Rajnagar, Birbhum

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Rajnagar
রাজনগর
Census Town
Rajnagar is located in West Bengal
Rajnagar
Rajnagar
Location in West Bengal, India
Coordinates: 23°57′N 87°19′E / 23.95°N 87.32°E / 23.95; 87.32Coordinates: 23°57′N 87°19′E / 23.95°N 87.32°E / 23.95; 87.32
Country  India
State West Bengal
District Birbhum
Elevation 101 m (331 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 13,965
Languages
 • Official Bengali, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 731 130
Telephone code 91 3462
Sex ratio 961 /
Lok Sabha constituency Birbhum
Vidhan Sabha constituency Suri
Website birbhum.nic.in
CD Block
See Rajnagar for other places with same name.

Rajnagar (also called Nagar and 'Nagore') is a census town in Suri Sadar subdivision of Birbhum District in the Indian state of West Bengal.[1] It was formerly the capital of Royal Kingdoms in the area. With the fading away of the kingdoms, the town lost much of its importance.

History[edit]

Rajnagar was founded by Bir Singh, a great Hindu Raja in ancient times on whose name the district Birbhum was formed. In 1206, Rajnagar was occupied by Muhammad Shiran, a General of Muhammad Bakhtiyar, and annexed by Ali Mardan, on 1211. However, Pathans do not seem to have enjoyed undisputed control over the entire district or area. At least the western part of the district, with Rajnagar as its capital, seems to have been ruled by the descendants of Bir Singh, the Bir Rajas. The rent roll of Todar Mal leads to the conclusion that by the middle of the 16th century the entire district was brought under the administration of the Mughals through numerous wars raged on this 'Gateway of Bengal'. The later Muslim Zamindars of Rajnagar, known as "Nagar Raj", were feudatories of the Mughals.[2]

Nagar Raj[edit]

Jonad Khan, an adventurous Pathan, is said to have established the House at Nagar in 1600, having treachouresly killed the Bir Raja under whom he served. He was succeeded by his son, Bahadur Khan, alias Ranmast Khan. Asadullah Khan (1697-1718), grandson of Bahadur Khan, was a pious man who was on good terms with Murshid Quli Khan, the Nawab of Bengal. A devout person, he enjoyed full autonomy.

His son, Badi-uz-zaman Khan (1718–52) made an abortive attempt at shaking off the nominal allegiance to Murshidabad. He was invested with the title of Raja by Murshid Quli Khan. During his reign Birbhum was ravaged by the Marathas. They also overran Rajnagar. It was during the reign of his son, Asad-uz-Zaman Khan (1752-1777) that the Nagar Raj witnessed the zenith of its power and then started declining. The Raja was faithful to the Nawab and after the Battle of Plassey, was on bad terms with the British. He was defeated by the combined forces of the British and Mir Qasim in 1761. He fled, regrouped and fought back again. He was completely routed at the Battle of Hetampur in 1765. By a treaty, he was restored to his estate but much of his autonomy was lost.[2] In the course of time, they lost their supremacy to the Hetampur Raj. The British set up their district headquarters at Suri, and by the early 19th century, Rajnagar had been reduced to a deserted town with dilapidated palaces and ruins of habitation, and the forest slowly encroaching.[3]

Nostalgia[edit]

The last Pathan ruler held sway over the area in the mid-19th century, but Rafiqul Alam Khan, a successor of the Nagar Raj family, is still honoured as the Raja by the town's residents, the descendants of the one-time tenants of his predecessors. On the occasion of the Muslim festivals of Muharram and Eid, he regains his position as the Raja of Rajnagar. The present Raja did not get a realm from his ancestors but is the proud owner of a royal attire with a royal diadem made of silk. The attire is tattered, but Raja Saheb still wears it when he becomes the “ruler” — twice a year.[4]

Geography[edit]

Rajnagar is located at 23°57′N 87°19′E / 23.95°N 87.32°E / 23.95; 87.32.[5] It has an average elevation of 101 m (331 ft). It is located on the western edge of the district, bordering on Jharkhand. The area sits on ancient Archean rocks. Rajnagar receives an average annual rainfall of 1405 mm, most of it in the months of June to October. The area has latterite soil, which is infertile and unsuitable for agriculture.[6]

Suri, 25 km away, is connected by a road.[1]

Demographics[edit]

In the 2001 census, Rajnagar community development block had a population of 69,698, out of which 35,545 were males and 34,153 were females.[7]

Economy[edit]

Proximity to the supply centres of raw material, as well as the royal court and an aristocratic community, gave rise to certain centres of cottage industries for cotton and tasar silk in the Tantipara-Bhabanipur-Karidhya zone. The famine of 1770 left both agriculture and industry in a bad shape. Trade also suffered. People had sunk to a depth of poverty which the magistrate of Birbhum emphatically said he had not seen anywhere in India. The Maratha raids of 1742-45 had earlier laid waste not only the countryside but also Rajnagar itself.[8]

Culture[edit]

Places of interest[edit]

Kalidaha, a pond, is said to have been excavated by Hindu Rajas and dedicated to goddess Kali. There is an island in the middle of the pond. It is believed to have been connected with the palace through an underground tunnel. On three sides of Kalidaha tank there are the wings of the former palaces of Muslim Rajas. In front of the ruins of the Imambara stands a fine Mosque in a state of good preservation, which is still used by local Muslims. A little to the south are the ruins of another old mosque called the Motichur Masjid which had 12 towers but some have fallen down. Other important sites to be mentioned are 'Nahabatkhana' of the Bir Rajas, and Fulbagan burial place of the Muslim Rajas.[1][9]

Craft[edit]

The National Institute of Fashion Technology has trained almost 2000 artisans from various parts of Birbhum in handicraft and handloom as a part of its consolidated cluster development project undertaken in collaboration with the ministry of rural development and its counterpart in the state. Estimated at Rs 15 crore this project is underway in five selected parts of the country. The main project in the eastern zone was implemented in Bolpur, Nalhati, Ilambazar and Rajnagar.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Rajnagar". Birbhum district administration. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  2. ^ a b Gupta, Dr. Ranjan Kumar, The Economic Life of a Bengal District: Birbhum 1770 – 1857, pp. 2 – 9, The University of Burdwan, 1984.
  3. ^ Gupta, Dr. Ranjan Kumar, p. 14
  4. ^ "King gets back realm on Muharram". The Statesman, 20 February 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-17. [dead link]
  5. ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Rajnagar
  6. ^ Mukhopadhyay, Malay, Birbhum Jelar Bhougolik Parichiti, Paschim Banga, Birbhum Special Issue, February 2006, (Bengali), pp. 29-32, Information & Cultural Department, Government of West Bengal.
  7. ^ "Census of India 2001". Provisional population totals, West Bengal, Table 4. Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2007-08-24. 
  8. ^ Gupta, Dr. Ranjan Kumar, pp. 14,20,26
  9. ^ Sarkar, Joydeep, Paryatan Boichitre Birbhum Jela, Paschim Banga, Birbhum Special Issue, February 2006, (Bengali), p. 200, Information & Cultural Department, Government of West Bengal.
  10. ^ Roy Chowdhury, Amrita. "NIFT in a new role, to train artisans". The Statesman, 1 August 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-17. [dead link]