The Jiaganj museum, built mostly by individual effort, showcases various kinds of rock sculptures, coins,
rock carvings, weapons, and rare ancient manuscripts. Jiaganj is located on the river Bhagirathi and falls
under the jurisdiction of the Lagbagh 'mahakuma
sub-division) of the district of Murshidabad.
Once upon a time Jiaganj was a trade centre and a port-town of international importance. The Jiaganj Museum
(and the proposed 'Murshidabad Zilla Museum
') owes its existence mainly to the untiring efforts of one man -
Rai Bahadur Surendranarayan Singh (রায় বাহাদুর সুরেন্দ্রনারায়ন সিংহ
) (1881-1972) - a man whose interests included archeology, music and fine arts
and whose contribution to freedom struggle and to various other forms of social service are remarkable.
Though we do not have minute details about how he created such a centre for archeological studies in the
district and we can only make wild guesses as to the inspiration behind this commendable effort, it can
somewhat safely be asserted that some of the motivation came from eminent archeologist Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay (রাখালদাস বন্দোপাধ্যায়
and historian and researcher Gurudas Sarkar (গুরুদাস সরকার
) who were his classmates. The company of such eminent scholars and
the vast troves of archeological treasures scattered all over Murshidabad inspired the Rai Bahadur to
painstakingly collect artifacts and bring them to his Nehalia palace.
On the 17th
of August 1960, Rai Bahadur Surendranarayan Singh convened a meeting at his palace
where he proposed to form a committee that would be entrusted with his collection. This committee included
eminent personalities and high ranking government officials of the district. There was some initial confusion
regarding the name of the proposed museum. While some favored calling it the 'Surendranarayan Singh Nehalia Museum
(সুরেন্দ্রনারায়ন সিংহ নেহালিয়া সংগ্রহশালা
others were not convinced, arguing that this would deter other potential donors from donating their own collections
to the museum. After much consideration, committee member and noted journalist Mr. Kamal Bandyopadhyay (কমল বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়
) proposed the
name: the 'Murshidabad District Museum
' মুর্শিদাবাদ জেলা সংগ্রহশালা
The committee tried to construct the museum on 1900 sq. meters of land donated by the Rai Bahadur close to his
own residence in Nehalia. The construction of the museum commenced in 1964-65 with the permission of the state
government and that of the Govt. of India. The work took place at a rather slow pace and it took painstaking
efforts to finally equip it with all modern amenities and finally open it to the public. 
More recently, attempts have been made to conserve recovered artifacts (that were about to be smuggled)
in the museum. Efforts are being made to recover these rare artifacts from the various police stations in the
district that are now in charge of these valuables. Notably, due to the efforts made by the District Magistrate,
ancient manuscripts have been recovered from Satui সাটুই
; sculptures have been collected from the Jiaganj police station.
Efforts are also on to showcase the district's dying art forms, indigenous musical instruments, and different art
works of the various folk-cultures of the district in a proposed new gallery in the museum.
At present the museum has a large number of sculptures of Vishnu carved of black stone, dating from
800 AD to 1200 AD. The museum has two galleries, displaying sculptures belonging to the Pala-Sena period.
A brief description of notable sculptures that the museum boasts of are as follows :
1) Sthanaka Vishnu - Sandstone of 9th Century
2) Buddha (Votive Stupa): Sandstone of 10th Century
3) Buddha (Bhumisparsa Mudra): Sandstone of 10th Century
4) Garudasina Vishnu - Black Stone of 10th-11th Century
5) Surya - Black Stone of 10th-11th Century
6) Surya - Red Sandstone of 10th-11th Century
7) Parsvanath - Black Stone of 10th-11th Century
8) Tara - Black Stone of 10th-11th Century
9) Gouri - Black Stone of 10th-11th Century
10) Mahisamardini - Black Stone of 10th-11th Century
11) Parvati - Black Stone of 10th-11th Century
12) Sadyojata - Black Stone of 11th Century
13) Narasimha - Black Stone of 11th Century
14) Brahma - Black Stone of 11th Century
15) Hariti- Black Stone of 11th Century
16) Sthanaka Vishnu - Black Stone of 11th-12th Century
17) Sthanaka Vishnu - Black Stone of 11th-12th Century
18) Sthanaka Vishnu - Black Stone of 11th-12th Century
19) Ganesa - Black Stone of 11th-12th Century
20) Karttikeya - Black Stone of 11th-12th Century
21) Uma Maheshwar - White Sandstone of 11th-12th Century
22) Dancing Apsara- Sanstone of 11th-12th Century
23) Uma Maheshwar - Black Stone of 11th-12th Century
24) Vaisnavi/Narayani on Gaduda - Black Stone of 11th-12th Century
25) Dancing Ganesa (astabahu) - Black Stone of 11th-12th Century
26) Sthanaka Vishnu - Black Stone of 12th-13th Century
27) Ganesa - Red Sandstone of 12th-13th Century.
The oldest sculpture belonging to the museum is an idol of Vishnu carved out of sandstone, dating back to
about 800 century AD. This Sthanaka Vishnu (Standing Pose of Vishnu) is made in Dravidian Style, with stubby nose and a solid body mass with a very distinct Jokhha iconography. The head is adorned with seven snake hoods. The four hands hold sankhya শঙ্খ
(wheel), gada গদা
(mace) and padma পদ্ম
(lotus). The carving style is different from others, signifying the time
the idol was sculpted. The later sculptures are more ornamented. Depending on the ornaments, the Vishnu sculptures
can be classified into broadly 24 categories: 1) Kesava, 2) Narayana, 3) Madhava, 4) Govinda, 5) Vishnu,
6) Madhusudana, 7) Trivikrama, 8) Vamana, 9) Sridhara, 10) Hrishikesha, 11) Padmanabha, 12) Damodara,
13) Sarikashana, 14) Narudevam, 15) Pradumnya, 16) Aniruddha, 17) Purushottama, 18) Adhokshaja, 19) Nrisimha,
20) Achyuta, 21) Janardana, 22) Upendra, 23) Hari, 24) Sri Krishna.
(As classified by T.A. Gopinatha Rao in
'Elements of Hindu Iconography
The next sculpture is the four armed Gadudarurha Narayana গরুড়ারূঢ় নারায়ণ
(Vishnu mounting Garuda a mythical bird). This black stone sculpture dates back to 1200 AD
(approx). The sculpture's upper left hand holds a mace, the upper right hand is broken; the wheel is held in
the lower left hand and the conch in the lower right. The idol is heavily adorned with a crown, kundal, kankan,
necklace etc, is seated on Gaduda গরুড়
, and is bedecked with ornaments that are close to the Orissa style. Vishnu is
shown with two consorts - Saraswati (Sridevi) and Lakshmi (Bhudevi) and is accompanied by Chakrapurush (চক্র পুরুষ
Sankhyapurush (শঙ্খ পুরুষ
). The stela shows a Kirtimukh (কীর্তিমুখ
) and the Bidyadhar (বিদ্যাধর
) couple emerging from a cloud. The stela is further
carved with the central figurines of gaja-byas-makar-gana গজ-ব্যাস-মকর-গণ
. The pedestal has two figures of a man and a woman on
either side, genuflecting and in deep meditation. There is a five petal lotus bud in the centre of the pedestal.
The sculpture measures 131 cm X 63 cm X 20 cm.
There is a relatively unornamented figure of Narayani নারায়ণী
in the museum. The 12th
century black stone idol
shows the goddess perched on Gaduda whose wings are spread open. The upper arms of the idol are missing
and it is difficult to guess what the goddess originally held in her hands. The ornamentation is simple,
the goddess is wearing karna-kuntal, keyur (bracelet), sacred thread etc; Gaduda is adorned with bracelets,
armlets, garlands. The goddess is decked in a sari while Gaduda is wearing a dhoti and a kind of scarf (uttariya
hangs around his upper torso. The entire figure measures 80 cm X 35 cm X 14cm.
Amongst the Buddhist sculptures in the museum, the most notable is the black stone figure of Tara তারা
to 1200 AD. The goddess is seated on a lotus with one hand in the abhaya-mudra and the other presumably holding
a lotus (only the stem can be seen). The idol is adorned with fine ornaments - crowns, garlands, armlets,
wristlets, bracelets and anklets. The ornaments are detailed, for example, the ornaments that the goddess
wears on her toes are carved with extreme precision. The smiling goddess with half closed eyes is depicted
as wearing a sari or a ghagra (a kind of skirt). On the top there are small Buddhist figurines. The stela
is very unusual: there is a Kirtimukh and the Bidyadhar couple. Adjoining the central the figure of Tara
are Heruka (হেরুকা
) and Asok-kanta (অশোকান্তা
) in a position similar to a Trifoi arch. There are finely carved figures of dancing
couples in the background. The pedestal is made of 9 different sections, hence called the navarath, depicting
a man and a woman seated in deep meditation on a lotus. There is a Sanskrit text that is carved on the pedestal.
The entire figure measures 99 cm X 53 cm X 15 cm.
To sum it up, the above descriptions are only brief sketches of a few sculptures of great archeological import.
The descriptions have left out many of the other concerns of the archeologist, including the dating and the
period characteristics of the idols. And it is also important to talk about the recovery of the stolen sculptures
and their characteristics. The museum has many other sculptures whose descriptions have been left out for brevity,
including the sculpture of an infant Shiva lying beside Parvati, the engraved figure of Pragya-paramita প্রজ্ঞাপারমিতা
Uma-Maheshwar উমা মহেশ্বর
etc. The museum is not only known for its rich collection
of sculptures but also has an equally rich collection of manuscripts made of palm-leaf, ancient coins, rare
books which after many years have been opened for public viewing. The museum awaits visitors who would be
worthy of understanding the true relevance of this rare display.
The Jiaganj Museum is situated on the eastern bank of the river Bhagirathi and is only 1 Km from the
Jiaganj Bus stand and 2.5 Kms from the Jiaganj Railway Station, and 8 Kms from the Hazarduari Palace, Lalbagh. The Palace of Rai Bahadur Surendranarayan Singh Nehalia
(রায় বাহাদুর সুরেন্দ্রনারায়ন সিংহ নেহালিয়া
) is near the museum
(Location Map : 24°14'37"N 88°15'46"E
Download Route Map :: jiaganj-museum-map.pdf
NOTE : The museum remains closed on Wednesdays. Visiting hours are from 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM.
The Palace of Rai Bahadur Surendranarayan Singh Nehalia near the Museum is also worth visiting.
-  The first inauguration of the Jiaganj Museum was done by Mr. Manab Mukherji on 16th Jan 1999. The museum was inaugurated for the second time in 2004 on the 28th of June. Back
In the mid 17th
century, a small trading centre called Azimganj came up on the banks of the Ganga in
Murshidabad. The royal family of Natore, now in Bangladesh, built a riverside palace in a village near Azimganj,
and called it Baranagore (meaning a big town
). Opposite on the west bank of the river Bhagirathi, about a couple of miles from the Azimganj Railway station is
Baranagore, formerly the residence of Rai Udai Narayan
(রায় উদয় নারায়ন
) of Rajshahi
Udai Narayan was Zamindar of Chakla Rajshahi in the time of
Murshid Quli Khan.
He rebelled and Murshid Quli Khan sent Muhammad Jan
with an army. A battle took place near Udai Narayan's palace, and Ghulam Muhammad was killed.
Thereafter, Udai Narayan being in fear of Murshid Quli Khan's displeasure committed suicide.
Murshid Quli Khan gave the zamindari to Ram Jivan
and Kala Kuar
Ram Jivan had adopted Ram Kanta
as his son and successor, who was married with Rani Bhavani.
In 1730 Ram Kanta inherited the entire zamindari of Rajshahi at the age of 18. Thoroughly inexperienced in zamindari administration, he, neglecting the zamindari affairs, passed most of his time in religious activities.
Fortunately, Rani Bhavani, his wife and a lady of great foresight, sagacity and intelligence, efficiently managed the zamindari with the help of trusted dewan Dayaram
Here on the banks of the sacred Bhagirathi lived the famous Rani Bhavani
1716-1795), who spent
enormous sums of money in funding endowments and charitable institutions.
She gave large portion of her zamindari to the Brahmins as Lakhiraj
(rent free lands) for their maintenance and other charitable activities.
She was a great patron of Hindu learning and bestowed large endowment for the spread of education.
Her piety and devotion were unparallel and her good name as a pious, devout, liberal and
actively benevolent lady has become a household word in Bengal.
a Hindu officer describes her, in a note contributed for the Gazetteer, as
"the wisest, most intelligent and most pious Hindu lady who figured in the history
of Bengal in the eighteenth century, and whose unrivalled munificence and virtue are
still engraved upon every Hindu heart
The revenue paid by her to the Nazim was
rupees seventy lacs and the rents collected by her were more than a core and a half.
Rani Bhavani, born in 1716 and widowed at 32, became a legend for her administrative ability.
Driven by religion, she planned to build a Varanasi
From 1755, a huge complex with over a dozen temples was built in Baranagore.
Many have since been reduced to dust, but a few still stand strong, a testament to the past glory of Bengal.
The Baranagore Temples represent Hindu zamindari Murshidabad of the 18th
They are just a mile from Azimganj railway station. An array of Hindu Mandirs (temples),
spread over a one and a half kilometer radius at Baranagore, are attributed to the Raja of Natore and his dynasty.
The Queen of Natore, Rani Bhavani, was the prime mover of temple innovations and aesthetics in the latter part of the 18th
The main attraction of Baronagar is the Charbangla mandir
[Location Map :
The word "Char
" means four.
Built in 1760 by Rani Bhavani, this is a small square arena fenced by four massive temples (a quadrilateral configuration of four temples
Each one is built on a 1.5 feet high foundation and is dochala
(two roofed) hut-shaped,
a fine example of Bengal architecture. Each temple has three doors with three Shiva icons inside.
Scenes from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, are depicted on the walls of the temple in "terracotta
This is unique among terracotta temples in Bengal. Hindu motifs are also visible.
The Shiva temple of Bhabaneswar
) built by Tarasundari
daughter of Rani Bhavani, in 1755 is 18 meters high with a massive dome on top and decorated with fresco works,
both inside and outside.
The Raj Rajeshwari
Temple has a deity of the Goddess Durga that is made of
' (an eight-metal alloy). It is sculpted on a 15.2 cm x 20.3 cm panel.
Hindu icons of Madangopal, Jaidurga, Karunamoyee, Mahalakshmi and Vishnu accompany the main exhibit.
The temple also has a very unique five-faced icon of Lord Shiva. The vernacular reference for this Shiva icon is
'. Moreover, a rare 'Hayagriva Vishnu
Idol is also kept here. The Ramnatheswar temple
is one of the oldest Temple of the Baranagore
Set of Temples. It was established in the year 1663 Saka Era (ie 1741 AD), as inscribed upon a panel over the main
entrance. The structure is 'Ekduari
' (single entrance), 'Charchala
' and contains Terracotta panels
and beautiful Fulkari
Perhaps the finest temple of them all is Gangeshwar
, also known as Jor-bangla
The Jor-Bangla temple was built by Rani Bhavani in the 18th
century, is the finest specimen of Bengal's
[Location Map :
The word 'Jor
' means Pair. The Jor-bangla Shiva Mandir exhibits Bengal's unique style of
surface terracotta art. This mandir has a subset of three Shiva mandirs: the Gangeshwar Shiva
the Kastureshwar Shiva
) and the Nageshwar Shiva
The Kastureshwar Shivalingam, was established by Kasturi Devi
, mother of Rani Bhavani.
The Gangeshwar temple is located about a Kilometre from the Char Bangla
temple. It consists of twin Ek-Bangala temples with the porch heavily ornamented and standing on three arches.
The main entrance faces west. The temple belongs to mid 18th century. The dimensions of this temple are 6.90m x 7.80m while the height is approximately 5.50m. The three arches are supported
by pillars measuring 0.85m up to the first tier and 0.62m from there to the end of the second tier.
The palace of the royal family at Baranagore, should not be missed out. Rani Bhavani died here in 1795, at the ripe age of 79. The family history is displayed through oil paintings.
To the South-West of Farah Bagh is Dahapara, said to be a form of Daccapara
, from the fact of the settlement
there of Darpa Narayan
, the chief Qanungo
, who migrated from Dacca to Murshidabad with many followers,
and accompanied Murshid Quli Khan to his new headquarters.
Darpa Narayan built his residential home at Dahapara of which Kiritkona
was practically a portion.
The family of Darpa Narayan were known as the 'Mohashais
'. The founder of the family of the Mohashais
brothers Bhagwan Rai
of Khajoori near Katwa, who received from Akbar the title of
' and made the Qanungo
of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
After the death of Bhagaban Rai his youngest brother Bangabinod Rai became the Qanungo and obtained large
) and Lakhiraj
(rent-free lands) from the Emperor.
One of the devottar properties was the area where the deity Kiriteshwari was installed and was described as Bhavanithan
After Bangabinod the post of the Qanungo and the property went to Bhagaban's son Hari Naryan.
He was succeed by Darpa Narayan. Darpa Narayan refused to sign the tax collection papers prepared by Murshid Quli Khan,
for submission to the Emperor at Delhi. On Murshid Quli Khans return to Murshidabad, Darpa Narayan's influence
declined. His son Shiva Narayan was appointed Qanungo. He was succeeded by his son, Lakshmi Narayan,
who exercised curtailed powers. On each succession large sums as Nazar
had to be paid to the Samrat at Delhi.
Dahapara Ashram (ডাহাপাড়া আশ্রম)
Jagadbandhu Dham, also known as Dahapara Ashram is situated at Dahapara, Azimganj.
It is the birth place of Sri Sri Prabhu Jagadbandhu Sundar
Prabhu Jagatbandhu Sundar was an ascetic vaishnava preacher who propounded the philosophy of Bhakti yoga and
Hari nam sankirtan in various parts of Bengal during the late 19th
century in the post Chaitanya era.
He was born in May 1871 in a poor but learned brahmin family of Dahapara.
His father was a brahmin scholar Dinanath Nyayaratna
and his mother was Bama Devi
He lost both his parents quite early in his life and was brought up by his elder sister.
He spend the most part of his life in Faridpur, Bangladesh.
Prabhu Jagatbandhu travelled widely in his youth and attarcted thousands of people who came to him and devoted their lives to hari bhakti (devotion to the supreme lord).
The last 20 years of his life were spent in Mahagambhira Lila
- an almost continuous state of meditation
and trance when he confined himself in a small cottage isolating himself from the outside world.
He left this human form on 17 September 1921.
The ashram founded by Sri Kunjadas Brahmachari
is set in picturesque surrounding. Worship of Prabhu Jagadbandhu's image and Annual Birth Anniversary are
being performed there with all earnestness.
[Location Map :
Just five kilometers from Dahapara railway station is the Kiriteshwari temple, the oldest temple in the
Murshidabad district, and a place of great antiquity.
When the body of Sati
(another name for the goddess Durga
), borne on the shoulders of Mahadeva
, was mutilated by the Chakra
Vishnu, her crown fell here. The goddesses is named Bimola
and is known as Kiriteshwari
or the Crown goddess. Mention of this is found in the Puranas
. Tradition has it that there are fifty-one places of sakta-pitha
(a Hindu sacred place).
The word pitha
means altar or seat where the body parts of the goddess Sati
' or Qanungos
of Dahapara made extensive provisions for the maintenance
of the Temple. One of their ancestors Bhagaban Rai received the area of Kiriteshwari as jagir
The original Kiritkona Temple
was destroyed in 1405 AD.
The temple which was overgrown with jungle and dilapidated, was renovated by Bangadhikari Darpa Narayan
He erected several new temples and excavated a tank close by, called the 'Kali Sagar
The annual fair held at Bhabanithan or Kiriteshwari was conducted by Darpa Narayan.
The temple of Kiriteshwari was a favorite place of Raja Ram Krishna
the husband of Rani Bhavani. The present temple in the village was built
around 1730 by Raja Kirtichand
(1702-1740) of Burdwan Raj.
The temple of Kiriteshwari has had all along a great sancity attached to it.
Mir Jafar when in death-bed, under the advice of Maharaja Nanda Kumar
Rani Bhavani's son, Raja Ram Krishna
was a devout Sakta
(a person who worships Shakti
as the wife of Shiva
He conducted his meditations on a seat placed over five human skulls under a Bel tree.
He was a frequent visitor at the shrine at Kiriteswari, and tradition relates, he had
a canal excavated from Baranagar to that place in order that he might get there by boat.
A tradition of the mysteries of Kiriteshwari has been handed down to posterity.
One day a bangle seller, fatigued with his morning errand, stepped down to drink water of the tank near the temple.
On the step next to water he found a very young girl performing her ablutions.
She prevailed upon him to sell her a pair of bangle. The man slided the rings into the tiny hands of the young
girl and when he demanded the price she referred him to her father, the Shebait
of the temple of Kiriteshwari. She also mentioned that the money was in a certain place in the house.
The man went to the Shebait and asked for the price of the bangles which his daughter had purchased.
The Shebait thought the man was a cheat for he had no daughter. The man indicated the place where the money was kept as told by the girl.
When it was searched it was found that money was there, although it was never kept before.
The Shebait still suspicious asked the man to show him where his daughter was.
They came to the steps of the tank but there was no body in the vicinity.
The man began to weep, being reprimanded by the Shebait as a cheat, when two beautiful hands
radiant with the light of divinity and bedecked with the pair of new bangles jutted forth from the water
in the middle of the deep tank and soon disappeared. Both the Shebait and the seller stupefied as they
were at this miraculous appearance.
Legends also cluster round Tara
, daughter of Rani Bhavani,
and to this day stories are told of how she escaped the evil designs of
through the help of a saint named Mastaram
. On one occasion, when the
Nawab came to seize her, he found her suffering from small-pox
and retired discomfited. The small-pox, which had been miraculously caused by the saint,
at once disappeared in the same miraculous fashion. Mastaram lived at Sadekbagh
on the opposite side of the Bhaglrathi and had the supernatural gift of being able
to walk, or of being transported by invisible agency, across the
stream. The akhra
at Sadekbagh, which was founded in 1646, is known as the Akhra of
Mahant Mastaram Aulia
According to the Sair-ul-Mutakharin
, Mir Jafar
persuaded by Nanda Kumar
take water in which the sacred emblem of the goddess had been
bathed, in the hope that it would be a cure for the malady of
which he died. The emblem is a piece of black stone engraved
with, floral designs. The crown, or frontal bone, itself, which is
, is preserved in a pot covered with red silk and is
rarely exposed to view.
A fair is held every year on each Tuesday and Saturday of the month of Poush পৌষ
(Poush month begins in mid December and ends in mid January
at the Kiriteshwari Temple on the western bank of the Bhagirathi.
[Location Map :
Bhattabati alias Bhattamati (ভট্টবাটি বা ভট্টমাটি)
Bhattabati is under Nabagram Police Station, and about 5 kilometers from the Lalbagh Sadar Ghat
. According to legend, during the
reign of Alauddin Husain Shah
(1494-1519 AD), the independent Sultan of Bengal,
around 1200 Bhatta Brahmin families from Karnat of Southern India came to settle down at this place.
Hence the place got its name as Bhattabati (Residences of the Bhattas
) or Bhattamati (Land of the Bhattas
The Ratneswar Temple
is said to have been built during the early 18th
the second Qanungo
of Bengal Joy Narayan
used to live here at Bhattabati, while the first Qanungo Darpa Narayan
) stayed at Dahapara.
It is not known who built this temple and precisely when.
) Shiva Temple with exquisite Terracotta Arts, is possibly the most beautiful
temple in this district and can easily stand favourable comparison with any terracotta temple in West Bengal.
This single door of the temple faces south. On one side of the entrance are incidents
from the life of Ram. The other side has terracotta figures depicting Lord Krishna's life.
At the base of the entrance there are rows of terracotta soldiers.
The central panel has scenes from daily life, with some panels showing the King watching dancing girls.
- Bengal District Gazetteers, Murshidabad - By L.S.S. O'Malley (1914)
- A history of Murshidabad District (Bengal) With Biographies Of Some Of Its Noted Families (1902) - By John Henry Tull
The Qanungo "was an officer in each district acquainted with its
customs and land-tenures and whose appointment was usually hereditary. He
received reports from the pativaris (land-stewards) of new cases of alluvion
and diluvion, sales, leases, gifts of land" etc. -- Riyazu-s-salatin, a history of Bengal - By Ghulam Husain Salim Back