Asansol a coal-mining-industrial-commercial centre, is the second largest city of West Bengal. It is the 29th most populous city in India, with over a million residents. Asansol - General Information
Initially people of Dravidian and Austroloid origin inhabited this region. Around two thousand five hundred years ago, it became an area of significant Jain activity. According to some, the last Tirthankar of Jain religion, Mahavira Vardhamana, used to live and work in the area. The district and headquarters town thus came to be known as Bardhaman. Evidence of major Jain activity exists in the Jain temples on Pareshnath Hill in neighbouring Jharkhand. There is an old Jain temple at Begunia on the bank of the Barakar river. A number of temples in neighbouring Bankura district also bear evidence of major Jain activity in the region. Asansol - History
This area was possibly part of the Vishnupur kingdom, where the Malla dynasty ruled for around a thousand years till the advent of the British. There is a Vishnupur style temple in Chhotodighari village providing a clue to its links with Vishnupur. The local dialect and culture of the region has closer affinities with those of Bankura and Vishnupur than the other neighbouring areas. It is evident that the area was part of different kingdoms at different points of time.
Bardhaman became a major administrative centre for the Muslim rulers and the subdivision was a part of the Muslim kingdoms in the region. It later became a part of the Bardhaman Raj functioning under the Mughals. When Mir Kassem, then Nawab of Sube Bangala, ceded Bardhaman along with Medinipur and Chittagong to East India Company in 1760 (three years after the Battle of Plassey), it was beginning of a new and eventful chapter for the region. Till that time the area was a wilderness of forest and jungle, dotted at long intervals with tiny settlements. The countryside was ravaged and plundered by outlaws.
The extensive growth of railways in the country led to the development of the iron and steel industry. In 1870, James Erskine set up the Bengal Iron Works. It was also known as Barakar Iron Works. Some sources attribute the development to Hoare Miller and Co. of Kolkata. It is possible that James Erskine was an employee of that company. The first blast furnace using coal instead of charcoal went into production at Kulti in 1875. In those days, the place was more easily identified as Kendwa. Kulti was a smaller village than Kendwa. Aruppukkottai - Economy
Damodar Valley Corporation, the first multipurpose river valley project in the country, had a major presence in the periphery of the area with two dams at Maithon and Panchet (at both places the river forms the border with Jharkhand). The artificial lakes behind the dams have added considerably to the natural beauty of the area and are centres of picnicking.
Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) was the first locomotive workshop in India. It has been named after the great freedom fighter, leader and statesman Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. It initially produced steam locmotives. The production activity started on 26th January, 1950 the day when India became a Republic. With the roll out of first CLW built WAG-9 electric locomotive Navyug on 14th November 1998, India joined the select club of five countries which manufactured electric locomotives with 3-phase technology.
The steel industry was expanded in a big way. A new plant was set up in neighbouring Durgapur. The plant at Burnpur was expanded. There also was considerable expansion of townships and other facilities. Nehru Park (formerly Lahmeyer Park) was built utilising the natural contour of the terrain on the banks of the Damodar. The airstrip at Burnpur can handle small aircraft.
The city's economy is primarily based on the coal and steel industries. Situated in the Damodar River valley, the city has evolved and expanded over time to a current population of one million, ranking it 23rd in India. It is located about 200 km from Kolkata. Asansol is in the heart of the coal country. Ranigunj Coalfields covers an area of 1530 km². Although it is spread over four districts of West Bengal – Bardhaman, Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia – and a part of Dhanbad district (Jharia coalfields are also in that district) of Jharkhand, the heart of Ranigunj Coalfields lies in the Asansol region.
Asansol is located at 23.68° N 86.98° E. It has an average elevation of 97 metres (318 feet). While most of Bengal is flat alluvial plains, Asansol subdivision lies on exposed Gondwana rocks and consists mostly of undulating laterite soil. It forms the lower edge of the Chota Nagpur plateau, which occupies most of Jharkhand. It is located between two mighty rivers, Damodar and Ajay. Another mighty river, Barakar, joins the Damodar near Dishergarh. A small rivulet, Nunia, flows past Asansol. The Ghagarburi temple on its banks attracts devotees round the year Asansol - Geography
Churulia - here the famous poet - Kazi Nazrul Islam was born. He is considered the national poet of Bangladesh. The village is about 17 km from Asansol, and contains a museum with his works and a memorial for him. Asansol - Nearby Places
Santiniketan - Visva-Bharati, founded by Rabindranath Tagore and now a central university and an institution of national importance, is located here. It is about 90 km from Asansol.
Durgapur - An industrial city 50 km to the east of Asansol and home to the Durgapur Steel Plant
Bishnupur - the famous terracota temple town and home to major art and craft is about 100 km from Asansol. The Bankura horse, symbol of Indian handicrafts is produced at Panchmura, near Vishnupur. It is also the home of the Baluchari sari, initially woven with Ramayana and Mahabharata motifs but now modernised. Kalyaneswari Temple – The temple of the Lady of Fulfilment, about 20 km from Asansol has been a place of pilgrimage, particularly for barren women, for about five centuries.
Joydeb-Kenduli – temple dedicated to the Sanskrit poet Joydeb, on the banks of the Ajay river, is about 80 km from Asansol. Makar sankranti mela with bauls (religious singers with a detached philosohy and spontanaeity of their own) participating is held in mid January. Bakreshwar – hot spring and temple is about 70 km from Asanasol.
Joychandi Pahar – popular picnic spot and centre for rock climbing training, is about 30 km from Asansol.