A dollop of Bengal – Hazarduari palace

H could have been the magnificent Howrah Bridge that has almost become synonymous with Kolkata , Hilsa – the favorite fish of Bengalis , Hogg market  – the vintage market in Kolkata and Hooghly district – famous for Bandel church, Tarakeshwar temple, Hooghly Imambara and Chandannagore town which is renowned for lighting during Jagadhhatri puja. But my pick for the day is another iconic structure Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad.

Hazarduari  Palace –

Hazarduari Palace
Hazarduari Palace – view from the front

Murshidabad is known for its historical lineage and Hazarduari Palace is the one of the most significant historical and famous tourist spots in the state. It was built by architect Duncan McLeod during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah of who had Bengal, Bihar and Orissa under his power. It is located in the campus known as Kila Nizamat or Nizamat Kila that also houses Nizamat Imambara, Clock Tower, Madina Mosque, Chawk Masjid, Bacchawali Tope, the Shia Complex, Wasif Manzil, the two Zurud Mosques and the Nawab Bahadur’s Institution surrounding it.

Lion on the left side of Hazarduari Palace
The Victorian lion on the left side of the stairs

Hazarduari means the one with a 1000 doors. Out of these thousand doors, one hundred are false doors. If any person had ill-intentions that they managed to pull off successfully, the concept was to prevent him from escaping by creating confusion between the real and false doors. The palace has a grand flight of thirty-seven steps of stone out of which the lowermost step is 108 feet long . It is supported by seven huge pillars. On either side of the staircase, two statues of masonry Victorian lions are situated in sitting posture. The palace was the designated place for holding durbar and conducting meetings with the Britishers.

The palace is now converted to a museum displaying paintings, furniture, cutlery items and other antique pieces like the mirror where one can see the image of people standing on either side but not their own. This mirror had been kept in the durbar hall for the Nawab to keep an eye on his people and their activities. The durbar hall has a silver chandelier hanging from the ceiling that is believed to be a gift from Queen Victoria and is the second largest in the world. The main gates have Naubat Khanas (musicians’ galleries) over them and are so large that it is believed that an elephant with howdah could pass through it easily and comfortably.

Lion on the right side of Hazarduari Palace
The Victorian lion on the right side of the stairs

The Bacchawali Tope (canon) was brought to the city by Murshid Quli Khan. It was believed that the canon, when fired created such decibel of noise that pregnant women were forced to give birth on the spot.

Bachchawali Tope.jpg
Bachchawali Tope

The Clock Tower or Ghari Ghar was believed to have four clocks (only one exists now) with a sounding bell adorning the top.  The tower was designed by Sagore Mistri – the native assistant of Colonel Duncan MacLeod.

The clock house at Hazarduari Palace
Clock Tower

Travel

Murshidabad is accessible from South and North Bengal by train and bus alike. Murshidabad railway station is located in Lalbagh, Murshidabad.

Stay and food

While the city has come up with few decent options for stay, my recommendation would be to get down at Berhampore and take up lodging at any of the decent hotels. Berhampore to Murshidabad is barely a thirty minutes journey by car although multiple other options of transport like autos, trekker jeeps, buses and trains are also available at frequent intervals.  Two days will be sufficient to complete Murshidabad sightseeing.

Canon infront of Hazarduari Palace
A lopsided view of the palace and canon

Tourist Guide 

Hazarduari palace has a strict policy of no camera. Just beside the ticket counter, there is a provision of handing over cameras and mobile phones for Rs.50. Registered tourist guides are available at a price of Rs  100 – 150. However they are not permitted to get inside the palace. They guide the tourist about the history and take them along for a guided tour of the palace from outside but one is left to fend for himself inside the premises.

Local Market

Just outside the palace there is a market selling local toys like wooden horses and decorative items like miniature swords. Local snacks are also available at the stalls of street vendors. Walking down the market is quite an experience in gaining insight into the bygone era.

Best time to visit:

The best time for visiting Murshidabad is during the winter season. November to January is considered as the peak months.

Side view of Hazarduari Palace
View from one of the entrance gates

Note –

The source of information related to the history of Hazarduari Palace is as follows –

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Nawabi Amol – Nirmal Sarkar (Bengali book)
  3. Murshidabad Parichiti – Suprabha Chakraborty (Bengali book)
  4. Tourist guide at Palace

The personal angle –

The first place that I had ever visited for sightseeing was Murshidabad. As a child I was mesmerized by the grand essence of the Hazarduari Palace . As I grew up, I realized that history was really not my area of interest. Yet I couldn’t resist visiting the place during most of my visits back home. However it wasn’t until this January that I decided to do a full-fledged series on Murshidabad as a tourist destination. I spent three weekends collecting information, clicking pictures and doing research. BlogchatterA2Z challenge gave me the perfect forum to begin Murshidabad Diaries and there couldn’t have been a better start to it than introducing Hazarduari Palace today.

Enjoy this historic ride until we meet again tomorrow with a new topic.

Author: Sonia Chatterjee Banerjee

Who am I? Ex-Banker turned Blogger/Writer/Solopreneur. Any qualifications? A Post graduate degree in Chemistry followed by Post Graduate Diploma in Management. I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots to what I do presently. Have I done any real work? If two years in Market Research and six years in Banking (three different Banks though) as Branch Head can be considered as real work. Where do I live? After a nomadic sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Food, travel, books and my two and half year old toddler son What is this blog about ? Sonia's musings is an attempt to channelize emotions through words and pictures hoping they touch a chord with my visitors.

31 thoughts on “A dollop of Bengal – Hazarduari palace”

      1. Sayanti, the FB link for my profile is updated in the blog as a social link. You can connect with me there. Also keep a watch on the posts related to the challenge for the next couple of days. You might find some relevant info.

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  1. Superb post Sonia.. You have showcased the essence of the Hazarduari palace in eloquent yet lucid description. The accompanying pictures give us a sense of the magnanimity of the palace and its grounds. Enjoyed the read, or should I say virtual travel to the Hazarduari!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sonia, I will forgive you for not enlightening me about the Howrah bridge. The Hazuarduari place sounds far more interesting. I loved the pictures of those two sitting lions. And I would definitely like to have a look at that magical mirror. The duars or the 100o doors with 100 false ones among them is also very interesting. There are numerous bridges in this world but a palace of this magnificence and grandeur is rare. Wonderful article.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice. I did not know of this place. Sounds very diabolical. Whenever someone mentions howrah bridge though I am reminded of a rhyme from shohoj path

    howrah r bridge ek mosto se biche,
    harrison road chole tar piche piche

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great knowing about Hazarduari Palace. I often wonder how our ancestors made these magical palaces that are still a mystery to us. We assume ourselves more advanced in terms of technology but these monuments and grand palaces made me defer. Kudos to your photography.

    Liked by 1 person

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