The district of Murshidabad lies on the eastern banks of Bhagirathi, a tributary of Ganga. The quaint town in West Bengal has a long-standing history; it used to be the capital during Mughal rule. The Diwan of Bengal – Nawab Murshid Quli Khan under the rule of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, shifted the capital to Maksudabad from Dhaka and renamed the place as Murshidabad. The myriad hues of the glorious past are reflected in every inch of Murshidabad.
There’s a lot to see but the absolute must visit here is the Hazaarduari Palace or the Palace with a Thousand Doors. It was constructed in the 19th-century by demolishing the Nizamat Kila (Fortress of the Nawabs). Today, the palace-turned-museum houses collections of artefacts from the times of the Nawab rule. On the south of the palace, is the Pearl Lake (Moti Jheel), where you can laze around and catch the most surreal sunset.
Just opposite Hazaarduari Palace is another great attraction – Nizamat Imambara. The old shrine was built by Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah and got destroyed twice by fire. In 1847, the new shrine was constructed by Nawab Nazim Mansur Ali Khan. It is the grandest shrine ever built by Shia Muslims in India.
The Katra Mosque again is a great architectural marvel; though parts of it got destroyed in the 1897 earthquake. The tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan is buried here under the staircase leading to the main entrance. The mosque is also revered as a centre of Islamic learning; it can accommodate 2000 Namaz readers at once.
You must also visit Katgola – which collectively stands for the Katgola Garden, Katgola Palace and the Katgola Temple. Keep an eye out for the mango trees that are largely cultivated in the Garden. The temple is dedicated to Adishvar, while the Katgola Palace is a four-storeyed splendid palace of awe-inspiring beauty.
Travellers can travel to Murshidabad from Kolkata either by cab or train. The nearest airport is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Airport situated in Kolkata about 209km away.