When it comes to weekend getaways, the people of Kolkata are perhaps the unluckiest of all the big city dwellers of our country. While Delhiets enjoy their close proximity to the Himalayas, Mumbaikars have the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats for company. Unlike them, people of Kolkata are forced to visit the crowded beaches of Digha/Mandarani or take the tiresome 600 kms journey to Siliguri to get a glimpse of the hills. In spite of this, there are some hidden gems near Kolkata which are just waiting to be unearthed! One such place is the Itachuna Rajbari located not even a hundred kilometers from our beloved city.
What is Itachuna Rajbari?
As the name “Rajbari” suggests, Itachuna Rajbari is a royal home. Built in 1766, the rajbari has been home to the Narayan Kundu family for more than 250 years. The Kundus, who were originally Maratha warriors of the Kundan faction settled in Bengal sometime in the early 17th century. The present descendants of the Narayan family have refurbished the Rajbari and given us an opportunity to have a slice of their royal lifestyle.
Why is it special?
Itachuna Rajbari is special for the simple reason that it gives the average Kolkattan an opportunity to spend a night or two in a royal palace without having to go all the way to Rajasthan or Mysore. It also gives an opportunity to explore a destination which is one of its kind. Located at just 70 kms from Esplanade, the Rajbari promises an experience unlike any other place near Kolkata.
What to expect?
One word that personifies Itachuna Rajbari is “Grand”. Right from the large main building, the sprawling front garden, the beautiful backyard, the queen sized beds, the 20 feet long doors, the 10 kilogram locks to the life size chess pieces; the Rajbari exhibits oodles of grandeur with everything. Such is the size of the Rajbari that one can easily lose its way through the many corridors and passages or end up at the same spot after walking for minutes.
How to reach?
The Rajbari is about an hour and a half drive from Esplanade. From Dankuni, one can take the old delhi road towards Sreerampur, after driving for about 35 kms one needs to keep an eye for a small board showing direction to Khanyan railway station, from there the Rajbari is just a couple of kms away. Alternatively, one can take the NH2 towards delhi and then take a right from Gurap (right after Azad Hind Dhaba) and drive for another 20 kms to reach the Rajbari.
By train one can get up on any Burdwan local via main line and get down at Khanyan station. Autos and rickshaws are available to go to the Rajbari from Khanyan station.
What to do?
The whole idea of visiting Itachuna Rajbari is to laze around the Rajbari and absorb the aura of the place. The Rajbari is divided into several small sections like the Thakurbari, the Andarmahal, the terrace, the gardens, etc. There are several activities that one can do like playing chess, table tennis, carrom, kite flying, etc. An arti takes place every evening inside the large temple room of the Rajbari and should not be missed. Not to mention, the Rajbari is a photographer’s paradise!
What’s the pocket pinch?
There are various types of rooms available inside the Rajbari. The tariff for the humble mud huts start from Rs 1500 a night on weekdays and the tariff for the more opulent AC rooms go up to Rs 4200 a night on weekends. There are no restaurants around the Rajbari but the house cook serves some delicious Bengali delicacies which cost about Rs 500 for a meal for two.
Several interesting heritage destinations are scattered near Itachuna Rajbari. One can add places to their onward or return journey like the 108 shiva temples at Ambika Kalna, the minar at Pandua, the second oldest church of our country at Bandel, the imambara at Hooghly and the French colony of Chandannagore to name a few.
If living inside a royal palace is not enough, one can even brag of the fact that Itachuna Rajbari has been a home to a lot of people on the celluloid. Most notably being the Ranveer Singh starrer “Lootera” which has almost the entire first half of the movie shot here!
Why should you visit?
All images courtesy Swatabdi Mallick and Ramneek Singh