Murshid Quli Khan was the founder of the nawabi regime in Bengal. Murshid Quli Khan began his career in Bengal as the provincialdewan
and ended as the nazim
or governor of Bengal and Orissa, dewan of Bihar andfaujdar
of several districts, occupying all posts at the same time in the early 18th
About his family and parenthood nothing is known for certain.
One version of his early life is that Haji Shafi of Ispahan, formerly a high-ranking Mughal officer, brought him up in Iran with paternal affection and gave him useful education.
After Haji Shafi's death, he came back to India, entered the Mughal service
under the name Mirza Hadi
as dewan and received a mansab or rank.
When Aurangzeb was looking for an honest and efficient dewan for Bengal, his choice fell on this young man.
He was transferred in 1700 AD to Bengal as dewan and Faujdar of Golconda and was honoured with the title ofKartalab Khan
(meaning "the seeker of challenges
" in Persian). Another version is that he was grandson of the Maratha general Mohammed Quli Khan
(formerly Netaji Palkar
by his Iranian wife Nusrat Banu
, daughter of Mughal Wazir Asad Khan
The third and most reliable version is that he was born in a poor Brahmin family in the Deccan, bought by Haji Shafi Ispahani,
a merchant from Ispahan
(City in the district of Jabal, Persia, situated on the Zendarud
converted and renamed Muhammad Hadi
or Mirza Hadi
. He entered the service of Haji Abdullah Khurasani
, Dewan of Subah Berar 
later transferred to Royal service under Emperor Aurangzeb
When Aurangzeb was looking for an honest and efficient dewan for Bengal, his choice fell on this young man.
He was transferred in 1700 AD to Bengal as dewan and the faujdar
of Mukhsusabad, and honoured with the title
of Kartalab Khan
, posted him to Dacca.
Kartalab Khan came to Dhaka with the new assignment. He proved to be very efficient in matters of revenue and
financial administration. He was honest and extremely faithful to the emperor.
But while safeguarding imperial interests, the dewan came into conflict with Azim-ush-Shan
(the grandson of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb
Kartalab Khan was about to lose his life, but he faced the problem with courage and somehow escaped.
Aurangzeb intervened and allowed him to shift his Dewani daftar
) from Dhaka (Jahangirnagar / Dhaka) to Mukhsusabad,
on the banks of river Ganges in 1704. The emperor also ordered his grandson Azim-ush-Shan to shift to Patna
(which was renamed to Azimabad
) and govern the province through deputies.
By honest endeavor Kartalab Khan increased the imperial revenues.
The Emperor being pleased with the collection papers prepared by him conferred upon him valuable Khilluts
and the title of Murshid Quli Khan. He was appointed Deputy to the Prince in the Nizam at of the Subah of Bengal and Orissa,
in addition to the office of Dewan, by the Emperor Aurangzeb.
Murshid Quli Khan changed the name of the city to Murshidabad মূর্শিদাবাদ
(Moor-shi-da-bad); opened a mint
introduced the 'Zurbe Murshidabad
' coin; threw open the responsible revenue offices to none but
Bengali Hindus and Materially improved the administration for revenue, which secured to him the imperial title of
'Motamul-ul-Mulk Alauddowla Jaffer Khan Noseri Nasir Jang
(Guardian of the country, promoter of the State, Helper in War, the Defender)'.
In 1713 AD Murshid Quli Khan was appointed as the Naib Nazim of Bengal Subah and
in 1717 AD he became the Subahdar of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, after which he assumed an
attitude of independence, never sending any remittances to Delhi.
During his reign the revenue of Bengal, exclusive of the Jagir
(smaller district within the empire
) of the Nazims and other officers, and other duties,
was Rs 1,40,88,000. The income of the Jagir of the Nazim from Bengal was 5,82,08,500 dams, and from
Orissa 2,38,25,300 dams, aggregating 8,20,33,800 dams, which at forty dams to a rupee would amount to Rs 20,50,845.
As a proof of his influence at the Court of Delhi, it is stated thatSyed Hassan Ali Khan Barha
(afterwards Abdullah Khan), one of the
Syed brothers who helped Farrukhsiyar
to secure his throne in 1713 AD, wished for the title of "Nasir Jang
which had been formerly conferred on the Governor of Bengal. As one title cannot be
given to two men at the same time, an Imperial Mandate was issued in the name of Murshid Quli
Khan to exchange it for another equally honourable, but the Nawab wrote that in his old age he
was not desirous of new titles, and that he would never sell the title given him by the
Murshid Quli Khan was the Dewan of Hyderabad, Bengal from 1700 AD to 1708 AD, of Bihar from 1710 AD to 1713 AD,
and of the Deccan from 1708 AD to 1710 AD, Naib Nazim of Bengal from 1713 AD to 1717 AD. He became the
Subahdar of Orissa in 1714 AD, and Nazim of Bengal in 1717 AD. He Removed his headqaurters from Dacca toMakhsusabad
in 1704 AD, and renamed it Murshidabad
On matters of Revenue Collection Murshid Quli Khan was absolutely non-compromising to the extent of being ruthless.
He appointed his grand daughter's (Nafisa Begum's) husbabd, Syud Reza Khan
, his Dewan,
who in order to enforce payment of the revenues, caused the defaulting Zamindars
(land lords) to be drawn by a
rope under their arms through a pond of filth which he called 'Baikunt
(the Hindu name for Paradise / the Muslim equivalent ofJannat
The collections and the accounts for the year were finished in the month of Choit
, the last month of the
year; and in the month of Baisakh
, the beginning of the year, having finished the ceremony of the Poonneah
), the Nawab generally despatched to Delhi the revenue, amounting to one crore
thirty lakhs, chiefly in specie, in bags, and laden upon two hundred carts, escorted by a guard of three
hundred cavalry and five hundred infantry, and accompanied by one of the sub-treasurers. The Nawab,
attended by his principal officers, would accompany the convoy up to Jhapaida
; and, in order to remove
any further responsibility from himself, he had the event recorded, in addition to his own despatch
to the Vizier
, in the Royal Gazettes, by which all the Governors on the route were apprized of the
circumstance, and were obliged, by the regulations, to have carts and escort ready to forward the treasure
to the capital. Along with the revenue he sent, as presents to the Emperor and Ministers, a number of
elephants, hill horses, antelopes, hawks,shields of rhinoceros hide, sword-blades, Sylhet mats, filigree work
of gold and silver, wrought ivory, Dacca muslins, Cossimbazar silk, the "Gangajali
" of Sylhet,
also a number of European articles procured at the port of Hughli, or presented by foreign merchants.
Murshid Quli Khan reduced the expenses of the militia, forbad the exportation of grain, gave great encouragement to
learning, remitted the pressing imports, effected great financial reforms and took delight in feeding the poor.
He was sober and temperate. During his reign rice sold at five maunds
a rupee and a man with
an income of one rupee a month could have two meals a day with pollao
He took no delight in hunting; He never indulged in wine nor in any
intoxicating drugs; neither did he amuse himself with singers or dancers. He always kept constant to
one lawful wife, and, out of excess of delicacy, would not suffer any strange woman, or even eunuchs
enter the apartments of his seraglio - so much so, that any slave girl once out of the harem would not be
allowed to re-enter it. He possessed very extensive learning, and paid great respect to men who were eminent for their piety
or erudition. He was a brave soldier, a liberal benefactor, upright and just in his dealings, and a steady protector of the weak.
He made no retrenchments in any royal grant, nor in those of any former Subahdar
, for charitable purposes.
He despised all the refinements of luxury, particularly in dress; no highly seasoned dishes were served on his table.
He slept but little, and carefully observed the stated times for prayer. From breakfast till noon he employed
himself in copying the Koran, and in administering justice; and every year he sent Korans of his own
writing, with valuable offerings, to Mecca, Medina, Najaf, and other holy places.go top
His judicial decisions were so rational and just, that they were as much respected and obeyed
as the decrees of those monarchs whose names are most renowned for equity and justice.
or rent collectors could, with impunity,
oppress anyone; vakeels of zamindars were constantly in search of complainants, and whenever they met with
anyone who had reason to be dissatisfied, they used every endeavour to pacify him; but if it happened that
a well-founded complaint reached the ears of Murshid Kuli Khan, the offender was sure to suffer severely.
In the beginning of his administration, the Katwal
(Senior Police Officer of the town
) of Hughli
forcibly took away a young girl from the house of her father, and Ahsanullah
that place let the offender to pass unnoticed. The father carried his complaint before the Nawab,
who commanded that the offender should be stoned to death, conformably to the ordinance of the Koran;
and notwithstanding all the entreaties of Ahsanullah, who was a great favourite, the sentence was actually
carried out.go top
Trade and Commerce
In Murshid Quli Khan's time Bengal's internal and
international trade grew enormously. Arab, Persian and Armenian merchants were
very active in Bengal. From the 17th
companies were prepared with ready money to buy any amount of Bengal
goods, particularly cotton and silk and their by-products. They imported gold
and silver bullion and thus the country earned good profits. Along with the
traders of goods, the traders in coins, the Sahus
or moneychangers and
or brokers, also did brisk
business. There were many such moneylenders, but among themJagat Seth
became very prominent. Murshid Quli Khan was
aware of the importance of trade and encouraged traders and companies in fair
trade but punished unfair traders very severely.
Murshid Quli Khan started building his palace named 'Chahel Setun
' at Kulhoria (near present Hazarduari Palace)
when he first reached Mukhsusabad. Murshid Quli Khan also built the
magnificent Katra Masjid
). It was built in 1137 A.H., 1723 A.D.
After his death in 1139 A.H, 30th
June 1727 AD he was buried below the steps of the Katra Masjid.
He had one son Nawabzada Yahya Khan
and two daughters :Azmat-un-nisa
(Zinat-un-nisa) and Zainab-un-nisa Begum
. Murshid Quli Khan, who possessed all the qualifications of a legislative financer, administered the most
brilliant period of the financial history of Bengal.Download Plan of Katra Mosque : katra-mosque-plan.pdf
Katra Mosque Gallerygo top
Family Tree :: Nasiri Dynasty
Murshid Quli Khan married Nasiri Banu Begum
Sahiba (died at 'Chahel Setun
' Kulhoria Palace, Murshidabad, before 13th
June 1733 (burried at Jutapatty
He had one son and two daughters. 
- Nawabzada Yahya Khan. Who entered the service of the Nawab of the Carnatic
- Azmat-un-nisa Begum Sahiba [Zinat-un-nisa] (d/o Nasiri Banu Begum) married to Suja-ud-Daulla or Suja-ud-din Muhammad Khan Bahadur before 1712, as his second wife. She died at Murshidabad (burried at Azimnagar Masjid)
- Zainab-un-nisa Begum Sahiba [Azim-un-nisa Begum] (d/o Nasiri Banu Begum) married to Suja-ud-Daulla or Suja-ud-din Muhammad Khan Bahadur, as his first wife
-  Berar Subah was the one of Subahs of Mughal Empire from 1596 to 1724. Berar came under Mughal administration in 1596. Todar Mal's famous system known as bandobast was made applicable to the Berar Subah. In Ain-i-Akbari, the original name of Berar is mentioned as Waradatat (the banks of Varada River) Back
-  Christopher Buyers, Murshidabad, The Najafi Dynasty Genealogy, Royal Ark Back