Moti Jheel Mahal

The Raman family of Benaras (Varanasi) are the direct descendents of Raja Deepchand Shah, who was the Treasurer and the Minister of Finance of Sher Shah Suri, the Afghan King from 1530 AD to 1545 AD. According to the Royal Farman (kept in the National Museum of India, Delhi), Sher Shah Suri instructed Raja Deepchand Shah to build the Grand Trunk Road or the Sarak-e-Aazam.

In circa 1540 AD, Raja Deepchand was granted the Zamindari of Chainpur, Sasaram and Shahbabad in Bihar by Sher Shah Suri before he left for Bengal, and later helped build the Mausoleum of Sher Shah after his death in 1545 AD in Sasaram. Raja DeepChand Shah’s son was Raja Yuvraj Shah and his son was Raja Gopaldas Shah, whose son was Raja Durgadas Prasad ji.

In the times to come, the Zamindari headquarters shifted from Chainpur to Gaya, and besides being Zamindars, the family under Raja Durgadas Prasad ji was also appointed as the Government Treasurer of the British East India Company in circa 1800s, and controlled the Zamindari and the Treasury from the Gaya Kothi Palace situated on the banks of Falgu River on Gayatri Ghat, which was donated to the Karanatka Math in the 1980s. In 1859, Raja Durgadas Prasad also was given the Sword of Honour by the British Government of India.

In circa 1850s the estate was further expanded by the son of Raja Durgadas Prasad ji, Raja Kameshwar Prasad Narayan Singh, to cover over 1550 villages in Bihar and United Provinces, and was commonly called the Gaya Kothi Zamindari, which became the second biggest Zamindari after the Dharbanga state (Bihar District Gazetteer, 1957, Pranab Chandra Roy Choudhury, Printed by the Superintendant, Secretariat Press, Bihar).

The major strongholds in Bihar of the Gaya Kothi Zamindari were the towns and villages of Gaya, Sasaram, Chainpur, Babhua, Lohara, Mu, Narsingpur, Sarian, Newada and villages in Patna, Munger and Shahabad Districts.

After the migration of Raja Kameshwar Prasad to Benaras in circa 1855, due to his mother’s wish to do Kashiwaas (to reside and die in Kashi or Benaras), the estate was expanded to cover villages of Orgaon, Tarna, Ganeshpur and Balurghat near Benaras.

In Benaras, Raja Kameshwar Parasd built his Haveli in Kachori Gali which became known as Kothi Kachori Gali or Benaras Kothi in the old part of Benaras, which has 7 chowks and stretches all the way near to the ghats on the Ganges River (is still with the family) and established a successful banking business along with the existing Zamindari.

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