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How a zamindar family of Bengal pioneered Royal Tourism

15 January, 2022 11:54:30
How a zamindar family of Bengal pioneered Royal Tourism

Exterior of Palace

The Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys is one of the most exquisite palaces of Bengal. It is not just a royal home, but an abode where the erstwhile zamindar family brings history alive again, sharing a piece of their glory with tourists and friends. With the advent of time and necessity, the erstwhile royals of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have transformed their exotic palaces into luxury five-star hotels. Traditional graciousness got transformed into paid hospitality. The idea of the “heritage hotel” scheme was born. Under it, the owners of old forts, palaces, castles, aristocratic homes, and Havelis were encouraged to renovate and convert them into heritage hotels. So, if states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh can open their palace for tourists where at present, they are on the top list for the high-profile marriages, where did West Bengal stand?

The Restaurant area

It is known that West Bengal is a historically significant state and her pride also lies in the several grand palaces belonging to a different generation of royals. Just like the Jhargram Palace, the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys (Rajbari) in Murshidabad is one such Royal Destination. The family has transformed the palace into a heritage hotel named Roopkatha Hotels & Resorts. It is the sheer obsession of the Roy family to restore and maintain the palace, their home, to its former glory so that the present generation and the ones to come can have a glimpse into the history and heritage of Bengal in its real form and not just hear stories about the glorious past of dilapidated and ruinous rubbles.

Andarmahal

Pallab Roy, Director of Sugar and Spice, as well as the owner of the palace, says “This was fifteen years ago when the house was almost closed by my grandfather, Kamalaranjan Roy, who used to stay in this palace until 1993. After his demise, we were in a dilemma as to what to do with the palace, whether to restore or retain it. Then after a couple of years, my mother had the idea of opening a small museum in the palace because by that time everybody had forgotten about Cossimbazar.”Subsequently she had the idea of developing the facility for guests to stay in the Palace.

Rooms

Cossimbazar was a very important city before the Battle of Plassey. All major European ships sailed from their respective countries and their port was in Cossimbazar. So, it was a major trading center, the largest exporting hub in the eastern part of India. Even the river was popularly known as the Cossimbazar River. But when the British started ruling the country thereafter the flow of the River Ganges was channelized and the port was shifted towards Kolkata and Cossimbazar lost its importance as a trading hub. After independence, the landed aristocracy developed in Bengal and forefathers of the Roys were given the title of ‘Raja’. They had been given this title as a recognition for their benevolent and charitable work. Almost a four-hour-long train journey and six hours road drive from Kolkata, the Cossimbazar Palace of the Roys will mesmerize any visitor. 

The Roy Family

The corridors

As soon as reach the palace gates, the host and his staff will make your stay warm and hospitable. With the existing members of the family such as Prosanta Kumar Roy, Supriya Roy, Pallab Roy, Sudeshna Roy, Saurav Roy, and Priya Roy, the historical past will come alive, along with that the royal experience for guests who stay in the palace. A complete tour of Cossimbazar and Murshidabad is also given in a luxury vehicle.

Live performance by local artists as part of tour

“Every morning and evening one can observe the arati at the Radhagobindo Temple. While sipping a hot cup of tea sitting near the pond one can leisurely watch the swans sailing or walk around the lush green palace gardens adorned with a variety of flowers. Children along with adults can play tennis or badminton in courts surrounded by mango trees, while special menus will be served every day in bell metal utensils. In the evenings one can enjoy the cultural programs, live band, magic shows, and traditional alkap performances of Murshidabad. One can buy silk and sola handicrafts from the royal boutique. Roopkatha Boutique showcases local traditional products of Murshidabad along with other interesting souvenirs,” added Pallab Roy enthusiastically.

Dining Hall

 

Royal Rajbhog platter

The sections of the Palace that are completely restored are the Front Gates, railings, the front patio, clock tower with the clock working, the marble stairs leading into the main building, the north corridor, the ballroom annexes, dining room artifacts, furniture, Andar mahal, Sri Sri Radha Gobindo Mandir, Ashutoshnath Shiv Mandir, Lakshmi Mandir, Chandimandap, Majlish Ghar, interior gardens and Tennis court. While continuous work and improvements are being carried on to gradually restore all the sections of the building to their former glory for tourist attraction.

Furniture

The Royal family of Cossimbazar has also donated lands to Ustad Alauddin Khan Sahib, the famous maestro and father of Ali Akbar Khan Sahib. The family has always been involved in many social works like opening educational institutions, charitable dispensaries, and medical treatment to domestic animals. Clothes are distributed during the Durga Puja and other occasions.

Traditional palanquin

As Pallab Roy puts in: “This palace shares the story of a family whose members were ordinary persons possessing extraordinary virtues and capabilities. The history of this family is not tarnished by misdeeds of alliance with the British for personal gains, nor with receipt of grants in recognition of support of foul play. The success of this Roy family was possible by their merit, benevolence, and hard work. Of course, it is not an easy task and neither is there a magic wand to convert the huge buildings overnight into the beautiful structures they once were, but it is the sincere efforts and passion of restoration that drives the family to maintain its heritage.” And now with the restoration almost done and open to tourists, Cossimbazar Rajbari of Bengal can compete any well-known and well-marketed palace or fort of Rajasthan! West Bengal is truly now on the Royal Destination map. 

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