Siliguri Knowledge Guide
Middle Age history
According to Sailen Debnath, "Siliguri" means a stack of pebbles or stones. Till the 19th century this region was called as "Shilchaguri" when there was dense Dolka forest covering the area. Because of its appeal as an agricultural village, the Kingdom of Sikkim captured Siliguri making it the southernmost part of their kingdom until the Kingdom of Nepal interfered. Because of it Kirati and Nepalis came to settle in this region. At that time a river (Mahananda) port, South of Siliguri in Phansidewa had an important role in having trade bond with Malda, Bengal and Bihar. This riverine trade line was thus used by the Bhutanese and Sikkimese to bring goods into their mainland.
Siliguri started as a small area i.e. now Saktigarh, southern part of city, on the bank of Mahananda River. Treaty of Sugauli in 1815 signed between Britain-Nepal, changed the prospect of Siliguri. As it became a point of transit with Darjeeling hills and Nepal mainland. 1815 onwards, Siliguri started growing rapidly as a small city due to its strategic convenience of trade. In 1865, the British captured Darjeeling & the entire Dooars region to build tea plantations and export the produce to England. For easy exportation they introduced the Siliguri Town railway station which stands to this day, and introduced the Toy train from the station to Darjeeling in 1880. This helped Siliguri to gain Sub-Divisional town status in 1907. The "Siliguri Corridor" was formed when Bengal was divided into West Bengal and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) in 1947, with Sikkim later merging with India in 1975. At this point many immigrants came to settle here for better facilities which led to an increased population. Later in 1950 Siliguri achieved municipal status. Keeping in mind the importance of Siliguri, in 1951, the Assam rail link was established with newly made (1949) Meter gauge Siliguri Junction railway station. After few years in 1961 all these stations were connected with broad gauge New Jalpaiguri Junction railway station which later became the most important railway station in Northeast India.Due to tremendous growth, Siliguri is now far away from its past outlook, becoming the largest and fastest growing city in eastern India after Guwahati. The growth rate of Siliguri was 57.8% during 1971- 1981, considering this growth, Siliguri came under Integrated Urban Development Project program in 1981. Siliguri touched 46.83% of population growth rate in 1981-1991. A treaty between India and China for trade through Nathu La Pass, has expedited development and prospects of Siliguri as an international transportation and logistics hub. Later in 1994 Siliguri built a Municipal corporation which has been responsible for the civic infrastructure and administration of the city of Siliguri. Siliguri has now achieved the status of becoming the 2nd largest metropolitan city in West Bengal, after Kolkata.