MURSHIDABAD, the last
capital city of independent Bengal was named after Nawab Murshid Quli
Khan, the Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It is situated on
the banks of the Bhagirathi. A city of splendors & famous for its silk,
was made capital of Bengal in 1717. The British shifted the capital to
Kolkata in 1773. Plassey, where the historic battle was fought in 1757
between Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daula and lord Clive, of East India Company, is
only 40 Km. South of Murshidabad.
or the palace with a thousand doors is the
chief tourist attraction of Murshidabad. This three-storey palace was
built in 1837 by Duncan McLeod for the Nawab Najim Humaun Jah,
descendent of Mir Zafar. It has thousand doors (among which only 900
are real) and 114 rooms and 8 galleries, built in European
architectural style. The total area of Hazarduari Palace is 41 acres. It
is now a museum and has an exquisite collection of armoury, splendid
paintings, exhaustive portraits of the Nawabs, various works of art
including beautiful works of ivory (Murshidabad school) of China
(European) and many other valuables. The Armoury has 2700 arms in its
collections of which only few are displayed. Swords used by
Shiraj-ud-Daulla and his grandfather, Nawab Alivardi Khan, can be seen
here. The other attractions in this floor are Vintage Cars and Fittan
Cars used by the Nawabs and their families.
The library containing rare collections is
not accessible to the public unless special permission is obtained. The
building, rectangular on plan ( 424 feet Long and 200 feet broad and 80
feet high). The Palace was used for holding the "Durbar" or meetings and
other official work of the Nawabs and also as the residence of the high
ranking British Officials.
Between the palace and the Imambara is a
small mosque, ‘Madina’, with colourful tiled verandahs. The Mosque has
an ornamented replica of Hazrat Muhammad's tomb at Madina.
Around the palace are other attractions
like the Wasef Manzil (the New Palace) by the bank of the Ganga,
Tripolia Gate, the Dakshin Darwaza, the Chak Darwaza, the Imambara, the
Gharighar (the Clock Tower), the Bachchawali Tope (a canon) and the
Madina, the only surviving structure built by Siraj-ud-Doula.
The Bachchawali Tope (canon) was made between the 12th and the 14th
century, probably by the Mohammedan rulers of Gour, and requires about
18 Kg of gun powder for a single shelling.
Shopping - Handicrafts and Silk
Ivory and Wood -
The Ivory and Wood craft industry dates
back to the time when the Nawabs of Bengal had their court at
Murshidabad. As this industry was fully depen≠dent for its prosperity
on the support of a luxurious court and wealthy noblemen, it had to
face a crisis when the Nawabs lost their power and their court
early period of the British rule, the performance of the ivory carvers
of Murshidabad was also praised by foreigners. During the Exhibition
of 1851 in London, a variety of specimens of carving in ivory were
sent to different parts of India and these were much admired for
their minuteness and elaborate of details. In 1888 again, the
Murshidabad carvers were declared to be perhaps the best in India,
fully displaying the finish, minuteness and ingenuity characteristic
of all true Indian art.
When Berhampore rose into importance as chief military station in the
province, the art flourished there for a time but began to wane with
the decline of the military importance of the town. If not for the
trade depending on the railway communication, this art would have
died out long ago. Earlier the ivory carvers used to get large orders
from Government for supplying specimens of their work for various
exhibitions in England and other European countries, as also in India.
But this was later discontinued when arrangements were made to collect
the exhibits on loan from noblemen and zamindars, like the Nawab of
Murshidabad and the Maharaja of Cossimbazar who were in a position to
supply the best specimens under their possession. Mathra, Daulatbazar
and Ranshagorgram bordering the city of Murshidabad were once noted
for the industry but altogether forgotten in later years owing to
decay of the industry.
Indian Cork (Sholapith) -
Shola pith is a milky-white sponge-wood which is carved into delicate
and beautiful objects of art. Sola is a plant which grow wild in
marshy waterlogged areas. The biological name of shola is Aeschynomene
Indica or Aeschynomene Aspera (bean family) and it is a herbaceous
plant. The shola pith is the cortex or core of the plant and is 1 Ĺ
inch in diameter. The outer harder brown skin is removed by expert
hands to reveal the inner soft milky-white and spongy material, almost
similar to "Thermocol", artificially produced in a laboratory.
However, sholapith is much superior to thermocol in terms of
malleability, texture, lustre and sponginess. Artisans use it for
making artifacts used for decoration and ornate head-wears of bridal
couple. The finest examples of craftsmanship are however seen on
images of "Gods and Goddesses" on festivals, especially the
massive decorative backdrops made for "Durga Puja" celebrations.
Craftsmen spend months working on each piece and every details is
meticulously worked out.
In Murshidabad the shola crafts are flowery designs, decorative
head-wears of gods and goddesses, garlands, exquisite figurines like
faces of gods and goddesses, elephant-howdahs, peacock-boats,
palanquins and so on are made of sholapith.
Bell Metal (Kansa) -
Bell-metal and brass
utensils are manufactured in large quantities at Khagra, Berhampore,
Kandi, Baranagar and Jangipur. Thev are exported as well as sold in
the local markets. Locks and betelnut cutters of a superior kind are
made at Dhulian and iron chests at Jangipur. The problem of getting
raw materials for the brass and bell-metal artisans of the district
is, however, acute. While delay in getting raw materials owing to the
complicated procedural formalities involved in the submission of
applications for raw materials has been almost a constant factor, the
industry has also been affected by the change in consumers demand in
favour of stainless steel, plastic and ceramic goods and crockery.
Silk Industry of Murshidabad -
The Baluchari sarees are figured silk
saree produced in the town of Baluchar in Murshidabad district.
Baluchar sarees essentially have a silk base with silk brocaded
designs with respect to their colours, where inspite of a rich
composition, the Baluchar bootidars almost avoid strong contrasts.
Each pattern is treated in a colour which harmonises with the ground
on which it is laid. The most popular colours used are red, blue,
yellow, green and scarlet. The Baluchari sarees have large floral
motifs interspersed with flowering shrubs. Traditionally the Muslim
community was also known to produce these Baluchars with figured
patterns depicting court scenes, horse with a rider, women smoking
hookah. The Kalka design or the cone motif is often surrounded with
Bengal had a nourishing silk industry in
the past and Murshidabad long enjoyed a special reputation in this
respect. The Bengal silk manufactures formed one of the important
exports of the English East India
Company to England, and these were exported also to the markets in the
Asiatic countries. After the establishment of English factories at
Malda and Cossimbazar, the English Company's trade in Bengal silk
manufactures began to increase, and their use became common among the
people in England because of their good quality and cheapness. In the
mid-eighteenth century the country round about it (Cossimbazar) was
very fertile, and the inhabitants remarkably industrious, being
employed in many useful manufactures. About 1663 AD, the Dutch in
their Cossimbazar factory sometimes employed 700 silk weavers, and the
English and the other European nations smaller number. They generally
furnished 22,000 bales of silk a year, each bale weighing 100 Ibs. The
Total was equivalent to 30,078 maunds ( 1 maund = 40 Kg ie. 12,03,120
Kg ). The silk thread was thus distributed : the Dutch took for Japan
or Holland 6,000 to 7,000 bales, the merchants of Tartary and the
Mughal Empire about the same quantity, and the remainder ( about 9,000
bales ) were consumed by the people of the country for manufacturing
their own stuff. This silk was brought to Ahmedabad and Surat and were
woven into fabrics. There was considerable demand for Bengal's raw
silk in England's markets as the Continental System occasioned an
entire cessation of the customary importations of the Italian raw
How to Reach
Murshidabad is well connected with Kolkata
(formerly known as Calcutta, in West-Bengal, India). The Air port of
Kolkata is N. S. C. Bose International Airport at Dumdum. From Kolkata
Berhampore the District capital town of Murshidabad is 195 Km.
Tourist taxi, hired car, auto-rickshaw are available from Berhampore to
visit the tourist spots at Murshidabad town, Azimganj, Jiaganj, Kandi,
Sagardighi, Karnasuvarna ..etc.
Communication By Rail
Berhampore Court is the main station
which is connected with Sealdah Station at Kolkata. The Bhagirathi
Express, & the Lalgola Passenger from the Sealdah Railway
Station reach Berhampore Court Railway Station covering 197 km in 5
to 6 hours. (13113 / 13114) Hazarduari Express and (13117/13118)
Dhanadhanye Express reaches Lalgola and Berhampore Court Stn from
Kolkata Stn respectively.
Khagraghat, the other station
at the opposite bank of the river Bhagirathi is connected with the
Howrah Station. Teesta Torsa, Kamrup, Hatey Bazare express have
stoppage at Khagraghat Railway Station. The Khagraghat Railway
station is also connected by local trains from Katwa, Salar, Bandel
and Howrah. One can also reach Khagraghat Station from Howrah by
Howrah - Maldah Intercity Express
Farakka is the most well
connected railway station of this district.
Farakka is 98 km by road from Berhampore and is connected by
every express bus coming from Malda, Siliguri, Raiganj, Coochbihar,
New Alipurduar, Gangtok, Balurghat, and Jalpaiguri. The following
trains stop at new Farakka Junction
Sealdah Guwahati Kanchanjungha Express
Sealdah New Alipurduar Teesta Torsa
Howrah Dibrugarh Kamrup Express
Sealdah New Jalpaiguri Darjeeling Mail
Sealdah Katihar Hatey Bazare Express
Sealdah Malda Gour Express
Delhi Dibrugarh Bhramaputra Express
Bhiwani Malda Farakka Express
Also one can reach Berhampore from
Azimganj. Teesta Torsa, Kamrup, Hatey Bazare, Kanchanjungha and
Uttarbanga Express touch Azimganj Junction Railway Station. This
place is well connected by bus from Berhampore
Communication By Road
Buses ply frequently from Kolkata
(i.e. from Sahid Minar, Ultadanga etc) to Berhampore. Most of the
North Bengal bound bus have a halt at Berhampore.
Buses from nearby district town of
West Bengal i.e. Burdwan, Rampurhat, Suri, Bolpur, Malda, Krishnagar
and Durgapur regularly ply to Berhampore.
Baharampur Tourist Lodge - Baharampur / West Bengal
197 km north of Kolkata, Murshidabad is connected by railway and road.
Long distance bus services (from Kolkata to Malda and Siliguri) go through
Berhampore, 11 km south of Murshidabad. Berhampore is also linked by
railway service from Kolkata. A quiet town on the banks of the Bhagirathi
river, Murshidabad has stood witness to events that changed the course of
Indian history. Capital during the reign of Siraj-ud-daula, the Nawab of
Bengal, Murshidabad was also a flourishing trading town between inland
India and the port of Kolkata.
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Restaurant & Bar
There are many places of interest here :
Nimak Haram Deohri (Traitorís Gate)
is the place where Siraj-ud-daula was assassinated after the battle of
Khusbagh (Garden of Happiness) is a
boat ride across the river Ganga, where Siraj and his family members were
Hazarduari (Palace of a Thousand Doors)
is built in classical architectural style. Now a museum, the palace
houses, among other artifacts, the Nawab's silver throne, ivory sofa,
ivory palanquins, oil painting and numerous other artifacts.
Nizamatkila, an Italian style palace
of Nawab Mir Jafar, stands beside Bhagirathi river.
The Jain Parasnath Temple is at Kathgola.
Another interesting palace is Wasif
Manzil, with its unique collection of curios, paintings, arms and
The Char Bangla Temple at Baranagore
was built in the 18th century by Rani Bhavani.
The Bhavaniswar Temple, too, is one
of the finest examples of terracotta sculpture in West Bengal. It is
located 23 km from Murshidabad.
Other important landmarks are the Great
Imambara, Moti Jhil (Pearl Lake) and the impressive ruins of Katra
Mosque, built in 1723, and Medina Mosque.