MURSHIDABAD, the last capital city of independent Bengal was named after Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, the Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It is situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi. A city of splendors & famous for its silk, was made capital of Bengal in 1717. The British shifted the capital to Kolkata in 1773. Plassey, where the historic battle was fought in 1757 between Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daula and lord Clive, of East India Company, is only 40 Km. South of Murshidabad.
History of Murshidabad
Murshidabad was a town and district of British India in the presidency division of Bengal. It acquired its name in 1704 when Nawab Murshid Quli Jafar Khan changed the seat of government from Dhaka to Maksudabad, and named the latter after himself. In 1716, he attained the title of Nawab (ruler) of the Subah (province) of Bengal, and Murshidabad became his capital. It continued to be the capital under a succession of Nawabs, and also under the British until 1790. It was constituted as a municipality in 1869, which remains to the present day. The city of Murshidabad was the last capital of Bengal before the advent of the British era. Even after the British conquest, Murshidabad remained for some time the administrative headquarters. Even though the criminal and supreme court was shifted from Murshidabad to Kolkata initially, the criminal courts were brought back to Murshidabad in 1775.The town continues to be the residence of the Nawab, who ranks as the first nobleman of the province with the style of Nawab Bahadur of Murshidabad, instead of Nawab Nazim of Bengal. The city still bears memories of Nawabs with other palaces, mosques, tombs, and gardens, and retains such industries as carving in ivory, gold and silver embroidery, and silk-weaving. An educational institution is named after the Nawab family.
The Hazarduari Palace, or the palace with a thousand doors is the chief tourist attraction of Murshidabad. This three-storey palace was built in 1837 by Duncan McLeod for the Nawab Najim Humaun Jah, descendent of Mir Zafar. It has thousand doors (among which only 900 are real) and 114 rooms and 8 galleries, built in European architectural style. The total area of Hazarduari Palace is 41 acres. It is now a museum and has an exquisite collection of armoury, splendid paintings, exhaustive portraits of the Nawabs, various works of art including beautiful works of ivory (Murshidabad school) of China (European) and many other valuables. The Armoury has 2700 arms in its collections of which only few are displayed. Swords used by Shiraj-ud-Daulla and his grandfather, Nawab Alivardi Khan, can be seen here. The other attractions in this floor are Vintage Cars and Fittan Cars used by the Nawabs and their families.