Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022

Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022

Heritage of Murshidabad, Cossimbazar, Jiaganj and Azimganj

Also see: Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022

The Murshidabad Heritage Festival is an initiative of Murshidabad Heritage Development Society (MHDS). MHDS was founded in 2010 by the Sheherwali community of Jiaganj and Azimganj with an objective of reviving the tangible and intangible heritage in Azimganj and Jiaganj in particular, and Murshidabad in general.

Participants of Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022 at Nasipur Rajbari

Participants of Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022 at Nasipur Rajbari

MDHS plans to bring back Murshidabad in the tourism, cultural and heritage map of India. This lead to the formation of Murshidabad Heritage Festival first edition of which was celebrated in 2011.

Brochure of Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022

Brochure of Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022

In 2017 December the second edition of the festival coincided with the Silk River Festival.

It was celebrated to commemorate the 70th Indian independence it explored the unique relationship between London and Kolkata through artistic exchange between communities along England’s Thames Estuary and India’s Hooghly River.

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In 2022 because of the fourth wave of Covid 19 the Murshidabad Heritage Festival got postponed by two months and was finally held on 11 – 13 March.

The three day long festival showcased the art and splendor of Murshidabad and it’s surrounding region.

The festival focused on explored the tangible and intangible heritage through heritage walks, cultural shows and local cuisines. The aim of the festival was to take the participants in a journey back in time when Murshidabad was a flourishing business centre and contributed a significant part of the world economy.

Day 1 (11 March 2022)

The trip started from the Lee Road and AJC Bose crossing at 7 am. It was a road trip with packed veg breakfast (the food served on the entire trip is vegetarian). The journey took 6 hours and the road conditions were fairly good.

Since there was a large number of participants for the Murshidabad Heritage Festival the MDHS decided to break the group in two parts. The first part was housed in Bari Kothi, Azimganj and the second group was housed in Cossim Bazar Palace of the Roys. I was part of the second group.

Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys

Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys is a heritage property which have recently been developed into a heritage hotel. After check-in and refreshing up we headed for Bari Kothi in Azimganj for your lunch. Our car travelled to the crowded meandering streets of Moti Jheel, Murshidabad and finally Jiaganj, from where we took a ferry to the Bari Kothi.

Panoramic view of the Bari Kothi, Azimganj

Panoramic view of the Bari Kothi, Azimganj

We were back in Bari Kothi after almost two and half years and it rekindled sweet memories from our past stay. It was November 2019 and we spent three days in this amazing propert exploring Murshidabad and beyond.

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Awadhi Veg Lunch at Bari Kothi

Awadhi Veg Lunch at Bari Kothi

The lunch was a Awadhi affair, but as told earlier it was totally veg consisting of Paneer Tika and mochar chop.

The meal ended on an exotic sweet note with gajar ki halawa and Sahi Tukda to finish off the meal.

After a heavy filling meal it was time to hit the road, rather water again. The ferry brought us back to Jiaganj, from where he headed on a car to explore the northern regions of Murshidabad.

Our first stop was the House of Jagat Seth, the banker known for its enormous wealth. His house has been restored and converted into a museum. The complex also houses a Jain Temple dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankar Parshanath.

Jagat Seth’s House and Nasipur Palace

Our next stop was the Nasipur Rajbari. It looks like a scale down version of the Hazarduari, the most well-known landmark of Murshidabad. This too has also been converted into a museum.

Panoramic view of Katra Masjid, Murshidabad

Panoramic view of Katra Masjid, Murshidabad

Our Murshidabad exploration continued with a visit to the Katra Masjid, one of the oldest standing structure of Murshidabad. It was built by Murshid Quli Khan in 1723 and it also house his mortal remains.

Moti Jheel, Murshidabad

Moti Jheel, Murshidabad

After a visit to the two palaces it was time to hit the road again. Travelling through the crowded roads of Murshidabad we finally made it to Moti Jheel. Literally meaning the pearl lake, Moti Jheel is a ox-bow lake located southern part of Murshidabad.

Saree weaving at Moti Jheel

Saree weaving at Moti Jheel

The area once served as the location of the palatial residence of Nawab of Bengal. It was built by Nawazish Muhammad Khan son-in-law of Alivardi Khan.

After the Battle of Plasy in 1757 it served as the residence of British officials and came to be known as Company Bag.

Sadly today, apart from a medieval mosque, nothing remains of Moti Jheel’s history. Toady it has converted into a modern park complete with boating felicities and amphitheatre.

During the Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022, Moti Jheel served as the venue for the craft bazar. A two day temporary market showcasing artwork from local artisans.

Moti Jheel Crafts Bazzar

A weaver weaving a Murshidabadi silk saree on a loom welcomed visitors into the crafts bazar. Several shops displayed stone carved statues, models made of wood, silk sarees, shola art, dokra artifacts and many more.

Bhatiali Song, Moti Jheel

Bhatiali Song, Moti Jheel

The visit to the carfts bazar was followed tea at Moti Jheel, which was again followed by a cultural programme.

The cultural programme started with Bhatiali Song, song of the river, by a local group.

It was followed by the star attraction of the day Raibenshe Dance, a genre of Indian folk martial dance traditionally performed by male only.

The name originates from bansh, a long bamboo pole, which is an integral part of the dance. The dancers forms pyramids by climbing over each other’s shoulders. They also perform acrobatics atop long bamboo poles and ladders.

Raibenshe Dance

The cultural programme ended with a baul performance by a local group. It was finally followed by a dinner served at Moti Jheel.

Dinner at Moti Jheel

Dinner was an elaborated affair serving several courses including kela ka tikki, khatta ke pakori, goba roti, miao dal, masala gobi, alu dam, bora akra, kela akra dabdabba, gatta palau. It ended on a sweet note with bore ki bundi and Narial Barfi.

Day 2 (12 March 2022)

After a sound night sleep at the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys our second day started with a personal tour of Cossiam Bazar, which was not part of the Murshidabad Heritage Festival.

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The tour was followed by a breakfast at the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys, which served eggs and that was our only non-veg of the entire tour. After breakfast, we followed the same land and water route to reach Bari Kothi in Azimganj.

Temple Tour of Boro Nagar

But this time instead of getting down at Bari Kothi we were joined by the participants from Bari Kothi and we continued further up the Bhagirati River to Boro Nagar, known for its temple with terracotta and stucco ornamentation.

Sambhavnathji Jain Temple, Azimganj

Sambhavnathji Jain Temple, Azimganj

The temple tour of Boronagar included a visit to the Char Bangla Temple, a temple comple consisting of four temples built in the form of thached bengal style huts. Three of the temples have elaborate terracotta ornamentation while the fourth has extensive stucco work.

Idol of Sambhavnath

Idol of Sambhavnath

Next stop was the Bhavaniswar Temple, an octagonal templetopped with a lotus shaped dome. It has elaborate stucco ornamentation.

The temple tour continued on a toto to the Gangeswar Temple, a joraa bangla styled temple with intricate terracotta ornamentation.

It was time to head south towards Azimganj with a brief stopover at the Panchamukhi Shiva Temple.

The temple tour of Boro Nagar was followed by a Jain Temple tour of Azimganj. Azimganj houses several Jain Temples but we had time to visit only one of them.

The two pinacled Sambhavnathji Jain Temple is approached through a five arched entrance and inside is the giant idol of Sambhavnath, the third tirthankara, with glowing eyes.

Apart from Jain Temples Azimganj has its share of Havelies and Bari Kothi, which has been converted into a heritage hotel, is one of them. Our trip included a visit to another haveli of Azimganj.

Naulakha Temple

Naulakha Temple

Naulakha Haveli is presently under restoration and there are plans to develop it into a heritage hotel like Bari Kothi.

Finally it was back to Bari Kothi for a spred of Sheherwali Lunch. Under Murshid Quli Khan Murshidabad flourished as a important river port and trading hub.

Murshidabad attarcts trading communities from far and wide and the Marawaries were also part of the ever flourishing trade.

The Jain Marawari travelled one town to other looking for better opportunities and came to be known as the Sheherwali, an identity which they continue to use to this day.

Food features prominently in the Sheherwali community and is known as the Sheherwali Cuisine. A strict vegetarian spread with a unique blend of cuisines from west and east India.

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Lunch at Bari Kothi

Post luch it was time to explore Murshidabad’s most well known landmark Hazarduari, the palace of 1000 doors. Actually 900 are real doors while the remaining 100 are false. Approach was again by boat from Bari Kothi and this time we travelled up the Bhagarati River.

Panoramic view of the Hazarduari Complex, Murshidabad

Panoramic view of the Hazarduari Complex, Murshidabad

Apart from Hazarduari Place the complex aslo houses several other structures including the Nizamat Imambara, Medina Mosque, Clock Tower, Medina Masjid, Bachchawali Tope and Jurad Masjid.

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The Hazarduari Palace has been converted into a museum housing 20 galleries containing 4742 antiquities out of which 1034 has been displayed for the public. Sadly photography inside the museum is prohibited.

Hazarduari Complex

After Hazarduari it was tea time at the Foxes Kuthir a hertage property just north of the Hazarduari Complex. After tea and snacks, which included the delicacy of khira kochuri, it was time to head for Katgoal for the evening cultural program.

Illuminated Katgola Palace at Night

A beautifully illuminated Katgola Palace welcomed us. The stage was set up across the pond infront of the illuminated palace. Unlike day 1 the day 2 program was not traditional and local but touch of fusion. It combine tradition with modernity and eastern with western, even there was a unique fusion of Kathak and Bharat Natyam

Cultural Programme at Katgola Complex

Lunch was a similar veg affair and we gulped it down quickly as we needed to head back to Cossimbazar to shoot the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys illuminated with changing colours.

Illuminated Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys

Day 3 (13 March 2022)

Day 3 also started with a personal exploration of the other side of the Bhagarati River, including the final resting place of the last independent nawab of Bengal Siraj ud Daulah. An amazing road side breakfast was part of the early morning tour. (a detailed blog post on the historic sites of Murshidabad comming up soon)

Cultural program at Cossimbazar Palace of Roys

Cultural program, Cossimbazar Palace of Roys

Beacause of our personal tour we decided to skipp the tour of Tantipara (weavers colony) in Jiaganj.

Soon our fellow pafrticipants from Bari Kothi arraived at the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys, after completing their tour and shopping at the tantipara of Jiaganj.

They were welcomed with a short cultural program and it was followed by a heritage tour of the interiors of Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys.

A portion of the rajbari has been converted into a heritage hotel and another part into a musuem and the third part still serves as a resident of the Roys. The tour took us past the courtyards and long corridors lined with old photographs and aritfscts to huge halls decorated with antique furnitures and giant chandiliers.

Inside the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys

The tour ended with a lavish Bengali traditional veg lunch complete with dhokar dalna and potol er dolma and ended on a sweet note with giant sized channa bara. It was finally time to take the road trip back home in Kolkata.

Participants of Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022 at Gangeswar Temple

Participants of Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022 at Gangeswar Temple

Necessary Information:

  • The Murshidabad Heritage Festival is organized by the Murshidabad Heritage Development Society (MHDS)
  • It is held every year preferably in the month of January
  • In 2022 it was held on 11 – 13 th< March because of Covid 19 outbreak
  • The package cost for 2022 was ₹ 21,500 (stay at Bari Kothi), ₹ 18,000 (with stay at Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys) and ₹ 16,000 (with stay at Fame and Sanjay International, Behrampore)

Note:

  • I visited the Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2022 on the invitation of Murshidabad Heritage Development Society (MHDS)
  • A special thanks to the Murshidabad Heritage Development Society (MHDS), Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys, Bari Kothi and all the other organizers for the wonderful experience and warm hospitality
  1. March 24, 2022 at 12:04 PM

    Dada,

    Thank you for your blog.

    Just to inform you that I have joined Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board.

    Thanks & Regards

    Mandira

    • March 24, 2022 at 12:36 PM

      Thanks and all the best for your new job

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