Murshidabad is one of the most historic places in West Bengal. This district town, located on the eastern bank of River Bhagiratihad been the last capital of independent Bengal before the British rule. It was the land of the Bengal Nawabs and is a city frozen in time.Murshidabadwas reputedly founded by the Mughal emperor Akbar in the 16th century and was originally called Makhsudabad, Later in 1704,NawabMurshidQuli Khan, by Aurangzeb’s orders, transferred the capital of then Bengal from Dhaka to Makhsudabad and renamed the newly founded capital after his own name- Murshidabad. It is an architectural gem in the map of Bengal with 17th century old Bengal terracotta brick temples to fascinating and majestic heritage buildings like Hazarduari, Imambara and Katra Masjid. Murshidabad is 210 kilometers from Kolkata. It is an intriguing weekend destination and can be reached in 6 hours by road.
Kolkata to Murshidabad
Why To Go
October to March is the best time to visit Murshidabad. The summers are sultry and it is difficult to visit so many monuments in the monsoons.
Things To Do
KilaNizamat, a fort complexis the most iconic area of Murshidabad with the Hazarduari Palace, NizamatImambara, WasifManzil, the Bachhawali tope, Murshidabad Clock Tower and Madina Mosque. This area is on the bank of River Bhagirati. Hazarduari Palace is a majestic palace with 1000 doors and that’s from where it got it name. Interestingly, 100 out of these are fake doors, designed to confuse anyone who would go inside and do something wrong and try to run out of the palace. It is a museum now with amazing collectibles of the Bengal Nawabs NizamatImambara, just opposite to the Hazarduari, is the largest Imambara in the country. The Madina Mosque stands between the new Imambara and the Hazarduari Palace near theBacchawali Tope and the Clock Tower. The Madina Mosque has houses sacred soil of Mecca and Medina. The Bacchawali Tope is a 12th century grand cannon, which is said to have induced child birth of pregnant women with the enormous sound produced while firing and that’s from where it gets its name. The clock tower seems to have helped the sailors on the Bhagirati River as the clock was visible from the river. WasifManzil, a beautiful mansion, was the residence of the Nawab, where visitors are not allowed inside even today. Murshidabad has some city gates with fine architecture- DakshinDarwaza and Tripolia Gate. The Tripola Gate was built in commemoration of ShirazudDaulah bringing the holy clay from Medina for his parents and grandparents. These monuments still stand glorifying the bygone Nawab dynasty of Bengal. Tomb of Azimunnisa Begum, the daughter of NawabMurshid-Quli Khan, is a beautiful and quiet place, well maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. It is said that she consumed child liver as a cure for some disease and when her husband, Suja, came to know of this, he buried her alive. The complex has a beautiful garden and the ruins of a mosque that Azimunnisa Begum built. Jahan Kosha Kaman, is a17th century massive cannon built with amalgamation of 8 valuable metals. It is 5.5 meters long and weighs 7tonnes. Firing required at least 17kilograms of gunpowder. Katra Masjid, one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture, with perfect arches and graceful minarets, is maintained by Archaeological Survey of India.The mosque was a seat of Islamic learning in the 18th century and has special mat designed floor which suggests that it could accommodate 2000 people for namaz/ prayers. NawabMurshid-Quli Khan wanted to get his tomb built in the mosque. He ordered that he be buried in such a place where he could be trodden and could get the dust and foot prints of the feet of the noble men who climbed those stairs to enter the mosque. So on his death, in the year 1725, he was buried under the stairs. In the mosque there is a slab embedded at the top where it is written in Arabic: “Muhammad, the Arabian, the glory of both worlds. Dust be on the head of him who is not the dust of his portal”. There is a Shiv Temple in the complex, beside the mosque. Fauti Masjid is another mosque in Murshidabad which was being built in 1740 by NawabSarfaraz,just in a day, but remained incomplete due to his death in a battle with Alivardi Khan. Today the massive structure stands amidst overgrown jungles and is in absolute ruins. Katgola mansion belonged to RaybahadurLaxmipath Singh. His mansion complex is grand with gardens, flowers, elegant marble statues and fountains, a museum with extremely expensive exhibits, a Jain temple and a mini zoo. This zoo is said to be the oldest zoo of Bengal. There is an intriguing underground path connecting Jagath Seth’s house to this one. Jagat Seth looked after the mint and treasury accounts of Bengal during the Nawab era. He conspired with Mir Jafar involving the imprisonment and finally killing of NawabSirajud-Daulah. Jagath Seth’s house is an exciting place to visit. It is an extremely sophisticated building which used to be a mint and is now converted to a museum. The house has numerous secret passages, almost like a labyrinth. NashipurRajbariis another of the grand places in Murshidabad. There is a marble Hanuman temple, Ram Mandir with statues of Ram, Sita and Lakshman made of gold and a Kali Mandir where the statue of the goddess is made of 8 expensive metals including gold and silver. NashipurAkhrawas abrahmachari ashram and the nawab’s stablewith amusing collectibles like dolls and elaborate furniture. There is aregal vintage car of the nawab which was purchased with 80 rupees I those days from London. Jafragunj Cemeteryhas1100 graves of nawabs including that of Mir Jafar. The mausoleum complex was built by him and so has graves of the later nawabs. There is also a Dutch Cemetery in Murshidabad. Khusbagis a serene garden cemetery where lies the tombs of SirajUdDaula and Alivardi Khan, Bengal’s last nawab. You have to cross the ferry to reach here on other side of the River. This mausoleum has been built by Aliwardi Khan in the lines of Delhi’s Jama Masjid. The graves remind us of the stories of treachery against the independent Nawabs of Bengal by the East India Company with the help of some of Nawab’s close personnel. CossimbazarRajbariis another gorgeous mansion complex with a museum, elaborate garden and ponds with a 300yr old nageswar tree. The Radhagovinda Temple, Durgadalan, Chandimandap, bhogmandirare shown to the tourists.The buildings have Indo European architecture and a part has also been converted to a luxurious guest house. Motijheelis a horse shoe shaped lake spread across 350 acres, formed by the abandoned bed of Bhagirati. The name is derived from the fact that yellow pearl cultivation was o here. The ground surrounded by the lake is a garden and park and is popular for the light and sound narrations in the evening. There are some palatial structures and the kala masjid inside Motijheel Park.
What to Eat & Where
Bengali meals available. Chhanabora is a popular sweet of Murshidabad.
You can drive to all the spots in the city. Khusbag needs to be reached by ferry. Rickshaws and/or totos are available. Horse driven tongas/cart are also popular and fun to ride.
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Charbangla Temple comprises of four temples built by Rani Bhavani after 3 years of Battle of Plassey in 1757. The Bengal terracotta art on these 250 year old temples is unique. Kiriteswarimandir, also called Mahishmardini Temple by the locals, is one of the 51 Shatipeeths, constructed 1000 years ago. The goddess is known as Mukuteshwari as according to the Shati mythology, her mukut or crown fellthere when Lord Shiva, her husband, was mourning and doing tandava with her corpse on his shoulder. DahaparaDham, Jagadbandhu Ashram, is a peaceful and serene ashram founded by MahanamSampraday of India. The place is full of lush green trees and hence is very pleasant. Battle Field of Plasseyis the historic site where Siraj fought with the soldiers of East India Company. A golden NawabSirajUdDaula statue and a Battle Field of Plassey Monument are there on the Plassey Battle Ground. Palasi (Plassey) is a town that is around 1.5 hours’ drive from Murshidabad towards Kolkata on NH12 only.