Thursday, 14 March 2013

Destination India

West Bengal (PART-VII)

Cooch Behar (1)



Cooch Behar is a district of the state of West Bengal, as well as the district's namesake town. In course of time, Cooch Behar has been transformed from a kingdom to a State and from a State to the present status of a district. Before 28th August 1949, Cooch Behar was a Princely State ruled by the king of Cooch Behar, who had been a feudatory ruler under British Government. By an agreement dated 28th August, 1949 the king of Cooch Behar ceded full and extensive authority, jurisdiction and power of the state to the Dominion Government of India. The transfer of administration of the state to the Govt. of India came into force on 12th September, 1949. Eventually, Cooch Behar was transferred and merged with the province of West Bengal on 19th January, 1950 and from that date Cooch Behar emerged as a new District in the administrative map of West Bengal.
The name "Cooch-Behar" is derived from the name of the Koch Rajbongshi tribe that is indigenous to this area. The word "Behar" is the Sanskrit word "Bihar" (to travel) which means the land through which the "Koch Rajbongshi" Kings used to travel or roam about ("Bihar").
The greatest Koch Rajbongshi King that has ever ruled in the Kingdom of Kamatapur is Maharaj Naranarayan, as well as his younger brother Prince Chilaray and other descendents. Historic Kamatapur comprises the total North Bengal maximum parts of Assam, some parts of present Bangladesh, Kishanganj district of Bihar and a few parts of Bhutan. The Koch-Rajbongshi community is demanding a separate state of their own comprising the parts of their old Kingdom to save their centuries-old culture from extinction.

In fact, being the place of the Raj (monarchy), the district captures the bygone glorious past in the moods of local people even today. The peace loving people of Cooch Behar even boast of this beautiful city where the Maharajas (kings) used to stay and never tires, if not laments in excitement, narrating the Raj stories. It is obvious that anyone who has visited Cooch Behar City cannot keep sound in not appreciating this beautiful planned city with infrastructure quite similar to any modern planned city. Moreover, the place is so quiet & calm, void of the hassle-n-bustle of busy cities. And above that the climate here like the rest of North-Bengal is just fine to let you feel the freshness & beauty of nature all around.

Places to visit:

 Cooch Behar Palace (Rajbari)



Cooch Behar Palace, also called the Victor Jubilee Palace, is a landmark in Cooch Behar city, West Bengal. Idealised from the concept of classical European style of Italian Renaissance, it was designed on the model of Buckingham Palace in London in 1887, during the reign of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan.

Idealized from the concept of classical European style of Italian Renaissance, this magnificent palace was built by the famous Koch king Maharaja Nripendra Narayan in 1887. Raised on a basement of 1.5 meters in height, this double storied brick building covers an area of 4768 square meters. It extends 120 meters from north to south and 90 meters from east to west. The frontal facade consists of a series of arches resting by an alternate arrangement of narrow and broad piers to contain single and double Corinthian pilasters respectively.

Inside view of ceiling (dome)
Floor of Darbar Hall

A porch is projected in the center to provide main entrance to the building through   the Durbar Hall. Recalling the memory of St. Peter's Church at Rome, the Durbar Hall is dodecagonal in shape, resting on four arches supported by massive Corinthian pilasters and projecting a lantern at the top. The intrados of the dome is relieved in stepped patterns and flanked by a small elegant balcony with twelve window openings at the base. In the center of the Durbar Hall, the marble floor contains the royal insignia in pietradura. The building contains more than fifty rooms/halls of varied dimensions which include the bedrooms, dressing rooms, billiard room, kitchen, and dinning hall, dancing hall, library, toshakhana and the ladies gallery. Certain rooms deserve   special attention   for their beautiful paintings in the ceiling as well as in the interior wall surface.

The Cooch Behar Palace, noted for its elegance and grandeur, is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Madan Mohan Bari


The Madan Mohan Bari is a very important temple located in the middle of the town of Cooch Behar. The temple was constructed in between 1885 and 1889 by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan. Inside the temple, deities of Ma Kali, Lord Madan Mohan, Ma Bhavani and Ma Tara can be found. Madan Mohan is a form of the Hindu god, Krishna. Krishna is celebrated as Madan Mohan, who mesmerises everyone. His consort, Radha is glorified as Madan Mohan's Mohini, the mesmeriser of the mesmeriser for spiritual aspirants. Radha is known as the mediator without whom access to Krishna is not possible.

Lord Madan Mohan

During the festival of Raas Jatra every year, the Raas Puja is performed along with the Raas Mela being held which is often considered one of the biggest North Bengal festivals.

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