Panihati Municipality was established on the 1st day of April in the year 1900 covering Sukchar, Panihati, Agarpara, Ghola, Natagarh and Sodepur and some adjoining Mouzas with an area of 7.5 sq. mile or 19.43 sq. km which was the largest municipality not only in the Barrackpore Subdivision but also in the undivided 24 Parganas district. The Gazette Notification of formation of the Municipality was made on 30th January, 1900. At the very beginning there were 6 wards only and population about 11,000. Presently there are 35 wards and above 4 lakhs people.
Initially, the Municipality was established in the rented Garden House of Gagan Bhusan Basak near B. T. Road, opposite present Panihati Sporting Ground. Later on, the municipality was shifted to its new building at the present location at the crossing of B. T. Road and Sodepur Station Road on the acquired land of Seth Suklal Karnani. The town was a famous business and trade centre in one hand and rich in political and religious movement on the other hand. Attracted by its natural surroundings and locational advantage people from different parts of the state and outside have flocked to the town. However, after partition of India, there has been a steep increase of population due to migration of a large section of displaced persons.
The first meeting of the Municipality was held on 1st September, 1900 when late Shib Chandra Roy Chowdhury was elected as the Chairman. However, he resigned shortly due to health reason and Tran Nath Banerjee, rich businessman, famous for his social and charitable works was elected as the Chairman on 16th Sept,1900. Under his stewardship, the newly born municipality started functioning. A half bust statue of Late Tran Nath Babu was unveiled at the Municipal premises at its centenary year 2000.
Panihati in History
Reference of the glorious heritage of this Place is found in the ancient literature. Reference of Sukchar is found in the voyage route of Chand Sadagar “Manasa Mangal” written by Bipradas Pillai in 1495. The Bhagirathi Map from Suti to Gangasagar prepared by Jao De Barros in 1550 BS, mentions Agarpara and Barnagar. Panihati has been depicted as a prosperous and sacred place in Chaitanya Charitamrita, Chaitanya Bhagabat, Chaitanya Mangal & other texts. W. W. Hunter in the ‘Statistical Account of Bengal, 1875, mentioned “Strictly speaking with the exception of Calcutta, there was no large river side cities, with community living by water traffic. The following is the list of the chief trading towns and villages showing principal articles for which each is noted. The Hooghly - Baranagar, Dakshineswar, Agarpara, Panihati and Sukchar”. It is also worth to note from the 24 Parganas District Gazetteer “Chaitanya then stopped at a very populous and prosperous village called Panihati. According to ‘Chaitanya Bhagabata’ no other village on the eastern bank of the Bhagirathi was as populous and prosperous as Panihati in those days.” Chaitanya Deb had taken Sannyas exactly 500 years back in the year 1510 and his first visit to Panihati was in the year 1514. Panihati was a major centre of Vaishnab Culture through Nityananda Mahaprabhu and Raghav Pandit also.
A confluence of religious, cultural and business/ industrial activities has created Panihati into a prominent place in the history of Bengal and India. This place has an unique distinction of having the footsteps of the great men like : Sri Chaityana & Nityananda Mahaprabhu, Sri Ram Krishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Mahtama Gandhi, Rabindra Nath Tagore., Acaharya Parfulla Chandra Roy.
On the river bank of Hooghly, along Sukchar - Panihati - Agarpara there seems to be a necklace of gangar ghats, temples and ashrams, the picturesque view of this concentration is probably comparable with Kashi - Varanasi, which has been revealed in the research work of Jatindra Mohan Dutta aliasly renowned as Jom Dutta (published in SHONIBARER CHITHI); “there is no other place in India in respect of the concentration of beautiful Ghats (33 nos) on the bank of the River Ganges in Panihati, which is next to only Kashi/ Varanasi." Incidentally the special red sugar used in Varanasi was being manufactured in Sukchar and was being supplied from Sukchar, as it was one of the largest manufacturers of red sugar.
The Municipality is located in North 24 Parganas District on the eastern bank River Hooghly. It is bounded by Khardaha Municipality on the north, Kamarhati Municipality on the south, Border of North DumDum Municipality and Bilakanda Panchayat area on the west.
Total geographical area of the municipality is 19.43 square kilometres, which is divided into 35 administrative wards. Mean Coordinates of the municipality being Coordinates: 22° 42' 2.41" N 88° 22' 30.62" E which is 9 kilometer away in the west from the district head quarter Barasat and 16 Kilometer away in the north from the State Capital Kolkata. Census 2001 population is 3,48,379 which is likely to grow to - 4.30 Laks by 2011 - 4.30 Laks and 5.75 laks by 2025 as per the KMDA Vision document. There are two Police Stations, namely, Sodepur and Ghola, situated within the boundary of the municipality. The municipality is being administered by a Board of elected Councillors.
Linkages of Rail, Road, River and Air
The B.T. Road passes through the town from North Barrackpur to South connecting Dunlop– Dunlop- Shyambazar. Sodepur Station Road starting from the Municipality crosses the station through Flyover to Barasat Road to Kalyani Highway and also to Madhyamgram Jessore Road to Dum Dum International Airport to the South and Barasat to the North. This road is a major route to the international border of Bangladesh. There are many arterial roads. Sodepur is an important node on the Indian Eastern Railway map with the highest nos of daily commuters. Agarpara is another station. Panihati ferry service is operating in the Municipal area - from Panihati Ghat to Konnnagar Ghat. In the early days, river traffic was the major source of communication and ghats of the river Ganga were used for trade/business.
A large number of industries came up in the area covering Panihati Sodepur Agrapara and Sukchar. The economic base of the Municipality consists of secondary sector i.e. large, medium and small industries and tertiary sector including offices, commercial outlets and institutional activities. Several prominent industries were set up which has linkage with the Self reliance and Swadeshi / Freedom Movement. Notable are: Bengal Chemical founded by Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy, Duck Back- Bengal Water Proof, Basmati Cotton Mills, named after wife of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das and inaugaurated by Rabindra Nath Tagore, Sodepur khadi Pratisthan- Set up by Satish Chandra Dasgupta and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. There was a tradition of business and trades in the region from the old days. Many industries got wide reputation like Sodepur Glass Factory, Hurricane factory at Agarpara, Agarpara Kutir Shilpa, Kusum Industries, Berry Brothers, Sodepur Pottery, Bangasree, Bangodaya, Alpine Dairy, Sulekha Inks, Hindustan wire, Hind ware, Sodepur Cotton Mills, Texmaco, Coles Crane, Agarpara Jute Mills, NTC Ltd etc. Many of them have however, were closed later on for various reasons.
Panihati is famous for its shopping centres around the Sodepur Station Road where people form distances come for shopping. There is a mix of industries of small scale followed by medium and large scale industries. Present notable industries include.
Places of Interest
The Panihati Mahotsab tala and Raghab Mandir/ Pat Bari are famous Baishnab Pilgrimage which were sanctified by great men like Sri Chaitanay Deb, Nityananda Maha Prabhu, Raghab Pandit, Sri Ram Krishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekannda. Sodepur Khadi Pratsithan was the “second home “ called by Mahatma Gandhi where he used to live while staying in Bengal. Gobinda Home is also on the river Ganges famous for Rabindra Nath Tagore and other eminent personalities. Other notable places are: Sodepur Pinzrapole, Giribala Thakurbari, Baromondir, Paine Bari, Anondomoyee Ashram and nos of places along the river bank, at Ghola, Natagarh, Panshila and Agarpara area. Various festivals and fairs are organised in the municipal area. Panihati Book Fair and Panihati Mela have become very popular and a testimony of the rich culture of the area.
The climate of this region like rest of the Gangetic Plains in West Bengal is tropical with monsoon season spreading from early June to early October. The weather remains dry during the winter (mid-November to mid- February) and humid during the summer in the range between 50–95 %. During the months of April and May, thunderstorms, sometimes accompanied by hail, frequently occur at dusk. Winter prevails for a short period with chilling dry wind coming from the northeast. The average rainfall varies between 150-200 cm/yr. The maximum temperature is about 40°C in the month of May and minimum temperature is 10°C in the month of January.