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Palaces of rulers, wealthy merchants and officials …
More photos of the remnants of the magnificent history of Bengal.
The seat of the British Raj for awhile, the region attracted merchants from the exact opposite end of India – Rajasthan. Traders from Bikaner settled in Murshidabad one by one and led the growth of prosperity in the region with the astute money management skills.
And along with them came their places of worship – the Jain Temples.
And eventually the city saw its decline – perhaps so steeply that there was no time for the later generations to re-establish in newer trades and maintain even diminished levels of prosperity.
Some kothis have fallen to ruins as it would take enormous wealth to even maintain these large opulent structures.
But if you give yourself totally to the experience of walking about these places, the grandeur of the lives lived in magnificence speaks to you in soft whispers, in fleeting glimpses of color on the walls or a broken chandelier neglected by even the thieves of the past.
Here are some pictures of a Kothi in ruins
I am neither a historian nor an economist – but I observed the stark contrast between the basic subsistence levels of the homes that surround these opulent homes. In other regions across India we see a few wealthy merchant homes, scattered across other homes of gradually varying levels of wealth levels and the wealth distribution curve of the population is more evenly spread out. Here the contrast is very stark – like black and white and few shades of grey – and it appears to be that some were extremely wealthy while the rest belonged to a much much much lower band of wealth & income.
Here are photos of the rural areas in the neighborhood of the few grand buildings.
The contrast is enjoyable in itself, for me as a tourist experiencing it all for just a few days. If I were to be a local resident in the village, my thoughts might be different. For then I might know the tales that led to this contrast.
At any rate, the fact that the wealth there created everlasting architectural beauty that I was able to see many decades later, is nice. And let’s just enjoy that for the moment.
To see a living recreation of the lives lived in such places, watch the film Devdas the magnum Opus of cinema director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
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