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The name 'Murshidabad' comes from the place known as "Muksudabad" which was the capital of Bengal during Murshid Quli Khan's rule. Before the advent of British, the city of Murshidabad was the capital of Bengal. It has a great significance in the Indian History as in 1757 the British defeated Siraj-ud-Daula in the Battle of Plassey, after which the entire nation was brought under the British Colonial Rule. Even after the conquest of Bengal by the British, Murshidabad remained for some time the seat of administration.
The town still bears memories of Nawabs with mosques, tombs, and gardens, and retains such industries as carving in ivory, gold and silver embroidery and silk weaving. Of historic interest are Nizamat Kila (the Fortress of the Nawabs) also known as the Hazaarduari Palace (Palace of a Thousand Doors), the Moti Jhil (Pearl Lake), the Muradbagh Palace and the Khushbagh Cemetery. Murshidabad today is a centre for agriculture, handicrafts and sericulture.
The name of the palace that is Hazarduari means "a palace with a thousand doors". Hazar means "thousand" and Duari means "the one with doors"; thus, the total sums up to "the one with a thousand doors".
The palace earlier known as Bara Kothi has been named so as the palace has in all 1000 doors, of which 100 are false. They were built so that if any predator tried to do something wrong and escape, he would be confused between the false and real doors, and by that time he would be caught by the Nawab's guards. The enclosure where the palace is situated is known as Kila Nizamat or Nizamat Kila. The campus except this palace, has in addition the NizamatImambara, Wasif Manzil, the Bachhawali Tope, Murshidabad Clock Tower, three mosques out of which one is the Madina Mosque, and the Nawab Bahadur's Institution. Other buildings include residential quarters. It is situated on the east bank of the Bhagirathi River, which flows just beside it. The gap between the Bhagirathi's banks and the palace is just 40 feet (12 m); however, the foundations are laid very deep, which protect the palace. The palace is rectangular in plan (130 meters long and 61 meters broad) and is a good example of Indo-European architecture. The front facade of the palace, which has the grand staircase, faces north. This staircase is perhaps the biggest one in India. The palace has 1000 doors, of which100 are false, and a total of 114 rooms.
Motijhil (also Motijheel, literal translation: Pearl Lake), also known as Company Bagh due to its association with the East India Company, is a horse-shoe shaped lake in Murshidabad, West Bengal, India. It was created by Nawazish Muhammad Khan, the son-in-law of Nawab Alivardi Khan. He also constructed a precious palatial palace beside this lake which is called the Sang-i- dalan (literal translation:stone palace) which is also known as the Motijhil Palace. It is located at the bend of this lake. It was used as the residence of Nawazish and Ghaseti Begum, Nawazish's beloved wife. It is said that after Nawazish died, Ghaseti Begum lived here until Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah took over the palace and seized the residents' in 1756 AD. With this money he built a similar lake with a beautiful palace, Hirajheel, on the opposite side of the Bhagirathi River. The palace has a lofty gateway, a mosque known as the "Shahamat Jang" and the Kala Masjid and some other buildings which were all built by Nawazish. This palace was built in 1740. As far as etymology is concerned, the palace has been named so as it was built using black basalt pillars which were brought from the ruins of Gaur. Thus, it was given the name of Sang-i-Dalan or the Stone Palace. This palace was then decorated with different varieties of flower plants and precious marbles.The entrance to the lakeAccording to James Rennell Motijhil is a horse shoe shaped lake. Motijhil is situated about one and a half kilometers away from Murshidabad in the south and about three kilometres away from the Hazarduari Palace in the south east. It has been excavated on the former beds of the Bhagirathi River that once flowed near this lake. The river was much nearer in 1766 that now. At south there is a tank known as the Shanti Pukur. The offices were built on its banks.
Motijhil was also the residence of Warren Hastings from 1771 to 1773, when he became the political President at the court of the Nawab. It had also paid host to Robert Clive and John Shore, 1st Baron Teignmouth.
Wasif Manzil (also known as Wasef Manzil and New Palace) was built by Nawab Wasif Ali Mirza Khan under the direction and supervision of Mr. Vivian, officer of the Public Works Department of the Nadia Rivers Division and Surendra Barat, a Bengaliengineer. This building, rather palace was used by the Nawab as his residence. The building is extremely close to the Hazarduari Palace. It is built on the Nizamat Fort Campus between the campus's Dakshin Darwaza (south gate) and the Hazarduari Palace, just opposite the campus's South Zurud Mosque and parallel to the Bhagirathi-Hooghly River. The palace has been designed to look a little like a castle with small corner turrets on the corners. The palace has a semi-circular pediment with the Nawabs of Murshidabad's coat of arms on it. Now, the palace is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India and has been transformed into a museum. The palace has a garden space in front of it which has a fountain and several marble statues. The garden space is enclosed with a handsome iron railing. The main entrance is a Norman archway with open-work iron doors. The staircases and statues inside the palace are also made of marble and are worth seeing.
The new Imambara was built in 1847 by Nawab Nazim Mansur Ali Khan under the supervision and direction of Sadeq Ali Khan just opposite the Hazarduari Palace at a cost of more than ? 6 lacs. The main entrance just parallel to the north face of the Hazarduari Palace faces south. The masons took only 11 months to finish the construction as in addition to their wages they also received food which allowed them to work day and night. The present Imambara is 680 feet long, however the breadths vary. The central block that has the Madina is 300 feet long. It had been built slightly some feet away from the site of the old building in north. The Imambara stands just opposite to the Hazarduari Palace and is situated just on the banks of the Bhagirathi River. The gap between the shores of the river and the west wall of the Imambara may be a few feet.
The old Madina Mosque was left as it was and a new one was constructed in the newly constructed Imambara. The old Madina Mosque can still be seen standing between the new Imambara and the Hazarduari Palace near the Bacchawali Tope and the Clock Tower of Murshidabad.An old photo on the main entrance of the NizamatImambara, just opposite the Hazarduari Palace.Panoramic view of NizamatImambara, Murshidabad
The present Imambara has been divided into three large quadrangles as follows:
Kathgola (also known as Katgola) is a neighbourhood in the city of Murshidabad which was at one time the capital of Bengal, Biharand Orissa during the reign of the Nawabs of Bengal.The Kathgola Palace also known as "Kathgola Bagan Bari'.Kathgola Palace is a four-storeyed palatial palace in the Kathgola Gardens. It has an ornamented facade with valuable paintings, mirrors and priceless furniture. Beside the palace is a small pond and a baoli
The Katgola Palace with its magnificent structures of the Mandir, Dadabari, Bauri and others set amidst such well-planned sprawling gardens on 155 bighas leave the visitors awe-struck at the sheer dexterity of craftsmanship and quality of buildings. What is, however, unique is its history and that of the family of the Founder. Together with stories of the high personal integrity of Rai Bahadur Lacchmipat Singh Dugar and Dadaguru's visitation to him, while in a deep meditative trance; stories that have been passed down by word of mouth over generations, Katgola has a magical appeal. THE MAKING OF KATGOLA PALACE AND GARDENS (CHATTERBAG) Katgola Palace and Gardens were built in 1870 by Rai Bahadur Lacchmipat Singh Dugar of Baluchar, now Jiaganj, engaged in the business of banking and Zamindari. It was built to host Europeans and Nawabs since the parda system did not permit inviting non-Hindus into the Kuthi at Jiaganj. Katgola Palace and Gardens is spread over an area of 45 acres. The main Palace is a magnificent structure with huge Corinthian pillars. Greek, Italian, Rajasthani, Mughal, and Bengali architectural elements were involved in its building. The interiors consist of magnificent Italian marble, Intricate Mosaic, Bengal Lime works, Pillars polished with sea-shell lime, Wooden carvings etc. The entire palace is decorated with chandeliers, Period furniture, Italian marble and alabaster artifacts, huge Belgium mirrors and glass, artifacts of porcelain and marble, important and beautiful oil and water color paintings, portraits, etc. The furniture is made of rose wood and other valuable timber. The large gardens have been decorated with hundreds of artifacts depicting different kinds of fish, huge marble and porcelain flower- stands, wells carved out of Mirzapuri stones , Italians marble statues and fountains, intricate carvings in Mirzapuri stone, terracotta, stone Jafferies and cast iron chairs and Pillars, marble Dinner Tables, etc. THE DECORATION OF KATGOLA PALACE AND GARDENS LacchmipatSinghji was a man of very high taste and had an eye for fine things. To enhance the grandeur of Katgola Palace, he visited Calcutta to collect the finest of artifacts. Once, while traveling on horses with his courtiers, he got separated from them and found himself in front of the grand showroom of Osler & Co.
This was one of the finest fashion houses of those times, reputed the world over and known to keep only the costliest and the best of things, beyond the reach of most Zamindars. However, he got attracted to the collection of artifacts displayed in the show-windows and went inside to look at the various objects. Seeing LacchmipatSinghji, dressed in simple cotton Angarkha and Dhoti, the English store manager misjudged the ability of visitor to purchase anything in the showroom and snubbed him. LacchmipatSinghji, amused at this behavior, modestly enquired about the value of all the artifacts in the showroom. The manager pompously quoted a princely sum of Rs 1,50,000/-, fully confident about the inability of the enquirer to even dream of such a fabulous sum. In the meanwhile, the retinue of courtiers (Munims, Gumastas and others escorting him) arrived on the spot. Then and there LacchmipatSinghji ordered his cashier to take out the full sum from his satchel and buy everything in the showroom. He instructed shipping the entire consignment to his palatial Katgola House at Murshidabad.
The Katra Masjid (also known as Katra Mosque) is a mosque and the tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan built between 1723 and 1724.It is located in the north eastern side of the city of Murshidabad, in the Indian state of West Bengal. Its importance lies not only as a great centre of Islamic learning but also for the tomb of Murshid Quli Khan, who is buried under the entrance staircase. The most striking feature is the two large corner towers having loopholes for musketry.The mosque stands on a square plinth. It is a brick built mosque and is surrounded by double storied domed cells, which were built for those who read the Quran in those days, they can also be called a Madrasa. All the rooms can in all accommodate 700 Quran readers. These rooms from a cloister to the huge courtyard in front of these rooms. Four big minars stand at the four corners. These are octagonal in plan and taper upwards. The two towers or the minarets in front of the mosque are 70 feet high and 25 feet in diameter. The whole mosque is quadrangular in shape, the whole mosque has no pillar support but it has been given support by a raised platform below the mosque or by several arches. The mosque has however been destroyed in the 1897 earthquake. Each minar has a winding staircase which leads to the top, one can see a major part of the city of Murshidabad from there. At the two ends of the mosque, two miratets measuring 70 feet high, are still existing to date in a dilapidated condition, they had domes which were destroyed in the 1897 earthquake. In 1780 AD, a traveller name William Hodges wrote that 700 Quran readers lived there in the mosque. Hodges in his book Select Views of India describes it as "a grand seminary of Musalman learning, adorned by a mosque which rises high above all the surrounding buildings".