Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Who is the Manik of Maniktala?

The plaque atop the entrance of Manik Baba's shrine

Maniktala, or Manicktollah, many say gets it’s name from the Pir, or Muslim saint Manik Baba, who’s mazaar or shrine stands near the crossing of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road and Maniktala Street. The mazaar may be entered through a narrow passage, shoes must be left outside, but photography once inside the shrine is permitted. All that is known about Manik Baba is that his real name is Syud Husain-ud-Din Shah, and that he came to Calcutta from upper India, some time in the early 1800’s. But, Maniktala is clearly marked in Wood’s map of Calcutta, which is from 1784. This would seem to rule out any possibility of Manik Baba’s name being given to the place. The only other option left to us then, is that of Manikchand. Manikchand ruled Calcutta as the deputy of Bengal’s Nawaab Siraj-ud-Daulah, after the siege of Calcutta in 1756. Siraj renamed the city to Alinagar, after his grandfather, Alivardi Khan. 
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