Bardhamman Raj

In 1657, one Abu Rai, a merchant and banker of Barddhaman, was appointed the kotwal and chowdhury of Rekabi Bazar and Mughultuli in Barddhaman. He owed this appointment to his ability in supplying the army, passing through Bardhhaman with provisions, at short notice. His grand-father Sangam Rai a resident of Kotlimahalla of Lahore, settled at Baikunthapur near Barddhaman while on his way back from a pilgrimage to Puri. Banku Bihari, son of Sangam Rai, was the father of Abu Rai. Abu Rai’s son Babu Rai acquired the paragana of Barddhaman and three other estates from Ram Rai, a zaminder of Barddhaman. He was succeded by his son Ghanashyam Rai who caused the large tank known as Shyam Sagar (Shyamsayar) to be dug. His son Krishnaram Rai obtained a firman from Aurangzeb in AD 1689 by which he was made the zaminder and chowdhury of Bardhhaman and some other parganas. He was ordered not to realize any new tax and to encourage cultivation and maintain law and order in the area. The nazarana for the land was Rs. Two lakhs. Krishanaram Rai excavated the tank which is known as Krishna Sagar (Krishnasayar).

Ibrahim Khan became the Subadhar of Bengal in 1689. His weak administration encouraged lawlessness. In 1695, Shova Singh, a zaminder of Chetua-Barda in the present Ghatal Subdivision of East Midnapore, in alliance with Rahim Khan, an Afgan chief of Orissa, attacked Krishnaram Rai. Rai was defeated and slain in 1696. Krishnaram’s son Jagatram Rai managed to escape but all the other members of Krishnaram’s family were made captive by Shova Singh. A number of ladies of his family committed suicide by taking poison.

Jagatram Rai had gone to Dhaka to seek help of the Subadhar Ibrahim Khan and with the help of fouzdar of Hooghly and Dutch of Chinsura he regained Bardhhaman. Krishnaram’s daughter Satyabati killed Shova Singh with a dagger when he tried to take her by force and then killed herself. Aurangzab dismissed Ibrahim Khan and appointed his own grandson Azim-us-shan. Azim-us-shan built a mosque in Barddhaman which bears his name. Jagatram Rai was treacherously murdered in 1702 and left two sons Kirti Chandra Rai and Mitra Sen Rai. Mitra Sen Rai was granted a fixed monthly amount from the exchequer. The elder brother, Kirti Chandra Rai, inherited the ancestral zamindari.

Kirti Chandra Rai fought with the Rajas of Chandrakona and Barda and added the parganas of Chitua, Bhursut, Barda and Manoharshahi to his zamindari. But the boldest achievement was his attacking and defeating the powerful Raja of Bishnupur. He founded the town Kanchannagar and excavated the tank known as Yadeswardih. The tank Ranisagar (Ranisayar) was excavated under the order of Kirti Chandra’s mother. In 1736, a firman was granted to Kirti Chandra by emperor Mahammed Shah of Delhi, conferring on him the zamindari of Chandrakona. He died in 1740 and was succeeded by Chitra Sen.