Today, Cossimbazar is just another run-of-the-mill town, a hodgepodge of chock-a-block roads rigged with blaring vehicle horns, dusty lanes and by-lanes crammed with unplanned constructions, busy market areas as well as palatial mansions and temples dating back to the Nawabi era. Sandwiched between Murshidabad and Berhampore, the Cossimbazar of the present is a far cry from its glorious past. Even, tourists tend to overlook this small town in favour of the more glittering remains of the Nawabi era at Murshidabad.
Back in the 17th century, Cossimbazar was a prosperous riverine port thanks to its lucrative silk trade. European traders dropped their anchors at Cossimbazar in search of the fine Murshidabadi silk, which was coveted by European royalty and nobility. Cossimbazar turned into an international trade hub, and native Bengali businessmen and zamindars also participated in this silk trade. Fortune smiled upon a few, who went on to build elegant mansions and temples at Cossimbazar thus converting it into a cultural hub as well.
The Roy family of Cossimbazar and their breathtaking Palace is one such example. With sheer business acumen, the ancestors of the Roy family created a fortune and built the splendid Rajbari. At present, the Cossimbazar Rajbari serves as a reminder of the long-lost golden past of Cossimbazar.
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History of Cossimbazar Rajbari:
Fondly called the Choto Rajbari of Cossimbazar, the history of this elegant palace dates back to the second half of the 18th century. The founder of the Roy family was Ajodhya Ram Roy. He received the title of ‘Rai Rayan’ (King of Kings) from Nawab Nazim on account of his exemplary works.
The Cossimbazar Rajbari was the handiwork of Ajodhya Ram Roy’s illustrious son, Dinabandhu Roy. He established the palace in 1735 CE during the reign of Nawab Alivardi Khan. Dinabandhu Roy, along with his son Jagabandhu Roy, amassed huge wealth owing to the prosperous silk trade that centred around the riverine port of Cossimbazar.
The stunning front façade was the achievement of Nrisingha Prasad Roy, who himself was an eminent Persian scholar. His descendant Ashutosh Nath Roy received the title of ‘Raja’ from the British in recognition of his charitable endeavours. Henceforth, the palace came to be known as ‘Rajbari’.
Post-independence, the Roy family eventually moved to Kolkata. They left their mansion with designated caretakers and visited periodically during the festivals. In the early 1990s, the family took the commendable initiative to renovate the Palace and convert a part of it into a heritage hotel.
Rooms at the Cossimbazar Rajbari:
A section of the Palace has been converted into a heritage hotel to provide the guests with an experience of the bygone era. The rooms are a fantastic amalgamation of the past and present. The rooms are adorned with antique furniture such as four-poster beds, elaborate mirrors, intricately carved wooden wardrobes, Belgian glass chandeliers, and so on. Additionally, modern amenities such as an air conditioner, geyser, television, and mini fridge are also provided inside the rooms.
In total, there are 14 rooms including 2 suites.
We stayed on the ground floor. The suite was spacious enough for the comfortable stay of two persons. Our room rent was INR 8,500 (including GST), which included the complimentary buffet breakfast.
A single room is also available; however, the room is devoid of any vintage décor. Pocket pinch for single room is INR 6,500 (including GST and complimentary breakfast).
Food at the Cossimbazar Rajbari:
Like the accommodation, food at the Cossimbazar Rajbari is also served with a touch of royalty. The gastronomic experience is integral to this heritage stay. Breakfast is complimentary with every room. You can also select the option of including both the lunch and dinner as complimentary along with your room. In that case, room rent will increase exponentially.
Lunch and dinner buffet are available at INR 840 per head (excluding GST). Also, you can go for a la carte and order the food items separately from the menu. Veg and non-veg Rajbhog thalis are also there at INR 1500.
The lunch and dinner spread were quintessentially Bengali. During lunch, our menu included Gobindo Bhog Rice laced with fresh ghee, Sona Moong Daal, Fish Fry, Palong Shaaker Ghonto (a mish-mash of spinach, vegetables, and lentil fritters), Aloo Fulkopi Dalna (Cauliflower Curry), Radhika Mohan Pulao, Cossimbazari Chicken, Aloo Bukhara Chutney, Papad, green mango flavoured Rosogolla, and Murshidabad’s iconic Jhuri Doi.
At night, the buffet served Gobinda Bhog Rice, Yellow Daal, Aloo Methi, Paratha, Murshidabadi Macher Jhal, Mutton Nawabi Korma, Malai Chom Chom, and three types of pastry.
Breakfast was a mix of Bengali and continental flavours. There was Luchi coupled with Sada Aloor Torkari, Chirer Pulao (Poha), Sauteed Veggies, Chicken Cheese Balls in tomato sauce, fresh fruit juice, eggs of your choice, bread toast with butter and jam, and whole fruits such as banana and papaya.
In terms of dining, we felt that the buffet did not agree with the vibe of the heritage hotel. Also, food served in bell metal or clay utensils would have helped to exude the vintage charm of the place. The food, however, was lip-smacking. We especially loved the Fish Fry, Murshidabadi Macher Jhal, and Mutton Nawabi Korma.
A royal experience at the Palace of the Roys:
The Cossimbazar Rajbari is truly a treat to the eyes. Painted in pristine white, the architecture of the palace is a fusion of Indian and European styles. Furnished with Corinthian pillars, louvered windows, checkered floors, long corridors, stained glass decorations, vintage furniture, sparkling chandeliers, old paintings, and yellowed photographs, the palace is an exceptional experience. In fact, an entire day might fall short of covering every nook and corner of this mansion.
The tour of the palace starts with the breathtaking façade and clock tower in the front. As you stroll across the garden, you will reach the interior section of the mansion. The present generation of the Roy family resides here. You will find scores of rooms in two stories surrounding a courtyard. Nearby, there is a Sabha Ghar (royal court), Majlish Ghar (entertainment room), and Malkhana (treasury). The rooms are adorned with antique articles such as China dolls, chandeliers, and marvellous furniture.
The backyard has two ponds (one for the men of the house, the other for the women), a tennis court, some dilapidated sculptures, and a rose garden called Khosh Bagh.
The palace also houses a Radha Gobinda Temple, which is the family deity. Every evening, the idols are venerated through ‘sandhya arati’. Also, there is a Lakshmi Temple and a Shiva Temple.
One of the most beautiful segments of the Cossimbazar Rajbari is the Chandi Mandap. Here, Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Annapurna Puja, Kartik Puja, and Lakshmi Puja are organized every year amidst much fanfare. Even today, the Durga Puja is celebrated on a grand scale. You can visit Cossimbazar Palace during the Durga Puja to sneak a peek of ‘bonedi barir Pujo’.
Since it was the 31st December evening, the palace organized a wonderful cultural program showcasing the various classical and folk dances of India. The last evening of 2023 was rendered memorable by a flawless presentation of Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Manipuri, Ras Leela, and Bengal’s very own Chhou.
There are a few attractions lying close to the Cossimbazar Rajbari such as the Sripur Palace (entry inside this ruined palace is not allowed), Pataleswar Shiva Temple, Old English Cemetery (houses the grave of Warren Hastings’s first wife and their infant daughter), Dutch Cemetery, Armenian Church, and Dash or Ten Shiva Temples.
The prime attractions of Nawabi-era Murshidabad such as the Hazarduari Palace, Nizamat Imambara, Kathgola Palace, Nasipur Palace, Jagat Seth’s house, Katra Mosque, Motijheel, and Jahan Kosha Canon are located within 10-12 km radius of the Cossimbazar Palace.
Where is Cossimbazar Rajbari located?
The Cossimbazar Rajbari is located at Rajbari Para at Cossimbazar in Murshidabad district. It is just 4 km away from the district head-quarter, Berhampore. From Kolkata, Cossimbazar is around 220 km away.
How can I reach the Cossimbazar Rajbari?
By train: You need to descend either at Berhampore Court station or Khagraghat to reach Cossimbazar Rajbari. An array of passenger and express trains are available from Kolkata. It takes 3.5 hours approximately to reach the aforesaid stations from Kolkata. The best options to reach Berhampore Court are 13113 Hazarduari Express (from Kolkata station) and 03171 Lalgola Passenger (from Sealdah). Alternatively, you can board the 13177 Jangipur Road Express (from Sealdah) and 13465 Malda Town Intercity Express (from Howrah) and reach Khagraghat station. You can book ‘toto’ from both the stations to reach Cossimbazar.
By bus: Daily, multiple SBSTC and NBSTC buses ply between Kolkata and Berhampore. However, it’s a long and tedious 6-hour journey.
By car: If you have your own vehicle or hire one, you can reach Cossimbajar Palace in 5.5 hours.
How can I book a stay at the mansion?
You can call 09831031108 to book a room at the Cossimbazar Palace. You can also make reservations through their official website.
Is the option of a day trip available?
Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you can opt for a tour inside the Cossimbazar Palace at a nominal fee of INR 50 per head.
Other things to remember:
- Check-in time is 11 AM whereas check-out time is 10 AM.
- The restaurant is strictly time-bound here. Breakfast buffet is available from 8 AM to 10 AM, lunch from 1 PM to 3 PM, and dinner from 8 PM to 10 PM.
- No room service for food is allowed here.
- No alcohol is served here.
- You can take a guided tour of the property. Local women are employed as guides here. There is no fixed charge for the guide and you can pay them at your convenience and pleasure.
- A dormitory at INR 300 per head is available for the drivers within the Palace premises.
- Parking facility is available inside the Palace.
- The Cossimbazar Palace is a private residential property. So, it is advisable to follow the house rules and maintain a minimum of decorum.
- For more such heritage hotels of West Bengal, check out our blogs on Itachuna Rajbari and Bari Kothi.