Siliguri ( pronunciation (help·info), Bengali: ????????? Nepali: ????????? ) also known asGateway of North East India is a city in the Indian state of West Bengal. Siliguri is located on the banks of the Mahananda River and the foothills of the Himalayas, it is a principal commercial, tourism, transportation, and educational centre of North Bengal. As of 2011, the city had 19.09 Lakh residents; the urban agglomeration, which comprises the city and its suburbs, was home to approximately 17.01 Lakhs, making it the most populous city in North East, and second-most populous city in West Bengal. Siliguri being a commercial hub for the North East, it draws migrants from other states who come in search of livilihood. It is also the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, and to the North East. It is famous for its four ‘T’s i.e.; Tea, Transport, Tourism and Timber. As of 2011, Siliguri has been witnessing an economic boom in the organised retail, hospitality and real estate industries due to population growth and its strategic geographical location. The total area of Siliguri UA, popularly known as Greater Siliguri comprises 210 km2 whereas the suburbs area comprise 62 km2. The city of Siliguri runs 48 km from North to south and 34 km from east to west. The Greater Siliguri consists of scattered settlements such as, Siliguri town, New Jalpaiguri, Sukna,Bagdogra, Fulbari block, Matigara, NBMC, Shivmandir.
The antiquity of Siliguri is shrouded in mystery. According to Dr. Sailen Debnath, Siliguri means a heap of stones or pebbles; and in the nineteenth century often the area was called Silichaguri. Before the Treaty of Sagauli in 1816 between British India and Nepal, Siliguri played as a transit point between Nepal and the hilly areas of Darjeeling (Doreje-liang) and ‘Karseong’. Sailen Debnath points out that before the rise of Nepal as an expanding power under Prithvi Narayan Shah (1769-1775), Siliguri area, as belonged to trans-Morang zone (i.e. at the meeting ground of western and eastern Morang), was a part of the southernmost fringe of the kingdom of Sikkim. Just to the south of Siliguri, at Phansideoa there was a river port having trade relations with Maldah and thereby with other areas of Bengal and Bihar. The Sikkimese and the Bhutanese (mainly via Kalimpong as it was under Bhutan since the beginning of the eighteenth century) used the river bank near Siliguri in order to go down the Mahananda with their merchandise to Phansideeoa. Siliguri gradually developed as a small town since 1835 when the British occupied Darjeeling; and more since 1865 when they occupied the whole of the Dooars and Kalimpong. The partition of India in 1947 and the creation of East Pakistan and afterwards Bangladesh, paved the path of Siliguri becoming an indispensable transit point and strategically important area; and the same incident led to the rise of population because of the coming of immigrants. The city of Siliguri in its present form started from the bank of Mahananda to Saktigarh, a small village which is now in southern part of the city. When the British East India Company introduced Railway to North East India, it enhanced the importance of the region. The population of the town continuously increased leading to its expansion because of the huge immigrants from Nepal, Southern Bhutan and adjacent Indian states apart from eastern Bengal.