1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cossimbazar

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COSSIMBAZAR, or Kasimbazar, a decayed town on the river Bhagirathi in the Murshidabad district of Bengal, India, now included in the Berhampur municipality. Pop. (1901) 1262. Though the history of the place cannot be traced back earlier than the 17th century, it was of great importance long before the foundation of Murshidabad. From the first European traders set up factories here, and after the ruin of Satgaon by the silting up of the mouth of the Saraswati it gained a position, as the great trading centre of Bengal, which was not challenged until after the foundation of Calcutta. In 1658 the first English agent was established at Cossimbazar, and in 1667 the chief of the factory there became an ex-officio member of council. In English documents of this period, and till the early 19th century, the Bhagirathi was described as the Cossimbazar river, and the triangular piece of land between the Bhagirathi, Padma and Jalangi, on which the city stands, as the island of Cossimbazar. The proximity of the factory to Murshidabad, the Mahommedan capital, while it was the main source of its wealth and of its political importance, exposed it to constant danger. Thus in 1757 it was the first to be taken by Suraj-ud-dowlah, the nawab; and the resident with his assistant (Warren Hastings) were taken as prisoners to Murshidabad.

At the beginning of the 19th century the city still flourished; so late as 1811 it was described as famous for its silks, hosiery, koras and beautiful ivory work. But an insidious change in its once healthy climate had begun to work its decay; the area of cultivated land round it had shrunk to vanishing point, jungle haunted by wild beasts taking its place; and in 1813 its ruin was completed by a sudden change in the course of the Bhagirathi, which formed a new channel 3 m. from the old town, leaving an evil-smelling swamp around the ancient wharves. Of its splendid buildings the fine palace of the maharaja of Cossimbazar alone remains, the rest being in ruins or represented only by great mounds of earth. The first wife of Warren Hastings was buried at Cossimbazar, where her tomb with its inscription still remains.

See Imp. Gaz. of India (Oxford, 1908), s.v.