Hazarduari Palace’ is an architectural masterpiece and a vivid example of the Islamic rule of Bengal. However, this leading masonry of Bengal was set up on a gloomy backdrop. An antiquate fort named ‘Nizamat Kila’ or ‘Kila Nizamat'(Nizamat Fort) was torn down to build this magnificent building. Our beloved historical architecture, ‘Hazarduari Palace’, had an embryonic name ‘Bara Kothi’. ‘Hazarduari Palace’, a grandeur architectural pattern, justifies its operable name with thousand doors of 100 were real and the rest 900 which were fakes to protect the Nawabs from the intruders or depredators from the outside.
Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa(1824-1838) laid the foundation in Murshidabad of Indian Union territory, West Bengal, in August 1829. The architectural charges were given to Duncan MacLeod of ‘the Bengal Corps of Engineers’ by the then Governor-General, William Cavendish. The foundation of the construction was laid first ritually by the Nawab himself.
There is an interesting story behind this foundation ceremony. The foundation was so deep that the Nawab had to assist a ladder to descend to the bottom. Curious people gathered to witness the foundation ceremony, but Nawab fainted due to the sheer number of people and noise. The foundation stone was laid after Nawab was brought up. The final architectural touch of this renowned erection came to an end in December of the year 1837.
Hazarduari Palace is encircled with some other constructions like ‘the Nizamat Imambara'(a Muslim congregation hall), ‘Murshidabad Clock Tower’, ‘Madina Mosque’, ‘Chawk Masjid’, ‘Bacchawali Tope'(cannon), ‘the Shia Complex’, ‘Wasif Manzil’, the two ‘Zurud Mosques’ and ‘Nizamat College’.
The ‘Hazarduari Palace’ has kept its distance from the river Bhagirathi by 40 feet. It is a construction of three storeys enriched with Indo European(Greek & Italian) architectural styles. The palace is ornamented with a couple of entrances with different names, such as Dakshin Darwaza, Chawk and Imambara. The main gates are adorned with ‘Naubat Khana'(musician galleries) over them. Each of these gates is large and high enough for an elephant to pass with riders on its back.
There are 114 rooms in this building, and each of them is spacious and decorated with many old pieces of furniture. It is a building of 424feet long, 200feet broad and 80 feet high. A massive flight of stairs(probably the biggest in India) right in the front of this palace has kept the claim of pride for their unique constructional styles. Thirty-seven steps of stone comprise the total flight of stairs. The lowermost one is 108feet long, leading to the uppermost, i.e. to the verandah of the palace. At the base of the stairs, a lion of stone is seated in a posture to welcome the tourists.
This palace also houses a ‘Durbar Hall'(a spacious place for official or royal meetings). The official work between the Nawabs and the Britishers used to take place in this hall. This massive place was also used as the residence for the high ranking British Officials whenever they visited the Nawabs. At present, this unique place is converted into a fascinating museum that lays down the throne of the Nawabs, flower vases, and huge marble candle stands. The ‘Durbar Hall’ houses the furniture used by the Nawabs. There is also a chandelier hung from the ceiling snd it is the second-largest chandelier in the world next to the one in Buckingham Palace.
The chandelier was lit by 1001 candles in those days, whereas 96 electric bulbs at present. Along with all these, the Durbar Hall has enriched its interior with two pairs of mirrors placed at an angle of 90 degrees. These mirrors are profoundly remarkable for their specialities. One cannot see his/her face, but others can see. The Nawabs used these unique mirrors to keep themselves safe from their enemies.
Since the ‘Hazarduari Palace’ is an amalgamation of three storeys, every floor is an amassment with many ancient remains. The ground floor contains Toshakhana, armoury, offices and record rooms, the office of the Chief Archaeologist, the arsenal has 2700 arms in its collections, of which only a few are exhibited. The tourists are warmly allowed to see the swords used by Siraj-Ud-Daulla and his grandfather, Nawab Alivardi Khan.
In addition, Vintage Cars and Fittan Cars are appended to this prolonged list for visitors who are eager to taste archaeological objects.
Next, the first floor has harbours a few magnificent halls. Durbar Hall, Banqueting Hall(Nawbab’s breakfast room), Drawingroom, Sittingroom and Billiardrooms have listed themselves atop.
Lastly, the second floor has been well dressed with a Ballroom, Library, Committee room, Portrait gallery. The gallery is adorned with paintings of Dutch, Flemish, French, English and Italian artists, the rare ceramic utensils, howdahs and a renowned ivory palanquin used by Zebunissa, the daughter of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb(houses in gallery number 3).
The library has been enriched with more than three thousand manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, almost twelve thousand books in English, Arabic, and Persian. The whole British Constitution is available here, a colossal Album of about 4feet in length, about 3feet in width and weight about 20kg, the Islamic scripture— the Holy Quran written in hand by the famous writer of Bagdad, Haroon-Al-Rashid. Besides these, the most worthy gatherings housed in the library are the original copy of Ain-E-Akbari and Akbarnama written by Abul Fazl(court poet of great Mughal Emperor, Akbar) and a Holy Quran written by Aurangzeb(Mughal Emperor). So many historical letters, maps etc., are also in this library.
The palace comprises many artistic treasures, costumes, and expensive jewellery and two carriages exhibited at the verandah entrance, of which one is a camel carriage. The other is a Victorian carriage used by the Nawabs. Among these, the fascinating ancient remains have been lent to the Kolkata Victoria Memorial.
The Hazarduari Palace charges an entry fee of Rs.10 for Indians and the citizens from ‘SAARC’ member countries, Rs.100(£1) for International visitors. Free for children under 15 years of age. This historical destination of Bengal remains closed on ‘Friday’ of every week. In contrast, it opens its door for the visitors at 9:00 a.m. and closes for the day at 5:00 p.m. every working day.
Tourists will have to aim at their planning to set off for ‘Hazarduari Palace’ between October to March to make their journey comfortable and have the lovely weather there.
Some important tips and regulations to be followed by the visitors are as follows:
(1) Parking space is available.
(2) Carry sufficient water.
(3) Photography is strictly prohibited here. So, any electronic devices should not be carried by the visitors to the palace campus.
There are many registered and unregistered guides, but tourists need not avail them because the authority well directs 20 galleries.
Visitors have two modes of carriages to be at Hazarduari Palace. The first option is to avail the railway and the another is bus or car. There are numerous trains available from both Sealdah and Kolkata railway stations. Some of them are as follows:
(1) HAZARDUARI EXPRESS- 13113(KOAA to LGL) | Days: Every day of the week | Distance: 181kms | Departure Time: 06:50
(2) KOLKATA LALGOLA SPECIAL- 03117(KOAA to LGL) | Days: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday | Departure Time: 16:10
(3) SEALDAH LALGOLA SPECIAL- 03127(SDAH to LGL) |Days: Every day of the week | Departure Time: 15:40
(4) BHAGIRATHI EXPRESS- 13103(KOAA to LGL) | Days: Every day of the week | Departure Time: 06:50
(5) SEALDAH LALGOLA PGR- 53175(SDAH to LGL) | Days: Every day of the week | Departure Time: 12:40
(6) LALGOLA PASSENGER- 53181(SDAH to LGL) | Days: Every day of the week | Departure Time: 23:40
By train, the tourists have to complete their journey at Murshidabad Railway Station.
It costs Rs 130 to Rs 150 per head to cover this distance. Tourists can enjoy scenic beauties of paddy, jute fields, variety of birds around the railway during their train journey. Tourists can avail a taxi for an amount of RS. 3,400 to Rs. 4,100 as it’s fair to cover the distance of 204.7kms from Kolkata to Hazarduari Palace. Numerous buses cover the distance of 193.20kms from Esplanade(Kolkata) to Behrampur(Murshidabad). Fairs of those buses are different to each other. Such as:
Bus Operator. Depart Time
Aradhana Travels. 9:30 p.m. | Manorama Travels. 8:30 p.m. | Kundu Travels. 6:00p.m. Rs. 315 | New Dolphin Travels 5:30p.m. | Renuka Travels. 9:30p.m. Rs.380
Many AC buses operate between Kolkata to Behrampur, and fairs are more than the Non AC buses. Tourists can book ‘Kolkata to Behrampur’ bus tickets online at ‘Yatra.com’. It takes the minimum travel time from Kolkata to Behrampur for 5hrs 15minutes.
From Murshidabad Railway Station or Behrampur Bus Stoppage ‘Hazarduari Palace’ is not so distant. So, tourists can get Toto or an auto from there.
Several restaurants are there for having veg or non-veg food at an average cost of Rs. 120 to Rs. 150. Apart from that, if the tourists intend to stay a night, there are many residential hotels around the palace. Some of them are as follows:
(1) SPOT-ON 64919 NEW HEAVEN(Rs.667/night) Add Lalbagh, Station Road, Murshidabad.
(2) HOTEL SAMRAT(Rs.1,140/night) Add: NH-34 Road, Panchanantala, Behrampur.
(3) COSSIMBAZAR PALACE of THE ROYS(RAJBARI)(Rs. 10,000/night) Add: 12, Cossimbazar Road, Cossimbazar
(4) HOTEL NANDINI(Rs. 950/night) Add Keshabnagar, Near Passport Office, Behrampur, Murshidabad and so on like these.
We, the History enthusiasts, tourists, eagerly intend to be there repeatedly to enrich our historical knowledge. We pray to the Almighty for the comprehensive prosperity of this historical palace day by day and the economic improvement of the locals. Along with these, our heartiest appeal to the local administration to keep law and order properly to attract more and more tourists for upcoming years.
RS 100 = £1 (Varies)
Image Courtesy: Debaditya