The flat, riverine countryside of central Bengal to the north of Kolkata holds the remains of numerous lost cities dating from before the time of the British. Grandest of them all is Murshidabad, capital of Murshid Quli Khan, the First Nawab of Bengal, who took control of the region after the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the early 18th century. Numerous mosques, tombs and gardens survive on the site, but its crowning glory is the vast, Georgian-style Hazarduari Palace, whose great Neoclassical façade rises in spectacular fashion from the banks of the Bhagirathi River.

Boasting 114 rooms, the palace holds a mirrored banqueting hall and grand durbar room where paintings, furniture and other memorabilia from the time of the Nawabs are displayed in a fascinating museum. Numerous British monuments also survive in the area, dating from the earliest era of the East India Company in the mid 17th century.

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