Tag Archives: BENGAL

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which attempted a revival of the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads. He was educated at home; and although at seventeen he was sent to England for formal schooling, he did not finish his studies there. In his mature years, in addition to his many-sided literary activities, he managed the family estates, a project which brought him into close touch with common humanity and increased his interest in social reforms. He also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan where he tried his Upanishadic ideals of education. From time to time he participated in the Indian nationalist movement, though in his own non-sentimental and visionary way; and Gandhi, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India.

Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West. In fact his fame attained a luminous height, taking him across continents on lecture tours and tours of friendship. For the world he became the voice of India’s spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.

In 1884, Tagore wrote a collection of poems Kori-o-Kamal (Sharp and Flats). He also wrote dramas – Raja-o-Rani ( King and Queen) and Visarjan (Sacrifice). In 1890, Rabindranath Tagore moved to Shilaidaha (now in Bangladesh) to look after the family estate. Between 1893 and 1900 Tagore wrote seven volumes of poetry, which included Sonar Tari (The Golden Boat) and Khanika. In 1901, Rabindranath Tagore became the editor of the magazine Bangadarshan. He Established Bolpur Bramhacharyaashram at Shantiniketan, a school based on the pattern of old Indian Ashrama. In 1902, his wife Mrinalini died. Tagore composed Smaran ( In Memoriam ), a collection of poems, dedicated to his wife.

In 1905, Lord Curzon decided to divide Bengal into two parts. Rabindranath Tagore strongly protested against this decision. Tagore wrote a number of national songs and attended protest meetings. He introduced the Rakhibandhan ceremony , symbolizing the underlying unity of undivided Bengal.

In 1909, Rabindranath Tagore started writing Gitanjali. In 1912, Tagore went to Europe for the second time. On the journey to London he translated some of his poems/songs from Gitanjali to English. He met William Rothenstein, a noted British painter, in London. Rothenstien was impressed by the poems, made copies and gave to Yeats and other English poets. Yeats was enthralled. He later wrote the introduction to Gitanjali when it was published in September 1912 in a limited edition by the India Society in London. Rabindranath Tagore was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for Gitanjali. In 1915 he was knighted by the British King George V.

In 1919, following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Tagore renounced his knighthood. He was a supporter of Gandhiji but he stayed out of politics. He was opposed to nationalism and militarism as a matter of principle, and instead promoted spiritual values and the creation of a new world culture founded in multi-culturalism, diversity and tolerance. Unable to gain ideological support to his views, he retired into relative solitude. Between the years 1916 and 1934 he traveled widely.

1n 1921, Rabindranath Tagore established Viswabharati University. He gave all his money from Nobel Prize and royalty money from his books to this University. Tagore was not only a creative genius, he was quite knowledgeable of Western culture, especially Western poetry and science too. Tagore had a good grasp of modern – post-Newtonian – physics, and was well able to hold his own in a debate with Einstein in 1930 on the newly emerging principles of quantum mechanics and chaos. His meetings and tape recorded conversations with his contemporaries such Albert Einstein and H.G. Wells, epitomize his brilliance.

In 1940 Oxford University arranged a special ceremony in Santiniketan and awarded Rabindranath Tagore with Doctorate Of Literature. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore passed away on August 7, 1941 in his ancestral home in Calcutta.

MURSHIDABAD

Location

Murshidabad is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, a distributary of the Ganges River. It forms part of the Murshidabad district.

The District of Murshidabad has an area of 5,550 square kilometres. It is divided into two nearly equal portions by the Bhagirathi, the ancient channel of the Ganges. The tract to the west, known as the Rarh, consists of hard clay and nodular limestone. The general level is high, but interspersed with marshes and seamed by hill torrents. The Bagri or eastern half belongs to alluvial plains of eastern Bengal. There are few permanent swamps; but the whole country is low-lying, and liable to annual inundation. In the north-west are a few small detached hillocks, said to be of basaltic formation.

History

During the 18th-century, Murshidabad was a prosperous city. It was the capital of the Bengal Subah in the Mughal Empire for seventy years, with a jurisdiction covering modern-day Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It was the seat of the hereditary Nawab of Bengal and the state’s treasury, revenue office and judiciary. Bengal was the richest Mughal province. Murshidabad was a cosmopolitan city. Its population peaked at 700,000 in the 1750s. It was home to wealthy banking and merchant families from different parts of the Indian subcontinent and wider Eurasia, including the Jagat Seth and Armenians.

European companies, including the British East India Company, the French East India Company, the Dutch East India Company and the Danish East India Company, conducted business and operated factories around the city. Silk was a major product of Murshidabad. The city was also a center of art and culture, including for ivory sculptors, Hindustani classical music and the Murshidabad style of Mughal painting.

The city’s decline began with the defeat of the last independent Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-Daulah at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The Nawab was demoted to the status of a zamindar known as the Nawab of Murshidabad. The British shifted the treasury, courts and revenue office to Calcutta. In the 19th century, the population was estimated to be 46,000. Murshidabad became a district headquarters of the Bengal Presidency. It was declared as a municipality in 1869.

How to go?

Murshidabad is well connected to the rest of India by rail & road. Regular rail, as well as bus services, ply to and fro Murshidabad junction, well connected by several passenger and express trains. There are no direct buses for Murshidabad; you need to break your journey at Malda for a taxi to the same. There is no direct flight connectivity for Murshidabad. The nearest airport is the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata.

Main attraction – Hazarduari Palace

As the name suggests, Hazarduari is a palace with thousand doors. The palace was built in the nineteenth century during the reign of Nawab Nizam Humayun Jah who ruled Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. The architect of this masterpiece was Duncan Macleod.

What makes the palace unique?

It is not just the number of the doors that make the palace different from the rest, it is interesting to know that out of these thousand doors, only 100 of them were real doors, and the rest 900 were fake ones. You may wonder what the mystery behind the fake doors is. Well, the doors were built this way to protect the palace from predators. The idea was to confuse the attackers who attack the palace and try to escape, giving the Nawab’s guards enough time to catch them.

Palace Complex

The palace enclosure is known as Nizamat Kila or Kila Nizamat. Apart from this stunning structure, the palace complex also has Nizamat Imambara (a Muslim congregation hall), Wasif Manzil, Bacchawali Tope, Nawab Bahadur’s institution and three mosques that include the Madina mosque. Built just 40ft away from the banks of Bhagirathi River, the foundation of the palace was laid very deep, so the structure stays strong. The grand staircase to the palace and the Indo-European architectural style are other highlights of this magnificent structure. The palace was used as a venue for royal meetings and official discussions between the British and the Nawabs, and also as a residence for high-ranking British officials. However, today the palace is a museum that preserves the precious collection of the Nawabs that include furniture, paintings and antique pieces.

Palace Museum

The palace museum is today the biggest site museum managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The antiquities of the palace museum include the belongings of the royal family, which include a stunning chandelier of the Durbar hall which is the world’s second largest chandelier in the world, the first being one in the Buckingham Palace. This chandelier was gifted to the Nawab by Queen Victoria. The museum galleries include Armoury wings, Royal Exhibits, Landscape Gallery, British Portrait Gallery, Nawab Nazim Gallery, Durbar Hall, Committee Room, Billboards Room, Western Drawing room and Religious Objects’ Gallery to name a few. The palace is located at Murshidabad at West Bengal, and here’s how you can reach Murshidabad.

Overall, it’s a really nice place to have a refreshing weekend. You can enjoy the rich heritage of Indian history and have a quick glance into the Mughal era. So what are you waiting for? Pack up your bags and set out to seek the unknown!