Howrah or Haora is an industrial city, a municipal corporation in the Howrah district, West Bengal, India. It is the headquarters of the district, and of the Howrah Sadar subdivision of the district. Located on the west bank of the Hoogli River, it is a twin city to Kolkata. Howrah is the second smallest district after Kolkata. The two cities are connected by four bridges on the river Ganges, these being the Howrah Bridge (also known as Rabindra Setu), the Vidyasagar Setu (also known as the second Hooghly Bridge), the Vivekananda Setu (also known as Bally Bridge), the Nivedita Setu (also known as Second Vivekananda Setu) and ferry services between various jetties.
Howrah Station serves as a terminal for two railway zones of India: the Eastern Railway and the South Eastern Railway. There are six other railway stations with the city, including the railway junction at Santragachhi and the terminal at Shalimar Station—all the six are part of the South Eastern Railway network. Dinabandhu Institution, an Institute of National Importance and a premier research institution, is also situated in Shibpur, Howrah. Two national highways—NH 2 and NH 6—are connected to Vidyasagar Setu via Kona Expressway. One endpoint of the Grand Trunk Road is at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden here, where the Great Banyan tree stands. Bengal Engineering & Science University, over 150 years old, is a prestigious engineering university located in the city.
The name came from the word Haor—Bengali word for a fluvial swampy lake, which is sedimentologically a depression where water, mud and organic debris accumulate. The word itself was rather used in eastern part of Bengal (now Bangladesh), as compared to the western part (now West Bengal).
The history of the city of Howrah dates back over 500 years, but the district is situated in an area historically occupied by the ancient Bengali kingdom of Bhurshut. Venetian explorer Cesare Federici, who travelled in India during 1565–79, mentioned a place called Buttor in his journal circa 1578. As per his description, this was the a location into which large ships could travel (presumably the Hoogli River) and perhaps a commercial port. This place is identifiable with the modern day neighbourhood of Bator. Bator was also mentioned in the Bengali poetry Manasamangal written by Bipradas Pipilai in 1495.
As of 2011 India census, Howrah had a population of 1,072,161. Males constitute 52.28% of the population and females 47.72%. Howrah has an average literacy rate of 89.86%, higher than the national average of 74.04%: male literacy is 92.34%, and female literacy is 87.13%. In Howrah, 8% of the population is under 6 years of age.
As of 1896 census of British India, Howrah had a population of 84,069, which grew up to 157,594 in 1901 census. This rapid growth was due to abundance of job opportunities, which effected in a 100% increase in male population during this period, whereas the female population grew up only by 60%