Murshidabad, the erstwhile capital city of Bengal is like the hidden gem in the pages of the history of Bengal. Karnasubarna (Murshidabad, Burdwan and Bankura) has a special mention by the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang during his trip to India. Recent history dates back to the time when Nawab Murshid Quli Khan shifted his capital from Dacca to Muksusubad, which later was named Murshidabad. Battle of Plassey was fought by Nawab Siraj-Ud-Dualla against the British, leading to his defeat due to traitors like Mir Zafar. This brought a decline to Murshibad, which was once compared to London. River Bhagirathi has stood the testimony of time and witnessed the several reigns, ruins and change in power of this famous town.
1. Hazar Duari Palace:
Hazar Duari literally meaning a thousand doors was built by Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah, an art lover. The magnificent palace which has been taken over by the Archeological Survey of India has been converted to a museum. It houses trophies, mementoes, carriages, photographs of royalties and the articles they used during those days. The palace ground has a little mosque, Madina. A clock tower and a large canon known as the Bacchawali Tope also find their place on the premises. Camera and mobile phones need to be deposited at the counter before entering the palace.
2. Nizmmat Imambara:
Built right opposite Hazar Duari Palace, this is the largest imambara built by Nawab Mansur Ali Khan. Built in 1847 just after the old imambara made of wood got destroyed by fire. Nawab Siraj-Ud-Dualla had built the old, imambara under his supervision. The soil was brought from Mecca and other religious places, which was placed 6 feet under the Imambara to give a feel of Haj to the commoners.
3. House of Jagat Seth:
Jagat Seth a popular banker, controlled half of Bengal’s economy and was the financial advisor of the Nawabs. His house was compared to the Bank of England and his family to the Rothschild. Jagat Seth, who was supposed to finance Nawab Siraj-Ud-Dualla during the battle, proved to be a traitor. Jagat Seth along with Mir Zafar are the only reasons for the defeat of Bengal against the British.
4. Nashipur Raj Bari:
The erstwhile court of Debi Sinha has now been converted to a museum. It displays all the personal belongings of the Nashipur royal family including documents related to tax collection. The temple complex adjacent to the Palace has the deities of Ramchandra and other family deities. Regular prayers are being offered by the family priest every single day. Ticket price is Rs. 10/-
5. Katra Masjid:
This is the largest Caravanserai in the Indian subcontinent. It was built in 1727 and is a mosque and tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. It was the Nawab’s wish to have his tomb near the mosque. Thus he has been put to rest under the steps of the Masjid. This pristinely maintained brick structure has a huge plinth to accommodate 2000 Namaz readers together. This is denoted by the 2000 bright red bricks patterned like prayer mats. A portion of the mosque was unfortunately destroyed by the powerful earth quake in 1897. The towering minarets on either side are approximately 70 feet in height watching over the well-manicured garden of the Masjid.
6. Moti Jheel:
A beautiful horseshoe-shaped lake with a palace named, Sang-I- Dalan. This was the brainchild of Nawazish Muhamad Khan. His wife Ghaseti Begun lived in the palace even after the death of Nawazish until it was attacked and seized by Nawaz Siraj-Ud-Daulla. One can only find the remains of the palace now with several statues and structures reminiscing the era. The park is divided into different sections with several gardens, picnic spots, play areas for children, cycling track, food court, a resort and many more things of tourist interest.
7. Motijheel Mosque:
Also known as the Kala Masjid, it is situated right adjacent to Motijheel park. It has the last remains of several members of the royal family. Locals frequent this place regularly to offer prayers. A large old brick wall with massive dents shows the damage done by canons during the war.
8. Wasif Manzil:
Built by Nawab Wasif Ali Mirza Khan, it is right on the banks of Bhagirathi on the southern side of Hazar Duari palace. Unfortunately, it was majorly destroyed by the great earthquake that hit this part of the country. The palace painted immaculately in white has a garden complete with marble statues and a fountain.
9. Jafargunj Cemetry:
Built by Mir Zafar over an area of 3.5 acres. The cemetry houses the tombs of all the Nawabs of Bengal belonging to the Najafi dynasty. Mir Zafar and his family members have been put to rest here and the tradition still continues.
10. Jahan Kosha Cannon:
Jahan Kosha, also known as the Great Gun, is made in ashtadhatu (namely eight metals). The great cannon was crafted by the famous blacksmith/gunsmith Janardhan Karmakar during the reign of Shah Jahan. The 17 feet canon weighing more than 7 ton, is laid to rest near Katra Jheel. Hire a 3-wheeler from Katra Mosque and take a trip to this place to witness history.
11. Footi Masjid:
Built by Nawab Sarfaraz Khan in 1740, he died fighting against Alivardi Khan in the battle of Giria. It is fabled that the Nawab tried building the mosque in a single night. But his dream remained incomplete as the dome was left unfinished. Thus, the name footi, which literally means a hole. Situated right along the railway tracks, though it is not frequented much by the tourist. History lovers would love to have a look at the architecture of the mosque built with bricks.
12. Tomb of Azimunissa Begum:
Azimunissa Begum, the daughter of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan has been laid to rest here. Just like her father Azimunissa begum has been put to rest under the steps near the entrance. A few structures have been destroyed by the great earthquake in the late 1800 and the remaining are tell-tales of an era bygone.