Finally after a long search we decide to stay at Berhampore Lodge, right in front of the town lake. It had a really nice view and the rooms were clean. We showered and had lunch at the hotel restuarant. Tandoori roti and masala egg curry along garden fresh salad and lime soda. After a bit of rest, we decided to take a stroll around town. Berhampur is a very small town centered around a square field. Although it had a rich past with nawabs and kings ruling the roost, but most are in ruins now. Although the rich cultural heritage can still be seen on the grand architecture of most buildings. We went round the square field where there was everything from vendors selling groundnuts to children playing cricket. It was a party for everyone. Amazingly the square field was surrounded by huge trees, by huge i really mean huge, the trunks were about 6-7 feet in diameter. We saw the Circuit house, the District Magistrate's house, the Jail-house and of course the town college which was modelled on Cambridge University with it's huge pillars and archways. We strolled towards the Bhagirathi river which flows just beside the town. It was pretty chilly out there with the river breeze blowing around. The river looked stunning, with the moon light shining bright. After a brief retrospection on your years at college and the trips that we three have been on together, we decided to return back. A evening well spent, i would say. We had dinner and then ended the night with a very long adda that went well into the night.
Day 2: We woke up around 8.30 in the morning. We showered and had breakfast. Our hotel had arranged for a car to take us for a sightseeing trip to Lalbagh were all the Nawab's ruins were. We started off in a white ambassador car. On the way we passed the Bhagirathi bridge, the only bridge which connects the north of West Bengal with it's south counterpart. After half an hour of journey, we reached our first destination, 'Katgola bagan'. Mahimapur is half a km North of the Nasipur Palace. Here, the palace of Jagat Seth and the once famous Pareshnath Temple are now in ruins. Katgola, the palace garden of Raja Dhanpat Singh Dugar and Lakshmipat Singh Dugar and their famous Adinath Temple were built in 1873, by Harreck Chand. The walls of this temple are also intricately designed. A typically Jain style of ornamentation lends a unique beauty to this Jain temple. Though some of its glory has been lost, it still remains a major tourist attraction, chiefly because of the beautiful temple with an admirable work of stucco. There were some really interesting objects inside the palace museum. We were awestruck by the sheer magnitude of the architecture of the palace. The huge pillars from the first floor verandah were so big that it actually had two floors within it. The master bedroom has a bed that is so high and so big that you need to climb three wooden steps to get onto it. Then there was an interesting thing on top of the huge dining table. There was a big mercury ball hanging from the ceiling. We thought it was some kind of a decoration, but later we came to know that it was actually a security feature. Where ever you sit on the table you are able to see all side of the room by looking at the reflection of the ball. If someone tried to intrude or murder the king, the security people would be able to see instantly even if they are standing behind the king. Ingeniuos i should say. Unfortunately we couldn't take a picture inside the palace. The living room was splendid too, with huge chandeliers and decorative sofa sets. The billard room was an interesting feature. It was surprising to see that the kings used to play billards during that time. Next in line was the king's guest house which was absolutely in ruins. The kitchen was so large that it could easily be called a separate house. Then there was a dancing balcony which had belgium glass windows, so that people outside the balcony couldn't see the dance perfomance happening inside for the kings. We took a few pictures and then headed for the next destination.
Next in line was the Nasipur Palace. The Nasipur Palace was built by Kirti Chand, a descendent of Debi Singh. Debi Sing, who settled there from Punjab, was a tax collector in the early days of the East India Company. Within the palace compound is the Ramachandra Temple, one of the largest temples in the district. Adjacent is the palatial temple of Lakshmi-Narayana, famous for its Jhulanjatra celebrations. The main building of the Raj Bari , which is a two storied house with a grand flight of stairs, has an imposing facade. But everything is in shambles now.
We moved on to the Samadhi of Azim Unnasi. A samadhi is a burial ground. Although it was simple cemetry but it was grand in its design.
The biggest attraction of them all was our next destination. Our driver was a pretty cool fellow and knew the place pretty well. He kept on passing us valuable information about the places which we were visiting. The Hazarduari Palace, or the palace with a thousand doors is the chief tourist attraction of Murshidabad. This three-storey palace was built in 1837 by Duncan McLeod for the Nawab Najim Humaun Jah, descendent of Mir Zafar. It has thousand doors (among which only 900 are real) and 114 rooms and 8 galleries, built in European architectural style. The total area of Hazarduari Palace is 41 acres. It is now a museum and has an exquisite collection of armoury, splendid paintings, exhaustive portraits of the Nawabs, various works of art including beautiful works of ivory (Murshidabad school) of China (European) and many other valuables. The Armoury has 2700 arms in its collections of which only few are displayed. Swords used by Shiraj-ud-Daulla and his grandfather, Nawab Alivardi Khan, can be seen here. The other attractions in this floor are Vintage Cars and Fittan Cars used by the Nawabs and their families. The library containing rare collections is not accessible to the public unless special permission is obtained. The Palace was used for holding the "Durbar" or meetings and other official work of the Nawabs and also as the residence of the high ranking British Officials. Between the palace and the Imambara is a small mosque, ‘Madina’, with colourful tiled verandahs. The Mosque has an ornamented replica of Hazrat Muhammad's tomb at Madina. Around the palace are other attractions like the Wasef Manzil (the New Palace) by the bank of the Ganga, Tripolia Gate, the Dakshin Darwaza, the Chak Darwaza, the Imambara, the Gharighar (the Clock Tower), the Bachchawali Tope (a canon) and the Madina, the only surviving structure built by Siraj-ud-Doula.
The Bachchawali Tope (canon) was made between the 12th and the 14th century, probably by the Mohammedan rulers of Gour, and requires about 18 Kg of gun powder for a single shelling.
We were pretty hungry by then, and decided to have lunch at a roadside resturant. Luckily mayukh had brought his digital camera along and we had taken a few good pics. We moved onto the Katra Mosque. Katra Mosque is about one and a half km from Murshidabad Railway Station on the Berhampore-Lalgola Road. This imposing structure was built by Nawab Murshid Quli Khan in 1723-24 and it remains one of the most important tourist attractions. The gorgeous building with its huge domes and high minarets has a simple cemetery of the Nawab below the front staircase.
Jahan Kosha, a huge cannon, is about 1 km of Katra. It was built in the early 17th century by craftsman Janardan Karmakar of Dhaka. Kadam Sarif is a beautiful mosque near Jahan Kosha said to contain a replica of the footprint of Hazrat Mohammad, the prophet. The canon is 17.5 ft long and weighs 16,880 lb., with a girth of 5 feet at the touch hole end. The diameter of the touch hole is one and a half inches, and that of the orifice is 6 inches.
Last in line was Motijheel which is about one km South of Lalbagh. This beautiful horseshoe shaped lake was excavated by Nawazesh Mohammad, the husband of the famous Ghasseti Begum. In the palace adjoining it (now in ruins) Lord Clive celebrated the acquisition of the Dewani of Sube Bangla (Bengal, Bihar & Orissa) in 1765. Moti Jheel was the home of Warren Hastings when he became the Political President at the Durbar of the Nawab Nazim ( 1771 - 73 AD ). Sir John Shore, afterwards Lord Teinmouth, also lived here. Moti Jheel is also known as the "Company Bagh", due to the fact of it having been in the occupation of the East India Company. The only old building existing is the Mosque of Shahamat Jang. To the east of Nawajesh Muhammad's mosque, is a small enclosure within which are four tombs and to the east of which and outside it is one tomb. Here lies the mortal remains of Shahamat Jang alias Nawajesh Muhammad, Ekram-ud-Doula the younger brother of Siraj-ud-Doula, Ekram-ud-Doula's Tutor, Shumsheree Ali Khan the General of Nawajesh Muhammad, and the Nurse of Ekram-ud-Doula.
It was getting dark so we decided to return back to our hotel. The return journey would take about half an hour. I had to admit, we had a fantastic day. Looking at our states history, i was feeling pretty nostalgic. We returned back to our hotel, had our dinner, chatted for few hours and finally called it a day. We were dead tired and fell asleep immediately.
Day 3:It was our final few hours at Murshidabad. We showered and got ready. By the time everyone had packed, it was already 11.30. We paid our balances and checked out of the hotel. We strolled around the town for a bit and then had our lunch. Boiled rice along with super fried fishes and vegetables. Then we reached the bus depot and got on a bus which was leaving for Kolkata. It was a pretty boring journey and we finally reached our home around 8 in the night. Although it was a short trip but it was fantastic on my account. I would love to visit Murshidabad again.........