Durgapur is well laid out industrial township on the banks of the river Damodar, designed by Joseph Allen Stein and Benjamin Polk, is home to one of the largest industrial units in the state, Durgapur Steel Plant, one of the integrated steel plants of Steel Authority of India Limited.
Mighty emperors reigned in this region over the centuries but it is difficult to pinpoint as to who exactly held sway over the area at different points of time. Historians talk of this region being a part of the Maurya and Gupta empires, the empire of Harsha Vardhan and the Mughals. Being a geographical border region, it could have been on either side of the virtually unmarked and flexible borders of the mighty empires.
Jawaharlal Nehru with school children at DurgapurMoreover, the infertile soil with deep impenetrable forests and wild animals was probably not a very inviting proposal for any emperor on the look out for wealth and treasures. Even when coal mining made forays into the adjoining Asansol-Ranigunj area from the late eighteenth century, and factory chimneys reared their heads in the sky somewhat later, Durgapur remained an impenetrable jungle that few dared to trespass into.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the railway track traversed the Durgapur area but even fairly recent pre-independence travellers describe Durgapur as a small station, with dim kerosene lanterns burning at night, where only a few passenger trains stopped. It was local chieftains such as Bhabani Pathak and Ichhai Ghosh, who were the heroes of the jungle-territory, and probably held many a great emperor at bay. Many of them must have passed through the area on the look out for wealth in the famed granaries of Bengal further east but probably never found the place attractive enough to show their prowess.
It is unlikely that Bhabani Pathak of Durgapur was the same person linked with Devi Choudhurani, made famous by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. Their area of activity was around Rangpur, now in Bangladesh. Although barges used to carry coal down the Damodar in those days and the river was more navigable than now, the area was never a watery haven as some areas of east or north Bengal were. However, legends have more impact on people than the hard realities of history.
The area was part of the Bardhaman Raj, who ruled on the basis of a firman from the Mughal emperor. Mir Kassem, then Nawab of Sube Bangala, 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.
However, there are some interesting historical points. Archeological excavations at Birbhanpur, on the bank of the Damodar, have revealed a number of stone implements. These are dated to be around 5,000 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 civilisation possibly linked with the Indus Valley Civilisation. These are important historical finds and are yet to be fully explored.
Kolkata is the major Airport available nearby, which is about 182 km away from Durgapur. Kolkata is well connected to many foreign cities and to most of the Indian cities. Taxi fare is about Rs 3000 from Kolkata to Durgapur.
Durgapur railway station is well connected to all major cities in India, including Howrah, Delhi, Guwahati, Amritsar and Kolkata. Many daily trains, express and super fast trains, are connecting the various stations in West Bengal and neighboring states.
State owned bus services provide transport facilities from Durgapur to most of the cities in and around. Deluxe A/C luxury buses are available from Kolkata (182 km) and Guwahati. It charges about Rs 3 per km.