Very near to Calcutta or Kolkata as we now call it, is a heritage property, Rajbari Bawali, situated in the small village of Bawali, which is in South 24 Paraganas district in West Bengal. This was formerly owned by the Mondal family.
Rajbari, the Indian word, means a mansion or palace built as a residence.
Rajbari Bawali is a neo classical building with ornate columns, long verandahs and a huge courtyard, with steps rising up to the centre of the mansion.
Rajbari Bawali has now been restored and converted into a resort. I had read about this property in a travel magazine on a flight back from India to the UK and decided to visit this place on my next visit. I finally managed to do so in December 2013.
When I visited, the renovation of the Rajbari was still going on. I had made a booking to be at the property for the day with my mother and aunts and enjoy the surroundings.
We arrived mid morning and were welcomed by some lovely ladies in traditional Indian style with diyas (earthen lamps filled with oil and rolled cotton wick which is lit) and flowers.
The huge area around the property has gardens, pond, and its own vegetable garden as well.
There is a lovely pond inside the Rajbari Bawali estate and one of the banks has been converted into a lounging area with sofas and parasols. We got tea and snacks served to us while enjoying the lovely winter breeze lounging next to the pond.
There is even a hand drawn Kolkata style rickshaw placed within the compound. Some of the old houses of the Mondal family were renovated to created the hotel suites. One of them nearly done at the time of my visit was the Dak-Bungalow, a self contained house with a drawing room, dining area and bedroom with 4 poster bed.
Around noon, lunch served which was freshly cooked bengali meal made by some local ladies and was served in a nicely laid out table in the dining hall.
Post lunch, we went for a walk to see the temples that I had heard about, located in the area within the Bawali estate. All of the temples were in dilapidated state showing signs of being ignored for a long time. They are mostly standing in ruins, covered in plantations and showed the lack of use and maintenance. An entire area of heritage standing right there staring back, as if lost in time and lacking care.
In the evening, just after sunset, lamps were laid out on the stairs of the Rajbari and the glow of the lamps seemed to bring out the soul of the old bricks of the mansion. And as the evening decended, we were treated with a very special concert of Baul (famous singing minstrels of Bengal) songs on the terrace with hot snacks and tea. It was a beautiful atmosphere captured in my memory.
When I left Bawali that evening, I carried with me some moments of bliss which we normally don’t find in our day to day city life where our minds are constantly running after something.
Recent search on the internet revealed that, now the Rajbari Bawali renovated property has 30 rooms which is bookable online and I found out that online booking is even available from quite a few UK travel booking websites. Perhaps I need to make another visit to check out how has transformed in these years.
Bawali Rajbari is indeed a fresh breath away from the hustle and bustle of Kolkata city and a great place to relax and some pampering.
- Rajbari Bawali is located off the Diamond Harbour Road and can be reached from Amtala or Budge Budge.
- There is a famous Shiva temple, Baro Kachari (Big Court), around 25-30 minutes drive from Bawali, via Thakurpukur-Bibirhat-Bakhrahat-Raipur Rd
- BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Bhasa, is around 40 mins drive from Bawali and can be visited on the way or during return to Kolkata
- Nearby attraction includes the town of Batanagar, which has plant of the Bata shoe company and lies on the bank of the Ganges.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome.
Please share using links below: