Kolkata Behala

Behala was once a part of the Sunderbans. The history of Barisha dated back to the Pala Era. In the 12th century, Barisha was a small village of farmers, fishermen and honey-gathers when a Kulin Kayastha named Dhananjay Mitra settled here. During the reign of Akbar Barisha came under the lordship of Basanta Roy who set up his capital at modern-day Sarsuna. Roy’s nephew and the king of Jessore Pratapaditya murdered him and incorporated Barisha with his kingdom. After the Mughals defeated Pratapaditya, Laksmikanta Majumdar of the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family was given jagirdari of a vast tract of land by Raja Man Singh in 1608. The three villages of Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kalikata were basically parts of a khasmahal (an estate) belonging to the Mughal emperor himself, whose jagirdari rights were held by the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family.

Today, Behala encompasses one of the largest suburban agglomerations of the city of Kolkata. It consists of many small localities like Parnasree Pally, Taratala,Sahapur, Behala Tram depot, Manton, Behala Chowrasta (Barisha), Sakherbazaar, Silpara, Kadamtala and Behala Thakurpukur. Huge growth of population especially since the early eighties resulted in the area being on the radar of both the daily wage earners, common populace and educated classes. Due to this enormous and unplanned growth, the traffic is by and large dependent on the arterial Diamond Harbour Road, in spite of the availability of the parallel James Long Sarani (Commonly known as Rail Line) as an option. During the construction the Taratala fly-over, a large portion of traffic flowed through James Long Sarani to avoid construction activity, causing development of other areas of Behala.

Encroachments by street-hawkers of the sidewalks on both sides of the busy Diamond Harbour Road is a major problem. Areas like Behala Tram Depot, Behala Chowrasta and Behala Sakher Bazar have been added to the 'Calcutta Green Zone' and traffic moves at a snail's pace during the peak office hours. A tramline used to run through the centre of Diamond Harbour Road from Joka to Behala Tram Depot and often the people moved faster in the trams, the service on this stretch has been withdrawn due to the elevated metro railway construction on the Diamond Harbour road which will run from Joka to B B D Bag. Previously it was well connected by tram lines towards the north. However the trams were stopped when the flyover at the Taratala junction was constructed.

Durga Puja, as it is in the rest of West Bengal, is the most popular festival in Behala. The family Durga Puja celebration of the Sabarna Roy Choudhurys, launched in 1610 by Laksmikanta Majumdar, is the oldest recorded Durga Puja observation in Behala as well as the second oldest in western Bengal. Today altogether six Durga Pujas are being held in the Barisha branch of the family: Aatchala, Baro Bari, Mejo Bari, Benaki Bari, Kalikingkar Bhawan and Majher Bari. Durga Puja is also observed by many other old families of this area as well as by numerous local clubs.Jora Mandir Haldar Barir Durga Pujo is one of the oldest Durga Pujas of Kolkata. It has crossed its 327 yrs of commencement. The puja is conducted by the descedants of Lakkhi Narayan Haldar inside there premises.

Kali Puja is also observed with great reverence in Behala. A 15-day fair is held at Parnasree Pally by Sarkari Abasan (Behala College ground), Parnasree Club and Surja Sangha during Kali Puja. Shankar Paik’s Kali Puja at Pathakpara attracts many people not only for the colourful soirees but also for the Sada Kali (white Kali) idol along with traditional puja of Behala Bijoyee Sangha at Manton. Yuva Gosthi at Roybahadur Road arranges an Annakut festival during Kali Puja. Other noted Kali Pujas are observed at Jayrampur Jala, Rabindra Nagar, Begor Khal, Sreema Palli areas. Behala Siddeshwari Kali Temple and Halder's Kali Temple at Behala Bazar attracts many people during the occasion. Among the family Kali Puja celebrations, the houses of Bhabani Bala Dasi and Shib Dulal Basu are quite famous.

The area of Behala boasts of quite a few auditoria, movie theaters and hosts art fairs on a regular basis. The most prominent auditorium of the region is Sarat Sadan, which is a part of the Manton Shopping Complex. The movie theaters in Behala are distributed along the length of the Diamond Harbor Road and the most notable ones are Ajanta (near Pathakpara), Ashoka (near Manton),Elora (near Tram depot) and Pushpasree (near Sakherbazar).