The twin of Kolkata, Howrah (Bengali: হাওড়া Hāoṛā, Hindi: हावड़ा Hāvṛā) is the second-largest city in West Bengal and an important transport hub and gateway to Kolkata. This article covers the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) area, two other municipalities (Bally and Dankuni) and several smaller suburbs.
Howrah (HOW-rrah) is on the western bank of the Hooghly River opposite of Kolkata. While it is a separate city, Howrah is very much a part of the Kolkata metropolitan area and Howrah station is where you will arrive if connecting with anywhere north, south or east of Kolkata.
Although the modern Howrah is developed largely under the British rule, the city is preceded by a major trading centre called Betor. Howrah station, the first railway station of Eastern India, was established in this city in 1854, with its first railway service to Hooghly began on 15 August of the same year. Although several other major stations have come up across Kolkata and Howrah, Howrah station still remains one of the busiest railway stations in India.
The nearest airport is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU IATA) in Kolkata. There's an air-conditioned bus service between Kolkata Airport and Howrah station.
- See also: Rail travel in India
Howrah Junction railway station
Railways in India
The first commercial railway service in Eastern India began on 15 August 1854 on its first run between Howrah railway station to Hooghly railway station.
- 1 Howrah railway station (station code: HWH), Lower Foreshore Rd, ☏ +91 79857 27760.
Howrah railway station is the largest railway complex in India with over 600 trains arriving per day. An estimated two million people use the station every day. Howrah station is divided into the Old Complex and the New Complex. There are 23 platforms in the station, 16 of which are in the Old Complex and the remaining seven are in the New Complex. Trains of the Eastern Railway (ER) arrive mainly at the Old Complex, while trains of the South Eastern Railway (SER) arrive at the New Complex.
For passengers, there is a large covered waiting area between the main complex and the platforms and other areas for passengers awaiting connecting trains. Free Wi-Fi is present at the station.
Transport options to central Howrah include:
- By bus: There's a huge bus terminus between Howrah station and the Howrah Bridge. Air-conditioned buses are available between Howrah Station and Kolkata Airport.
- By car: The station platforms have carriageways for motor vehicles within the complex, including two carriageways to the Old Complex and the New Complex respectively. Salkia Flyover at the end of the platforms allows motor vehicles to exit the complex quickly. Such a facility is unique among most major stations in the country.
- By taxi: There's a big taxi stand outside Howrah station, where iconic yellow Ambassador taxis are parked in long queues.
Eat and drink
There are a lot of options to eat and drink at Howrah station. In particular, there is an exclusive food court run by IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation) in the Old Complex, which is known as Foodplaza. Besides, IRCTC has their own outlet called Jan Aahar in both the Old Complex (next to Foodplaza) and the New Complex.
IRCTC operates a hotel in the New Complex of Howrah station called Sampath Rail Yatri Niwas. It contains a dormitory, single room, and double room accommodation. First-class passengers can wait in an air-conditioned area with balcony views of the Kolkata skyline and the Howrah Bridge.
- Phone: ☏ +91 33 26601742
- Price: Dorm ₹100/bed, Double Non-AC ₹350, Double AC ₹550, Triple Non-AC ₹400
Santragachi Junction railway station
- 2 Santragachi Junction railway station (station code: SRC), NH 12, Santragachi. Another major station serving Kolkata and Howrah. There are six platforms in the station. Serves local trains to Amta, Mecheda, Panskura, Haldia, Contai, Midnapore and Kharagpur. A few trains originate from Santragachi station to Ajmer, Porbandar and Nanded, and the Vivek Express runs to Mangalore Central starting from Santragachi. Mostly all Howrah/Shalimar bound express/mail trains stop here. Santragachi also has a big bus terminus with bus services to various places in Kolkata, Howrah and beyond.
- By bus: The bus routes from the station are:
- K11: Domjur–Rabindra Sadan (Exide), via PG Hospital, Vidyasagar Setu, Toll Plaza, Santragachi and Salap
- KB15: Anandapur–Santragachi Bus Terminal, via Ruby Hospital, Acropolis Mall, Kasba Thana, Bijan Setu (Ballygunge Station), Gariahat, Minto Park, Camac Street, Exide, PG Hospital, Toll Plaza and Santragachi
- RT-26: Santragachi–Esplanade, via Tikiapara, Howrah Maidan, Howrah Station, Barabazar and Dalhousie
Shalimar railway station
- 3 Shalimar railway station (station code: SHM) (near Vidyasagar Setu). A small railway station compared to Howrah station and one of the cleanest, most well-maintained and non-congested railway terminals in Greater Kolkata. It handles a few local and several express trains. There are small eateries serving snacks on the platform and eateries serving lunch outside the station.
As a new railway station, Shalimar is not well connected by public transport and many people avoid the station for that very reason. That said, transport options in Shalimar include:
- By bus: All buses run along College Rd, which is about 900 m (3,000 ft) north of the station. It is often impossible to walk that long with heavy luggage for a commuter.
- By taxi: There is a taxi stand outside the station and the most direct service to and from the station.
- 4 Dankuni Junction railway station (station code: DKAE). Several Southern India-bound express trains stop here.
The bus termini in Howrah are:
- 5 Howrah Bus Terminus (W of the Howrah Bridge, N of Howrah station). Buses are available from Howrah and different parts of West Bengal.
- 6 Kolkata Central Bus Terminus (Santragachi Bus Terminus) (near Santragachi Junction railway station).
- 7 Nabanna Bus Terminus, Andul Rd.
Howrah is just across the river from Kolkata. The ferry services to cross the Hooghly River from Kolkata to Howrah is very convenient to zip across both cities. There are a number of jetties. On the Kolkata side the ferries link to such jetties as Bagbazar, Armenian, Fairlie, Chandpalghat, Babughat, Prinsep Ghat. On the Howrah side there are jetties at Howrah Station, Ramkrishnapur Ghat, Botanical Garden Ghat, Bandhaghat, Golabari and Belur Math. Buy the ticket before you board the ferry and retain the ticket till after you have crossed to the other side and have shown it to the ticket checker near the exit gate or else you will be penalised!
- For more information on this topic, see the Public transport in Kolkata and Howrah article.
Howrah, like its twin city Kolkata, has an extensive public transportation network, from the modern rapid transit system to the old heritage tram and wooden bus systems. As of 2022 Howrah and its suburbs are served by bus, ferry, metro, train and tram systems.
For short distance travel, there are auto-rickshaws, electric rickshaws and cycle rickshaws.
Like in Kolkata, taxis in Howrah are easily available, relatively cheap, and will use their meters, at least in theory. They generally stand at the major railway stations in Howrah.
- 1 Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden (Shibpur Botanic Garden), Shibpur (local: Shalimar South Eastern ), ☏ +91 33 67 32 31 35. Mar-Sep: 5AM-5:30PM; Oct-Feb: 5:30AM-5PM. An extraordinary place of vivid nature under the smog filled sky of the city. You will value the silence that is only filled by some birds singing. The Great Banyan tree in the botanical garden boasts of having the largest canopy in the world. The British established the institution in 1786 as Indian Botanical Garden. foreigners: ₹50; Indians: ₹5.
- 2 Rail Museum, Lower Foreshore Rd (local: Howrah Junction Eastern South Eastern ). A museum established in 2006 to display the history and heritage of railways in the eastern part of India with special focus on Howrah Junction railway station. The collection includes the first broad-gauge electric locomotive built in India, a WCM-5; a HPS-32 steam locomotive captured during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971; and the Indraprastha, claimed to be the oldest remaining Indian Railways shunting locomotive.
- 3 Santragachi Jheel, Santragachi, Howrah (7 km (4.3 mi) from Howrah station by train, or 6 km (3.7 mi) from Kolkata via Vidyasagar Setu; local: Santragachi Junction South Eastern ). A large lake next to Santragachi railway station. It attracts a lot of migratory birds in the winter months, particularly in December and January, impart because migratory birds are avoiding destinations like the lakes in Alipore Zoo, Kolkata. Birds like Saras Crane from North America and Australia, and many other local migratory birds such as Cotton Pygmy Goose, and Comb Duck, are spotted here during this season. The lake area is owned by South Eastern Railway, though the Forest Department of West Bengal also looks after the place. Efforts are made by local residents, Forest Department and Railways to improve the environment for the birds.
- 4 Andul Rajbari (Andul Royal Palace), Andul. A heritage site of Andul, the palace was built by Raja Rajnarayan Bahadur in 1834. His family now owns a cinema hall and a local market as well.
- 5 Kolkata West Gate, Salap. Based on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the gate is an entrance to the Kolkata West International City (KWIC), a satellite township in Howrah developed by Indonesia's Ciputra Group.
- 6 Nabanna (HRBC Garment Park). Office of the Chief Minister of West Bengal since 2013.
- 7 Statue of Enlightened Buddha, Kona Expy, Shibpur (local: Padmapukur South Eastern ). A pair of brass statues of the Buddha at Kona Expressway.
Howrah Bridge trivia
- 8 Howrah Bridge (হাওড়া ব্রিজ HOW-rrah BRIHJ, Rabindra Setu (রবীন্দ্র সেতু ROH-bihn-droh SHEH-too)). 24 hours daily. Free.
One of the iconic bridges of West Bengal, the 705 m (2,313 ft) long Howrah Bridge is a cantilever bridge with a suspended span over the Hooghly River. The bridge was commissioned in 1943 by Braithwaite, Burn & Jessop Construction Company, replacing the older pontoon bridge.
The area around Howrah station and Howrah Bridge has grown as a world of its own, catering to the needs of a huge floating population. This bridge frames the skyline of the Howrah Riverfront. The ambience is as amicable and profound as the river that flows alongside.
- 9 Vidyasagar Setu (বিদ্যাসাগর সেতু Bidyasagôr Setu, Second Hooghly Bridge). Open 24 hours.
With a total length of 823 m (2,700 ft), Vidyasagar Setu is the longest cable-stayed bridge in India and one of the longest in Asia. It was built 3.7 km (2.3 mi) south/downstream of Howrah Bridge. The bridge was commissioned in 1992 by the Hooghly River Bridge Commission (HRBC).
- 10 Belur Math, Belur (about 4 km (2.5 mi) from Howrah station; local: Belur Math Eastern ). Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Next to the Hooghly River, one can sit on the banks of the river during evening time and relax.
In Belur, you have a small but beautiful museum of Ramkrishna Dev and Sarada mani along with Swami Vivekananda. The Evening "Arati" is something you should see in Belur Math. One most uncommon and attractive ritual of Belur Math is, at the time of Durga Puja, which is generally held in the month of October, they worship a girl dressed with beautiful Benarashi sari and jeweleries which resembles as "Kumari Puja" meaning worshiping "Kumari" i.e, a unmarried and young girl who haven't reached the age of 10 years. The girl have to dress according the tradition and the Priests will worship as long as the time scheduled for the puja. Thousands of people come this day to see the pujs and only on this day taking snaps are allowed in the temple compound.
You can travel there by bus, auto or taxi. It takes 20-25 min to get there and around 40 min to return, because this route is longer and becomes more congested. All modes of transportation are easily accessible around the Howrah station complex. Local trains also go to Belur Math, but going by auto, bus or taxi is much better as they drop you off at the entrance of Belur Math. One can also travel from Dakshineswar to Belur by either boat or road.
- 1 Belilious Park, Tikiapara (local: Tikiapara South Eastern ). 10AM–8PM. An amusement park. Within the park, there is a pond and the trees around here provide greenery to the region. A marriage hall is also present here for marriage events. The Panchdeep Tower within the park is the tallest structure in Howrah.
- Durga Puja of Dutta Chowdhury family. Among the oldest in Bengal, the Durga Puja was started by Kashiswar Dutta around 400 years ago.
- 2 Howrah Indoor Stadium, Dumurjala. An indoor stadium with plays host to several prominent talent hunt contests and sports activities.
- 3 Howrah Planetarium and Astronomical Research Centre. A planetarium in Howrah with virtual tours of the night sky and cosmic shows in a specially perforated hemispherical dome. It is India's first 3D planetarium. A total of three shows are conducted a day in this planetarium to introduce visitors to the solar system. Visitors can also learn about important space discoveries and related information. Each show at planetarium is conducted for 25 minutes. Shows are available here in Bengali, English and Hindi.
- 1 Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur (IIEST Shibpur) (local: Shalimar South Eastern ). The first university in Howrah and the second oldest engineering college in India.
It might be worth while to stroll down Howrah Maidan just for the excitement of a local market, busy with street shops selling anything from clothes, to pots, to fruits. By bus or taxi from Howrah station it will only take 10 minutes to get there.
- 1 Avani Riverside Mall, 32 Jagat Banerjee Ghat Rd (on the way to Kolkata - from Prinsep Ghat Railway Station — 1 km (0.62 mi) — take a trip to Dinobondhu College Bus Stop — 0.5 km (0.31 mi)), ☏ +91 33 3312-9000, fax: +91-33-2289-5811. 11AM–10PM. This three storey mall contains Eastern India's first PVR cinema hall. Large food court and many shops. Free.
- 2 Forum Rangoli Mall, 212, Girish Ghosh Rd, Belur. Opened in 2015 and houses stores of premium brands, including Max Lifestyle, Domino's Pizza, Archies and Spencer's retail among others. There is also an INOX multiplex in the mall.
- 3 RD Mall, 269, GT Rd, Liluah. It was launched in 2011 and houses INOX multiplex, Domino's Pizza, Cafe Coffee Day, a gaming arena and Big Bazaar among many other retail stores.
Local foods you must try are egg, chicken and mutton roll. Howrah is known for its egg chicken roll, which is available anywhere for ₹25. You will not find these foods anywhere else in the world. Mutton Biryani is also worth a try, in Nizams or Arsalan.
- 1 Kichukhhan, 23/2/2, Bhagwan Chatterjee Ln, Kadamtala, ☏ +91 98300 88008. North Indian and Indo-Chinese. Their signature dish is mixed fried rice. ₹200-250 for an average meal per person.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Mid-range||₹1000 to ₹3000|
- 1 The Howrah Hotel, 1, Mukhram Kanoria Road (Adjacent to Howrah station), ☏ +91 33 26413878, +91 33 26412149, +91 33 28490240, firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 24 hours. A heritage property, with a lot of character and one of the oldest hotels of Kolkata. Renowned for homey atmosphere and offers very neat and clean, airy rooms - one of the safest hotels in the locality, with cordial staff. Attached baths and cable TV. Five minutes walking distance from the railway station and bus stand. 5,000 sq ft garden. ₹550-₹650.
- 2 Samrat Palace, 219, GT Rd, ☏ +91 0124 620 1612.
- 3 Fortune Park Panchwati, Kona Expy, ☏ +91 33-39884444, fax: +91 33-39881222, email@example.com. Standard Room ₹4,200, Fortune Club Room ₹5,000, Executive Suite ₹7,000 (Best Rates Price).
The Howrah City Police is a police force serving the city. While most police officers are honest and helpful, you may find some officers who may be corrupt and unhelpful. For police assistance during an emergency dial 100. For non-emergencies, or to report a crime, visit the nearest police station.
- 2 Howrah, ☏ +91 33 2641-1750.
- 3 Bally, ☏ +91 33 2654-1128.
- 4 Belur, ☏ +91 33 2654-0380.
- 5 Santragachi, ☏ +91 33 2658-6560.
- 6 Shibpur, ☏ +91 33 2638-1028.
- Howrah, ☏ +91 7985727760.
- 7 Batai Post Office, 461, Sarat Chaterjee Road, Kazipara, Shalimar (at 'Santa Sing More' Bus Stop). A Branch Office.
|Routes through Howrah (GT Road and Asian Highway routes)|
|Chandannagar ← Serampore ←||N W||→ Meets at|
|Bardhaman ← Rural Hooghly ←||NW E||→ Kolkata → Bangaon|
|Routes through Howrah (National Highway routes)|
|Krishnanagar ← Kolkata ←||NE SE||→ Kolkata → Diamond Harbour|
|Ends at ←||NE SW||→ Rural Howrah → Kharagpur|
|Bardhaman ← Rural Hooghly ←||NW SE||→ Ends at|
|Routes through Howrah (State Highway routes)|
|Hooghly ← Serampore ←||N W||→ Ends at|
|Hooghly ← Serampore ←||N S||→ Ends at|
|Ends at ←||W S||→ Gadiara → END|