Introducing Murshidabad & Berhampore
In Murshidabad, rural Bengali life and 18th-century architecture meld on the verdant shores of the Bhagirathi River. When Siraj-ud-daula was nawab of Bengal, Murshidabad was his capital, and he was assassinated here after the defeat at Plassey (now Palashi). The Bhagirathi River flows south to the Hooghly and was once the major trading route between inland India and the port of Kolkata, 221km south.
Hazarduari (Indian/foreigner Rs 5/100; 10am-5pm Sat-Thu), a palace famous for its 1000 doors (real and false), was built here for the nawabs in 1837. It now houses an astonishing collection of antiquities from the 18th and 19th centuries, including historical paintings such as Marshall’s celebrated Burial of Sir John Moore. Beneath the lofty dome of Durbar Hall hangs a vast chandelier, rumoured to have been a gift from Queen Victoria. In the Archive Gallery rests a lustrous Arabic manuscript from the 13th century. The dilapidated Great Imambara stands on the palace grounds; its renovated interior deserves a look.
Murshid Quli Khan, who moved the capital here in 1705, is buried in a different section of town, beneath the stairs at the impressive ruins of the Katra Mosque. Siraj-ud-daula was assassinated at the Nimak Haram Deohri (Traitor’s Gate). Within the Kathgola Gardens (admission Rs 7; 6.30am-5.30pm) is an interesting Jain Parswanath Temple and a museum.
Berhampore is 11km south of Murshidabad and acts as its bus and railway hub.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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