Category Archives: Indian History

Bandel Church

The Basilica of the Holy Rosary commonly known as Bandel Church is one of the oldest Christian Churches in India, situated in a small town “Bandel”, in Hoogly district of West Bengal. Now, Bandel is a suburban town of Calcutta which is well connected by local as well as Express train services from Howrah. It takes about one hour by local train.

This church stands as a memorial to the Portuguese settlement in Bengal. Founded in 1599, it is dedicated to Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Our Lady of the Rosary. It also serves as  a Parish Church,  ( means, in rural areas, the parish church may play a significant role in community activities, often allowing its premises to be used for non-religious community events.)  It is one of the most prominent historical churches in West Bengal as well as in India.


Prayer Hall

Around the middle of the 16th century, the Portuguese began using Bandel as a port. During or around 1571, they were given permission by Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, to build a town in Hoogly. As they began settling around the area, their Priests began to baptise the natives – and by 1598,  Catholics in Hooghly numbered around five thousand, including natives and mixed races.


In 1579, the Portuguese built a port on the banks of the River Hoogly, as well as a Fort. The following year, Captain Pedro Tavares obtained the emperor’s full permission to preach the Catholic faith publicly, and erect churches. Thus this Portuguese memorial was constructed in 1599, after a century of Vasco Da Gama landed in India, in 1498.


This first church was burnt down during the sacking of Hooghly by the Moors in 1632. A newer church, constructed by Gomez de Soto (also spelt John Comes de Soto), was built over the ruin in 1660. The key stone of the older church can still be seen on the eastern gate of the monastery, bearing the date 1599.

On November 25, 1988, Pope John Paul II declared the Bandel Church as a minor Basilica.



Posted by on 28/07/2016 in Indian History, Uncategorized


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Syama Prasad & Partition of British Bengal

syama prasad mukherjee

Partition (of a country or a province) always comes with  endless pain to the affected people of that land but the partition  for which Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee fought and succeeded, brought smile and relief to the majority population there. It is the tale of the partition of British Bengal. But today nobody remembers him as a great leader nor as a martyr nor as a savior of Hindus (from the clutches of Muslim League) except a political party that is BJP (foremerly Jana Sangha founded by him).  He is the architect of partition of “Bengal” province and creation of West Bengal, where we are proudly leaving today as a citizen of India. Had he not fought for this, we would have been in Bangladesh today. This is a very important piece of Historical information, we should all know.

 Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was born on 6 July 1901 in Calcutta (Kolkata). His father was Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, a judge of the High Court of Judicature at Fort William, Bengal, who was also Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta. His mother was Lady Jogamaya Devi Mukherjee.

Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee was an ardent believer in the integrity of the country, but when he understood that the partition of India had become imminent and the emergence of Pakistan inevitable, he joined hands with similar minded leaders in demanding a partition of “Bengal” Province using the same logic as applied to the rest of India. In 1947, British Bengal Province was partitioned along religious lines. The Hindu dominated western part of British Bengal Province became the Indian state named as West Bengal. And the Eastern part of Bengal Province, joined to Pakistan as a province called East Bengal. Later it was renamed as East Pakistan, giving rise to independent Bangladesh in 1971.

At the time of partition of India, had Syama Prasad not raised this demand, the whole Bengal and Punjab provinces would have gone to Pakistan. West Bengal would have gone East Pakistan and there would have been no trace of Bengal and Punjab in India.  Can you imagine what would have be the fate of Hindus in a Muslim country like Pakistan? In Pakistan what is happening today, all we know from the media. Even in Bangladesh Hindus are not safe, in the broad day light Hindus being attacked and killed.

Dr. Syama Prasad  Mookerjee saved million of Hindus (Mostly Bengalis) of this part of India from the clutches of the Muslim League and remained with the Indian Union.

It is painful to see that nobody remembers Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherji today except his political party which was formed by him. Since he worked for the Hindus, objected for Kashmir’s special status and founded a political party with those lines, he is not a popular leader to the other political parties and their Governments. Thus he has no place in in the School level text / History Books. In vote bank politics today political parties (except BJP) are afraid to acknowledges his thinking, principles and works for the Hindu causes in his short life.

(His vision for Kashmir was very clear and was dead against the special status of Kashmir  This part will be posted in a separate post )


Posted by on 14/05/2016 in Indian History, Uncategorized


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Around Murshidabad

This is the only work of Siraz-ud-daulla left behind and still in good shape. It is known as Siraz’s Madina. Siraz brought the holy soil of Karbala for his Madina to fulfill his mother Amina Begum’s wish.

Village Kiriteswari near Kiriteswari Temple.

Ruins of original Kiriteswari Temple. It is one of the 52 Piths,  as one part of “Kirit” (means Fore head) of Sati was dropped here.

Kiriteswari Temple was rebuilt by Rani Bhabani of Natore ( now in Bangladesh).

Cottage water filter made by Burn & Co. Raneegunge, found in the Museum at Jagat Seth’s Palace. Over the Centuries, Raneegunge has changed to Raniganj but no idea about the existence of Burn & Co. there today.


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Murshid Quli Khan’s Murshidabad

Murshidabad was founded by the Mughal emperor Akbar in the 16th century. It was named after Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, the Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa under Emperor Aurangzeb. In 1704, the nawab Murshid Quli Khan (following Aurangzeb’s orders) moved the capital ( of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa) to Murshidabad from Dacca. During the regime of Siraj-ud-daula  the British started interfering into the subcontinent’s affairs. The Nawab, peeved by the persistent British defiance of his wishes, marched to Calcutta and drove the British out of Fort Williams to their ships offshore. Months later, the British, led by Robert Clive, retook Calcutta and plotted with Mir Jafar, Siraj-ud-Daula’s general, to overthrow and assassinate the Nawab in 1757 after the battle of Plassey (now Palashi). Murshidabad remained the capital under the British until 1790 and is still the seat of the descendants of the Nawabs of Bengal. The palace of Mir-Jafar  where  his descendants lives is called by people as “Nimak Haram ki Deori”.

Bhagirathi (Ganges) River at Murshidabad.

The remains of the palaces and garden speak of those times. But the history of this region date back perhaps further. The famous Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsiang, who made the long journey to India in 629-645 AD, in his world famous travelogue describes Karna-suvarna near Murshidabad as the first capital of the ancient Bengal. Murshidabad was also the major trading town between inland India and the port of Kolkata, 221 km south. Today it’s an insignificant town on the banks of the Bhagirathi River. River Bhagirathi is the witness of many ups and downs of Murshidabad.

Hazarduari Palace literally means “palace with thousand doors” was the palace of the Nawab. It was built in the 1830s by General Duncan McLeod of the Bengal Engineers. It has a banquet hall lined with mirrors and a circular Durbar Hall. The palace comprises of 1000 doors of which only 900 are real and 114 rooms and 8 galleries. The palace is now a museum with many fine exhibits, such as a gigantic chandelier, presented by Queen Victoria. Camera is not allowed inside. Hazarduari Palace Museum at night

Hazarduari Palace museum Murshidabad.

Nearby the Hazarduari palace, which were built between 12th and 14th century, there are some other attractions :  Asia’s biggest Imambara, Siraj’s Madina, Ghori Ghar (Clock Tower ), Bachchawali Tope (a canon), Tripolia Gate, Dakshin Darwaza and Chak Darwaza.

The kathgola palace (above picture) and garden was built by a business man named Lachmipat Singh and the descendents of his still maintains the garden. The Garden is huge and covered with big trees. Near the palace, there is a tunnel which ends at the palace of Jagat Seth. Jagat seth was a rich man, a Banker having money lending business. As per the authorized guide of the palace the tunnel was used for illegal trades by these two families like smuggling etc.A marble statue  facing the swimming pool at Kathgola Palace

It is said that once Siraz Ud Daula slapped Jagat Seth in the open court in front of all ministers . This insult lead him to join hand with the other enemies. This way the regime of  young Siraz  Ud Daula collapsed within two years (1756-57). He was defeated in the battle of Palashy  and later when he wanted to escape from the palace but he was caught and killed by his  enemies . Mir jafar succeeded to get the throne with the help of Aurangzeb and since then the Bengal was ruled by the descendants of Mir Jafar.

A marble statue of a dancer at the palace of Jagat Seth


Posted by on 01/03/2011 in Bengal, Indian History


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Pain of Partition

Citizens of Khulna and Jessore by heart wanted to be attached to India during partition in 1947. Many people from Barishal had even shifted to Jessore and Khulna hoping that these would be part of India. On 15th Aug 1947 they hosted even Indian National Flag but by noon they came to know that Khulna and Jessore were included in East Pakistan. Indian flag was brought down by sunset.


The district of Nadia (in Indian state of West Bengal), has not one, but three Independence Days. Yes three Independence days. It’s quite an interesting story, all stemming from a cartographical error made 62 years ago.

The news on radio on August 12, 1947, was that INDIA had been granted freedom. But the same news also carried a devastating missive : a large part of Nadia District was no longer in India. The map created by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, which carved out two countries from undivided India, had awarded a large chunk of the district to East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh).

Pre-Independent Nadia had five subdivisions: Krishnagar Sadar, Meherpur, Kusthia, Chuadanga and Ranaghat. According to the map prepared by Radcliffe, all parts of Nadia — except Nabadwip, which is to the east of the Bhagirathi — were given to East Pakistan.

For Nadia residents, the joy of Independence soon turned to sorrow. Women protested by not lighting their ovens for two days, while the entire town maintained a blackout. Muslim League leaders hoisted Pakistan flags near the Krishnagar Rajbari and the Krishnagar Public Library ground, and their supporters patrolled the streets, shouting “Long Live Pakistan”.

When word reached outgoing Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, he immediately ordered Radcliffe to look into the matter. Radcliffe went back to the drawing board. And, after careful scrutiny, he identified the problem. It was, in fact, a minuscule error : A line had been drawn wrongly and, with a single stroke, a large part of Nadia had gone to East Pakistan.
Radcliffe rectified the map, which finally placed only Chuadanga, Kusthia and Meherpur in Pakistan. Ranaghat, Krishnagar, Shikarpur in Karimpur and Plassey were kept in India. The rectifications, however, took a little time and the final announcement took place only on the night of August 17, 1947. The Pakistani flag at the Krishnagar Public Library ground was finally brought down and the Tricolour hoisted a day later —on August 18, 1947.

Since then, there has been two schools of thought as to celebrating Independence Day in Nadia. Some insist on August 17, when the announcement reached them, while others feel that the more important moment was on August 18, when the Tricolour was finally hoisted.

‘18 August, 1947 Committee’ celebrate I-Day on August 18, a practice they started in 1998. The ‘Nadia Zilla Independence Day Celebration Committee’ celebrate Independence a day —on August 17, which they have been doing for the last seven years. Rest of Nadia district has no reason to celebrate either on 17 or 18 but on 15 Aug .So Nadia district as a whole has three Independence Days to celebrate.

(Source : Times of India of 17 Aug 2009)


Posted by on 26/08/2009 in Indian History


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Rare historical photographs

Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah in heated conversation. A well-known photograph recently attributed to Kulwant Roy.

Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah in heated conversation. A well-known photograph recently attributed to Kulwant Roy.

The iconic historical photographs of a photo-journalist , anonymous until now,  is finally acknowledged.Kulwant Roy (Born 1914, Lahore, then in India) was an Indian photographer. As the head of an agency named “Associated Press Photographs”, he was personally responsible for several iconic images of the Indian independence movement and the early years of the Republic of India.

Jawaharlal Nehru addresses the press in Delhi in 1947, shortly before Independence

Jawaharlal Nehru addresses the press in Delhi in 1947, shortly before Independence

Twice, over 24 years, Aditya Arya tried to open the boxes that photojournalist Kulwant Roy delivered to him, bit by bit, on his Lambretta scooter before he died, anonymous and impoverished, in 1984. But each time, he gave up. There was just too much in those boxes, explains Arya, an advertising photographer with a busy schedule.

Sardar Patel and the Maharaja of Patiala confer during a meeting of the Phulkian Union, an umbrella body of princely states, in Patiala, shortly after Independence

Roy’s iconic images were reprinted many times, but credited to nameless stringers. But the 7,000-odd that Arya has digitally scanned since December 2007 when he finally began to unpack the legacy that Roy, a family friend, had bequeathed him, are glimpses of a historical treasure house.

Nehru with his grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, in an undated photo from the Kulwant Roy Collection. (Aditya Arya Archives, Kulwant Roy Collection )

Nehru with his grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, in an undated photo from the Kulwant Roy Collection. (Aditya Arya Archives) 

One part of the unfolding story is that several striking images, capturing scenes from the last years of British rule and the early decades after Independence, have turned out to be Roy’s work. : Gandhi and Jinnah arguing in 1939, Nehru and Ghaffar Khan strolling in Simla while Sardar Patel goes past in a palki, Nehru’s hand curled tenderly around grandson Rajiv’s neck and many more. The photographs have been reprinted over the decades but credited to nameless stringers. Only now are these omissions beginning to be repaired. Some of his treasures are reproduced here to make sure people know his name and his pictures.

Kulwant Roy is no longer with us but his historical works will remain and will be remembered as long as his photographed characters are remembered .

Kulwant Roy

Kulwant Roy

Acknowledgements : Herald Tribune, Yahoo group circulation, Aditya Arya.


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