Heritage Call in Bengal
Bawali, a nondescript little dot on the map of Kolkata, hides little tales in its serpentine folds. That it
Not unless you walk into The Rajbari Bawali, a 350-year-old heritage mansion that has been restored back to glory from the brink of destruction. I give it to Ajay Rawla’s vision and unrelenting toil as well as the indescribable efforts of his team, for giving this gem a new lease of life.
Last summer, while vacationing in my homeland,
Rajbari Bawali appears out of nowhere after a 2-hour drive from the city. Standing grand in white with naked brick walls, it’s smelt like a fragile page from an old hard bound. All I remember was while Bono pounced on the antique four-poster in our room before chasing the unsuspecting ducks in the backyard with his Didai in tow, I took my own sweet time
Every stone takes you back to the days of yore…when long sunny corridors rung with familiar laughter and chatter, when gardens invited with its lushness and fresh blooms filled the air with sweet aroma. When young boys splashed around in ponds after filling themselves with ripe guavas hanging from the trees in the garden and women completed their ablutions early so that they could cook a multi-course meal for the whole family. When days passed in a lazy slumber and evenings was about hearty banter. Innocence and simplicity
In the 17th century, Basudeb Ray, a prominent official of the Mughal court of Emperor Akbar, was bestowed the Zamindari of the area of Bawali. His descendant Harananda Mondal was one of the earliest to found the Zamindari at Bawali. Good times rolled with effective land reforms and trade partnerships with the British. The Mondals of Bawali soon became a name to be reckoned with. The property is a standing proof that the Mondals were prosperous and loved living well. Since the old architecture has been restored, one can see that the mansion was made in great taste. Tall and sturdy pillars, broad verandahs and corridors take you to the beautifully done up rooms, each complete with four-poster beds and antique furniture, all from the personal collection of its current owner, Ajay Rawla. There
On arrival guests are greeted with the sonorous call of the conchshell and fresh green coconut water. The thakurdalan has been converted into the dining hall decked up with antique gramophones, large pictures of Satyajit Ray and Hindu deities. In the evening, respect is paid to these deities, as is the custom of every Bengali household.
Lunch is an elaborate affair, reminiscent of the glorious food culture of Bengal and is handled ably by The East India Tea and Spice Co. Choose from 50 recipes of authentic Bengali food. Lovebirds can dine by the pond under the stars.
The Rajbari experience is crafted to appeal to the connoisseur, the adventurous and those in search of an special experience. We partook of a regaling music session by two Baul singers are they left us enthralled. There are also traditional dance recitals and musical soirees arranged on demand for guests.
Bono forgot one of his favourite story books there. But, that’s hardly a reason for revisiting. I am