Purulia district is one of the twenty districts of West Bengal state in Eastern India. The town of Purulia is the administrative headquarters of the district.
The territory of present Purulia district was a part of Banga, one of the 16 Mahajanapadas according to Jaina Bhagavati Sutra (c. 5th century CE) and was also a part of the country known as Vajra-bhumi in ancient period.During medieval period, this territory was regarded as part of Jharkhand region. Little is known about Purulia before the British East India Company acquired this territory by obtaining the grant of Diwani of the subahs of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa in 1765.
By Regulation XVIIII of 1805, a Jungle Mahals district composed of 23 parganas and mahals including the present Purulia (known as ‘Purulia’ in those days) was formed. By Regulation XIII of 1833 the Jungle Mahals district was broken up and a new district called Manbhum was constituted with headquarters at Manbazar. The district was very large in size and included parts of Bankura and Bardhaman districts of present West Bengal state and Dhanbad, Dhalbhum and Seraikela-Kharswan districts of present Jharkhand states. In 1838 the district headquarters was transferred from Manbazar to Purulia. Since the formation of the district it was withdrawn from regular administration and placed under an officer called Principal Assistant to the agent to the Governor-General for South-Western Frontier. The title of the officer Principal Agent was later changed to Deputy Commissioner by Act XX of 1854.
Finally in 1956 Manbhum district was partitioned between Bihar and West Bengal under the States Reorganization Act and the Bihar and West Bengal (Transfer of Territories) Act 1956 and the present Purulia district was born on 1 November 1956.The district is currently a part of the Red Corridor.
Purulia lies between 22.60 degrees and 23.50 degrees north latitudes and 85.75 degrees and 86.65 degrees east longitudes.Compass Declination 0º22’W. The geographical area of the district is 6259 km². This district is bordered on the east by Bankura, Paschim Medinipur districts, on the north by Bardhaman district of West Bengal state and Dhanbad district of Jharkhand state, on the west by Bokaro and Ranchi districts of Jharkhand state and on the south by West Singhbhum and East Singhbhum districts of Jharkhand state.
Purulia is the westernmost district of West Bengal with an all-India significance because of its tropical location, its shape as well as function like a funnel. It funnels not only the tropical monsoon current from the Bay to the subtropical parts of north-west India, but also acts as a gateway between the developed industrial belts of West Bengal and the hinterlands in Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Purulia is one of the drought prone districts of West Bengal. It has a sub tropical climate nature and is characterized by high evaporation and low precipitation. Temperature is very high in summer and low in winter which varies from 2.8 degrees in winter to 52 degrees in summer thus causes dryness in moisture.Record highest temperature is 54 degrees in 2011, which is the second highest temperature ever recorded in Asia, following Jacobabad’s record 55.7 degrees. Rainfall defines the climate of the district. South west monsoon is the principal source of rainfall in the district. Average annual rainfall varies between 1100 and 1500 mm. The relative humidity is high in monsoon season, being 75% to 85%. But in hot summer it comes down to 25% to 35%.
Several rivers flow across Purulia district. Among these Kangsabati, Kumari, silabati(silai), Dwarakeswar, Subarnarekha and Damodar are the important ones. Although several rivers flows across the district, 50% of the water run off due to the undulated topography.There are also several Small dams like Murguma, Pardi, Burda, Gopalpur, which are mainly used for irrigation of agriculture field.Saheb Bandh is one of the popular and famous waterbodies of Purulia. It is located in the heart of the purulia town. It is a shelter of the migratory birds which comes from Bangladesh, Burma, Pakistan, Baluchistan during December to March.
According to the 2011 census Purulia district has a population of 2,927,965, roughly equal to the nation of Jamaica or the US state of Arkansas.This gives it a ranking of 129th in India (out of a total of 640).The district has a population density of 468 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,210/sq mi).Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 15.43%.Puruliya has a sex ratio of 955 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 65.38%.
The District is served by three Rail connections provided by the South Eastern Railways. One line runs from Jharkhand in the South through the district up to Asansol passing through Adra division. Another line runs between Bankura and Dhanbad also via the Adra Division. The third line connects purulia with Jharkhand. Major cities and towns like Ranchi, Tatanagar, Patna, Howrah, Dhanbad, Asansol, Bhubaneswar,Durgapur, Mumbai, and Chennai Delhi are now well connected with Purulia by direct mail/express trains.
The road transport is another important transportation medium of Purulia. The road transport is adequate in terms of bus availability and goods flow. NH 32 connects this district with Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Chas and Dhanbad. National Highway 60A connects Purulia with State Highway 9 at Bankura and subsequently to NH2 at Durgapur. State Highway 5 also plays important role in district’s transport network as it connects the towns like Raghunathpur, Adra, Santaldih and Neturia to NH2 at Neamatpur and Asansol. Purulia has excellent road connectivity with Raniganj-Asansol industrial belt. South Bengal State Transport Corporation runs 4 buses from Purulia to Kolkata via State Highway 5 thus connecting towns and cities like Raghunathpur, Adra, Neturia to the industrial belt of Asansol, Raniganj, Durgapur and Burdwan. There are also many private bus operators on this route.
Purulia has rich cultural heritage. It has the mixed culture of Bengal, Jharkhand, and Orrisa as it was a part of these areas for various times.From archaeological evidences to local festivals, every cultural event has got a tribal touch in it, which is the specialty of Purulia. Living mostly in rural areas and keeping intact many of their socio-cultural values, more or less in pristine forms, the rural people of Purulia have their folks to speak about many of their tenets. The distinctiveness of those is well demonstrated with the sentiments and feelings of the population and these are marked with splash of colours and often entwined with pathos, romanticism, velour and social consciousness. Purulia got a distinct folk culture of Jhumur, Tusu, Bhadu songs. It is also the birthplace of a martial dance of Bengal Chhau .
Thousands of tourists come to visit Purulia every year to witness the charm of the natural beauties of Ayodhya,Turga Falls, PPSP Upper and Lower Dam, Dawri khal in Kesto Bazar Dam, Lahoria Shiv Mandir, Matha and Kuilapal, falls and tribal habitations of Ajodhya Hills and Bagmundih, dams like Panchet, Murguma Dam and Futiari, heritage building like Panchakot Raj Place, trekking range of Matha proud with Pakhi Pahar, and Joychandi Pahar, picnic spots like Duarsini, Doladanga, Jamuna, traditional folk dance and culture like Chhou Dance and Jhumur Song.