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Picture of Murshidabad

Volume 65 Number 2, December 2013


Forgotten Capital of Bengal

Edited by:  Neeta Das, Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

Price:   Rs 2800 (INR) / $68 (USD)
Binding:   Hardcover  
Specifications:   136 pages, 132 illustrations  
ISBN:   978-81-921106-9-1  
Dimensions:   305 x 241 mm

    Very little has been published on Murshidabad, the last independent capital of Bengal, while the British capital of Calcutta has been the subject of numerous books. Murshidabad was a place of great importance in the first half of the 18th century. The wealth of its nawabs was fabled and the region produced luxury goods which first attracted European trading companies. Murshidabad at its peak was extravagantly compared to London for its bustling trade, fine buildings and numbers  of merchants.  Its position, on the Baigarathi river made it an ideal trading post, when the majority of goods moved by water.

    Although by the mid-18th century political power had left Murshidabad, this did not slow down the building of even more extravagant palaces, the most recent of which is the ‘New Palace’ of 1904. The old palaces were not demolished, they were simply vacated. Descendants of the Nawabs still live here, although in reduced circumstances.

    This book presents a lively account of Murshidabad’s fluctuating fortunes, the lives of its residents – the nawabs and the British, the Jain merchants and bankers – down to the present day, and brings to light the region’s manifold splendours, from architecture to painting, textiles and crafts. It is hoped this publication will draw more travellers to explore its varied attractions.  

    Neeta Das has a PhD on 18th and 19th century architecture in India, is a visiting faculty member at CEPT, Ahmedabad. Based in Kolkata, she is involved in conservation practice, research and writing. She has written several books and articles on architectural history, theory, and structural conservation (

    Rosie Llewellyn-Jones has a PhD on the nawabi architecture of Lucknow. She has written extensively on the city and her major biography of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah is forthcoming. She is a guest lecturer in India for Martin Randall Travel.

    Murshidabad Maps: District and City 

    Introduction: “The City” on the Bhagirathi                                                               
    Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

    The Nawabs and Their Changing Fortunes               
    Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

    From Merchant-Banking to Zamindari – Jains in 18th- and 19th-century Murshidabad
    Rajib Doogar

    Murshidabad’s Palaces, Rajbaris and Mansions                                    
    Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

    Religious Buildings of Murshidabad                                  
    Neeta Das

    Arts and Crafts
    Textiles of Murshidabad                                   
    Jasleen Dhamija

    Murshidabad Painting 1750­–1820                             
    J.P. Losty

    The Mystery of Tulsiram’s Durga and Ivory-Carving of Murshidabad
    Pratapaditya Pal

    Conclusion: Murshidabad Today                     
    Neeta Das