Murshidabad, named after
Nawab Murshid Quli
Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa under Emperor Aurangzeb, is related to events
that ultimately changed the history of India, At Plassey near Murshidabad the
histortc battle between Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula and Lord Clive had taken place. The
relics strewn today speak of those times. But the history of this region date
back perhaps further. The famous Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsiang, who made the
long journey to India in 629-645 AD, in his world famous travelogue describes
Karanasubarna near Murshidabad as the first capital of the ancient Bengal.
Murshidabad was also the major trading town between inland India and the port of
Kolkata, 221 km south. Today it's an insignificant town on the banks of the
Bhagirathi River, a chance to see typical rural Bengali life.
The region is rich in textile and handicrafts. Baluchari sari,
now a product of Vishnupur was originally woven at Jiaganj.
The main attraction is the Hazarduari, the classical-style
Palace of a Thousand Doors built for the nawabs in 1837. In the recently
renovated throne room a vast chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria, is
suspended above the nawab's silver's throne. There are portraits of British
dignitaries, an ivory sofa, ivory palanquins and silver sedan chairs. In the
armoury downstairs is a cannon used at Plassey.
Across the grass from the palace is the rapidly deteriorating Great Imambara. Murshid Quli Khan, who moved the capital
here in 1705, is buried beside the impressive ruins of the Katra Mosque.
Siraj-ud-daula was assassinated at the Nimak Haram
Deohri. The Jain Parswanath
Temple is at Kathgola, and south of the railway station there's the
Jhil, or Pearl Lake, a fine place to view the sunset. It's worth taking a
boat across the river to visit Siraj's tomb at Khusbagh, the Garden of
Happiness. There are a number of other interesting buildings and ruins.