THE RAJBARI BAWALI
26.5 Kms south-west from Rabindra Sarobar on the Thakurpukur-Bibirhat-Bakhrahat-Raipur Rd, lies a beautiful weekend destination - 'The Rajbari Bawali'.
Hardly a distance from home, it however takes an hour and quarter to reach, since you have to carefully maneuver the road, where dada / boudi, kaku / kakima (local residents) are busy exploring the road-side market for their daily provision, and the frenzy very often spills over to the middle of the road, while civic and traffic sense has been long abandoned and eradicated.
We had chosen the Bibirhat - Bakrahat route since Taratola road, the easier approach, being in the midst of a flyover construction, would have been a pain. Consolation being the green stretches once you are beyond Thakurpukur, on the B - B route.
Google Maps does a decent job, to get you to the location. Without which, it might have been difficult. Not much of the Rajbari is identifiable from the outside, however once you step in there is a complete transformation. You are taken into a different world of grandeur and class !
'The Rajbari Bawali' is an amazing effort in restoration. Mr Ajay Rawla who stumbled upon this dilapidated structure in 2008, has painstakingly recreated the Rajbari with craftsmen and experts from across the globe to put in place a classic masterpiece which takes you back to the old world! It does a perfect job in giving you the feel of heritage and royalty with a mystic reminiscence of the ruins. We often hear about restoration projects in Rajasthan, but this one, I can assure you, is on par with the best.
|Evening program at the central courtyard|
As I lay on the waist high bed, it compels you to envision the plot some 200 years ago fantasizing the humdrum of activities, the rigmarole of royal residents conforming to their devoir through the day, and as night fell, the bizarre mischievous activities that the old bricks and structures would have witnessed. You just cannot evade these feelings, and that perhaps makes the experience so engrossing.
|Corridors of the Zamindari|
|Old world charm with modern blend|
For us, this visit (Nov 2017) was a surprise special birthday event gifted by our children. Thus apart from the celebration, the splendor of the Rajbari made it exceptional! Over and above, there was a special evening entertainment at the Rajbari courtyard, for all the guests, which was inaugurated by one of the heirs of the erstwhile zamindar family followed by performances by baul singers, budding crooners among the hotel staff, and ballet by an eminent dance group. All of this paired with some exquisite Italian wine that we had carried along made it a memorable evening.
|Ruins that add to the charm|
The next day was a date with contrast.
Almost all guests had left, I guess we were just three families in the Rajbari alongwith the hotel staff. And thus there was pin drop silence as dusk rolled into the night. It was, we and the symphony of mysteries, echoing through the Rajbari. Absolute calm and at peace, at times the stillness of the night broken by piercing shriek of an Owl.
Hats off to the vision of Mr Rawla, for conceptualizing this creation, and more importantly patiently working with the dispersed and diverse set of heirs. It must have been one hell of a challenge!
For anyone, who desires some privacy and luxury amongst greenery and some old world charm, The Rajbari Bawali is an awesome weekend getaway.