Durgapur City – the dream child of Bengal’s second chief minister Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy probably has a history which is as old as 7000 years. It may sound unbelievable but archeological excavations at Birbhanpur, on the bank of the Damodar adjacent to Durgapur Project Limited Township, have revealed a number of stone implements that are dated to be around 5000 BC.
Many of these are hunting implements used by pre-historic hunters. But not much research work has been done on the subject of history of Durgapur.
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 Civilisation. These are important historical findings and are yet to be fully explored and researched to find out the history of Durgapur.
Though it seems that mighty emperors reigned in this region over the centuries, but it’s not known clearly as to who held sway over the area at different times. Historians talk of this region being a part of the Maurya and Gupta empires, the empire of Harsha Vardhan and the Mughals.
Deep impenetrable forests and wild animals in the region probably kept the region out of the full control of the erstwhile emperors. Local chieftains such as Bhabani Pathak and Ichhai Ghosh were the heroes of the jungle-territory and probably held many a great emperor at bay.
The area was part of the Bardhaman Raj, who ruled on the basis of a firman from the Mughal emperor. Mir Kassem, the then Nawab of Bengal, ceded Bardhaman along with Medinipur and Chittagong to the East India Company in 1760 (three years after the Battle of Plassey), and the Bardhaman Raj continued to function under British tutelage.
At around 1765, Gopinath Chattopadhyay, a man of great courage and determination got a portion of Jangalmahal (presently within Durgapur) in lease from the then 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. The chimney of this non-productive factory can still be seen from Durgapur Railway Station.
Latar in 1955, the then Bengal chief minister Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy recognized the potential of the region and sent a letter to the union Industrial Minister, Mr. T.K.Krishnamachari, stating him the advantages of setting up an Iron and Steel factory in Durgapur. And the first seed of Durgapur becoming an “Industrial Town” to reckon with was sowed.
Read the article “Past History of the formation of Durgapur” to know more about the history of Durgapur.