On the eastern banks of Bhagirathi (a tributary of Ganga), lies the district of Murshidabad. It has a long historical significance being the capital during Mughal rule, much like Bengal was the administrative capital during the British Raj later. The myriad hues of the past are reflected in the very essence of Murshidabad. There are numerous places to explore in Murshidabad and if you are planning a trip, here are the top 5 places that you must visit.
1. Hazaarduari Palace/ Nizamat Fort
This palace was constructed in the 19th century when Murshidabad was under the sovereignty of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Nizamat Kila (Fortress of the Nawabs) is the site where there was an old fort which was demolished in order to create the glorious Hazaarduari Palace or the Palace with a Thousand Doors. It was the creative genius of the architect named Duncan Macleod. The palace-turned-museum houses collections of artefacts from the times of the Nawab rule. On the south of the palace, there is a Pearl Lake (Moti Jhil).
2. Nizamat Imambara
Just opposite the Hazaarduari Palace lies the Nizamat Imambara, a shrine. The old shrine was built by Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah which got destroyed by fires twice. In 1847, the new shrine was constructed by Nawab Nazim Mansur Ali Khan. There is the old Madina mosque which is between the Palace and the Nizamat Imambara. It is known to be the largest Imambara in our country. It is inside the Nizamat Kila campus itself.
3. Katra Mosque
The Katra Mosque originally had 5 domes and 4 minarets, parts of which got destroyed in the 1897 earthquake. It is also the tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan who is buried under the staircase leading to the main entrance. The mosque is revered as a centre of Islamic learning. It has the capacity to accommodate 2000 Namaz readers at once.
It collectively refers to the Katgola Gardens, Katgola Palace and the Katgola Temple here. With an area covering around 30 acres, mango trees are largely cultivated in the Garden. The Temple is dedicated to Adishvar, with a 900 years old idol in it. The Katgola Palace is a four-storeyed splendid palace which is elaborately ornamented and is a beautiful architectural site.
The Nawabs ruled Murshidabad and breathed their last in this place itself. There are a number of cemeteries here, one is Khushbagh or the Garden of Happiness where the remains of Nawab Alivardi Khan, and Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah remain buried along with the other family members of the Nawab, that is the Afshar dynasty. There is the Jafarganj Cemetery as well which hosts the later Nawabs of the Najafi dynasty.
Murshidabad allows one to travel back in time, revisiting the bygone times of the Nawab. It is the glorious past which justifies its present grandeur. The Nizamat Kila campus also hosts the Bacchawali Tope, Murshidabad Clock Tower, two Zurud Mosques and more! A trip around Murshidabad will be like reading a beautiful chronicle, helping one connect the dots of history in the making.
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