|The Chawk Mosque. W.Bengal wikipedia.org|
The Chawk Mosque in the city of Murshidabad, India was founded in 1767 AD by Munny Begum, wife of Nawab Mir Jafar, under the supervision of Shaikh Khalilallah. The mosque was a silent spectator of Bengal's glorious past history of Nawobs vis a vis British East India company. It is located in Nizamat Fort Area near the Hazarduari Palace and its other nearby buildings.
The Munni Begum was in the good book of Robert Clive and Warren Hastings of BEI company. Her popularity was mainly not only due to her lavish gifts to Clive and other servants in the company, but also her financial help to orphanages, widows and destitute girls. Coming from a poor family, she always had a soft corner for the poor and destitute. She received numerous gifts from the East India company in return for her several favors to the company. she was a Gaddinashin Begum receiving INR 12000.00 pension per month
Munni Begum, the second wife of Mir Jafar was appointed Nawob by the East India company after the defeat of siraj-ud-daula. She was born to a poor mother in village Balkunda near Sikandra. Because of poverty her mother sold her to a dancing troupe which took her to places far and wide and at last to Murshidabad. A dancing girl of exceptional beauty and skill, she and her troupe were advised to stay in that town. Later she found a place in the royal harem. Being smart and intelligent, she won the heart of Mir Jafer and became the most favorite among Jafer's wives.
After Jafer's death on 6 February,1765, she inherited his vast wealth and became closer to Clive and Hastings. She gave Rs. Five lakhs to Clive to put her son Najmuddaula on the Mansad. After the death of both her sons between 1766 and 1770 her fame faded away. The grand son of Babbu Begum, Mir Jafer's another wife ultimately became the young Nabob on recommendation of court of directors in London. Munni Begum 's guardianship of Harem administration previously approved by Warren Hastings was canceled. Further, Hastings was accused of having received bribes from the Begum for her new position in the royal house.
On the day Munni Begam died - 10 January, 1813 at the ripe age of ninety-seven, at Fort William, Calcutta, the Union Jack was hoisted half-mast and ninety guns were fired as a mark of respect to her and her good deeds to the British company. She was buried with due honors in the the family graveyard of Mir Jafar.
She left behind a vast fortune in cash, gold and jewels along with a distinctive place in the history of Bengal as a humane and selfless benevolent Begum who started her carrier in the shadow of poverty and hunger.