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Purnia is a city and municipal corporation located in Purnia district in the Indian state of Bihar.It is the 5th largest city of Bihara & is located at a distance of 300 kilometers from Patna the capital city . It is one of the larger cities in East Bihar next only to Bhagalpur. Purnia is at a distance of 171 kilometers from Siliguri, 92 kilometers from Bhagalpur & 214 kilometres from Muzaffarpur.
It is at a distance of 450 kilometers from Kolkata.
The Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Border Security Force (BSF) and the SSB have their bases around the district.
The origin of the name appears to have different sources. The name possibly originates from the Sanskrit word Purna–Aranya, which stands for “complete jungle”. Purnia could be an altered form of the old name Purania, derived from the word purain or Lotus, which is said to have grown on the Kosi and Mahananda rivers. This derivation is stated by O’Malley and is also in the old gazetteer. An alternative could be a derivation from the words Pur Aranya. W.W. Hunter and Buchanan have mentioned the name of Purnia it being a forested area, using combination of the words purn (full) and aranya (forest).
The name of Purnia’s 600-year-old temple of Mata Puran Devi (Kali), located about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) outside the city, is believed to be the name origin of Purnia.
The district of Purnea in modern history was formed by the East India Company on 14 February 1770. It hence continues to remain some of the oldest districts constituted in the nation.
Purnia is known for its moderate climate; it has earned its name as ‘Mini Darjeeling’ due to its favourable climate. Purnia, with the highest rainfall in Bihar state, has a largely humid climate, with humidity rising to above 70%. A cold season, from November to February, is followed by a hot season from March to June. The monsoon season begins in early June and lasts until September; 82% of its total annual rainfall falls during the monsoon season.
January, the coldest month, has a mean daily minimum temperature of 5 to 10 °C and a mean daily maximum of 20 to 25°C. Wind is typically light in the non-monsoon seasons but during the monsoon, storms and depressions originating in the Bay of Bengal cause heavy rain and strong winds.
Purnia is a developing city with its economy dependent primarily on agricultural products .Over the past few years it has shown a steady increase in its economy. This is primarily due to increased awareness, modernization, change in lifestyles of the people and technical advancements in various fields.
Bhatta Bazar located at the heart of city is the main market area catering to the needs of city people. It is also among some of the densely populated places in the city. There are numerous shopping complexes, mini malls, departmental stores, confectioners, groceries, studios, electronic stores and showrooms of some multinational & Indian companies namely Reebok, Gini & Jony, Levi’s, Killer, Koutons, LawmanPg3, Integrity, Charlie Outlaw, Monte Carlo, Peter England, VIP, Titan Eye Plus & Duke to name a few in this Bhatta Bazar region. This sector also flaunts some good restaurants & hotels.
Gulab Bagh in Purnia houses a major grain storehouse and is India’s largest maize trading centre. It is from over here the grain requirements of the states of North East are met.
Purnia is a powerful poultry producer & has also been catering to the demands of nearby regions of Nepal & West Bengal for many years.
Besides it Purnia is well known for its fisheries. Fishes are also transported to the nearby markets of West Bengal especially those in the Siliguri Metropolitan Region which is the nearest big city.
Due to its slow but growing economy, growing demands & improved connectivity as well as infrastructure it has become a known centre for trade and commerce among the traders of Bihar, West Bengal & Nepal.In fact Nepal based Choudhary Group which is known for its Wai Wai (food) noodles all over India & Nepal have opened up one of their manufacturing units in Maranga.
Bhatta Bazar and Line Bazar are the busiest parts in the city with the former being a prime centre for all sorts of economic activities while the latter is the backbone of health care facilities for the people in & around the city
Purnia city is supplied agricultural products from its surrounding countryside. The alluvial soil, irrigated by the Kosi and Mahananda rivers, has been particularly suited to the paddy cultivation of rice. Other crops grown are potatoes, wheat, khesari, chickpeas, chili peppers, maize, lentils, arhar dal, barley, sugarcane, tobacco, makhana, mung beans, and jute. The previous extensive growing of jute supported a former flourishing jute industry which has now declined. The cultivation of maize has however soared in recent years in the city’s outskirts.
Purnea Airport, also known as Chunapur Airport, located within the cantonment area, has non-scheduled flight services on the Kolkata – Patna – Purnia route twice a week. It has been operated by Bangalore-based The Spirit Air Private Limited. The nearest commercial airport is about 150 km away at Bagdogra
Purnea is served by two railway stations namely Purnia Junction(Station Code:PRNA) and Purnia Court Railway Station(Station Code:PRNC).Purnia Junction is closer to the residents of Khuskibagh,Gulabbagh and Eastern Purnea residents while Purnia Court Railway Station (5 km to Purnia Junction) lies at the western part of city catering to the people residing around Madhubani,Janta Chowk,Central and Western Purnea.
Purnia Junction is situated on Katihar-Jogbani broad gauge railway line of North East Frontier Railway (NFR). This railway line earlier was metre gauge. Another metre gauge line of East Central Railway (ECR) connects Purnia with Saharsa via Banmankhi. Conversion of the 36 km long Purnia-Banmankhi stretch in Purnia-Saharsa section to broad gauge under project Unigauge is likely to be completed by February 2016. There are daily and weekly trains to Kolkata, New Delhi and other neighboring cities.
National Highways namely NH 31, NH 57, NH 107 and NH 131A make Purnia accessible to the people from nearby cities & sates while state highways connect the other neighbouring cities and villages to the main city area.The newly constructed NH57 directly connects Purnia to some important towns and cities of North Bihar namely Darbhanga & Muzaffarpur.It takes nearly 5 hours to reach Muzaffarpur through this Expressway. This expressway which also traverses through the newly built Kosi Maha Setu bridge ends at Muzaffarpur to continue further for Patna. It has turned out to be an alternate route for Patna & has helped decongesting the ever busy & traffic prone NH31.
NH31 traverses through the main city & connects it to Siliguri & Guwahati in the east & Patna to the west via Mokameh Barauni & Begusarai.
The east-west corridor connecting Silchar in Assam to Gujarat passes through Purnia in the form of NH31. It is a modern six-lane highway constructed by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). State Highways 60, 62, 65, 77 & 90 also pass through Purnia.
NH31 & NH 57 are four lane expressways and are a strength to the intercity transportation services.
There are numerous buses which run for Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Muzaffarpur, Katihar & Siliguri on a daily basis. There is also a daily scheduled bus for Kolkata.
Maithili, Angika, Hindi and Bengali are the principal languages spoken by the people of Purnia. Santhali, Surjapuri, Polia and Santhali dialects are also spoken in some parts. Hindi is the official language. English continues to be the first language in most of the city schools.