Murshidabad

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Image Courtesy - Rajib Kumar Bhattacharya/murshidabadtravel.blogspot.in

Murshidabad, was the capital of Bengal during the rule of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. At that time it was known by the name of “Muksudabad”. The name “Murshidabad” was derived after the name of Nawab “Murshid Quli Khan”. The place is of great historical significance as in 1757, Nawab Siraj Ud Daullah was defeated by the British in the Battle of Plassey. After which the entire nation was brought under the Bristish Raj. Lying on the both sides of “Bhagirathi River” (River Ganges), the town has the evergreen memories of the Nawabs and their creations in the form of mosques, tombs, gardens, monuments & palaces. The place comes under Murshidabad District of West Bengal.

How to Reach:

Railway: There are several trains from Sealdah & Kolkata station connecting Murshidabad namely “Hazarduari Express”, “Baghirathi Express” and “Lalgola Fast Passenger” ect.

Roadway: Murshidabad is well connected to Kolkata by road. It is 211 Km. away from Kolkata (via NH 34) & takes around 5 to 6 hrs. time to reach by roadway. Frequent bus services are available between Kolkata and Berhampore (Baharampur) which is 199 Km. away from Kolkata. From Berhampore there are several transport options to go to Murshidabad, which is at a distance of 12 Km. from Berhampore town.

Must Visit Local Attractions:

Hazarduari Palace: “Hazarduari” (The Palace with a thousand doors) is one of the main attractions of Murshidabad.  It is also known as the Nizamat Quila (the Fortress of the Nawabs) was built by Duncan McLeod of the Bengal Corps of Engineers in the year 1837 during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah. It has one thousand doors (among which only 100 are real), 114 rooms and 20 galleries, built in European architectural style. The total area of Hazarduari Palace is 41 acres. In 1985 the Palace was handed over to the Archeological Survey of India & it was converted to a great & excellent Museum. Here visitors can find various royal weapons, splendid paintings, exhaustive portraits of the Nawabs, various works of art, thrones & other materials used by the Nawabs are kept in an elegant style inside the huge three storied Palace Museum. The main attraction of this museum is the beautifully decorated “Durbar Hall” (Central Courtyard). Where you can find the royal Silver Throne of the Nawabs, Durbari Hookah, marble candle stand & the giant Crystal Chandelier hung from the huge dome shaped ceiling. The “Hazarduari Palace Museum” is one of best royal museums in India; tourists must not miss it during their stay in Murshidabad.

Nizamat Imambara: “Nizamat Imambara” is situated on the same ground & just parallel to the north façade of the “Hazarduari Palace”. It was built by Nawab Nazim Mansoor Ali Khan Feradun Jah (Son of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah) in 1847 AD on the same place of the original Imambara built by Nawab “Siraj-Ud-Daullah”, which was destroyed by a massive fire accident. This is the largest “Imambara” in India and in Bengal as well.

Bachhawali Tope: “Bachhawali Tope” is a Cannon which lies in the Nizamat Fort (Hazarduari) Campus. The cannon were made in between 12th and 14th century.  It was used to protect the city of Murshidabad from the north western attackers.

Clock Tower: “The Clock Tower” is situated in the same compound of “Imambara” and the “Hazarduari Palace”. It is also known as the “Big Ben of Murshidabad”. It has a bell which can be herad from distant places. The dial is placed and faced towards the river. The Clock Tower was designed by Sagore Mistri, the native assistant of Colonel McLeod.

Madina Mosque: The Madina Mosque is situated in the Nizamat Fort Campus in Murshidabad. There are two mosques; the old one was built by Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah. Later on when Nizamat Imambara was rebuilt by Nawab Feradun Jah in the year 1847, he built another Madina Mosque inside the new Imambara. The old Madina Mosque is on the west side of the Clock tower and is situated just beside the “Bachhawali Tope”.

Yellow Mosque: Within a few meters from Hazarduari Palace on the bank of River Bhagirathi the Yellow Mosque is situated. It is also known as the Zurad Masjid. It is said to be built by Nawab Siraj Ud Daullah in the year 1756-57 AD.

Katra Masjid: The “Katra Masjid” is a 300 year’s old beautiful mosque, which was built by “Nawab Murshid Quli Khan” in between the year 1723 and 1724. The tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan has been placed inside this colossal ancient mosque. It was also a great centre of Islamic Learning.

Moti Jheel & Moti Mosque: The beautiful lake was excavated by Nawazesh Mohammad, the husband of the famous Ghasseti Begum. Moti Jheel is situated about one and a half kilometer south of Lalbagh.  This place was the home of Warren Hastings after he became the Political President at the Durbar of Nawab Nazim. Moti Jheel is also known as Pearl Lake. Here lies the mosque of Shahamat Jang and Kala Masjid. Motijheel also has the grave of the son of Mr. Keating, Edward Keating. Mr. Keating was the Superintendent of the Murshidabad Mint and later became judge.

Kath Gola Garden Palace: “Kath Gola” was the garden palace of Raja Dhanpat Singh Dugar and Lakshmipat Singh Dugar. Though the glory of this place had faded away but it still has tourists and history enthusiasts who visit this place quite often. There is a beautiful Jain Temple inside the garden compound.

Nashipur Rajbari: “Nashipur Rajbari” (Nashipur Palace), which is also known as “Dakat Kali Bari” is located at Nashipur, just north of “Kathgola Palace”& is just about 3 Km. from “Hazarduari”. The age-worn palace was built in 1865 by Raja “Kirti Chandra Singha Bahadur”. The outer look of the palace is very much similar to “Hazarduari Palace”. It will be a thrilling experience for every tourist after getting inside of this ramshackle building. The centuries-old palace is carrying a mystical beauty with its wide ranging depictions of Hindu iconography. The central portion of the palace has occupied by a Kali Temple, which is surrounded by a lot of small temples of different god & goddess.

Wasef Manzil or New Palace: This beautiful palace was built by Sir Wasef Ali Mirzaas his own residence which lies between Hazar Duari and Dakshin Darwaza.The building was constructed by Mr. Vivian, Public Works Department Officer and Surendra Barat, a Bengali engineer.

Fauti or Phuti Masjid: This mosque was built by Nawab Sarfaraj Khan in a single night in 1740 AD, the Phuti Masjid to the east of the Hazarduari Palace at Kumrapur. It is one of the largest mosques in the Murshidabad Town, which is 135 feet long and 38 feet broad. The mosque has five domes, some of them are incomplete and there are four spiral stairs at the four corner of the mosque.

Khosh Bag: “Khosh Bag” is situated on the opposite banks of the River ‘Bhagirathi’. You can reach Khosh Bagh by motor boat from Lalbagh Sadar Ghat or from New Palace Ghat. You will get to see the grave of Nawab Alivardi Khan, Siraj-Ud-Daullah, Mother of Siraj-ud-Daullah, Siraj-Ud-Daullha’s wife Lutf-un-Nisa, Ghasseti Begum and other member of the royal family. The cemetery is surrounded by a 2,741 long wall. The mosque inside the “Khosh Bag” is of 2,675 square feet area.

Radha Madhav Temple: This temple is located on the east side of Moti Jheel at a place called Kumar Para. This is a 400 years old Hindu Temple built in 1609 AD.
This temple has a short story behind it. Nawajesh Muhammad along with his wife Ghasetti Begum used to live in Moti Jheel and during his time of Namaz he used to get disturbed by the sound of the cymbals and blowing of conch shells from this temple. Being agitated, Nawajesh Muhammad sent a piece of beef (which is forbidden by Hindus), in a pot hidden under flowers through his messanger to offer at the temple. The priest unknowingly performed the ceremony and returned the pot but surprisingly there was no beef inside the pot anymore. Nawajesh Muhammad amused by this supernatural power of the priest, at first repented his act and then donated land for the temple complex.

Tomb of Azimunnisa Begum: This mosque was built by Azimunnisa in 1734 AD. She was the daughter of Murshid Quli Khan and wife of Nawab Suja Ud Daulla. However the place has a interesting story. It is said that Azimunnisa Begum had a strange superstition of consuming the “hearts” of kids in and around the area in order to cure her own disease. This brutal act continued for some time until her father Murshid Quli Khan along with the villager came to know about it and ordered a death sentence which led to the burial of Azimunnisa Begum, alive.

‘Jahan Kosha’ Cannon: Situated in Topkhana of Murshidabad town. JahanKosha is a canon during the reign of ShahJahan. It was constructed by Janardan, a Bengali blacksmith. It is of 5.5 m in length and more than 7 tonnes in weight. The canon was used during the 1637 AD as the inscription on it reads.

Char Bangla Temples: Char Bangla Temples is a group of four Shiva Temple rose on a high platform (Do Chala). This was established during the mid eighteenth century AD with walls containing exotic terracotta ornamentations and carvings.

Tomb of Mir Madan: Located in Faridpur, Murshidabad District this is the tomb of one of the Generals in Siraj Ud Daulah’s army, Mir Madan. Inside the same compound you can find a tomb of a Fakir named Farid.

Tripolia Gate, Killa Nizamat: Located in Lalbagh the Tripolia Gate was built by Nawab Suja Khan during 1725-1739 AD. This is a huge gate with arched directions facing towards the east of the palace.

Old English Cemetery:  Situated in Kasim Bazar, Murshidabad District, this cemetery contains the grave of Mary Hastings, wife of Warren Hastings and her daughter along with several other tombs. The Old English Cemetery is also known as the Old Residency Burial Ground.

Dutch Cemetery: The Dutch Cemetery is situated in Kalikapur, Murshidabad district. This place contains 47 tombs including the oldest one of Daniel Van der Muyl who died in 1721 AD. You can found a number of epitaphs on the tombs. The Dutch Cemetery was created during the early 18th – 19th century AD.

Bhavaniswar Mandir:  Built by Rani of Natore, the Bhavanisvar temple is situated at Baranagar, Murshidabad. The temple is built and dedicated to Lord Shiva and is famous for the terracotta art. It has remarkable height and an unique style all over.

Cossimbazar : Cossimbazar was a big trade hub for silk and muslin. This was a renowned trading centre of various European people. The place is situated 4 kms from Baharampur and about 30 kms from Murshidabad. Cossimbazar was said to export 22,000 bales of silk annually. The place also used to be the French factories and the Armenians also had their settlement in Saidabad under the authority of a Farman granted by Aurangzeb in 1665. From Cossimbazar you can further visit some places such as The Boro Rajbari, The Choto Rajbari, Paataleshwar Shiva Temple and the Sati Daha Ghat.

How to get Around: You can get in and around the town of Murshidabad by auto rickshaw or by car available for hire. You can also hire the Horse pulled “Tanga” (Cart). This is a very interesting part of this town. People enjoyed the ‘Tanga ride’ a lot.

Things to Do:
You can buy Baluchari Sarees while in Murshidabad. They are fine silk sarees produced in the town of Baluchar in Murshidabad district. You can get great variety and mind blowing designs well knitted and with cone motifs and floral borders. You can even buy beautifully carved Indian corks or Shola Pith which is almost similar to thermocol. You can buy various images and decorations created with such Indian corks consisting of images of Gods and Godesses especially Devi Durga. You can buy bell metals and brass utensils which are quite famous, popularly termed as “Kansa”. The town of Murshidabad is also well known for ivory and wooden products.

Must try Dishes:
Never return from the place without having the extremely delicious Nawabi “Ghee e Bhaja Chhanabora”. It’s a sweet meat worth your effort and money. Mangoes are pretty famous in Murshidabad. Never return without tasting them.

Where to Stay:
There are several hotels and rest houses in and around the town of Murshidabad. On the bank of Baghirathi river, you can check in at Hotel Manjusha, which is a budget hotel located very close to “Hazarduari Palace” & “Imambara”. Hotel Indrajit can also be a nice idea to stay which has both AC and non AC rooms, Bar and Restaurant.

 

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