Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Lost grandeur of Rabari Palace, Hetampur - Some important facts

Rajbari, Hetampur, some of 999 doors. Pixelated Memories
Rajabari, Hetampur, W.bengal Amitabha Gupta - WordPress.com

Hetampur, an old village Suri Sadar subdivision of Birbhum District of West Bengal is famous for the Royal and historical palace and reputed college
Rich in architecture, the impressive palace, it attracts lots of tourists for its  lost grandeur. Its  past glory can be appreciated only on a visit to this place. 


A small part of the massive palace is maintained to accommodate visiting family members whenever they visit this place from Kolkata. This part  also has a Durbar Room and walls  with  beautiful frescoes executed by talented  artists.  They were 
Part of rajbari, Hetampur. W.Bengal .flickr.com/
commissioned by the Raj family way  back  more than some hundred and twenty years ago.


Parts of this palatial building house a school and a teachers' training college being run under the direction of the Royal family and it clearly shows their  unusual zeal  in promoting  education among the local subjects. Hetampur has two schools and one college all founded by the Raj family

The following are the noteworthy features of Rajbari (Ranjan Palace):

01. This palatial building grand in style was not built either by the Nawab or by a filthy rich Maharajah.


Hitampur Rajbari, Entrance gateway Pixelated Memories
Rajbari builder Maharaja Ram Ranjan Chakravarty Amitabha Gupta -
02. The  builder was a Zamaindar - land-owning class during the colonial time. He was very rich and owned vast tract of land in this part. 

03. The amazing thing about this palace, also
known by the name of Hetampur Hajar Duari, is it has 999 doors - made of Superior quality Burma teak wood -  whooping  number of  doors for a building.(hajar meaning one thousand in Bengali and duari meaning doored).

04. But, it is short of one door to one thousand doors (one hajar), unlike the one at Murshidabad, W. Bengal.

05. The reason why the builder came up with just 999 doors, short of 1000 is a puzzle. My guess is Hindus never prefer even numbers in  building, hence the builder was content with 999 doors.

06. This building was designed in grand Victorian style with ornamental tops of the Corinthian pillars, the plaster work along the pyramidal roof and other decorative features such as the crenellations along the roof.

07.  Constructed in 1905,  Rajbari in Hetampur was commissioned by Maharajah Ram Ranjan Chakravarty; then it was known as  Ranjan Palace’.
In 1875, Northbrook conferred on Ramranjan Chakraborty, grandson of Bipracharan, the title of Raja in British India


08. The majestic entrance gateway to the palace is yet another main feature of this building. You may call it the "gateway to lost grandeur of Rajbari" in  Hetampur, Birbhum,

09.  It red-brick structure with en eye-catching appearance enhanced by Corinthian pillars and arched windows takes the visitors inside the building.

10. The Gateway is further accentuated by slender protruding eaves supported on equally-spaced brackets and topped by several feminine figurines with their arms outstretched. Its central portion is raised higher than the extremities.

11. That the embellished gateway gives the appearance of a rich Gothic cathedral bears testimony to the grand style with which, the rich Zamindari  family  inside the palace lived in the past. 

12. After the Maharajah's death Rajbari had remained a monument of great beauty in memory of him.

13. The house of Hetampur raj rose from obscurity and became a powerful kingdom and later Zamindari. 

14.  Originally emigrated from Bankura district to Birbhum District, now in W. Bengal,   Radhanath Chakraborty, was actual founder of Hetampur Raj family. He subdued the Roy family of Hetampur.  Between 1781 and 1799 he took 19 Mouzas of Birbhum Raj on  lease and captured some in battles with them. He also purchased several Mahals (Zamindari Area) from Murshidabad Nawab when they were put up for auction but never paid taxes and declared freedom from Muslim rule.

15. This palatial two story palace is in a dilapidated state for lack of funds and poor maintenance. The
 the damage is not considerable. This reflects  neglect on the part of governments - central and state and lack of awareness  to preserve such beautiful structures for posterity. They could chip in and help the owners. The good news is the overall condition of the walls  in the palace is good and they retain the old original character. This is not true of palace interiors.

16. Since India's independence and abolition of Zamindari system and privy purses (offering annual doles to the ex princely families), regular maintenance of palatial buildings has become a big problem for the ex princes and Zamindars. With inadequate funds, they could not  afford neither their retinue nor their big palaces, buildings, etc as they were bogged down with financial burden.

17. The grand palace looks tainted with the loss of grandeur and sophistication which once it proudly possessed. This building and the surrounding places are prone to pilferage and trespassing, partly due to improper barricading. Many Burma teak-wood doors are missing  and not yet replaced and the unfortunate fact is this beautiful building is disappearing right under our nose. 

18. The palace is flanked by a large  building  where  a college and school are housed. Between the school and college a narrow path leads to the roofed shelter where a royal chariot is located. 

The place can be accessed from cities like Dubrajpur, Suri, Birbhum and Durgapur.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hetampur
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kanad_sanyal/6045326854