Why Murshidabad and Why at Pujas
The hue and cry of the Pujas had never attracted me neither in my childhood nor in my youth. I had always preferred serenity above overcrowding and we now get long holidays only at pujas. With Pujas around it was time for me to drive out of Kolkata to visit nature, delve into history and max to max some rural side pandals. Thus we chose Murshidabad the abode of the last independent rulers of Bengal and Krishnagar, Bethuadahari, Palasi enroute.
To Murshidabad Day1
Kolkata to Krishnanagar
This time we were travelling along with my parents in our Swift Zdi. From home in South Kolkata we took the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and proceeded further after crossing airport. Soon we rushed to Barrackpore and then Ishapore to drive past the Rifle factory. Then along the Barrackpore Kalyani expressway we reached Kanchrapara. I took right on Kanchapara Haringhata Road to catch with NH12 at Dighapara. We travelled by NH12 through Chakdaha to cross Churni River after Ranaghat. Sadly we didn’t visit the Palpara Temple at Chakdaha due to time constraints .
Soon we reached Shantipur in Nadia. Again we couldn’t enter Shantipur town to visit the historic locations due to lack of time. We moved along Dignagar but didn’t stop the car to see Raghabeswari Temple there. Rather keeping Krishnagar Gouriya Math to left we arraived at Krishnanagar Raj Palace.
Krishnagar Raj Palace
Thereafter arriving at Krishnanagar Rajbari grounds we viewed a traditional Durga puja of Bengal. The age old Puja Mandap enthralled me. Models of erstwhile jamindari life raised my curiosity.
However I was disallowed to see the houses still serving as residences of the royal progeny. In contrast a horticulture shop at the grounds specially interested me because of the orchid collections.
Ghurni and it’s mud sculpturers
We went to the nearby place to visit the potters famous for Krishnagar gharana. Bought few earthen attractions there as like my earlier visits. Ghurni had given birth to many artisans of world wide fame even ones to receive the President’ s medal.
Mud sculpting took a bizarre turn here. Every time I come to Krishnagar I remember to visit this place. The place derived its name probably from the potters wheel.
Krishnanagar to Dhubulia
Hurriedly we went alongside the Krishnagar Cathedral with no time to pay a visit. We crossed the Jalangi River to see jute refining at its embankments. Even we came across Bahadurpur Forest and Hansabil. Hansabil is an excellent bird watching area especially during winter.
It was created by the moving away of Jalangi and Hooghly rivers. Due to lack of time we rushed off to Dhubulia.
Crossing the Tropic of Cancer
We crossed the Tropic of Cancer at Gabarkuli on NH12. My wife saw a small sign board on the road side and made us aware. Soon through Singhati, Gaccha and Jugpur we were approaching Bethuadahari.
We visited the Bethuadahari forest to take a stroll within. Forest spiders, some birds, peacocks, aligators and dear we saw. Had been first during a school excursion during my study with Patha Bhavan in the 10th standard.
Most of the animals we saw were in the rescue center operated by the forest department. Though not much thick jungle but it was peaceful. Stay facilities were there but we rushed for Palasi. Neither did we visit the nature education center.
Bethuadahari to Plassey and Lunch at road side eatery
We were much hungry and were expecting eateries. But to our dismay there were none fit for lunch at Bethuadahari. Thus we had food at a dhaba on way.
So we had to wait for half an hour to get the food prepared. But it was hot and fresh and even with green salads. After using a stinky washroom we fled for Palasi.
Plassey or Palasi
I had the expectation to visit the Plassey battlegrounds the major conquest site of the British against Siraj ud dulah. We are to the lands of Murshid quali Khan, his grandson Siraj-ud-dullah, Mirkasim, Jagatseth and Mirjafar. In another visit I went to Rajmahal the place was Siraj captured by the British.Was however disheartened to find no history but only a monument. A nearby ferry ghat to the Hooghly had the fragrance I so relish.
To Murshidabad and night stay
Our stay was at Hotel Manjusha almost within the Hazarduari grounds. Took some night snap of Hazarduari and Imambara. While returning to our hotel saw the elephant shade of the erstwhile kings in ruins. The hotel had an aviary and lots of plants which I couldn’t enjoy at the dark of night. We had dinner at the eating place in the garden and went early to bed.
After dinner I went out for buying bettel leaf. As I was carrying the camera had some pictures of the gates to the city in the dark of the night using the street lights for illumination.
Murshidabad Day 2
Hotel Garden and Aviary
We had a brief tour of our hotel garden on the Hooghly embankment and took breakfast at the hotel. That had a good collection of not so familiar plants.
Tomb of Azimunnisa Begum, Murshidabad
At morning first we went to see the tombs of Azimunnisa Begum daughter of Nawab Ali Bardi Khan . She was notoriously known as the Kaliza Khaki Begum as she had developed the habit of consuming liver of children.
The tomb is under a mosque built by her where she was buried alive by her husband.
Jafraganj Cemetery to Mirzafars Descendents
I was astonished to see the tombs of the royal courier pigeons. We had a small boy acting as the guide.
The tomb of the royal females were covered by jafris unlike those of the males. The residing place of his descendents after 1850 was in Murshidabad House in Parkstreet, Kolkata.
Jafraganj Mosque, Mirjafar’s House and Jafraganj Deuri, Murshidabad
We visited the out gate to Mirjaffars house where the final adjustment were made between him and the British. The exact place where the future of Bengal and India under British rule was signed off.Jafraganj Temple Estate and Raghunath Temple at Jafraganj, Murshidabad
I visited the temple and estate at Jafraganj. An old Jagannath chariot and Austin car astonished me. Big tumblers and kitchen ware of yesteryears amused us. So did beloari lamp shades and antique furniture.
The vaishnavite akhra was established by Mahanta Lachhman Das during Sundar Mirjafar’s time.
Nasipur Rajbari or Palace, Murshidabad
I also visited the Nasipur palace established by king Debi Singh in 1776. They told us the stories of the landlord and his dancers and we saw the drama stage. We had a glimpse of the inner house Andar mahal and also the outhouse.
I found a miniature replica of the palace at the entrance. We saw the household temples too. The palaces have lions at the gates mentioning the allegiance to the British rulers. These lions are different from the ones found at temples in Odisha.
Jagat Seth’s House and property, Murshidabad
At Jagat Seth’s house we saw old articles and also the tunnel used for communication. Coins used by them, weaponry , dresses and articles of use were on display. Exquisite wrought iron garden furniture, British lions and marble statues of scantily clad wemen adorned the place. I saw both the Hindu and Jain temples at his house. The underground basement of the house was being excavated during our visit.
Kathgola Bagan a garden house, Murshidabad
We also visited another landlord house at the outskirts near amina bazaar. It was the realm of 2 brothers who grew up to be eminent traders of their time. Their childhood pond and their private zoo in ruins astonished me.
We visited a jain temple in the campus. Saw inscriptions mentioning all the tirthankars even the female ones. Marble sculptures and inscriptions in and around the temple will demand artistic appreciation.
Fauti Mosque, Murshidabad
We visited a mosque said to be built in many days yet incomplete as the masonry and artisans fled after some died.
We crossed the railway line to reach the place lying neglected without any government promotion or protection.
Katra Mosque, Murshidabad
As we were approaching dusk we arraived at Katra Mosque.
Jahan Kosa Cannon, Murshidabad
Our last visit for the day was to the Jahan Kosa cannon. The sun has set and it was time to return to our hotel
The main road was closed for puja. Our local guide took us through smaller roads within the mahalla to reach Hazarduari campus.
Early morning we were up. The days plan was to visit the places on the opposite bank of hooghly.
Khosh Bag or Garden of Happiness, Murshidabad
On the opposite embankment the royal burial ground of Nawab Ali Bardi Khan and his grandson Nawab Siraj ud mullah along with other family members. The site has a small mosque within the campus.
Had a quarrel with father over the time spent in each site. He was of the opinion to spend more time which I rushed with lot other places in mind. We returned back to hotel sad and angry.
As the river side road to Char Bangla temples was mismatching with the Google map we had to return too.
We missed Gangeswar Temple.
Hazarduari Ghari Ghar Siraj Garden and Nizamat Imambara, Murshidabad
Afternoon we visited Hazarduari. We liked the museum but photography was strictly prohibited inside. I felt sad. I find foolishness in not allowing photography. Thieves and illegal antique collectors don’t need photos to steal a treasure. Rather common people are derived of the pleasure of seeing. We have this queer approach. This led ours to disallow street view to Google while almost all countries have so. Terrorists don’t need street view to target locations they reki the place as has been proved time and again.
Kolkata Return Day2
This time we missed with Tomb of Suja uddin Khan, Kherur Mosque, two other temples and Sagar Dighi. The Murshidabad district museum was also not on our list. We didn’t had time for Karna Subarna, King Harshabardhan’s capital and Nilkuthi nearby. We also missed Maheshganj Estate at Balakhana, Nabadweep used as a Nilkuthi in yesteryears. These places we covered later with my inlaws. Thus a story to be told some other time.
We rushed back to home back to our regular lifestyle.
On expectation of finding you soon between the lines