Live like a royal at Itachuna Rajbari
Ayandrali Dutta is an enthusiastic explorer and food blogger
A nice breezy two-hour drive from Kolkata lies the 300-year-old Itachuna Rajbari. Untouched by the speed of modern days, this scenic 17th-century grand palace makes for a perfect hideout from the cacophony of a city life. Just sit on the sprawling balcony, sip your chai and time travel to a bygone era.
The main outside entrance
Known as Bargee Danga (a name given to Maratha warriors), Itachuna got its name from the brick and mortar it was made of. The palace is made from limestone and bricks. In Bengali Brick means Ita and Limestone means Chuna. The history of this royal house which has also acted as the location to some of the best movies including Lootera, dates back to almost 300 odd years.
The picturesque balcony
The Maratha “bargees” then came to attack the province of Bengal and Odisha. This was when Bengal was ruled by Nawab Alivardi Khan around 18th century. The beautiful landscapes of Bengal made them decide to stay back. One such bargee story is that of Safallya Narayan Kundan, who built this house and now Dhrubo Narayan, happens to be his 14th-generation successor. This house is full of nostalgia. Grand and majestic, the Rajbari has been refurbished to give tourists a taste of royal lifestyle. It is also opened to many as a shooting location. In movies like Lootera, that was shot at Itachuna, one gets to see the ‘Teen-Mahal’ pattern - the outer mahal houses offices where once even the representatives of the East India Company operated, and the old Baithak Khana or the living room. Heavily ornamented with glass chandeliers, haath-pankhas (fans) hanging from the ceiling and antique furniture, the rooms are well maintained.
The main courtyard
In the centre lies a huge sprawling Thakurdalan or temple courtyard with life-size carriage lamps around. The temple houses a Narayan idol. The “Antarmahal” or the inner mahal mostly comprises of huge balconies, corridors, stairwells and terraces --- all interconnected and leading to different rooms. Each room has vintage furniture and are interestingly named as Thakurmar Ghor, Boro Boudir Ghor, Pishi maar ghor or Ginni Maar Ghor. It also houses a Jalsaghar, a seperate Andarmahal for ladies, the terrace and the gardens. The old-world charm here is a photographer’s delight.
The red and white walls of this royal mansion literally stand out and the white arched entrance with intricate floral patterns gives that touch of royalty that the period must have seen. Every corner of the Rajbari oozes heritage and history – be it the huge chandelier or the hand-drawn palm leave fans in the corridors or the common guest room which sees the whole family tree drawn on the wall and artefacts like guns and scriptures artfully hung.
Artistically done corridors
Those who wish to live amidst nature, can opt for the four mud huts of the Rajbari, namely Jhumkolata, Madhabilata, Aparajita and Kanaklata. These quaint huts have a charm of their own. They carry a rustic look but have all modern amenities.
Authentic Bengali Mutton thali
The food is a showstopper authentic Bengali spread, served on Kansha plates (bell metal plates) that add to the whole experience. With such intricate detailing taken care of, this place indeed is like a perfect setting from a period film with even the sound of an evening aarti making the experience ethereal.
Just 45 minutes from Itachuna, lies the historical Bandel Church and Chinsurah. The century- old Pandua Minar is only a 15-minute drive.