Indian history is as vast as the Indian Ocean. Several kingdoms reigned over this vast land. Some left a significant mark and others remain unsung. However, while it comes to visiting historical places in India, people often talked about Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan. Often we miss Murshidabad, significantly related to the development of modern Indian History. In quest of knowledge, I decided to explore this neglected yet a significant historical place. I went for a weekend trip to Murshidabad last week. It is a great weekend retreat from Kolkata. You will get the historical details of these places on the internet. So, I tried to share my trip experience over here.
Numbers of passenger and express trains are there from Kolkata to Murshidabad. I took Lalgola Passenger from Shealdah on Friday at 11.30 at night. You can get a sleeper class reservation on this train. One might argue that a day is enough to visit this place but I will suggest you, give two full days. I reached Murshidabad station by 5 am in the morning. It was a cold morning indeed, as the Google weather was showing it was 9 degree. You can get several hotels over here though they are not a luxury but a comfortable one.
Here are the Places to visit in Murshidabad
I took an Ekka Gari also known as tanga (single horse-drawn cart) for taking me to the main attractions to start my weekend Trip to Murshidabad. I share the cost details at the end of this post. My first stop was at Fauti Masjid or phooti Masjid. It was started by Sarfaraz Khan the second Nawab of Bengal in 1940. The aim was to complete the mosque in one night to offer Namaz but one tomb remained incomplete. However, some local people have different opinions. According to them, Sarfaraz Khan started the Masjid but due to war and other issues, Nawab could not finish it. Later his descendants spread the story of one night to glorify him.
However, the present condition of the mosque is terrible. I have real doubt on the longevity of the structure unless the government will not take any action.
The next stop of mine was the Katra Masjid. The first Nawab Nazim of Bengal Murshid Quli Khan built the mosque between 1723 and 1724. It is also the final resting place of the Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. His mortals are buried under the main staircase of the mosque. It was his last wish as a sign of repentance for the misdeeds he performed in his life.
The structure of the mosque can still make you spellbound. Once there was a Bazaar which in Parsi language known as Katra. A local told me that another name of the mosque is Katra Sabji Masjid. Two out of the four Minars are still there. Once from the top of the Minars, one could see the whole city. However, nowadays you cannot go to the top.
Small carpets like structure were there in the mosque, where 2000 people could offer Namaz together. There are 700 small rooms in the mosque and students once used to read the Quran and other subjects over here. One of the striking feature in the Masjid complex is a Shiva temple. Currently, a partition separates Shiva temple from the main Masjid after it became the point of communal clash in 1988.
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My next destination was Jahan Kosha cannon, a massive example of great cast ironwork. Famous gunsmith Janardan Karmakar made the cannon on the instruction of Darogah Shere Mahomed and the supervision of Kara Ballav Das in 1637. Weighing 8000 Kg the cannon needed 17 kg of gunpowder for a single shot! It is 17.5 feet in length. I was astonished by imagining the power of the blast.
Kath Golaper Bagan Bari & Other places
From there, my tanga took me to the next destination Kath Golaper Bagan Bari. Lakshmipat Singh Dugar built the farmhouse. There is a museum now in the house. You can find an old Jain temple and a pond over here. There was once a zoo in this palace, the local authorities rebuilt it a few years back.
On my way to HazarDuari Palace, I visited Nasipur Rajbari, Nasipur Akhra, The house of Jagat Seth and infamous Namak Haram Deouri, the home of Mir Jafar and his family. Namak Haram Deouri is known as the murder place of Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulla. British army captured him alive, while he was trying fleeing away. Miran, the eldest son of Mir Jafar, ordered Muhammad-i-Beg to kill the last Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulla here, in this palace. However, the Namak Haram Deouri is still private property of the descendants and no one can enter the premises without permission. The building is also suffering the harsh hammer of time.
Hazar Duari Palace
My tanga ride ended in front of the main Hazar Duari Palace. The palace has no connection with Siraj-Ud-Daulla as his palace (Hira Jheel) was located on the other side of the Ganges known as Bhagirathi in this region. After the victory in Plassey, British army gunned down the palace after taking out the precious jewels from the walls of the palace. Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa (1824–1838) on August 29, 1829, laid the foundation stone of this palace. The construction was completed in December 1837.
I entered the palace after depositing my camera and mobile at locker room (camera is not allowed inside). It is a three-storied palace. The ground and the first, both the floors are now converted into a museum. The ground floor displays the armory and other old weapons used by historical figures including Siraj-Ud-Daulla, Mir-Qasim, Alivardi Khan. The second floor displays different artefacts, oil paintings and furniture used by the royal family. Overall, it is just like another museum and if you like history, then it will not disappoint you at all.
Once you will get out of the museum, you can see the yellow clock tower in the complex. The clock was the only way to know the time in Murshidabad at that period. You will also see famous or rather infamous “baccheballi” (Child sacrifice) cannon in the premises. The popular story related to the gun is as follows: Only once the Nawab fired the gun and it caused deaths of the unborn babies in the womb of their mother in a radius of 10 km. Thus, it got its name.
Just beside the cannon, you can see the only sign of Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulla. That is the Madina, which was once the part of the Imambara made by the last independent Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulla. People used to say that Nawab himself poured the first soil in this Madina.
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You can see one of the largest Imambara of India just on the opposite side of Hazarduari palace, the Nizamat Imambara. After two consecutive fire incidents in 1842 and 1846, the old wooden Imambara was destroyed. Nawab Ferdaun Jah ordered to rebuild the Imambara, under the supervision of Sadeq Ali Khan in 1847-48. It is 680 feet long and the central block is of 300 feet in width.
On the second day I took a TOTO and crossed the river to visit Khosbagh, where the last free Nawab of Bengal is resting in peace. You can visit the tomb of Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulla with his begum Lutfunnisa Begum. In 1790, after she died, Lutfunnisa Begum was buried here. It is also the final resting place of Nawab Alivardi Khan and his mother.
I crossed the river again and went to Motijheel (Pearl shaped lake). The palace, built in 1740, is located beside a horseshoe-shaped lake. Another name of the palace was Sang-i- Dalan. Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulla’ maternal aunt Ghaseti Begum used to stay in this palace. Once there were valuable stones and jewels crafted on the walls. However, not even a morsel of that glorious past you can see over here. Siraj attacked Motijheel, looted the valuable things in 1756. You can visit the ruins of the palace, where once Warren Hastings, then the Bengal Governor stayed while visiting Murshidabad.
I cut the tickets for new Motijheel Park developed by the local municipality. You can enjoy the light and sound show at this new park. I was not lucky enough as on the day of my visit the show was for some unknown reason was closed. You can see variety of roses in the park. The park made me remind of the ECO Park Kolkata.
Return to Kolkata
Completing my weekend trip to Murshidabad, I got into Lalgola passenger by 22.50 hr and reached Kolkata by 5 am on the next day. Overall, it was a great trip as I got the knowledge about the places to visit in Murshidabad to feel the significant part of Indian history, which paved the way for the British to colonised India for nearly next 200 years after 1757. You can go for a weekend trip to Murshidabad too on this coming weekend before the winter bids adieu for this season.
Please feel free to share your feelings or any addition in the comment box. I will love to hear from you.
Train fair – INR 110/per travel (Approx)
TOTO (Station Transfer) – INR 15-20 (Approx)
Tanga – INR 700 (Approx)
TOTO sightseeing – INR 300-400
Hotel – INR 400-600/per day
Food – INR 150/per day
Hazar Duari Museum – INR 5 (For Indian), INR 200 (For Foreigners)
Kath Golaper Bagan – INR 20
Motijheel Park –INR 20
Total Costing for 1Night 2days: INR 2000-2500 (Approx)