History Of West Bengal
Enriched with a rich cultural heritage and an amazing past, West Bengal has played a significant role in the ancient and middle age India. It was here that the British started their colonization by the name, East India Company. A land of prosperity and beauty, Bengal’s was a fertile soil which gave birth to and nourished philosophers, scientists, sadhaks, patriots who have changed the way India thought. This is the blessed land of Sri Aurobindo, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda; the list goes on and on. This former capital of India witnessed many events which were written in bold letters in the history of India. Post Independence witnessed Bengal being partitioned on religious lines as the western portion joined India and eastern part went with Pakistan which later was again divided, giving rise to Bangladesh in 1971. Exciting as well as turbulent is its history that there was a time when the whole India experienced the waves of the feelings of Bengal.
- The origin of a civilization in Bengal is traced back to Bengal region four thousand years ago when the initial settlers were Dravidians, Tibeto-Burmans and Austro-Asiatic people.
- The early foreign references to the Bengal region is dated back to the mentioning of a land named Gangaridai by ancient Greeks by 100 B.C. The word is known to have come from gangahrd (meaning, land with the Ganges in its heart) referring an area in Bengal.
- Bengal region was part of Vanga Kingdom which is one of the ancient kingdoms of epic India. In 7th century B.C, Magadha Kingdom was formed which consisted of Bihar and Bengal regions. This was one of the four prominent of India at the time of Mahavira and Buddha and included several Janapadas.
- Shashanka was the first independent king of Bengal, who reigned over the period of 7th Following a short period of anarchy, Buddhist Pala dynasty ruled the area for hundred years which was followed by a short span of reign by Hindu Sena dynasty.
- In 12th century, Islam made its appearance in Bengal through the arrival of Sufi missionaries.
- Between 1202 and 1206, Bakhtiar Khilji who was a military commander from Delhi Sultanate annexed the regions of Bihar and Bengal as east as Rangpur, Bogra and Brahmaputra River. Though failed the bring the Bengal region under his control, his expedition ended the rule of Lakshman Sen and his friends who moved to a place called Vikramapur where their reign lasted till the late periods of 13th
- The year 1414 witnessed the rule of Ganesha dynasty though the successors were converted to the Islam religion. Delhi again conquered Bengal in 1576. Kingdoms such as Maharaja Pratap Aditya of Jessore and Raja Sitaram Ray of Burdwan contributed greatly to the forming of economic and cultural landscape of Bengal.
- The 15th century witnessed European traders’ arrival to India; their influence grew after the East India Company attained taxation rights in Bengal province.
- The year 1770 witnessed the worst phase of Bengal in the form of Bengal famine which claimed the lives of millions and in 1772, Calcutta was named as the capital of India. In 1765, Bengal presidency was formed incorporating all British territories from the North to the Himalayas.
- The formation of Brahmo Samaj and Bengal Renaissance made a deep impact on the socio-cultural and economic life of Bengal. The suppressed revolt of 1857 was first started near Calcutta, which resulted in the power transfer to the British, which was administered by the Viceroy of India.
- The years 1905 and 1911 witnessed an unsuccessful attempt to divide the Bengal province into two zones.
- In 1943, the cursed Bengal famine claimed the lives of 3 million people.
- Revolutionary groups such as Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar of Bengal played an active role in Indian independence movement. Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army led armed attempts against British from South East Asia.
- The year 1947 saw Bengal being partitioned as per religious lines. The Western portion of Bengal became part of India (named West Bengal) and eastern part was made part of Pakistan (named East Bengal). The east Bengal gave rise to Independent Bangladesh in 1971.
- Both East and West Bengal suffered from a huge refugee incursion during the partition of India and Pakistan which is one of the largest exoduses of people in the human history.
- In 1950, Cooch Bihar, which was a princely state merged with West Bengal after King Jagaddipendra Narayan signed the document of accession.
- In1955, Chandannagar, which was a French territory came under the control of India, thus was annexed into West Bengal. Some portions of Bihar were merged into West Bengal.
Take a look at the above article and get familiarised with the rich history of West Bengal and the events which even created long lasting mark in the history of India.