Murshidabad was a prosperous city.

It was the capital of the Bengal Subah in the Mughal Empire for seventy years

Murshidabad was a prosperous city.

It was the capital of the Bengal Subah in the Mughal Empire for seventy years

During the 18th century, Murshidabad was a prosperous city. It was the capital of the Bengal Subah in the Mughal Empire for seventy years, with a jurisdiction covering modern-day Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It was the seat of the hereditary Nawab of Bengal and the state’s treasury, revenue office and judiciary. Bengal was the richest Mughal province. Murshidabad was a cosmopolitan city. Its population peaked at 10,000 in the 1750s. It was home to wealthy banking and merchant families from different parts of the Indian subcontinent and wider Eurasia, including the Jagat Seth and Armenians.European companies, including the British East India Company, the French East India Company, the Dutch East India Company and the Danish East India Company, conducted business and operated factories around the city. Silk was a major product of Murshidabad. The city was also a center of art and culture, including ivory sculptors, Hindustani classical music and the Murshidabad style of Mughal painting.

The city’s decline began with the defeat of the last independent Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-Daulah at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The Nawab was demoted to the status of a zamindar known as the Nawab of Murshidabad. The British shifted the treasury, courts and revenue office to Calcutta. In the 19th century, the population was estimated to be 46,000. Murshidabad became a district headquarters of the Bengal Presidency. It was declared as a municipality in 1869.

Murshidabad was named after its founder, Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. Murshid is an Arabic term for a teacher or guide with integrity, sensibility, and maturity. The suffix -abad is derived from the Persian word abad, which referred to a cultivated place.

Hazarduari Palace and its associated sites in the Kila Nizamat area (forming the central area in the map alongside) is the centre of attraction in Murshidabad. Just a little away are Katra Masjid, Fauti Mosque, Jama Masjid and the Motijhil area. There is a group of attractions in the northern part of the town (as can be seen in the map alongside). Some attractions such as Khushbagh, Rosnaiganj, Baranagar, Kiriteswari Temple, Karnasuvarna and others are on the other side of the river and there are attractions in the neighbouring Berhampore area also (not shown in the map).

Note: The map alongside presents some of the notable locations in Murshidabad city. Most of the places marked in the map are linked in the larger full screen map. A few, without pages yet, remain unmarked. The map has a scale. It will help viewers to find out the distances.

History Of Murshidabad

During the 17th-century, the area was well known for sericulture. In 1621, English agents reported that large quantities of silk were available in the area. During the 1660s, it became a pargana of the Mughal administration, with jurisdiction over European companies in Cossimbazar.

In the early 18th-century, Murshid Quli Khan, the prime minister of Bengal Subah, had a bitter rivalry with Prince Azim-ush-Shan, the viceroy of Bengal. The latter even attempted to have Khan killed. The Mughal court in Delhi was also rapidly losing authority in much of the subcontinent. Amid the decline of the central government, the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar promoted Khan to the status of a princely Nawab. As Nawab, Khan was given the opportunity to create a princely dynasty as part of the Mughal aristocracy.Murshid Quli Khan shifted the capital of Bengal from Dhaka, which lost its strategic importance after the expulsion of the Arakanese and Portuguese from Chittagong. He founded the city of Murshidabad and named the city after himself. It became the center of political, economic and cultural life in Bengal. The jurisdiction of the Nawab included not only Bengal, but also Bihar and Orissa. Murshidabad was also located centrally in the expanded jurisdiction of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

The Nawabs of Bengal entered into agreements with numerous European trading companies allowing them to establish bases in the region. The French East India Company operated factories in Murshidabad and Dhaka. The British East India Company was based in Fort William. Murshidabad was a part of the Dutch Bengal Department. The Ostend Company of Austria established a base near Murshidabad. The Danish East India Company also set up trading posts in the Bengal Subah.

The last independent Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah was overthrown in 1757. Despite receiving assurances of French support, the Nawab was betrayed by his commander Mir Jafar. The British installed Mir Jafar’s family as a puppet dynasty and eventually reduced the Nawab to the status of a landlord (zamindar). The British continued to collect revenue from the area’s factories. The merchant families continued to prosper under company rule in India. In 1858, the British government gained direct control of India’s administration.