Just about a two hour drive from Kolkata will lead you to a place – a Rajbari more than two hundred fifty years old. Any guesses! Yes, you are right it is Itachuna Rajbari in Hooghly district of West Bengal. A place not so far from Kolkata is a good choice to spend the weekend.
Built in the middle of the eighteenth century by the ancestors of Safallya Narayan Kundu this rajbari got its name from brick and lime with which it was built. The other name is ‘Bargee Danga‘. Here ‘Bargee‘ means Maratha warriors who attacked parts of Bengal a number of times to collect ‘chauth’ (1/4th of the tax). The beautiful landscape coupled with natural beauty led some warrriors to settle here and they concentrated on their own trade and became wealthy. One of them were the Kundans. Later they became Kundu’s. The present members of the Kundu family use all their efforts to maintain this huge yet beautiful mansion and converted it into a heritage homestay.
The Itachuna Rajbari is divided into three mahallas – bahir mahal; debottar mahal and andar mahal. The beautiful rooms of the rajbari are named after the Kundu family – Baro Boudi; Choto Boudi; Thakuma; Boro Pishi; Ginni Maa; Baro Maa; Mejo Maa; Bilash Manjari; Kaka Babu; Jatha Mashai; Choto Pishi and Bordi. All these in Bengali means a relation as for example Baro Boudi means elder sister-in-law’s room.
That apart there are mud huts on the back side of the magnificent rajbari – Aparajita; Madhabilata; Kanaklata and Jhumkolata. When I visited there just a couple of months back, I was told that these mud huts were later added and all the four huts are named keeping in mind the names of the flowers and, which attracted me is aparijita flower blooms near the hut named Aparajita. That apart a rustic look is maintained in the mud huts though all major amenities like flat television set with cable TV; wi-fi; modern toilet including geyser are there. Rabits, hens, doves will make you feel that ambience.
The glass chandeliers, hand-drawn pankhas (fans) hanging from the ceiling, giant yet well-maintained rooms, antique furniture, long verandahs, spiral staircase are very nostaligic and remind us of the by-gone days. The rooms are air conditioned except the mud huts.
The antique funiture like tables and chairs present in the verandahs where people can spend their time either by reading books or just simply enjoying the scenic beauty. There are also provisions of indoor games like carrom and table tennis though it is kept in the inner courtyard. Also you can keep yourself connected via social media through wi-fi.
Another thing which reminds us of the Itachuna Rajbari is its delicous and mouth-watering traditional cooked Bengali meals served in bell metal crockery. There are so many items to choose. You can either choose from veg or non-veg. I personally go in for veg and here I am inserting a photograph of a vegetarian lunch.
At dusk, the thakur dalan was lit up with lights. The silence was broken by the clanging of bells. The daily ritual of evening prayer at Itachuna Rajbari has begun. This practice is more than a century old and it has been continuing till date without a stop. The huge courtyard adjacent to the thakur dalan had beautiful cast iron lamps which, when lit up in the evening, makes the atmosphere truly nostalgic.
There is a big pond known by the name of Khirki pukur, which was once reserved for bathing of the ladies of the household. I was told that one can try fishing here but, if a fish is caught then it should again be returned to the pond. The cool breeze in the evening is an extra advantage.
There is a space reserved for having tea. Here tea is served just after the evening arati. There is a big chessboard which adds to the beauty of the place.
One thing, which I will remember about the uniqueness of the Rajbari is I woke up in the morning at the sound of the flute. It is melodious and it acts as a natural alarm. I was mesmerised by the beauty of Itachuna Rajbari.
If you are planning to visit the rajbari, the nearest station is Khanyan in the Howrah-Bardhaman main line. A ten minute toto ride will lead you to this beautiful mansion. There are a number of other heritage places in Pandua itself like the Mahanad Kali Mandir and Jateswara Shiv Mandir, Mahanad.
Acknowlegements: Website of Itachuna Rajbari.
Date of posting: 12th August, 2018.