Monday, May 11, 2009

RaniBhabani

Rani Bhabani (1716-1795) ZAMINDAR of Rajshahi. She was famous for her sagacity, generosity and extensive social works. Born in a respectable Brahmin family of Bogra, her father's name was Atmaram Chowdhury. On the death of her husband Raja Ramkanta in 1748 she became the dejure zamindar of Rajshahi. She managed the vast Rajshahi zamindari most efficiently and effectively for over four decades maintaining cordial relationships with the NAWABs of Bengal. Her veteran and faithful diwan Dayram greatly assisted her in running the zamindari. HOLWELL, while describing the RAJSHAHI RAJ in his days, eulogises Rani Bhavani and asserts that the stipulated annual rent of the estate to the crown was 70 lakh of sicca rupees, the real revenues being about one crore and a half.
Rani Bhabani ran the vast zamindari with tact and tenacity during the most critical and transition period of the EAST INDIA COMPANY's administration. She lived a very austere and religious life but her generosity knew no bounds. She gave large portion of her zamindari to the Brahmins as Lakhiraj (rent free lands) for their maintenance and other charitable activities. Writing in the Rajshahi Gazette O'Malley mentioned that the Rani established about 380 shrines, guesthouses etc, built many temples in different parts of the country and endowed money and lands. She constructed a big road that runs from Natore to Bhawanipur in Bogra and is still called Rani Bhabanir Jangal. Besides numerous tanks and sarais were built with her money. Doctors were entertained to give medical relief to the poor in different village and her charity extended to the animal world. She was a great patron of Hindu learning and bestowed large endowment for the spread of education. Rani Bhabani died at Baranagar at the age of 79.
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