The rise of heritage tourism has led to a simultaneous surge in restoring historical properties into vintage hotels and homestays. Such heritage properties, which carry within itself endless tales of the past, paint a vivid picture of our culture and essence and present them evocatively to the guests. We already have another blog-post on one of the happening heritage sites, The Denmark Tavern of Serampore. This time, we take you to the Itachuna Rajbari.
The Itachuna Rajbari is one such example, which extends an unforgettable vintage experience to its guests. And owing to its vicinity to Kolkata, it is also a perfect destination for a weekend staycation.
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Location of Itachuna Rajbari:
The Rajbari is located at the nondescript village of Itachuna, near Pandua town of Hooghly district.
How to reach Itachuna Rajbari:
Itachuna Rajbari is located just 70 kms away from Kolkata. We are listing below the best options for travelling to the Rajbari:
- By car: A 2-hour’s drive from Kolkata via the Delhi Road is probably the best way to reach the Rajbari. Kalyani Expressway may also be availed; however, this route takes more time.
- By train: The nearest rail station is Khanyan. Any Burdwan bound mainline train or Pandua/Memari local train from Howrah station can be boarded to reach Khanyan easily within 1.5 hours.
- By bus: No direct bus route exists here.
History of Itachuna Rajbari:
The history of Itachuna Rajbari can be traced back to the annals of the Maratha marauders who plundered and wreaked havoc in Bengal and were locally called “Bargee”. Many such Bargees, instead of returning to their homeland, settled in prosperous Bengal. One of them was the Kundans, who established them at erstwhile “Bargee Danga” (as Itachuna was known then), converted to Vaishnavism, and undertook the surname of Kundu and became local zamindar. The Rajbari was built in 1766 AD by Sri Safallya Narayan Kundu and was renovated to its present avatar in 2012 by the 14th generation of the Kundus.
The Itachuna Rajbari:
The Itachuna Rajbari is built amidst greenery, on a sprawling 8 acres of land and surrounded by orchards, gardens and ponds. The Rajbari is palatial, and is divided into 3 distinct parts:
- Dev Mahal, or the temple area.
- Andar Mahal, or the interior section where the womenfolk lived and which was off-limits to outsiders.
- Bahir Mahal, or the exterior part where the men of the house carried on with their day-to-day works.
On entering the Rajbari, the grand “Singha Duar” or main entrance takes away all the attention. The Bahir Mahal is spread on the two either sides of the entrance.
The most striking feature of the Rajbari is, perhaps, the Dev Mahal, which is the first to greet on entering through the entrance. Shri Sridhar Jeu, the ancestral deity of the Kundus, resides inside the temple. There exists a large courtyard right in front of the magnificent temple, where devotees still assemble during Dol – Utsav and Janmashtami.
A petite door on the right of Dev Mahal is the doorway to the Andar Mahal. This portion also has the kitchen and dining areas.
The current generation of the Kundus continues to live on the premises and only a small portion of the two-storeyed Rajbari has been converted into a heritage homestay. The rooms have been named after different relations in a family, ranging from grandmother and aunts to uncles and brothers. Interestingly, rooms, which are situated in Andar Mahal, are named after female relatives; while those in the Bahir Mahal have been given names of the male ones. There are 7 categories of rooms available here:
- A. Category – A+: There are 5 rooms under this section:
- 1. Boro Boudi
- 2. Choto Boudi
- 3. Thakuma
- 4. Boro Pishi
- 5. Choto Pishi
- B. Category – Maa: 3 rooms fall under this division:
- 1. Ginni Maa
- 2. Boro Maa
- 3. Mejo Maa
- C. There are few uncategorized rooms:
- 1. Kaka Babu
- 2. Pishemoshai
- 3. Jatha Moshai
- 4. Borda
- 5. Ananda the Sabha Ghar, a large hall available only for those who are planning a day trip here.
- 6. Bilash and Manjari: 5-person suite rented together for guests visiting in groups.
- 7. Bungalow: Recently, the Rajbari has launched a private bungalow, named “Dev-Probha”, which can be booked for 3 families.
- 8. Huts: 4 mud huts have been built inside the garden to provide guests with a village-like ambience: Aparajita, Madhabilata, Kanaklata and Jhumkolata.
Rooms can be checked and booked from the official website of the Rajbari at http://www.itachunarajbari.com/ . You can also drop them a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with an unforgettable experience of heritage stay, the Rajbari also offers a delicious food escapade. Aiming at giving a taste of the royal feast to its guests, the Rajbari offers a complimentary breakfast and meal plan for one person at INR 600/- which includes both lunch and dinner. The meal plan serves vegetarian dishes; however non-veg items such as fish, chicken and mutton are also available at extra cost.
The food is quintessentially Bengali and plated on shining brass utensils that exude the vibes of the past. The food portion is ample for one adult and the dishes are delicious. The ghee and ‘mishti doi’ of the lunch platter are homemade and lip-smacking.
Meal plans at INR 300/-, which include lunch and tea, are also available for those who are opting only for a day out. Children’s meal plans are also there.
The Itachuna Rajbari aims at offering a taste of royalty to its guests. The entire Rajbari is decorated and furnished in such a way to exude the old world feel. The rooms are provided with traditional furniture such as king-size, four-poster beds and decorative closets. The seemingly endless verandahs and corridors have been embellished with antique pieces and intricately designed furniture. The walls have paintings and photographs of the ancestors of the Kundus. An entire day may not suffice to explore every nook and corner of the Rajbari.
The huge garden surrounding the Rajbari is perfect for taking an aimless stroll after feasting on the elaborate lunch spread. There is a pond in the backyard, where fishing can be done.
The Rajbari authorities organize daily guided tours in the afternoon. The guide narrates the history of Itachuna, while walking the guests through here, there and everywhere of the Rajbari.
The evening arati at the temple is, perhaps, the most beautiful event during the entire stay at the Rajbari. The divine smell of incense, the sound of bell, cymbal and drum, the chanting of ‘mantras’, the lighting of candles on the temple stairs – all create a heavenly atmosphere in the evening.
Another memorable experience is a flutist playing earthy and pleasing tunes on his flute in the early morning, which serves as a gentle wake-up call.
Nearby attractions of Itachuna:
There are some places of interest near the Itachuna Rajbari, which can well be visited during the staycation:
- Hangseswari and Ananta Basudev Temples of Bansberia, which is just 20 kilometres from Khanyan.
- Terracotta temples of Guptipara, which is an hour drive from the Rajbari.
- The 108 Shiva temples of Kalna, can be reached within an hour from Itachuna.
- The 200-year-old Mahanad Kalibari, which is 8 kilometres from the Rajbari and served as an inspiration to Dakshineswar Kali Temple.
- The Chuchura Imambara, located at a distance of 23 kilometres.
- The Bandel Church, situated at a distance of around 30 kilometres.
Things to remember:
- The Itachuna Rajbari is private property. So, it is advisable to follow the house rules and maintain a minimum decorum.
- The gates, both external and internal, are closed by 11 in the night. Hence, no strolling outside the room is allowed after 11 PM.
- Serving of food is also strict time-bound here. Lunch is available between 1 – 2:30 PM, dinner 9 – 10:30 PM and breakfast 8:30 – 9:30 AM. No room service is available.
- The evening arati takes place between 6:15 – 6:30 PM in summer and 5:30 – 5:45 during winter.
- The vast terrace of the Rajbari can only be visited in the afternoon during the guided tour. The terrace is off-limits for guests for the rest of the day.
- The Rajbari authority sanitizes the rooms after the guests take their leaves. Also, the luggage of the guests is sanitized on arrival.
- Parking facility is available. Also, it provides lodging and dining facilities for drivers at INR 600/- per night.
- The Rajbari grows Oyster mushrooms, which can be bought at a reasonable price from the souvenir shop inside the premises. Also, the aromatic and flavourful ghee, served during lunch, can also be bought from here.
- Pets are not allowed on the premises of Rajbari.
- Alcohol is not available in the Rajbari. However, guests can arrange alcohol for themselves and consume them only within the confines of their rooms. Although, smoking and consuming alcohol is generally not encouraged here.