. He set up a new colony at the present Sagarbhanga region of Durgapur. There he set up a Kali temple in 1793 and a Shiva temple in 1803. Apart from these two constructions, the Zamindar house still stands in Sagarbhanga as a symbol of the massive work done by Durgacharan Chattopadhyay.
In 1855, when East India Company laid the railway line between Bardhaman and Andal, the station here was named Durgapur, by the initiative of the local people as a mark of respect to Durgacharan. Thus came the name Durgapur and for the first time got a position in text by virtue of its location in the railway-grid of the country.
In 1905, when the whole of Bengal was undergoing a major political turmoil and unrest, Burn Company set up a tile manufacturing factory near Durgapur Railway Station and sowed the first seed of industry in the region. But the seed germinated quite late. This region first attracted attention due to severe flood of Damodar which destroys the roadway and railway link between Calcutta and western provinces every year. Dr. Meghnad Saha, in the Indian Science Congress of 1934 put forward the plan of setting a multipurpose project in order to tame the “Sorrow of Bengal”, Damodar.
After independence, at the initiative taken by our first Prime Minister, Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the “Damodar Valley Bill” passed in the Lok Sabha on 18th February 1948. The bill proposed that nine dams would be constructed on River Damodar and its distributaries and for this Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) was formed. Durgapur was one among the nine proposed site where dams were to be erected.
Construction of Durgapur Barrage began in 1952 and ended in 1958. Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, the second Chief Minister of Bengal was a foresighted man and he realized the potentiality of the region to grow up as an industrial belt. In August 1955, Dr. Roy sent a letter to the then Industrial Minister, Mr. T.K.Krishnamachari, stating him the advantages of setting up an Iron and Steel factory in Durgapur.
After a long exchange of notes and letters, the Union Government finally gave sanction for setting up the third Iron and Steel factory of the country at Durgapur. An agreement was signed with the British Consortium and they were endowed with the massive task of setting up the “Mother Industry” of the region.
On January 1957, construction work of Durgapur Iron and Steel Plant started and on December 1959, Iron production started for the first time in the Blast Furnace. With the birth of the Steel Plant, Durgapur got a permanent place on the map of India, and new horizon opened up. Dream of Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy of making Durgapur “The Ruhr of Bengal” started taking shape. Many new industries were set up and Durgapur made its own distinctive position as a potential industrial hub of the country.