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Things To Do In Murshidabad
Murshidabad was the seat of Bengal power before it lost its sovereignty to the British East India Company. Murshidabad was named after Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, it served as the capital of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and now Bangladesh under Bengal Subah. Murshidabad has held a position of importance in the region and flourished in the field of art, architecture and culture. With the rise of British power and subsequent independence of India, Murshidabad, though has lost its place of glory, continues to enthral people with its architectural grandeur. It has become a popular weekend getaway for tourists from Bengal. Let us see the activities you can engage in during one’s stay in the area.
Visit to the Hazaduari Complex
The greatest attraction for tourists travelling to Murshidabad is certainly the Hazarduari Palace. As the name suggests, the palace has 1000 ornamental doors and it is a work of wonder. An amalgamation of Italian and Greek architectural styles, Duncan Macleod constructed the palace in 1837 upon the order of Sayyid Mubarak Ali Khan II. The Hazarduari complex houses other buildings of significance, namely the Nizamat or Bara Imambara which served as the congregation hall for Shia ceremonies. Both the palace and the Imambara are located on the banks of River Bhagirathi. It replaced the Imambara which was built by Siraj-ud-Daullah after the latter was destroyed by fire. Clock Tower or Ghari Ghar, Madina Masjid, Zurud Masjid and Bachchawali Topp are some of the other structures within this complex.
Visit the Eastern Part of Hazarduari Complex
The entire palace complex is spread across acres of land. Different parts of the complex house a number of buildings, each of which must be visited separately. To the east of the Hazarduari Complex one comes across some more important buildings. There is the Katra Masjid that was built by Nawab Murshid Quli Khan in 1723. Though partly damaged by an earthquake in 1897, the Masjid structure continues to hold up. Fouti Masjid is another mosque which is however abandoned. Only two of the five domes were completed and its construction was abandoned after the death of Sarfaraz Khan who had begun its construction. The Jahankosha Cannon is also found in this complex. It is a huge cannon which was brought from Dhaka by Murshid Quli Khan.
Visit the North of Hazarduari Complex
This part of the complex too houses a fair number of structures. There is the tomb of Azimunnisa Begum, who was the daughter of Murshid Quli Khan. As part of the folklore, it is believed that Murshid Quli buried her alive when he found her surviving on the liver of infant kids to get cured of her disease. Jafaganj Cemetry is also located here where one comes across the tombs of Mirzafar, his wives and several others. There are more than 1000 tombs here. Nasirpur Palace, Kathgola, Adinath Digambar Jain temple are a must visit here. The Jain Temple is a stunning place with intricate designs.
Visit the South of Hazaduari Complex
If you are visiting Hazarduari Palace one cannot miss out the southern part of the complex. There is Tripolia Gate which has a ‘nahabatkhana’ at the top, Chawk Masjid, which was constructed by Munni Begum, wife of Mirzafar. Wasif Ali Manzil is another beautiful piece of architecture, which is prohibited to enter. Motijheel is a major attraction here. It is a beautiful lake which also houses a palace. The lake was excavated by Nawazesh Mohammad, husband of Ghasseti Begum. Motijheel served as the residence of British personnel like Robert Clive, Warren Hastings and several others. Ghari Ghanta and Dakshin Darja are equally popular. This is a single arched gateway, high enough to allow elephants to pass.
Visit to Cossimbazar
Located a mere 17 km from Murshidabad, lying in Murshibad district, is Cossimbazar or Kasim Bazar. The British, Dutch and the French had many of their factories located here. This accounts for the popularity of Cossimbazar in the history of Bengal. Those visiting Murshidabad can arrange a quick drive to the town. Here, one comes across a lovely Armenian Church of St. Mary’s which was constructed in 1758. The church was closed down in 1860 and reopened again in 2005. There is a British cemetery where tombs of important British officers and their family members rest.
When Murshidabad was at the peak of glory, Cossimbazar served as a flourishing river port. A Bengali family of Roys settled here and made enormous wealth through silk trade. They built a palatial mansion here which is known as the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys or Cossimbazar Choto Bari. It has now been converted into a heritage hotel.
Visit to Azimganj
Located a mere 9 km from Murshidabad, Azimganj can be reached by taxi. There are a number of old building structures that can interest history lovers. There is the Char Bangla Temple complex housing four temples of typical ‘do chala’ or Bangla architectural style. They are decorated with terracotta work. Gangeswar Temple is located to the north of Char Bangla complex with rich terracotta decoration. Bhabaniswar Mandir does not have terracotta work but boasts of some fine stucco work. These are truly masterpieces of temple architecture.
Take a Stroll along Bhagirathi River
Murshidabad lies along the banks of River Bhagirathi which is a tributary of River Ganges. There are a number of structures that are built along the banks. The Hazarduari Palace and Nizamat Imambara are located near the river. There is Khosbag or Garden of Happiness which is also the cemetery where many of the royal family members are buried. Tomb of Alivardi Khan, Siraj-ud-Daulla and other members are found here. Rosnaiganj Garden is located on the banks of Bhagirathi on the opposite side of Hazarduari. Here one finds tombs of some other members of the family including the son-in-law and the successor of Murshid Quli Khan - Nazab Shuja Uddin Khan.
Eating in Murshidabad
Cuisine in Murshidabad has a strong Mughal influence but it is different in the way that there is convergence of different food styles here which imparts a unique flavour to the food. Whether it is Bengali cuisine or Mughal cuisine, there is an overlapping of flavours and the typical Bengali dishes too seem to have a distinct Murshidabad flavour. The very famous ‘Machcher Kalia’ of Bengal, a mouth-watering fish preparation is more Bengali than Mughlai but again the biryani here has dominant Mughal flavouring. For sweet lovers, Murshidabad is the place to be. You will find some of the finest qualities of ‘Chanabora’ in the town.
Shopping in Murshidabad
Murshidabad produces some of the finest silk sarees in the country and is extremely popular. An trip to the town is incomplete without a purchase of at least one of these. The Baluchari silk sarees have a silk base with brocade work. They come in rich vibrant colors like red, yellow, blue, green and scarlet. They have beautiful flower motifs. Apart from sarees, tourists can also pick up brass, copper and kansha items from Murshidabad. They are great for gifting and for displaying at one’s home. Shola art is also popular here.