Decoding Bengal Subah ( Day 2)

Decoding Bengal Subah ( Day 1) – Before you go ahead do check out the first part 🙂

The second day started late… we were all tired from the last day’s travel and exploring. We had plans of making the most of the day because we had one that day in hand. We were staying in Berhampur and it takes 15 – 20 mins to reach Murshidabad from the place. Starting at around 10:30am we reached Murshidadbad at 10:45am and picked up our guide, who was waiting for us near Hazar duari Palace. And we were all set to start for our  first destination, Katra Mosque.

Katra Mosque

This mosque is supposed to be the oldest and most imposing islamic architecture in Murshidabad. The architecture has resemblance with Mecca’s Kaba Masjid and its beautiful! Murshid Quli Khan on reaching old age, expressed his desire to construct his tomb adjacent to a mosque, 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 white coloured entrance staircase in the eastern side. The history behind the burial of Murshid Quli Khan in the entrance – you actually walk over his tomb while entering the beautiful Katra mosque is also quite interesting!

Murshid Quli Khan in his old age expressed his desire to construct his tomb adjacent to a mosque and so he put the responsibility of building this mosque on his trusted follower Murad Farash Khan. In order to gather money and raw materials for the mosque in such a less time… Murad Khan started looting Hindu temples and broke them to get bricks. Today when you visit the mosque you find the evidence when you find bricks with hindu scriptures and images on them( Do ask you guide to point them out to for you). 

When Murshid Quli Khan came to know about this inhuman act of his trusted man he knew he was equally a part of this sin. He ordered that his burial tomb be placed in such a way in the mosque that every person who came to offer prayer in the mosque would walk over his grave. This was his way of paying for the sin that was committed to fulfill of his wish.

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The grave of Murshid Quli Khan

Built within a span of two years (1723-24), Katra Masjid proudly displays two giant towers. Originally there were four of them; two towers got destroyed in an earthquake. The towers had domes like the mosque. Only two domes of the original four domes of the mosque exist. The structure was severely damaged by the earthquake of 1897.The praying area of the Mosque is said to accommodate 2000 Namaz readers.  The present entrance to the premises of the mosque is actually not its frontal side.  The actual entrance to the mosque is now on its back side. ‘Katra’ means Market … supposedly there was a market place in the mosque and thus the name – Katra Mosque.

Jahankosha Kaman(Cannon)

After the Katra Mosque we headed to the Kahankosha Cannon.

The huge “Jahankosha Canon” perched on a pedestal. This 8000 kg weighing mass of steel was by made Gunsmith Janardan Karmakar of Dacca(Dhaka – now in Bangladesh) in 1637, under the instructions of Darogah Shere Mahomed and the supervision of Kara Ballav Das. The canon is made of a composition of eight metals. Besides iron the other metals are tin , lead, copper , zinc , mercury, silver and gold.

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The Canon is 17.5 feet tall and  17 kg of  gunpowder was needed for a single shot!

House Of Jagath Seth

Our next stop was the house of Jaggat Seth.

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The Jagat Seths were a rich business and money-lender family in Murshidabad, during the time of Nawab Sirat ud Daula.. He came from a rich Jain Marwari business family in Murshidabad. Jagat Seth was not actually any particular person, but a title given to one of the descendants of Manik Chand. He was an advisor as well as banker of  Nawab Murshid Kuli Khan. On the death of Nawab, Manik Chand surmised maximum of his wealth. In 1715, Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar conferred Manik Chand with the title of “Seth”. His adopted nephew Fateh Chand was given the title “Jaggat Seth” (“banker of the world”) by Mughal emperor Mahomed Shah in 1724. After death of Fateh Chand in 1744, his grandson Madhab Rai was conferred with the title “Jaggat Seth” His son’s child, Swarup Chand, received the title of “Raja”. They were the biggest financiers of their time and was instrumental in the defeat of Siraj Ud Daulah. Ultimately due to a misunderstanding were murdered by Mir Kasim in 1763 in Munger fort and had their body thrown into the river.

The building was actually his place of financial dealings and not his house. Jagath Seth was one of them who betrayed Siraj ud dullah and joined hands with the British.

Katgola Palace (Kath Golaper Bagan)

The Kathgola Garden,a country estate spreading over 45 acres of land encompasses the Kathgola Palace, the surrounding Kathgola Gardens and the Adinatha Temple, also known as the Kathgola Temple. The complex was built by the late Rai Bahadur Lakshmipat Singh Dugar (1836-1888), one of the leading zamindars (landlords) and bankers of Bengal. At one time various varieties of  wood roses(kath golap) was grown here, that is where it gets its name from.

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The kath gola palace main building

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The passage to the Temple
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The Temple

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On entering the premises, the first striking feature is the entrance gate itself. Adorned with Corinthian pillars, lion statues, floral design on the gate.In the middle of the garden there is a band-stand from where musicians entertained visitors. Nearby is the  Adinatha Temple , dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara Lord Rishabh. The idol is said to be 900 year old.  The temple architecture is another fine example of fusion architecture.The palace museum is a treat! Photography is prohibited but your guides can accompany you. As soon as you enter the Museum you are standing in the library with the most exotic book collection… I was literally drooling and i almost had to be dragged to the next  room. The furnitures have the most beautiful carvings… the lamps… the candle stands… chandeliers… I still can’t get over them!!

It was already over lunch time by the time we were done with these places and we headed for a light lunch.

Stay tuned for the next half ! 😀

Decoding Bengal Subah (Day 2 – Part II) – Check out the next part 🙂

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