Tag Archives: mughal

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!

AGRA

Location

Agra is a city on the banks of the Yamuna river in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is 206 kilometres (128 mi) south of the national capital New Delhi. Agra is the fourth-most populous city in Uttar Pradesh and 24th in India.

Historical Significance

There was an early reference to an “Agravana” in the ancient Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, and Ptolemy is said to have called the site “Agra.” The city was founded by Sultan Sikandar of the Lodhi dynasty in the early 16th century to be the capital of the Delhi sultanate. Agra also served as the Mughal capital during some periods of that empire. In the late 18th century the city fell successively to the Jats, the Marathas, the Mughals, the ruler of Gwalior, and, finally, the British in 1803. It was the capital of Agra (later North-Western) province from 1833 to 1868 and was one of the main centres of the Indian Mutiny (1857–58).

Places to visit         

  1. Taj Mahal – Agra is best known for the Taj Mahal (17th century) which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. A complex mausoleum, the Taj Mahal is often considered to be the world’s best example of Mughal architecture. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built it for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Maḥal, in the mid-17th century. Agra Fort (16th century), called the Red Fort for its massive red sandstone walls, was built by the emperor Akbar; it contains the Pearl Mosque (Moti Masjid; 17th century), constructed of white marble, and a palace, the Jahangiri Mahal. The fort was also designated a World Heritage site in 1983.
  2. Agra Fort – A stone tablet at the gate of the Fort states that it had been built before 1000 but was later renovated by Akbar. The red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shah Jahan’s time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque or Moti Masjid, the Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khaas (halls of public and private audience), Jahangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal, Shish Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj. The forbidding exteriors of this fort conceal an inner paradise. The fort is crescent-shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi), and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A moat 9 metres (30 ft) wide and 10 metres (33 ft) deep surrounds the outer wall.
  3. Fatehpur Sikri – The Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri about 35 km (22 mi) from Agra, and moved his capital there. Later abandoned, the site displays a number of buildings of significant historical importance. A World Heritage Site, it is often visited by tourists. The name of the place came about after the Mughal Emperor Babur defeated Raṇa Sanga in a battle at a place called Sikra (about 40 km from Agra). Then the Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehpur Sikri his headquarters, so he built a majestic fort; due to the shortage of water, however, he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.
  4. Buland Darwaza – or ‘the lofty gateway’ was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 CE at Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. The Buland Darwaza is approached by 52 steps. The Buland Darwaza is 53.63 metres (175.95 feet) high and 35 metres (115 feet) wide. It is made of red and buff sandstone, decorated by carving and black and white marble inlays. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwaza demonstrates Akbar’s religious broad-mindedness; it is a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home.
  5. Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah – It is a Mughal mausoleum in the city of Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Often described as a “jewel box”, sometimes called the “Bachcha Taj”, the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is often regarded as a draft of the Taj Mahal. Along with the main building, the structure consists of numerous outbuildings and gardens. The tomb, built between 1622 and 1628, represents a transition between the first phase of monumental Mughal architecture – primarily built from red sandstone with marble decorations, as in Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra – to its second phase, based on white marble and pietra dura inlay, most elegantly realized in the Taj Mahal. The mausoleum was commissioned by Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg, originally a Persian Amir in exile, who had been given the title of Itimad-ud-Daulah (pillar of the state). Mirza Ghiyas Beg was also the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal (originally named Arjumand Bano, daughter of Asaf Khan), the wife of the emperor Shah Jahan, responsible for the construction of the Taj Mahal. Nur Jahan was also responsible for the construction of the Tomb of Jahangir in Lahore. It is noticeable for the first use of pietra dura (floral design made up of semiprecious stone) technique.

6. Akbar’s Tomb – The Tomb of the mighty Mughal Emperor Akbar is situated in the outskirts of Agra. The emperor got his tomb monument constructed while he was alive as his final resting place. His son Jahangir finished the complete construction which is totally done with sandstone and white marble. The monument that is found in Sikandra within the suburbs of Agra is built over a region of 119 acres surrounded by lovely gardens designed by the Emperor Akbar. Overseeing the tomb of himself while living is part of the Tartary tradition which Akbar followed for his own tomb. The tomb is toward the rising sun and roughly a kilometer close to his wife’s tomb also in Sikandra.

Other details

Tourism, handicrafts, agriculture and manufacturing make up Agra’s economy. Agra has a thriving small scale industry sector connected to leather goods and iron foundries.

The delicate inlay and carving work in white marble of the Taj Mahal started getting affected by the rising air pollution levels in Agra. In response in year 2000 the Supreme Court mandated that a “safe” zone of 50 kilometres around the monument – or the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) – be free of polluting industry and diesel vehicles. This has had scant impact on the pollution levels in the city in general as Agra ranked 4th most polluted city in 2016. The severe pollution is affecting tourism – both for visibility and health reasons.