There are events which change rulers, which change lives of people. And then here are events which change the course of a nation's history. There are places which are loud on every page of our history books. Then there are places which remain silent witnesses of the stories of treachery, of greed, of shame and survive ages. The Battle of Plassey is one such event and Murshidabad is one such place. I am no expert in history but I sure am intrigued what made us the nation we are now.
NH-34 is a highway only by its name. But the company of Kushanava, Debsathi, Sugata and Mousumi made the bumps and pits a little more bearable. Reaching the hotel at 1am is no walk (drive) in the park. But once there, the crew instantly chose to take a power nap for the day ahead.
Initially a guide-less roaming was proving to be irritating, but when we finally got a professional guide with us, the not-to-scale map printed on the back of our hotel's menu card found a place somewhere which no one remembered after that. First in our list was MOTIJHEEL and KALA MASJID.
There is an intriguing story about a hidden treasure in this mosque's premises. It is said that once a British officer discovered that there is a treasure locked up in an entry-exitless compartment inside the thick boundary wall of this mosque. He tried and cannon out the treasure one day but failed to reach the required depth inside that brick wall. On the very next morning, he died of spitting blood. I don't know how much true is the 'story' but we all saw that two century old cannon hole in the wall. It is still untouched.
And where there is a Nawab, the business of luxury finds its way in spite of all odds. Four brothers from far away Rajasthan came down to Bengal to trade the exotic scent of the Kath Golap, the wooden rose.
Within the boundary of their palace, there is a temple called PARESH NATH TEMPLE which houses an idol of Paresh Nath, the first disciple of the fouder of Jainism - Mahavir Jain.
Under strict orders, I had to take out my shoes and cameras were not allowed inside, so I didn't go inside the temple. Kush, Sugata, Debsathi and Mousumi went in and later described it to me. Standing outside, me and our guide- Mr. Sorkar had a little views exchange on the state of tourism of the town and the maintenance of the remnants. He told me that the tourism ministry is not totally ignoring the spots, but is surely capable doing its job better.
Next stop was NASHIPUR PALACE. Initially the place seemed to belong to a philanthropic zamindaar.
No need to use one's imagination on what happens when a merciless dacoit is made the revenue collector of the zone. (what was the Nawab thinking?!). By misappropriating the state taxes, he had build a huge palace for himself. The taxes were collected by inhuman means too. The defaulters were brought to the palace and were locked up in a dark cellar, only to be executed by hanging on a pre-fixed date in the Phansi Ghar (the Hanging Room) of the palace. Our guide even showed us the gargoyle through which the blood used to flow out to the outer sewer during the annual sacrifice ceremony, human sacrifice.
This seemed truly funny. All your life, you do all the evils one is mortally capable of for your very own greed and at the end, make an array of temples or get under the staircase to nullify them. How easy!
From end to end, all the tourist places are in a span of less than 7 km in the area of Lalbagh. A song of normal length (played in the car's deck) was stretching for two to three spots. At 2 in the afternoon, we stopped to have lunch. And there was no surprise that when Kushanava, Sugata and Pronabesh are having food together, the stipulated budget is at least exceeded. The day had roasted the right side of my face and made a tandoori of the left side. But still, we had the biggest attraction Murshidabad left. Under that weirdly cloudy sky and the strength-confused sun rays, we reached the HAZARDUARI.
Just opposite to this palace is the Ghadi Minar or the Clock Tower and the BADA IMAMBADA, India's longest Imambara till date.
While walking towards the Bhagirathi (the Ganges) flowing by the boundary of this area, a complete rainbow (not in this picture) in the midst of the dark clouds and the bright sun did a good job in giving us a complementary thing to see. And nothing suits your walk better than a little bit of nostalgia.
Looking at the century old design of the horse pulled carts, a seat on the edge of that fishing vessel parked in the water, missing a few people on the trip, missing a few people in general in the setting where history is scattered all over the place. Yes, without a tired body you cannot appreciate these things. Guess, everything has an advantage.
The evening at the hotel was high on stories of supernatural (gods and ungods were equally present). And the worst effect of this was on Mousumi (she found it hard to fall asleep before 5 in the morning) and me (I, after a long time, was talking in my sleep). A jackpot sleep was reported by Sugata. Kushanava was anyway eager to fall asleep before dinner but once he finally did (after dinner and with a bad throat), he was reported to play football in his sleep.
Anyway, next morning we had only one place to touch - the KHUSHBAGH, the tomb of the famous Siraj-ud Daula. After assassinating him at Namak Haraam Dewri, his body was cut into six pieces and was taken around the city of Murshidabad for display.
My personal take on a place like Murshidabad is - Lesser such places on earth, the better.
Nevertheless, I had a fantastic weekend and wish to see more of my land :-)
Till next time,