K is definitely for the city of joy – Kolkata. It also stands for Kalighat in South Kolkata famous for its Kali temple, the hill station Kalimpong in North Bengal and the area famous for sculpting of clay idols in Kolkata – Kumortuli. Since I have almost reached the end of Murshidabad diaries, the two places of interest that define K for me are Katra Masjid and Kathgola Bagan.
Katra Masjid –
Katra means market and since there was a local market near this mosque, this justifies the name Katra Masjid. It is a mosque and tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. Its importance lies not only as a great centre of Islamic learning but also for the tomb of Murshid Quli Khan, who is buried under the entrance staircase. The most striking feature is the two large corner towers having loopholes for musketry.
The mosque stands on a square plinth. It is built with bricks and surrounded by double storied domed cells. The rooms can accommodate seven hundred Quran readers in total. Four big minars (pillar) stand at the four corners. The two towers or the minarets in front of the mosque are 70 feet high and 25 feet in diameter. The whole mosque is quadrangular in shape, has no pillar support but is supported by a raised platform instead below the mosque. After the earthquake in 1897, the mosque, its dome and two minars have been destroyed.
The entrance to the mosque is by fourteen flight of stairs under which the Nawab has been buried. It is believed that he wanted his burial in such a place where the dust of the visitors would fall on his tomb as a way of seeking repentance for his sins. Born a Hindu Brahmin, Quli Khan was bought by Mughal noble Haji Shafi. Folk lore has it that once the Nawab had known about his Hindu lineage, he had approached the Hindu society seeking acceptance but had been marked as an outcast. Out of vengeance, he had rampaged a lot of Hindu temples. However the present Shiva temple in the premises stand as a testimony to his changed mindset of embracing both the religions in due course.
Kathgola Bagan –
Kathgola Bagan (Garden) is famous for the black roses cultivated in the bygone era. The place has a house called Kathgola Palace– a four-storied palatial palace built by Lakshmipat Singh Dugar. It has an ornamented facade with valuable paintings, mirrors and priceless furniture. There is a statue of Michael Angelo in the garden.
The other notable structures in the garden are –
- Adinath Temple – Also known as Paresh Nath Temple or Kathgola Temple is situated in the Kathgola Gardens. It is a temple dedicated to Bhagawan Adishvar.
- Dadabari – There is also a structure devoted to Dugar’s Dadaguru Jinadutta Suriji Maharaj containing a pair of charans of Guru Maharaj and built at the same time as the main temple.
- Naubatkhana – The main entrance is a regal three-storied intricate limestone molded entrance to the magnificent Gardens.
- Baoli – Also known as a step well, the baoli at Kathgola is a three-storied structure with three levels being below the ground.
- Five ponds – Each was decorated with beautiful Italian Marble fountains
- Bandstand – A raised circular bandstand made of carved Mirzapuri stone adorns the middle of the garden with a Belgian glass house on it. This was also known as the place for mujras and nautch girls.
- Zoo – Exotic animals and birds were housed in the menagerie overlooking the extensive gardens on one side and a pond on the other.
- Zenana Mahal – A two-storied structure built for the ladies of the family, this once had a magnificent facade decorated with beautiful Italian marble, Mirzapuri stone and contained many valuable artefacts.
For details related to travel, stay and food in Murshidabad, please visit my post related to Hazarduari Palace here.
The personal angle –
This is one of the last posts related to Murshidabad Diaries that I had been working on for the last couple of months and has now formed part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge.
Source of info –
- Samrat Hotel site
- Local tourist guides
Stay tuned to know what gets featured tomorrow.