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Continued after 17th Maharaja :~

CHAPTER - 4 of 6

Previous King(s)

Maharaja Harendra Narayan [Rajshak 274-331 || 1783-1840 A.D.] : 18th Maharaja

(p1) When Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan passed away in 1783 A.D., it was time for infant Harendra Narayan to be sworn in as the next king and as per Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan's will until Harendra Narayan matured enough to look after the administration, Rajmata would direct the state administration. But Sachinandan Mustafi, Shivprasad Mustafi, Rupchandra, Bishnuprasad Bakshi, Joygobinda Lahiri and other high ranking officials discussed and hinted at the conclusion that Najirdeo was planning to crown in his son on the Behar throne. Hence they alerted Jital Singh, Habilder of the Company's army. Jital Singh had to exercise under the command of Rajmata/Queen as directed by the Company. Maharani/Queen asked Jital Singh to arrange for the security of the royal scepter and umbrella and further instructed him not to allow anyone inside the Durbar (royal hall-room) without her prior consent. As per custom crowning-in ceremony was not possible until and unless Najirdeo of the kingdom held the royal umbrella upon the king sworn-in. In the meantime Najirdeo reached the Behar palace from Balarampur. He brought his son Birendra Narayan along with him with the intension to enthrone him. But he was refused to enter the Durbar hall he well fathomed the circumstances built up hinting his machination and angrily returned back to Balarampur. Since the Najir's presence was      next (p2)

(p2) compulsory at the crowning-in ceremony, Rajmata set off for Balarampur and returned back to Behar along with Najirdeo.

After entering the palace, Najirdeo brought infant Harendra Narayan at the Durbar hall. He himself sat on the throne with Harendra Narayan on his left lap and his own son on the other side holding the royal scepter and the umbrella. Currency were issued in the name of Maharaja Harendra Narayan. Brahmins chanted Ved-mantra (chantings from holy Hindu books) while cannons were fired to mark the enthronement of the new king of Behar.

Later witty Najirdeo utilizing Maharaja's new sealmohar (stamp or royal emblem) noted down that after the death of Maharaja Harendra Narayan his son Birendra Narayan would be the king of Behar and kept away the paper along with the seal. Royal officials intimated Habilder Jital Singh about that secret. Accordingly when Jital Singh asked Najirdeo to hand over the paper and the seal, turning furious in excitement Najirdeo knocked the Habilder. In return Jital Singh held out his sword while a dozen of soldiers besieged the Najir to their bayonets end. Though the Najir's bodyguards were excited at the incident, could do little seeing the arrest of their master. The said paper     
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(p3) and the seal were confiscated from Najirdeo. Thereafter when Najirdeo along with his soldiers had left, Durbar hall was closed down and guards were posted on vigil. Thus the crowning of Maharaja Harendra Narayan was completed.

Returning back to Balarampur, Najirdeo intimated the Company representative at Rangpur, Mr. Goodland, about the insult he faced at the hands of Habilder Jital Singh through his official Shyamchandra Ray. Trusting Najir's words Mr. Goodland brought back Jital Singh to Rangpur and sent another Habilder along with fresh soldiers to Behar. Jital Singh was then dismissed. Noticing such turn of events Najirdeo interpreted that Mr. Goodland had support for his doings and hence there was nothing to fear. Hence after ten days of crowning in Maharaja Harendra Narayan, Najirdeo set off for capital Behar to enthrone himself. Being informed of such desire, Rajmata in fright informed the new Habilder. Habilder assured that none would be allowed to enter the palace interiors by any means. But when Najirdeo with his soldiers set foot in the capital, people fled from palace and town hearing the beating of army drums. After entering the palace Najirdeo ascended the throne and himself held the royal umbrella thus signifying his crowning. He issued currency in his own name and created his own sealmohar (emblem). He killed all the kingsmen loyal to the Maharaja.   
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(p4) He set around the palace interior on guard and prevented supply of any food items to the palace interiors. Rajmata along with Maharaja Harendra Narayan were held under home-arrest without any food. Meanwhile the Maharaja was attacked with pox. No arrangement of doctors or attendants were allowed by the Najir, but luckily Maharaja recovered in spite of no healing.

In the meantime Rajmata sent a letter to the Governor General at Kolkata through Gosai and Khasnabis intimating about the crisis of the Maharaja of Behar. Even Mr. Goodland was informed that Najirdeo himself had claimed the Behar throne. When he was further assured of the menace created by Najirdeo pertaining to refusal of food to Maharaja Harendra Narayan, Mr. Goodland at first imprisoned Najir's official Shyamchandra Ray. Najirdeo on the other hand fled to Balarampur fearing arrest. Gosai and Khasnabis reached Behar and started looking after state administration. Mr. Goodland arrested Najirdeo and imprisoned him in Behar capital.

Mr. Goodland informed the Governor General at Kolkata about his actions. But Governor General was not pleased with Goodland's steps and hence called him back to Kolkata and sent Mr. Peter Moore to Rangpur in his place. By that time Najirdeo had escaped from prison. He along with Shyamchandra were rearrested and sent to  
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(p5) Maharaja Harendra Narayan. Mr. Moore met the Maharaja and stationed one company of soldiers along with Subedar Gopal Singh to protect the Behar palace. Rajmata directed state administration in place of minor Maharaja Harendra Narayan while Gosai & Khasnabis helped Rajmata to look after state duties.

Meanwhile Najirdeo passed away. His elder brother Bhagwant Narayan attacked Behar palace with 4000 soldiers. While Subedar Gopal Singh was preparing to fight back with his soldiers, he was shown a fake British order to surrender the palace to Bhagwant Narayan. Thus when Gopal Singh ceased to fight, there was no other option before the Maharaja's few numbered loyal soldiers but to resist the enemy on their own. They were defeated easily. Rajmata took shelter in the Madan Mohan Temple along with the Maharaja. But they were caught in no time and Bhagwant Narayan took them prisoners to Balarampur.

At that time McDowell was the British representative at Rangpur. Having heard of the fatal condition of the Behar royalty, he informed the Governor General about the events. Two companies of soldiers reached Rangpur through Baharampur from Kolkata. Following day Captain and the Lieutenant reached Najirganj along with four companies of soldiers. Captain Rawton was the commander of the force. The army was divided into four and surrounded  
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(p6) Balarampur from four quarters. Supply of food to the Najir's house was stopped. That was rainy season and everywhere it was flooded with water. After much attempts Ganesh Jamadar and Subedar could not arrange any boat to cross the river. At last two small boats could be arranged somehow. But message was received from the Rajmata that Najir had her along with the Maharaja seated on mattress of explosive and would blow them up to pieces if the Captain dared to cross the river and set foot in Balarampur. Again another day news spread out that Najir was going to release the Maharaja. In that way six days passed by and on the seventh day the British Captain prepared to attack at early morning. Due to heavy downpour Najir's soldiers were still in slumber while Captain commanded his soldiers to proceed. Captain Rawton crossed the river with a few soldiers in the two small boats. The gate of the house at Balarampur was still not opened. With a few fast moving soldiers Captain ran for the room where the Maharaja had been kept. On reaching there they found Maharaja Harendra Narayan outside the room. Bishnuprasad Bakshi identified the child Maharaja. Taking up the Maharaja in arms Captain ran back to the boat and landed him safely on the other bank. By the time other soldiers were then persuading the Rajmata to follow them escape from Balarampur, Najir's soldiers were alerted and they started firing. Then three companies of British soldiers also started firing from three directions.    next (p7)

(p7In that strangle about 250 hundreds were killed and few soldiers were arrested. Fire was set to Najir's house. Rajmata along with the loyal people crossed the river. In Palki (carriage or transport-means carried by two/four persons on foot) Maharaja and Rajmata were brought to Behar palace. Maharaja offered hospitality to the British officers and felicitated them by giving two elephants, two horses, ten thousand currency along with valuable gems.

As ordered by the Governor General, Shova Singh Subedar along with one company of soldiers were entrusted the duty of protecting the palace. A committee was formed for investigating the tyranny of Najirdeo. Later Najirdeo was expelled from his duties as per the committee report. It was also decided that there would be no claimants other than Maharaja Harendra Narayan to the Behar throne.

Arrangement were made for the education of Maharaja Harendra Narayan. Harishankar Chakraborty was appointed to teach him Sanskrit and Munshi Nrisingha was to teach him Bengali & Pershi. Since Maharaja Harendra Narayan was of minor age, Governor General Lord Cornwallis appointed on commission Henry Douglas to look after state administration. Joining duty Mr. Douglas appointed Joygopal Singha as Dewan and Krishnaprasad Ray as the judge of Faujdari Court. It was ordered that in every royal paper/letter there should be the British stamp of   
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(p8Douglas beside Maharaja's sealmohar (emblem/stamp). Thus every royal order bore Maharaja's signature on the above and Douglas' signature below. All mahals (parts/ regions of kingdom) were auctioned. That increased state's income to much extent. State expenditures were checked down and many officials were laid off. Subjects had to pay stipulated taxes/revenues on the last day of each month. Royal officials were also paid the same day. In that way state administration was orderly carried out.

Mr. Douglas personally looked after the lessons taught to Maharaja Harendra Narayan. He arranged for appropriate Bengali & Pershi teachers. Maharaja used to write to the Governor General after every three months. He used to exercise and ride horses everyday.

After Mr. Douglas returned back to kolkata, first Mr. Lamsden and then Charles Andrews were appointed as the Commissioner of Behar state. Mr. Andrews appointed Shyamchandra Chatterjee as the Incharge of Dewani & Faujdari matters, Hingulalbabu as treasurer and Rajib Lochan Bose as Khasnabis. Hingulalbabu also acted as the advisor of Mr. Andrews. All mahals of the state were auctioned at the highest bid and that fetched state's income to manifold. Both King and subjects started living peacefully ensuing discipline in the state.   
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(p9)      Maharaja Harendra Narayan acquired outstanding knowledge in Pershi, Bengali and Sanskrit. He also mastered the art of painting and music. He expertised in horse riding, elephant riding, shooting, mechanics and other subjects. In that way when Maharaja reached his adulthood surpassing his childhood, he grew up into a bright, handsome looking king. His intelligence and skills attracted everyone.

By that time proposal for His marriage was counter for. Maharaja Harendra Narayan married the daughters of Jadunath Ishore and Padmanath Karjee. Through majestic arrangements his wedding was carried out amidst pomp and glory.

In 1795 A.D. William T. Smith was appointed the new Commissioner. Maharaja Harendra Narayan attained a son in 1796. He named his son as Shibendra Narayan. On the occasion of the birth of the prince lot of grants were given to the Brahmins, poor & needy. After a few days he attained his second son named as Meghendra Singha. In 1797 Richard Amuti was appointed as the new Commissioner. At last in 1799 A.D. Maharaja Harendra Narayan was allowed to run the state independently by the British Governor General. Such a glorious event was celebrated by firing canons, through fireworks, dance & music and a magnificent party (bhoj)!    
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(p10His notable Achievements :~

   # Sagar Dighi

    In 1807 A.D. the famous Sagar Dighi (big pond/lake) was excavated by Maharaja Harendra Narayan and a temple of Lord Shiva (Hiranyagarbha Shiva Temple) was constructed on the western side of the Dighi.

   # Vetaguri Palace

    In 1813 A.D Maharaja Harendra Narayan built a beautiful palace at Vetaguri in place of the worn-out old palace at Behar capital. People shifted in Vetaguri from the old town of Behar. Maharaja entered the palace on the auspicious day of Ratha Yatra (a Hindu festival). Within a few days the place was transformed into a beautiful town.

   # Palace & Temple at Dhaluabari

    Maharaja Harendra Narayan built another palace at Dhaluabari. Over there previous Maharaja Upendra Narayan had also built a palace. Market place and town shifted from Vetaguri to Dhaluabari. Maharaja also built a Shiva temple at Dhaluabari.

Maharaja Harendra Narayan's Literary side :
Maharaja Harendra Narayan had literary blend of mind. He composed many books like "Brihatdharma Puran", "Upakatha", "Skandha Puran", "Rajputra Upakhan", "Krishna Yogsar", "Ramayan Sundar Kanda" & "Mahabharat Oishik Parba".    continued next (p11)

(p11Apart from his own works, under the patronage of Maharaja Harendra Narayan of the many books translated in Bengali, notable ones are "Bishnu Puran", "Brahmabaibartta Puran", "Bhagbath Puran", "Nrisingha Puran". Language and expressions of these books are appreciable. These books/scripts are valuable assets as ancient literary works.

His religious sentiment :
Maharaja Harendra Narayan had a pious soul. During his period Holi festival was celebrated with great enthusiasm. All paths of the palace and the capital used to turn red in abir (a coloured dust used in Holi). At that time Durga Puja was celebrated with enough pomp and glory. Maharaja used to visit in procession to observe the idol of Goddess Durga. On Mahaastami (eighth day of worship) aprroximately one thousand he-goats and one hundred buffalos were slaughtered on the altar of the Goddess. At the puja mandap (worship site) there were arrangements of dance & music.
   When the royal palace shifted to Dhaluabari, Maharaja Harendra Narayan started to live like a saint. He often used stay in meditation, contemplating God Mahadeb. During that time he started to build a temple for "Ma Anandamoyee" - Goddess Kali. He used live amidst spiritual habits. He used to smear ashes on his body and wear necklace of Rudrakha (a kind of fruit).  
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(p12He composed many Shyamasangit (songs in praise of Goddess Kali) during his time.

Maharaja Harendra Narayan made up his mind to go on pilgrimage. Arrangements were made as per his desire. Many boats were prepared as means of transport. Brahmins, musicians, cooks and others would also accompany. On 24th Magh of Bengali calendar year 1242, Maharaja Harendra Narayan set off for Baranasi. Within a few days he reached Chilmari. There on the occassion of Ashokastami after taking the holy dip in the Brahmaputra Maharaja donated a lot. Then he reached Sirajganj. Crossing river Bharal he reached a place known as Kasarhat Pukhuria and took the holy dip in the Bhagirathi. There also he donated in open hand. Maharaja stayed there throughout the rainy season. He continued his journey on the onset of Autumn. Maharaja celebrated worship of Goddess Durga with great pomp at Jangipur. Maharaja sent back many of his accompanies to Behar. In that way after traveling through Bhagalpur, Munger, Patna and Chapda, Maharaja reached Baranasi on 28th Ashad of Bengali calendar year 1244. He stayed under the hospitality of Raja Amritrao over there. Maharaja Harendra Narayan bought land at Baranasi and started constructing temple of "Addashakti Kali". But before the construction works could be completed, Maharaja Harendra Narayan passed away in Baranasi on 16th Jaistha 1246 Bangabda  (1840 A.D.).   
next Maharaja



Maharaja Shibendra Narayan
[Rajshak 331-338 || 1840-1847 A.D.] : 19th Maharaja

(p13) After Maharaja Harendra Narayan his son Shibendra Narayan ascended the throne in 1840 A.D. New currency were issued in his name his crowning in was celebrated with great enthusiasm. Maharaja donated lands as bhusampatti for Madan Mohan temple and to many Brahmins on that occassion.

Maharaja Shibendra Narayan established a sabha (system) known as "Dharma Sabha" for trying cases of his subjects. He used to discuss about people's needs & grievances with his high ranking officials in that sabha. He sought remedial steps for clarifying public grievances. In that way many undesired taxes were restricted/removed. New laws were made for smooth and easy collection of state revenues.

Maharaja Shibendra Narayan used to look daily after state matters for some time. After that he used to discuss religion and shastra (Hindu principles) with Brahmins & intellectuals. At evening he used to spend his time in watching & listening to dance & music. He used to provide allowance/stipends to his near ones like Rajmata, brothers and other relatives regularly. On his order Kalicharan Lahiri was appointed Session Judge. Maharaja's brother Meghendra Narayan used to judge other Fauzdari cases. At that time fresh post of 'Nayeb Ahilkar' and two  
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(p14posts of 'Sadar Amin' were created. They used look after Dewani and Fauzdari cases. Gopalmohan Majumder was appointed the first Nayeb Ahilkar. During the rule of Maharaja Shibendra Narayan his subjects lived happily.

Creation of apex Appeal Court :
   In 1842 A.D. Maharaja Shibendra Narayan established the apex Appeal Court for trying Dewani, Faujdari and Revenue cases. Dewan Kalicharan Lahiri and Eshanchandra Mustafi were appointed judges of that court. Maharaja himself occasionally used to chair the Judge's seat and tried cases. After discussing with judges and intellectuals he used to announce verdicts.

In the meantime arrangements were made for Maharaja's wedding. On the auspicious day of Dol Purnima, the marriage ceremony was carried out. All wedding arrangements of majestic nature were taken care of. Valuable ornaments and clothes were brought from Dhaka, Baranasi, Murshidabad, Kalikata and other places. Durbar hall was beautifully decorated. Manu singers and dancers arrived at the capital. On that occassion Governor General and other high ranking European officials were invited from Kalikata. British agent Mr. Jenkins also paid visit from Guwahati. Amidst glorious ceremonial celebration  
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(p15Maharaja Shibendra Narayan married daughter of Bajradhar Karjee of Chapgur Gram and daughter of ex-Jowar Brajendra Narayan Chowdhury.

Maharaja Shibendra Narayan started ruling peacefully. His subjects lived in peace and flourished under able administration of Maharaja. Since the Maharaja was childless, he adopted Karindra Narayan, son of Shambhu Narayan of Balarampur. Karindra Narayan was then eight years old. Arrangements were made to teach Bengali and Parshi to Karindra Narayan.

In 1843 A.D. Maharaja Shibendra Narayan completed the Shiva Temple at Dhaluabari started by Maharaja Harendra Narayan. Maharaja Shibendra Narayan installed idol of 'Sidhanath Shiva' over there and donated properties for the worship. Maharaja Shibendra Narayan was handsome, stout-figured, intellectual and an able administrator.  
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(p15contd..) He was also genius in music and dance. He composed many Shakta (in praise of Lord Shiva) songs. He was honest and loyal to God. In 1251 Bangabda (Bengali calendar year) Maharaja lost his adopted son Karindra Narayan. After discussing with the royal courtiers Maharaja Shibendra Narayan adopted Chandra Narayan, son of his brother Brajendra Narayan, on 29th Falgun of Bengali calendar year 1251. Chandra Narayan was renamed as Narendra Narayan. Maharaja Shibendra Narayan set off on pilgrimage to Baranasi after making appropriate security arrangements for the state. The British agent of Guwahati was informed about the arrangements. Narendra Narayan also accompanied his father-Maharaja to Baranasi. Maharaja Shibendra Narayan fell sick at Baranasi. In spite of treatment by doctors, his illness aggravated gradually and he grew weaker day-by-day. Finally he breathed his last in 1847 A.D. at Baranasi.

Next Behar King (20th Maharaja) ......   (next CHAPTER-
5)


 Source  :- Translated from "Kochbiharer Itihas", 2nd edition (1988), by Shri. Hemanta Kumar Rai Barma
- ex-Nayeb Ahilkar of Kochbihar estate (SDO), M.A.,B.L.)
|| "Kochbihar Parikrama" edited by Krishnendu Dey, Niraj Biswas & Digbijoy De Sarkar

click for Next Maharajas (from 20th Maharaja) > CHAPTER 5


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