Berhampur, also fondly known as Baharampur, is a city in the district of Murshidabad, West Bengal. It currently serves as the administrative headquarters of the same district. The place is famous because Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, the great Bengali author, wrote Anandamath when he sat next to the riverbanks of Bhagirathi. One of the most important reasons why this district town occupies a place in Indian History, is because it served as the first capital of India under the British rule. It was in the year 1772 that the British had shifted to Kolkata.
Berhampur is the sixth largest city in the state and lies in the middle of it. Since many Brahmins lived there, the place was dubbed as Brahmapur. The distance from Kolkata is about 200 km or 124 miles.
Once the Battle of Plassey was over in June 1757, the East India Company beefed up Berhampore, and it was used as a military camp till the year 1870. However, there are many questions with regards to the setting up of the city of Baharampur.
Closely located to Berhampore, there is a place called Karnasubarna. The chronicles of Karnasubarna go back to 600 AD. You will find a number of edifices constructed in the latter part of 17th century in this area.
The encampment was set up in the form of an administrative district in 1876. It also served as the headquarters of the district of Murshidabad. In 1853, the Berhampore College was established and renovated by a special group of people in 1888, under the sponsorship of Rani Swarnamayi.
The oldest notable conflict of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 happened in Barrack Square, Berhampur on February 25, 1857. At that time, the place was under the reign of Raja Krishnath and his predecessors. Around 24,397 people lived in the area in 1901, including the historic settlement of Cossim Bazar. Both Lalbag and Cossim Bazar bear testimony to a blood-spattered yet majestic epoch in Indian history.
How to reach Berhampur
Road: Since Baharampur is located in the heart of West Bengal, it functions as the connection between South and North Bengal. National Highway 34 joins this city with various other places. Bus services are frequently available from South to North Bengal and the other way around. ‘Mohona’ is the famous bus depot over here. Buses that tour North Bengal from Kolkata stop at Berhampore. Buses are available from majority of towns and cities including New Jalpaiguri, Kolkata, Suri, Siliguri, Asansol, Durgapur, Thimpu, Dhubri, and Malda.
Rail: Cossimbazar Station, Berhampore Court Station, and Murshidabad Station fall on the Sealdah-Lalgola track of Eastern Railways. Trains like Hazarduari Express, Sealdah- Lalgola Bhagirathi Express, and Lalgola Fast Passenger are available on an everyday basis. Kolkata-Lalgola tri-weekly Express or Dhanadhanye Express is an express train which follows the Sealdah-Lalgola itinerary. Khagraghat is one more station which enjoys connectivity to Howrah via Barharwa-Azimganj-Katwa Loop Line. Kamrup Express, Teesta-Torsa Express, Intercity express and other express and passenger trains follow this itinerary. If you want to visit the city from North Bengal, then it is recommended that you avail trains to the Khagraghat station.
Waterways: Since Berhampore lies on the banks of Bhagirathi, you can choose waterways to visit there as well. Southern Berhampore is linked to northern Berhampore through launch boats. Launches from Kolkata to Hazarduari and Berhampore are available, too. Frequent ferry services are available from Baharampur to places like Jiaganj and Azimganj in Murshidabad.
Tourist attractions in Baharampur
The city is known among tourists in West Bengal and other parts of India. International travelers also come here since it was the first headquarter of the East India Company. The place has an extensive past which is augmented by the Sultans and Nawabs of Bengal, Zamindars and other colonial powers from Europe including the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British.
The top-rated tourist draws in and around Baharampur are as follows:
- Nizamat Imambara
- Hazarduari Palace
- Katra Masjid
- New Cossimbazar Palace
- Old Cossimbazar Palace
- Jagat Seth’s Residence, Temple at Jagat Seth’s house and garden
- Nashipur Palace
- Jafarganj Cemetery
- Fauti Masjid
- Kathgola Palace
- Namak Haram Deorhi
Special Mention: Barrack Field
The Barrack Field or the “Barrack er Maath” (in Bengali “field” means “maath”), as called by the Bengalis— is situated at around 2 kms from the Behrampore court and around a kilometer from the bus stand (3 km east south of Khagra Ghat Road station). NH4 runs across Barrack Field. The army camp was set up in the year 1767 under the British Rule here. The place, shaded by a bunch of trees also serves as a visual treat for sore eyes.
Lord Clive and Warren Hastings had lived in what is called the modern circuit house. It is also the place which is infallibly attached to the First War of Independence or the Sepoy Mutiny in India in the year 1857 (26th February). There is a memento (“smarak–dedicated to the martyrs), erected (in the year 1957 on the 15th August) at the north-western end of the field.
There are a number of Government entities situated here including courts, hospital, jail etc. There is a tourist lodge further north and Gorabazar in the south.