Cooch Behar – I first came to know about this city when I was reading an article related to Queen Gayatri Devi of Jaipur. The father of Maharani Gayatri Devi was the king of Cooch Behar. Google was not in existence when I was reading this article. I considered Cooch Behar a part of present-day Bihar. But I was not too different from the goal. Cooch Behar, being a part of West Bengal, is situated at the place where West Bengal connects with Assam. This district connects the north-eastern regions of India with other parts of India. Due to its size, this area is also called the hen’s neck. One has to go through this district to reach the north-eastern regions of India by land route.
I had also heard many stories about the kings of Cooch Behar, like they had laid their lands at stake many times in the game of Chaupar. Did this remind you of the story of Mahabharata? The story of Mahabharata was definitely flashed in my mind.
Earlier this year, when I was on a trip to Sikkim and Bengal, I also visited Cooch Behar city. Situated in the middle of Bhutan and Bangladesh, this region of India is very famous for its excellent palaces. The women here are also considered extremely beautiful.
History of Cooch Behar
The history of Cooch Behar takes us back to prehistoric times. It is mentioned in epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. This city was a part of the Kamrup region of the Kingdom of Pragjyotisha which was at that time spread to present day Guwahati. The Gupta Empire was on the pillars of the period. The Kamarupa of the century is mentioned. According to known historical sources, at that time there was the empire of Gupta Dynasty and Pal Kshatriya Dynasty. At the end of the 15th century, the Muslim rulers also dominated here for a short time. At that time it was called Kamata. After this, the kings of Rajbongshi or Koch dynasty began to establish their supremacy in this region. Even after Indian independence, kings of this dynasty existed.
In 1873, King Nripendra Narayan ascended the throne of Cooch Behar, who was a young child at that time. The Cooch Behar that we see today was implemented during his tenure. His most famous heritage is the palace of Cooch Behar. This palace with European image is, by my estimation, the most magnificent of the Indian palaces.
Maharani Gayatri Devi was the granddaughter of King Nripendra Narayan.
17th after the invasion by Bhutan. In the middle of the century a treaty was reached with the East India Company. After this treaty, peace was established in the region. Cooch Behar princely state was merged with India in the year 1979 and in 1950 it became a district in the state of West Bengal.
Get more information about the detailed history and genealogy of Cooch Behar from the NIC web site.
Places to visit in Cooch Behar
Castle of Cooch Behar – Rajbadi
This unmatched red palace built in the year 18 is the residence of the royal family. It is also called Rajbadi by the locals. This palace situated in the city of Cooch Behar, full of ancient heritage, is very visible. The wide expansive gardens surrounding the sprawling and sprawling palace of red paint present a very pleasing landscape, seeing which many features such as delightful, fragile, curvy and charming come out from the mouth. Its length of 400 feet is not noticed until you come near it. From the entrance it appears to be a small palace. Walking through the gardens, you will guess the actual size of the palace as you move beyond the small ponds.
Cooch Behar Mahal is also known as Victor Jubilee Mahal.
The right side of the palace structure is wider than the left. It seems that the principle of symmetry is not deliberately adopted. At the top of the structure is a beautiful dome of metal. The dome is set on top of a cylindrical structure with some archway holes. This dome is visible from any corner of the Cooch Behar city. You cannot get lost anywhere in Cooch Behar. Look around the horizon and find the dome of this palace. On going to that side you will definitely reach the palace. Although this palace is of only two floors, it appears to be relatively high. Perhaps the reason for this is its high dome.
The concept and inspiration of the Cooch Behar Mahal is derived from the Buckingham Palace in England.
There is a museum inside the palace. I came here on Friday. Look at my fate The museum is closed on every Friday. I could not visit the museum. But I came to know here that most of the exhibits of the museum have been stolen and are unavailable forever.
I had put some photographs of this palace on social media. He was noticed by some of my friends who had visited this palace in their childhood. He was very surprised to see the new and beautiful avatar of the palace. Some of its credit also goes to the Archaeological Survey of India, who is responsible for the maintenance of this palace.
I could not visit the museum. But when I saw this carved knob of the door made of brass metal, I easily guessed the interior decoration and artifacts of the palace.
We started touring around the palace. Its backdrop also looked as attractive as the façade.
In front of the palaces of the palace, a chateau was cleverly attached to his street. While touring around the palace, we get a feeling of hunger and craving. Ready to serve you, his hawker was stationed in front of you. What can be a better basic facility than this.
Coaches of Cooch Behar
It is impossible to imagine an ancient city of India without a temple. Their temples have always carried the responsibility of preserving the cultural heritage of ancient cities of India. There are many temples in this historic city of Cooch Behar. I am giving information about the temples I visited here.
Madan Mohan Bari
The architecture of Madan Mohan Temple, painted in pure white color, is very special. It has a circular dome in its center. There are three different temples within three different chambers located in a straight line. This entire temple complex is situated in the middle of a wide and well maintained garden. When you walk around on the soft grass of the garden, you will see many types of crafts. The structure of the entrance of the temple looks like a fort. This structure appears to be very attractive due to its color in white.
The main deity of the Madan Mohan temple is Lord Krishna. An enchanting idol of Krishna wearing brass cloth and wearing a flute, made of brass and embellished with yellow marigold flowers, is the center of attraction. In the past, the royal family of Cooch Behar performed all the rituals of the temple. I was told that no member of the royal family now resides here. Therefore, now all these rituals are performed by the District President.
We arrived here in the morning. We saw devotees sitting in the corridor doing bhajans and kirtans.
The temple on the right is dedicated to Mother Kali, whom I have always seen associated with Bengal. The third temple has images of Bhavani Devi and Tara Devi. There is also another small temple dedicated to Mahishasuramardini.
There is a small cistern in front of the temple which is surrounded by pavilion.
The Madan Mohan Temple was also built by King Nripendra Narayan.
The festival of Raas Yatra is celebrated with pomp in this temple during Kartik Purnima. This festival comes 15 days after Deepawali. This means that this festival is celebrated at the same time when the festival of Dev Deepavali or Tripurari Purnima is celebrated all over India.
Baneshwar Shiva Temple
Baneshwar Shiva temple is located near a reservoir in the slightly northern part of the city.
This white colored plain has an ancient Shivling inside the temple. The specialty of this temple is that it is situated about 10-12 feet below the Shivling surface. So after entering inside the temple, some stairs have to come down. That’s why the Shivling is seen. My guess is that with time and modernity, the surface of the other parts of the surface kept rising and the Shivling is situated unobstructed at its established place.
There is a large number of turtles in the reservoir located near the Baneshwar temple. Near the temple too we saw many turtles roaming free.
In the center of the city is a pool or reservoir called Sagar Dighi. We started walking around this reservoir to get a feel of the essence of the city’s machinery. Here is what we saw and experienced:
Some buildings of the colonial period have now been converted into government offices. Most of those buildings are painted red, which commemorate colonial Calcutta.
There are statues of famous men of Bengal at regular intervals. Their names were written in Bengali. So I could not identify anyone except Gurudev Rabindra Nath Thakur.
There is also a statue of the modern Cooch Behar architect Nripendra Narayan, which is located on one side of Sagar Dighi.
Sagar Dighi – This quiet square reservoir is extremely soft and serene. It has stairs similar to ghats. It seems as if the life of the entire Cooch Behar city is moving around this reservoir. It is a silent spectator of all the events happening in this city. Flying over it, ducks floating on the banks of water and trees providing shade, take us to another world. The philosophy of all this is very enjoyable.
Beautiful frescoes have been made by placing small pieces of mosaic or ceramic tile on the reefs. All the elements of the city are beautifully displayed on a mural. Another mural depicts Baul singers from Bengal.
- Cooch Behar is connected to most major cities of the country by rail.
- The entrance fee is charged to visit the Madan Mohan temple. A fee is also charged for the camera. The priests here may seem extremely rude and devoid of courtesy.
- You can hire a rickshaw or a taxi to tour the city. We took a taxi from Jaldapara and returned after taking a one-day trip to Cooch Behar.
- You can complete the overview of most of the major landmarks in the city in a day.
- On the way back, you can come driving from within the dense chilpat forest.
Cooch Behar seems to me to be the best combination of nature, culture, heritage and spirituality.
Translation: Madhumita Tamhane