Sandwiched between Murshidabad and Berhampore, is the lesser-visited Cossimbazar. Often overshadowed by its more well-known counterpart Murshidabad, this historic river port has all the elements of an independent tourist destination.
Cossimbazar emerged as a port town in the 17th century, and its history can be traced to the pre-emergence of Murshidabad. By the middle of the century, the Dutch, French and British had already established their trading posts (often referred to as factories) in Cossimbazar. Known for its exotic silk, the town attracted traders from far and wide turning the small settlement into an international trading hub.
In 2015, a portion of the Roy family mansion was renovated to a heritage stay known as Cossimbazar Palace of Roys Rajbari
In the early 19th century the river began changing course and Cossimbazar slowly lost its importance, with traders following the waters, and the once flourishing port was soon forgotten. Today, the town’s colonial connection remains in abandoned mansions and cemeteries.
In 2015, the mansion belonging to the Roy family, was revamped into a heritage hotel, and Cossimbazar has been emerging from the shadows to become a tourist destination in its own right.
Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys
The history of the Roy family, who own the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys, dates back to the early 1700s
A portion of the rajbari belonging to the Roy family has been converted to a heritage hotel, Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys. The restoration of the family home was an initiative taken by the family.
The history of the Roy family in Cossimbazar dates back to the early 1700s when Ajodhya Ram Roy settled here and began trading in silk. It was he who built the Lakshmi temple, the Chandi mandap, and the portion of the palace that stands to this day. Generations of the Roy family prospered and the home saw several extensions and modifications. After the abolition of the zamindari system in 1950, Pallab Roy’s grandfather, Raja Kamalaranjan Roy, moved the family to Kolkata, returning only for Durga Puja and other festivals.
The hotel is open for heritage tours that showcases its colonial architecture and traditional Bengali elements
The initiative to convert the old mansion into a heritage hotel was taken in the early 1990s, and today it houses 14 rooms, including two suites, along with a restaurant. Walking through the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys is like touring a museum, with its European-style courtyards and ball rooms with Victorian furniture and Belgian glass chandeliers, alongside the Durga and Chandi mandaps. The property is also open for heritage tours — free for guests and at an entry fee of Rs 30 for visitors.
The Nandi family mansion
The Nandi family's old home is a sprawling mansion, which has a history going back to the time of the Battle of Plassey
The other rajbari in Cossimbazar was the home of the Nandi family, but unlike its smaller counterpart, it is in a rundown state. The history of the Nandi family can be traced back to the time of the conflict between Warren Hastings and Siraj ud-Daulah. Krishna Kanta Nandi (popularly known as Kanta Mudi) provided shelter to Hastings when he was chased by ud-Daulah’s men. After the victory in Battle of Plassey, Hasting returned the favour by appointing Krishna Kanta Nandi as his commercial agent. The sprawling Nandi rajbari is said to have interiors decorated with pillars and arches taken from Maharaja Chait Singh’s palace in Varanasi. Unfortunately, one can only view the mansion from outside since it is locked at all times.
The Dutch Cemetery
The Dutch Cemetery is said to have once had about 47 graves, of which 20 stand today. The oldest, that of Daniel van der Muyl, dates back to 1721. Most of the graves have obelisks and few have dome structures, but the one that stands out is the white domed grave of Tammerus Canter Visscher.
The English Cemetery
This small cemetery has graves dedicated to British officials and their family members who died in Cossimbazar after the Battle of Plassey. It houses the grave of Hasting’s first wife Mary and their infant daughter Elizabeth.
The Armenian Church
Armenian traders were also attracted by the riches of Cossimbazar and settled in the port town. In 1758, St. Mary’s Church was built as a place of worship for the Armenian Christians. With Cossimbazar’s decline as a trading hub, the Armenian community left the town — the last sermon was held here in 1860. In 2005, the Armenian Church Committee of Kolkata restored the church to its former glory.
The Armenian Church in Cossimbazar was restored by the Armenian Church Committee of Kolkata in 2005
- Cossimbazar is about 6.5hr by road from Kolkata
- Cossimbazar has its own rail station, but most trains usually halt at nearby Berhampore. Totos are available from Berhampore to Cossimbazar
- Regular buses are also available from Kolkata to Berhampore
- Apart from the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys, there are also budget stay options in town
- Hotels in Cossimbazar can arrange for totos for local sightseeing in Cossimbazar and Murshidabad
Rangan Datta is a mathematics and management teacher by profession and a travel writer and photographer by passion. He has been addicted to discovering off-beat places since his undergraduate days at St. Xavier's College. Blogging and contributing to Wikipedia are his other passions.