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Hazarduari Palace is a landmark of sizable importance in Murshidabad, West Bengal. The palace was given to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for preservation in 1985 and sprawls over a huge area. It is near-impossible to estimate its worth today, although a few hundred or even thousand crores, will not seem impossible! Hazarduari Palace was earlier called Bara Kothi and lies within the Kila Nizamat campus.
It lies near the Ganga River’s bank and was built in the 19th century by the famous architect Duncan Macleod, during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah who ruled Bengal, Orissa and Bihar from 1824 to 1838. The foundation stone for the palace was laid on August 9, 1829 and construction started on the same day. William Cavendish was the then governor-general. Hazarduari Palace is now one of the biggest tourist attractions in India.
Hazarduari Palace: Fascinating insights
Hazarduari Palace is known for being a palace with a thousand doors. The palace has only 100 real doors with 900 of them being fake ones. This was deliberately integrated, to safeguard the palace from attacks by outsiders. The concept was to confuse invaders who attacked and then attempted to escape, giving the guards of the Nawab ample scope and time to capture them.
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Here are some fascinating insights about the Hazarduari Palace:
- The palace showcases the Greek (Doric) and Italian styles of architecture.
- It was completed in December 1837.
- The rumoured cost was a whopping 16.50 lakh gold coins, at the time.
- It goes up to 80 ft in height, with a length of 130 metres and breadth of 61 metres.
- It has three floors in all.
- Kila Nizamat or Nizamat Kila was the old fort site in Murshidabad.
- It lies on the current Hazarduari Palace site, right on the Bhagirathi River’s banks. The fort was demolished for developing this palace.
- Kila Nizamat now means the campus which contains the Palace, along with the Murshidabad Clock Tower, Nizamat Imambara, Madina Mosque, Bacchawali Tope, Chawk Masjid, Wasif Manzil, Shia Complex and two Zurud Mosques. The Nawab Bahadur’s Institution surrounds this Palace, as well.
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Hazarduari Palace: Construction and architecture
- The palace was designed and built under the leadership of Colonel Duncan MacLeod from the Bengal Corps of Engineers.
- The foundation stone was laid by Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah himself.
- The concrete bed for the foundation stone was immensely deep. The Nawab had to descend with a ladder. It is said that the suffocating surroundings, owing to the large gathering of people, led him to faint. The stone was laid after he was brought outside.
- The palace is just 40 ft away from the River Bhagirathi’s banks.
- The palace has a rectangular plan while showing Indo-European architectural touches.
- The front façade has the grand north-facing staircase, one of the largest such examples in the country.
- The palace has 114 rooms with 1,000 doors and 900 of these are false doors.
- The wooden Nizamat Imambara was built by Siraj-ud-Daulah although it caught fire in 1846. The present building was built in 1848 again by Nawab Nazim Feradun Jah.
- This Imambara is India’s largest such structure with more than Rs 6 lakhs being allocated for its development.
- The Madina Mosque remains open for visitors during Muharram only.
- The Bacchawali Tope was made by Murshid Quli Khan. The cannon lies on a high altar with the mouth covered.
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- The palace now houses furniture, antiques and paintings.
- There are 37 stone steps leading up to the upper portico. The pediment has seven massive pillars with each one being 5.5 metres at the base or 18 ft.
- The Nawabi Coat of Arms is displayed on the pediment.
- At the other end where the staircase begins, there are two Victorian lion statues with stone slabs embedded behind them in the wall.
- There are numerous massive gates as entrances which have names like Dakshin Darwaza and Imambara. The main gates have musicians’ galleries or Naubat Khanas positioned above them.
Hazarduari Palace museum
The Hazarduari Palace is known for its splendid museum. Here are some details about the same.
- The museum has a vast collection of paintings, antiques and furniture.
- The mirror and chandelier are especially well-known.
- It is the largest site museum of the Archaeological Survey of India.
- It has 20 galleries showcasing 4,742 antiquities.
- 1,034 objects have been kept for the general public to view. These include weapons, oil paintings by Italian, Dutch and French artists, marble statues, porcelain and stucco statues, metal items, rare books, manuscripts, old maps, land revenue records and palanquins from the 18th and 19th centuries.
- The Durbar Hall has furniture that was used by the Nawab and a crystal chandelier on the ceiling. This is the second largest chandelier in the world after the one housed in Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria gifted this chandelier to the Nawab.
- The museum has two pairs of mirrors positioned at 90 degrees. People cannot see their own faces although others can view the same. This was used by the Nawab for keeping assailants at bay.
- The museum galleries include Royal Exhibits, Armory Wings, Committee Room, Landscape Gallery, British Portrait Gallery, Durbar Hall, Nawab Nazim Gallery, Western Drawing Room, Billboards Room and Religious Objects’ Gallery, among others.
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Sagore Mistri created a miniature of the Hazarduari Palace using ivory, in tandem with portraits of the Nawab and his son. These were dispatched to King William IV. He honoured the Nawab by sending a full-sized portrait of his majesty himself along with an autographed letter. He also conferred the insignia and badge of the Royal Guelphic and Hanoverian Order. These are still preserved at the Hazarduari Palace. All in all the Hazarduari Palace is a fascinating landmark that deserves a visit for its grandeur, historical significance and stunning museum.
Where is the Hazarduari Palace located?
The Hazarduari Palace is located at Murshidabad in West Bengal.
Who was the architect of the Hazarduari Palace?
Colonel Duncan MacLeod was the architect and designer behind this spectacular palace.
What was the previous name of the Hazarduari Palace?
The Hazarduari Palace was previously known as Bara Kothi.