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Cooch Behar Palace, Cooch Behar

 

Cooch Behar Palace, Cooch Behar

Modeled after the Buckingham Palace of London, the Cooch Behar Palace is located in Cooch Behar, West Bengal. The construction was commissioned by the Maharaja of Cooch Behar in 1887. Despite of being an Indian palace, the building is known for its elaborate renaissance style architecture.f

The early history of Cooch Behar has to be sought in the history of Assam. In early times the territory was known as Pragjyotisha, which is mentioned in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It appears that the western part of the original territory of Pragjyotisha came to be known as Kamarupa in later times. Kamarupa remained under the suzerainty of the Guptas and Palas for some time. According to tradition Kamarupa was conquered by Muslim Army in A.D.1498, but they could not keep the kingdom for long. After the expulsion of the Muslim army the Kamta kingdom was engulfed in anarchy. During that period, rise of Koch king started.

The king Viswasimha assumed the title of Kamteshwar. He died in about 1533 and was succeeded by his second son Naranarayan, who was also known as Mallanarayan, after a civil war with Nar Singh who fled to Morung and then to Bhutan. Narnarayan died in 1584 and was succeeded by his son Lakshminarayan who died in 1627. Lakshminarayan was succeeded by his son Birnarayan. In his later years, he had appointed one of his sons Mahinarayan to be Nazir- deo. Birnarayan died in 1632 and was succeeded by his son Prannarayan who reigned till 1666. He constructed or repaired the temple of Baneshwar. Modnarayan succeeded his father. From his reign the influence of Bhutan on Cooch Behar started. He died in 1680 without a male heir. In that situation Vasudevnarayan, the third son of Prannarayan was placed on the throne. He was killed in a skirmish. Then, Mahindranarayan, the great- grandson of Prannarayan was placed on throne. With the death of Mahindranarayan, Rupnarayan came into the power. After a reign of 21 years he died in 1714. His son, Upendranarayan remained till 1763. The boy Devendranarayan was installed as king under the guardianship of Nazir Lalitnarayan. In 1765 Dhairyendranarayan, the son of Kharganarayan (brother of Upendranarayan) was placed on throne. The influence of the Bhutias had increased so much that an office of Bhutan was permanently stationed at Cooch Behar with an army. In later years he was kept in confinement by the Bhutan. His son Dharendranarayan was installed on throne. The East Company was watching with concern the growing power of Bhutias close to their borders. The appeal for help by Nazir was admitted by the company. On April 5, 1773, the treaty between the young Maharaja Dharendranarayan and the East India Company was finalized. Thereafter a peace was concluded between Bhutan and East India Company on April 25, 1774, in consequences of which Dhairyendranarayan was released from captivity. Dharendranarayan died in 1775 and thereafter Dhairyendranarayan took over second time. He died in 1780, leaving his only heir Harendranarayan. Narendranarayan succeeded him after his death. In 1859 a topographical survey of Cooch Behar was made by J.G.Pemberton. Nripendranarayan (one year old) succeeded to the throne of his father in 1863. During his minority the charge of the administration was placed in the hands of a commissioner appointed by the Governor. From that reign the administration of Cooch Behar entered in Modern phase. The first Commissioner was Colonel J.C.Haughton.

The modernization of the administration started by the Commissioners was continued by the Maharaja after assumption of power. On March 6, 1878, Maharaja Nripendranarayan was married to Smt. Sunity Devi, daughter of Keshab Chandra Sen, the Brahma reformer. In 1887 the construction of new palace was completed. Maharaja Nripendranarayan died in 1911 and was succeeded by his eldest son Rajarajendranarayan. He died in 1913 and was succeeded by his brother Jitendranarayan. He married Smt. Indira Devi, daughter of Gaekwad of Baroda. He died in 1921and succeeded by his minor son Jagaddipendranarayan. He was the last Maharaja of the Cooch Behar. The Instrument of Accession was signed and as a result Cooch Behar was transferred to India. The transfer of the Administration to the government of India took place on the 12th day of September 1949, from which date Cooch Behar was ruled as a Chief Commissioner’s Province by Chief Commissioner appointed by the government of India. By an order under section 290A of the Government of India ACT, 1935, Cooch Behar was transferred and merged with the province of West Bengal on 1st January 1950. Since then Cooch Behar is being administered as a district of West Bengal.

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