Mandarmani Beach in West Bengal

Mandarmani Beach is situated in East Midnapore district , West Bengal state, India. It is famous for its Beach Resorts. There is 13 kilometers of motorable beach roads here, which makes Mandarmani, the Longest Motorable Beach Road in India. This beach in East Midnapore district is the Second Widest Beach in the world.

Mandarmani Beach
Mandarmani Beach

Thousands of small red crabs crawling around the long Mandarmani beach shores, is the specialty of this beach. Jet Skiing is there at the Mandarmani Beach on Bay Of Bengal sea waters.

Some locals may take you to the Estuary, (the mouth of a nearby river), where tide meets the river stream and is a beautiful sight. Mandarmani Beach (also spelt as Mandarmoni) is one of the best weekend getaway for Kolkata residents.

How Do I Go to Mandarmani Beach or Mandarmoni Beach?

Mandarmoni Beach is on the Kolkata – Digha route, at around 180 kilometers from Kolkata International Airport. Bus service is there to this beach from Kolkotta. Contai railway station is the nearest railway station to this beach. Digha railway station is at 20 kilometers distance.

You may also hire a cab and go to this Mandarmoni seaside resort village. There are restrictions on private car driving in the beach.

Can you Name Some of the Good Hotels in Mandarmani Beach?

Beach bikes, ropeway, toy train, water park, boating, etc, are some of facilities at the Rose Valley Hotel.

Sun City Mandarmani is a leading hotel. Hotel Sea Star, Masara Beach Resort, Hotel Diamond Glory, Hotel Sonar Bangla, Hotel Kings Crown (Mandarmoni), etc, are some of the other leading Mandarmoni hotels.

Nearby World Famous Hill Station to Mandarmani Beach

You can enjoy the spectacular view of the Himalayan Kangchenjunga peaks from Darjeeling hill station. You can also travel by the UNESCO World Heritage Mountain train there. Mandarmoni Beach to Darjeeling hill station distance is around 780 kilometers. It takes around 14 hours of travel to cover this distance by cab.

Battle of Plassey or Plassey War and Murshidabad Hazarduari Palace

Battle of Plassey or Plasi war, was fought at Plassey, near to the historic city of Murshidabad.  Murshidabad  is situated on the southern banks of Bhagirathi-Hooghly river, a tributary of the holy river Ganges, in West Bengal state, India. Murshidabad is the district headquarters of Murshidabad district.

Battle of Plassey near Hazarduari Palace
Hazarduari Palace, Murshidabad.  Photo Source  – Wikimedia Commons.

Bhagirathi river divides Murshidabad district into two almost equal portions. The Eastern tract of land is very fertile and is part of alluvial plains of East Bengal. The Western tract is mostly reddish soil areas, with nodular lime stones.

‘Battle of Plassey’, is closely linked with the history of Bengal state during period of Mughal dynasty and how Murshidabad became its capital.

Murshidabad

In 1704, during the rule of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (reigned 1658–1707), the Diwan of Bengal, Murshid Quli Khan, transferred the capital of Bengal from Dhakka (the current capital of Bangladesh) to Murshidabad and named the city after him. Later on, in 1716, Murshid Quli Khan became the ruler (Nawab) of Murshidabad.

Battle of Plassey

By the middle of 18th century, The British East India Company has established its presence in Chennai (Madras), Mumbai (Bombay ), Kolkota (Calcutta) and also at some of the other states and at major port cities. To establish their presence further, The British forces under Robert Clive fought with the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-Ud-Daulah in 1757.

Nawab’s military chief, Mir Jafar, betrayed Nawab and fought along with the British in defeating the Nawab. Mir Jafar bribed and forced many of Nawab’s soldiers to turn against the Nawab. Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah fled the battlefield and was brutally killed by Mir Jafar’s son Miran, near to the Bihar state border, Mir Jafarthen is considered as a great force in establishing the eventual British domination of the Indian subcontinent.

After the Great Battle of Plassey in 1757 (on the banks of Bhagirathi River, south of Murshidabad), Bengal came under British control, with Mir Jafarthen as Nawab. After a few years, the British shifted the capital of Bengal presidency to Calcutta (Kolkota).

Hazarduari Palace, Murshidabad

Hazarduari Palace is the most famous landmark building in the district of Murshidabad. Hazarduari Palace was built in 1837. The palace gets its name from the number of doors it has. “Hazarduari means ‘Thousand Doors“. (The palace has 1000 doors, out of which 900 Doors are false doors, interconnecting the rooms.) The Palace was built where the old fort (Kila Nizamat) once situated. Hazarduari Palace is also known to tourists as “Nizamat Kila” or the “Kila Nizamat”, which consists of the Palace and the surrounding buildings.

Hazarduari Palace with 8 galleries and 114 rooms, is spread over 41 acres of Land and is built in Italian style. Murshidabad’s Hazarduari Palace was designed by Bengal Engineers (by General Duncan McLeod) for Murshidabad’s Nawab Najim Humayun Jah.

The building opposite to the palace is “Nizamat Imambara”, on the banks of the river Bhagirathi (River Hoogly), which is (the biggest Imambara in India with its basement filled with soil brought from Mecca). Other building include Murshidabad clock tower, Madiana mosques (old Madiana Mosque on old Imambara site and new Madina Mosque on the new Imambara complex), Chawk Masjid, Shia Complex, etc.

Hazarduari Palace Museum, Murshidabad

Much of the Palace has now been converted to a Museum. The first floor of the three storied Palace has memorabilia collection, while the second second floor has a large collection of books and manuscripts, numbering around 12000 and 3000, respectively.

You will come across very very rare manuscripts, including a copy of Holy Quran penned by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. There is another copy of Holy Koran from Haroon-al-Rashid/ Harun-al-Rashid, the Caliph of Baghdad, under whom Baghdad flourished as the most famous center of trade, learning, and culture. (Caliph is normally the head of a sovereign state and are considered as decedents of Prophet Muhammad.) There are other original manuscripts written by the Great Emperor Akbar’s court historian, Abul Fazal.

Emperor Aurangzeb and the Mughal Kingdom

Aurangzeb became the emperor in 1659 after defeating and executing his eldest brother, Dara Shikoh, who became regent in 1658 after his father emperor Shah Jahan fell ill. Even though Arrangazeb (reigned 1658–1707) was ruling most of India (including Murshidabad) and was the richest man in India (after his hard-earned victory over the Diamond-rich Golconda king), he used to write Quran and make caps, to earn personal money. He believed that the treasury funds are not meant for personal use and it should be used for his citizens.

It is another story that he had to nearly empty his treasury as a result of the constant warfare with some of the Great Maratha Emperors, (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his sons and successors Chhatrapati Sambhaji and Chhatrapati Rajaram)  and also due to rebellion in his own Mughal areas. (Details about Maratha Kingdom is given under next sub-heading, below)

Unlike his father Shah Jahan, who built Taj Mahal and numerous other Mughal architectural buildings, Aurangzeb made very few extravagant buildings. The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, which is currently the world’s fifth largest mosque and is believed to be the World’s largest mosque at time of its construction and for the next 313 years, is one exception to this rule. He also constructed a small marble mosque inside the Red fort at Delhi, which is known as Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque.

The largest building built by Aurangzeb is The “Bibi Ka Maqbara” in Aurangabad, a memorial for his first wife. He also constructed Mosques at Varanasi (Benares) and also at Srinagar. The mosque at Srinagar is the largest mosque in the state of Jammu and Kashmir even now.

The British East India Company was allowed to set up its factory in India by the Emperor Jahangir (Grand father of emperor Aurangzeb and son of Emperor Akbar) in 1612. The rule of India by the East India Company (effectively) started after the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and lasted till 1858, when the British crown took over the power following the Great Indian Rebellion of 1857 and deposed the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II in 1857, who exiled to Burma.

After emperor Aurangzeb’s death, many revolts or power struggle with the family, resulted in the weakness of Mughal dynasty. In 1719 alone, four rulers ascended the Mughal emperor throne.

Chhattrapti Shivaji and the Maratha Kingdom

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj reigned  from 1630 to 1680. He was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati or Monarch in 1674 and is credited with establishing the Maratha Empire. His son and successor Chhatrapati Sambhaji reigned from 1680 to1689. Chhatrapati Rajaram reigned from 1689 to 1700 and is the half-brother of Chhatrapati Sambhaji.

Chhattrapati Shahu acceded to the throne in 1708 after he was released by the Mughals in 1707 and is credited with expanding the Maratha Kingdom from present day Tamilnadu in south India to Peshwar in Pakistan, Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar islands. Chhattrapati Shahu is the grandson of Chhatrapati Shivaji and son of Chhatrapati Sambhaji who was killed by Moghals in 1689. Chhattrapati Shahu was imprisoned for 27 years by Moghal Emperor Aurangzeb when he captured the Raigad fort, the Maratha capital in 1689 and fought war with the Maratha Kings for the next 27 years. Shahu was released in 1707 after Emperor Aurangzeb’s death by his son Emperor Azam Shah.

Mughal emperors in order of their accession to throne

The list of Mughal emperors in order of their accession to throne is as follows; Babur -> Humayun.> Akbar-> Jahangir – Shahryar Mirza (reigned for less than 3 months) -> Shah Jahan -> Alamgir (Aurangzeb) -> Azam Shah (reigned for less than 3 months) -> Bahadur Shah I -> Jahandar Shah-> Farrukhsiyar -> Rafi ud-Darajat-> Shah Jahan II-> Muhammad Shah ->Ahmad Shah Bahadur -> Alamgir II -> Shah Jahan III-> Shah Alam II -> Akbar Shah II -> Bahadur Shah II. The above list of emperors is exclusive of the Regents.

Political Pension and Privy Purse to Princes of Princely States

Nawab of Murshidabad along with some other ex-rulers of India (Princes or their heirs), are still getting the political pension from the Government of India. The political pension is different from Privy Purse, which was  abolished by 26th Indian Constitutional Amendment Act, in 1971. Privy Purse, an annual payment from the consolidated funds of India, to the royal families of the erstwhile princely states of India, was a compensation to, first integrate their states with India in 1947 and later to merge their states in 1949 (which meant the rulers loosing their right to rule the kingdom).

Privy Purse amount was fixed based on several factors like the tax amount collected by the states, the number of gun salutes they were eligible, the area of the state, the age of the kingdom / dynasty, etc. The Privy Purse amount varied from around 43 lacks rupees to the Nizam of Hyderabad to 192 rupees to ruler of Katodia.

On the other hand, the political pensions were first granted by the British Queen / Kings to some ex-rulers of Indian princely states, which the Government of India still pays.

Names of some of the other princely states receiving political pension includes Khudadad (legal heirs to Tippu Sultan), Coorg and Kolar in Karnataka, Arcot and Tanjore (in Tamilnadu), Kurnool and Masulipatam which is currently known as Machilipatnam (in Andhra Pradesh), Nagpur, Qudh (Utter Pradesh), Punjab, Assam, Angre, Satara, Surat, etc.

How Do I Go to Murshidabad, Near the “Battle of Plassey” site ?

“Battle of Plassey” site (Plassey) and Murshidabad city are on the opposite banks of Bhagirathi river, at around 47 kilometers distance from each other. Murshidabad city is well connected by roads to Kolkota and other parts of India.

Berhampore at around 12 kilometers distance, is the nearest railway station to Murshidabad. “Khagraghat” station is also near to Murshidabad; it lies on the opposite side of the river Bhagirathi-Hooghly. “New Farakka Junction” railway station is another nearby railway station at around 100 kilometers distance which has connecting trains to Delhi, Guwahati, Darjeeling, etc.

There is barrage called “Farakka Barrage“, across River Ganges at Farakka in Nawabganj District of West Bengal. Its situated  very close to the India-Bangladesh border, at around 16.5 kilometers from the border. Farakka Barrage was  constructed by India in 1975.

Kolkata is the nearest city with air connectivity at around 200 kilometers distance.

Accommodation at Murshidabad

There are quite a few decent budget hotels and youth hostels available at Lalbagh area of Murshidabad city. Another option is to head to Berhampore city, at 12 around kilometers distance.

Bankura – Painting, Art, Terracotta temples, Baluchari Sarees

Bankura is famous for its rich culture and heritage and is situated in West Bengal state of India. Bankura district is a heaven for lovers of Paint, Art, Architecture, Music, etc.

BankuraTemple veranda of Rasmancha Terracotta Temple.

Terracotta temple art and architecture is seen widely here. Great Hindu epic of Mahabharatha has reference to this city of Bankura, referred to as Suhmobhumi. Great Mallabhum dynasty has its capital at Bishnupur, which is at a distance of 34 kilometers from Bankura. Bishnupur is famous for the 17th and 18th century Terracotta temples and the Geo-indicated Baluchari Sarees, other than classical music and painting. There are around 16 to 20 old Terracotta temples in Bishnupur. Terracotta temples were constructed using laterite stones, which were available locally.

Joyrambati is another famous tourist center in the district, which is the birth place of the Holy Mother, Sarada Devi (22nd December 1853 – 20th July 1920), wife of Great spiritual leader Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Ramakrishna Mission (18th February 1836 – 16th August 1886). Joyrambati is at a distance of around 100 kilometers from Kolkotta, the capital of West Bengal state.

Geographically indicated Baluchari Sarees are also produced in this district. Mythological scenes from the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana and also from numerous nearby temple walls, are weaved on the ‘Pallu’ of the Baluchari Sarees. Silkworms cocoons are bred specifically for producing raw silk, which is then made into silk yarns, which are used in the weaving of Baluchari Sarees. Motif is drawn carefully into graph papers and then colored, punched, sewed, fixed,etc. Making one Saree takes around a week’s time (and at times more than a week depending on the complexity); two weavers work on a week long shift! Baluchari Sarees are considered as a sign of aristocracy. Baluchari and nearby Bishnupur (34 kilometers from Bankura city) are the main production centers of Baluchari Sarees.

Mukutmonipur Dam, the second biggest earthen dam in India, is situated in the district of Bankura at Mukutmonipur, at 55 kilometers from the district capital. The Bluish waters of this Dam and the surroundings areas makes this place one of the best natural scenery in India. Jhilimili hills, a nearby hills, is famous for its dense forests. Biharinath Hill is the tallest hill in the district, at around 450 meters height. Biharinath Hills are located at 57 kilometers from Bankura city. Susunia Hill is another tourist destination at 50 kilo meters distance from Bankura town.

How do I Go to Bankura, the Heaven of Art, Culture and Heritage?

Bankura district is well connected by roads and rail network. Bankura Railway Junction, on the Adra to Midnapore railway line, is the main railway station in the city. Adra Junction and Midnapore are some of the other nearby main railway stations in the district. Kolkotta International airport is the nearest major airport.

Andaman Islands, India

Andaman Islands are a group of islands in the Bay of Bengal spread across the Indian Peninsula in the west to Burma in the east and north sides. Most of the Andaman islands are part of Union Territory of India. A small number of islands at the Northern side belongs to Burma. Andaman islands number around 550.

Andaman Islands, IndiaAndaman Islands, India. (Photo credit: Wikimedia).

The white sandy island beaches of Andaman islands are famous among tourists. Being remote islands there are not much of pollution or crowds at these islands. Andaman islands are famous for adventure sports. Scuba diving and snorkeling are famous among the tourists to Andaman islands. You get a rare glimpse of marine life here in Andaman.You can for inside the deep forests of Andaman in trekking groups.

Majority of Andaman Islands India are are not inhabited by humans. 26 islands have human settlements. Historical evidence suggests human settlement in Andaman islands for the last 2200 years.

The cellular jails in Port Blair were used during Indian freedom struggle for the imprisonment of freedom fighters there. The Japanese invaded Andaman islands during World war II.

Andaman is rich in flora with its deep forests which are famous for the timber. Around 200 Timber varieties are found in the Andamans. Havelock island have a Sanctuary for saltwater crocodiles. Be aware of crocodiles wandering outside the sanctuary!

Interview island has a wildlife sanctuary with many animals. Andaman islands has sizable birds population. Edible-nest swiftlet are found in some of the Andamn’s caves.

Barren Island is an uninhibited island with active volcano, which last erupted in 2017.

How do I go to Andaman Islands?

Port Blair is the capital of Andaman Islands. There are regular flights to Port Blair from Chennai in Tamil Nadu and Kolkata in West Bengal. Ships also service from these two metropolitan cities of India to Port Blair.

Passenger ferries connects the islands. Catamaran services are also available to travel between islands.

Once inside an island, you can hire a taxi, auto rickshaw, motorbike or a scooter.

Santiniketan – Rabindranath Tagore’s Visva-Bharati University

Santiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore’s Visva-Bharati University  is a world famous university at Birbhum district in the state of West Bengal, India.

Santiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore's Visva-Bharati University , Shilaidaha Kuthibari, the famous residence of Rabindranath Tagore
Shilaidaha Kuthibari, the famous residence of Rabindranath Tagore in Kushtia

Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s vision played a major role in shaping the policies of this great University which is now known as Visva-Bharati University.

Rabindranath Tagore’s house and the university attracts a lot of tourists. Many of his literary works were written sitting at this house here.

Santinikatan means abode of peace. The learning style here is in  natural environment sitting under trees, which makes learning more enjoyable and fun.

Santiniketan was started n 1901 as a school by Rabindranath Tagore. In 1913 Rabindranath Tagore was awarded Novel Prize in Literature. In 1921 the school was upgraded as a University and it became a central university in 1951.

Chancellor of the Visva-Bharati University is the Prime Minister of India. Santiniketan was earlier known as Bhubandanga.

Kala Bhavana, the art college in Shanti Niketan, Visva-Bharati University  is regarded as one of the best art colleges in the world. Vidya Bhavana is humanities college and  Shiksha Bhavana is the science institute. Sangit Bhavana is the Music, dance and drama college while Vinaya Bhavana; is the education division. There are many other divisions; Rabindra Bhavana the one which caters to  Tagore Studies and Research.

There are two campus; one at Santiniketan and the other at Sriniketan. Sriniketan campus is for the study of agriculture, adult education, handicrafts, cottage industries and village welfare.

Amartya Sen,  an Economics Nobel laureate of 1998 was born at Shantiniketan and studied at Shantiniketan. Indira Gandhi,  Former Indian Prime Minister of India and  Satyajit Ray world renowned film director  were  among the most  illustrious students of Shantiniketan.

Where is Rabindranath Tagore’s Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan?

Santiniketan is around 212 kilometers north of Kolkata city. Santiniketan is well connected by roads to all parts of the country.

Kolkata (Calcutta) is the nearest airport. Bolpur Shantiniketan railway station is the nearest railway station to Shantinikatan, at 2 kilometers away.