Itachuna Rajbari : A flavour of Bengal Royalty for a perfect hideaway

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My grandmother has narrated a million stories about life before Independence. Few were about village life, her childhood, second world war, while others were about B0rgis- the local name for Maratha warriors. She used to sine me a famous lullaby on them- “Khoka Ghumolo para Jurolo, Borgi Elo Deshe; Bulbuli Te Dhaan Kheyeche Khajna Debo Kish“.  The meaning went like this- When the kids sleep, silence is set in the town. Then when Borgis come into the village, but Bulbul (bird) has eaten all the grains, how do I pay my taxes?”. This rhyme indicates how Borgis attacked at night and wreaked havoc. Why am I writing about Borgis? Because I will be sharing a tale from my childhood collection? And also, my relished stays at the Borgi’s built a heritage Rajbari in Itachuna.

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
The night look of the Rajbari

Before visiting the Itachuna Rajbari, I read about the place over the internet and planned a weekend trip. While getting a pre-booking online, I observed an interesting fact. All the rooms were identified after the Bengali joint family figure-heads like- Thakuma (granny), Boro Boudi (elder sis-in-law), KakaBabu (grandfather), JhataMoshai (elder uncle), Borda (elder brother) & many more. There were Mud houses also to give the feel of village life of West Bengal. The price of Mud houses starts from Rs 1900 & goes up to Rs 2400 per night. Simultaneously, the room price in the Rajbari starts from Rs 2400 & goes up to Rs 8900 per night. The operating rooms are 14 in number, but the total spaces are 63. Damn! That’s a vast area. Besides, we had to add a meal plan of Rs 600 per person per day, including lunch & dinner, since breakfast is complimentary.

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty

My mom always used to say some buildings stand above the inanimate as they murmur stories, chant songs, and incite reminiscence. One such establishment in the Hooghly district of West Bengal still stands tall – The Itachuna Rajbari. Being home to a landlord family, it gets the name from the brick, lime facade that still adorns it. Recent stories say Itachuna is haunted; others speak about the architecture- the glorious retrospective Bengal which left them spellbound. And few like me are barely moved by the tales it hides in its giant rooms, tall ceilings, antique furniture, and sweeping verandahs. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
The lime brick mansion

Since I spent time with my grandmother, Itnachuna Rajbari was a 51min drive (38km). We started post breakfast on Saturday morning, and the weather was humid yet beautiful with clear blue sky, paddy fields on both ends of the road & white fluffy clouds drifting away. The Itachuna RajBari is the perfect hideaway for a weekend soaked in royal legacy. I was also called upon to confirm lunch at Rajbari before my arrival, as they serve both veg & non-veg meal till 2.30 pm. We arrived by 11.30 am at the Itachuna Rajbari, set in a romantic surroundings still untouched by time. I stood outside the iron gate, gapping at the red-bricked enormous edifice because my stories were alive in front of my eyes.

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
The vast architecture with 63 rooms

 We were greeted warmly, and all COVID precautions were adopted; our bags & hands were sanitised before we entered the Itachuna Rajbari. The car was parked inside the iron gate, & our driver was shown the dormitory. As I entered the Rajbari gate, I saw a neatly cut green lawn with a few ducks wandering. And further away was a white arched entrance to the central courtyard. While on the right of the yard was the ”Natch Ghar” – meaning ”Dancing hall” on the building’s first level. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Ducks on lawn

As we entered the Rajbari, I picked up this white arched entrance with intricate floral patterns designed with the words “Pita Swarga, Pita Dharma” inscribed on it. Along with Patterns, Shri Safallya Narayan Kundu built the Rajbari in 1766, which was engraved on the arched entrance.

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
The floral pattern on the arched entrance

 Further, what caught my attention was the beautiful chandelier and old hand-drawn fans mounted on the roof, which took us to Thakur Dalan. Here the family’s ancestral deity ”Shreedhar Jiu” (Narayan), is seated in the synagogue. Today, prayer is offered four times a day with occasional mass gatherings during dusk prayers in the courtyard, swaying to the rhythm of drums, cymbals and bells.

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Way to Thakur Dolan

We were residing in the Andar Mahal, hence walked towards the interior part of the Rajbari. We were offered Nimboo Pani at the Boithak- sitting room, where I could find heaps of century-old books & priceless photographs of Kolkata before Independence. It was amazing. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Boithak – Seating area

We eventually reached our room. I booked the Choto Boudi as I loved the over king-sized bed. The room was spacious, with all antique furniture and yet modernised for ease of the guest. Even the bath could be another room, for it was huge. It also has an attached changing room which has an electric kettle & fridge with a dressing table. Phew! This was elaborate, but they were elegantly decorated.

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Choto Boudi- rooms

I freshened up and was ready to explore the mansion. My mamma told me this house reminded her of her’s grandfather’s home. We got hold of the protracted plight of stairs to reach the terrace, vast in width and length. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
The stairs to the terrace
Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
A huge terrace

From here, you can look across the backyard of the Itachuna Rajbari, a lush green area, erstwhile ”Khamar Bari”, with a “Khidki Pukur”, a wall-bound pond for the ladies. Though Khamar Bari” is now converted to an outdoor shooting area. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Khidhi pukur for female

The terrace reminded me of my childhood in the railway quarters with bougainvillaea vine. Time just stopped in the blink of an eye. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
A trip to childhood

We then had lunch at the dining hall, where food was served in old “Kansa” ” (metal) utensils. The food was delicious (sold in the thali system with tea/coffee/snacks as an a-la-carte system). At Rajbari, Provati (cook) prepares homemade food for the invitee. She is a locale of the hamlet & belongs to the family of ancestors who cooked for Zamindars. Post lunch, they did take orders for snacks & dinner. Later I decided on a catnap, as at 5 pm, we had a guided Rajbari tour. I noticed there was an essence of a disciple in everything.  

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Royal food is served in Kansa dishes.

Due to COVID, only five rooms to stay has been reopened, so along with us, there were two other families. And at 5 pm, we all gathered at the Andar Mahal Dalan, where the guide was waiting. He has been associated with Rajbari for a century now. We commenced the tour where he explained the Rajbari has five portions – a village Courthouse, a Ballet Dancing Hall, a Kitchen house, Guesthouse and an Andar Mahal for ladies. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Andar Mahal
Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Fireplace in corridors of Andar mahal

Hence, we set out a long alley with the Kitchen hall with massive metal vessels currently not in use. In front of the kitchen was the Dancing room, from where a spiral iron stair leads to an exit. Towards the extreme left in an enclosed closure was a Well. And that was used as a dumping place for dead bodies out of any rift within the Rajbari. It was scary, but I was amused at the same time. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Spiral stairs

We took a troll of the garden where I saw a small swimming pool for kids & sitting area for tea & snack. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Kid’s Swimming pool
Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Outdoor games

Further, we moved towards the Khidki Pukur, where these mud houses are made, along with a canteen. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Khidki poker leads to Mudhouses.
Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Used for rice padding

Utilising the back lane, we came to the second section of Rajbari, where two accommodations are still under construction. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Lotuses in the new construction area

Our last visit was to the Nach Ghar-dancing room, which was beautifully adorned with many hidden dark stories. The place generally remains closed, only opened during the tours. 

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
The Nach Ghar- Dancing room


We terminated the tour with the evening Aarti at that Nat temple.

Evening prayer at Nat temple

It was 7.30 pm, time for tea & some flute session. The local person played the charismatic flute, and I was lost in the music.

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Evening flute session

 Afterwards, in the evening, I was lucky enough to meet Mr Dhruva Narayan Kundu, the 14th generation of the Kundu family. He warmly invited us to chit-chat and allowed us to take a peek at the Itachuna Rajbari history. 

Dhruv Narayan Kundu

He took off that the property is 250 yrs old, constructed by Shri Safallya Narayan Kundu in 1766. And current descendants of Safallya Kundu – Rabindra Narayan, Dhruva Narayan(himself) and Basav Narayan Kundu. This Rajbari is also recognised as ”Borges Danga” as it boasts the wealth and abundance of a Borgi Landlord family of Bengal.

Itachuna Rajbari I: A flavour of Zamindari Royalty
Evening look

Mr Kundu takes us back to that period in Bengal’s history when she was periodically looted and pillaged by the Maratha Borgis. Nawab Alivardi Khan then ruled Bengal in the mid of 18th century. During that period, around 1742 theses, Maratha cavalries, known as Borgis, under Bhaskar Pandit’s guidance and Raghuji Bhosle, strode into a peaceful Bengal for its fertile land and taxes. 

interior of the Rajbari

Apocryphally, the Mughal era had descended in India, and the prosperous age of the Marathas had begun. Nawab Alivardi Khan fought heroically to lay aside his kingdom the first time, but the consequences of the attacks were devastating. And Bengal was also passing through a period of Famine, and the inability to pay taxes to the Borgis left people vulnerable. It is one of the immense mass violence and destruction in the history of India. 

Thakur Dalan at night

This plundering and looting of Bengal continued for ten years until the Nawab of Bengal established a peace treaty with the Marathas. Nevertheless, these attacks left a lasting impression on the minds of ordinary people. But the beautiful landscapes and nature’s bounty led many “Borgis” to take root here. The Kundan were one of such Maratha warriors, now known as Kundu’s, who settled here. They began their trade, became wealthy, intermingled with the locals, and soon were considered ”Bengali”. 

The other part of Rajbari

Merely the Independence & new policies of abolishing the Raj culture hindered other flourishes of the Rajbari. The Kundu family did experience a downfall in heritage as well as lifestyle. But currently, the property is managed by the Kundu brothers in collaboration with a heritage homestay firm named Mylestones & Journeys. They have worked to reestablish their prestige. And made all efforts to upkeep and maintained the royal heritage in this rustic part of the village.  

Long decorated corridors

After the hearty conversation, I also met Mrs Kundu, who facilitates a local NGO promoting handmade articles like a scarf, pen, diary, jewellery, painted wooded cutlery etc. I did purchase a few things & suggested promoting these online for better sales. We had an early dinner and went to bed. I did learn that the Rajbari is haunted since moving around after 11 pm is prohibited. Many people on the internet are alleged to have heard of the sqdisputescries, opening & closing of doors and the sounds of dancers wearing anklets. Alas, I was not lucky.

Locale NGO handicraft

Early morning, I woke up to a bang on the door; the waiter stood with a teapot and two cups. The flute music flowed into the air, and I could breathe the fresh scent of the earth. I Sat on the open portico sipping my tea and soaking myself in the music. It was so calming. 

Morning tea

I did go on a morning walk in the village, across the mansion.

Morning of Itachuna

While returning from my walk, I saw a temple of Shiva with a majestic marble sculpture of divinity. The Kundu gave up praying to the idol after a death in the family just before it was inaugurated. A Shivling outside of sanctum Sanctorum is, however, worshipped by villagers. 

Deserted Shiva temple

Looking in and  around  the Itachuna Rajbari, I was reminded of a few lines from a famous Bengali poet Jibanananda Das, “Banglar Mukh Ami Dekhiachi, Tai Ami Prithibir Rup Khujite Jai Na ar.” It roughly translates  to “I have seen the face of Bengal, so I don’t seek the beauty of the earth anymore.” It’s the truth West Bengal’s beauty lies in the moments of serenity that exist amidst the bustle of its cities.

How to reach 

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which connects to all major metros. From the airport, you can book a cab for Itachuna.

By Rail: 

Burdwan is the nearest railway station, & many trains halt here. You can board a train till Howrah & then take any Burdwan-bound train via mainline or Memari /Panduah local. Get down at Khanyan station next to Talandu station (Bandel, Adisaptagram, Mogra, Talandu, Khanyan). From the station, you can take an auto.

By Road: 

You can either book a cab or drive to Itachuna from Kolkata or neighbouring cities. Either opt for Durgapur Expressway or Kalyani Expressway as per your location.



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