Written by Faruque Abdullah
During Nawab (Muslim Emperor) period, in Nawab’s administrative work and wars the elephants and horses had endless importance. Nawabs used to go in battle by sitting on the elephant. From Nabab Sarafaraj to Nawab Sirajuddaula each and everyone went to the Battle by riding on the back of elephant. During the war of Griya, Nawab Sarfaroz had died by the enemy’s gunshot, sitting on the elephant. Nawab Siraj also went out of Motijheel palace to Palashi sitting on the elephant. It is said that fifteen thousand horsemen were used in Palasi war by Siraj.
For the fastest speed needed in the war, the contribution of the horse was undeniable. Even during the Nawab period it has not been changed or exceptional. Elephants and horses were not only noteworthy in the process of warfare and administration but also it added pride to the Nawabs; Nawabs also used elephant and horse riding in their private travelling. Nawab, in any religious, social or state function, used to carry out royal decorations including his nobles and soldiers. In these occasions, the Nawab used to go on the elephant and the soldiers were on the horses. During the Nawab period, the elephants were the symbols of the nobility. Besides, the horses were also used as vehicles widely. During the Nawab period, in the usage of warfare and administration works, they used to buy the finest horses by spending money.
The Nawabs were very aware of purchasing the elephants and horses. In the beginning of the Nawab period, there were separate arrangements for Nawab’s elephants and horses. At that time, elephants were in the different shades and the horses were in the stables. There were elephants in their shades. And in the stables, there were horses including other animals. Although, during the Nazafi Nawabs’ period, the influences of the Nawab were decreasing. After the conquest of the Company, the British used to collect the revenue of the country; they protected the country and lead the administrative works. As a result the Nawab’s army was broken. For this, the need of elephants and horses was not as important as the previous years. The amount of elephants and horses in stables, were gradually decreasing.
Later, during the period of Najafi dynasty Nawabs, when the former stables were in a dilapidated condition, Nawab Humayun Jaan built the present stable in the middle of Lalbagh. The beauty and size of the stable is so big that in the early 20th century Lord Curzon came to visit Murshidabad and he saw this Nawavi stables and he mistakenly thought it as the Nawab’s palace. Not only Lord Curzon, today many of the tourists, coming to Murshidabad, make this mistake.
This establishment was built at the cost of 1 lakh 32 thousand 599 rupees under the rule of Nawab Humayun Jahan. The cost of the program was given from the ‘Nizamat Fund’. The main path to the entrance of the stables is very high and beautiful. It will be seen the large courtyard on both sides of the entrance and a lot of pillars across the entire courtyard. Their ceilings are constructed of the wooden logs and the roof was of lime-trasing. After this, there will be seen many big-house halls in the stables. These were used to keep the elephants, horses and camels. There were large ventilators on the walls of the stables to allow the light and air entering in the house. There were about two thousand horses, hundreds of elephants, and the camels, asses and mules were also in this stable.
Not only this, the transport of Nawab’s essential vehicles, especially horse-riding vehicles, was also kept in this stables. There was a large ground adjoining the place where horses were trained during this time. And beside it, there was a big pool where all the animals of the stables were bathed. Later, Nabab Wasif Ali Mirza donated the large ground to the Murshidabad Town Club. The stable is now counting the days of the destruction of its former glory.
Photograph Courtesy : Faruque Abdullah
Helped by :
1) Purna CH MAJUMDAR, MUSNUD OF MURSHIDABAD (1704-1904), MURSHIDABAD, 1905.
2) Murshidabad and Nazim of Bengal, Dr. SM Reza Ali Khan
Grateful to :
1) Syed Mohammad Abbas Ali Mirza (present Nawab Bahadur of Murshidabad)
2) Syed Reza Ali Mirza, Chhote (Younger) Nawab, (member of Murshidabad Nizamat family)