Time Travel in the Bengal Countryside

It was late afternoon. The day was approaching towards its end. The Sun had lowered down and the Bengal countryside had a cool wind lingering by the pastel green paddies. The May months are unbearably hot but probably the wind was compensatory enough to help me explore a bit!

Fanaticism hits me hard when I choose to explore heritage buildings that speak of many untold stories through the corners of its ruins.

I am a history buff; no wonder, historical stories, and archaeology play my cards safe when I am seeking for offbeat travel.

Probably, this happens because they help me time-travel. I actually find it amusing how a certain place takes me back to an era when I was neither born nor had I read about them in my school textbooks.

It’s strange how history seemed to be a boring subject when taught within the limitations of four walls of a classroom but had an entirely flipped side when I could witness history so closely and practically.

Read it for yourself!

Jolhori

As I drive past the thatched huts and clean but average roads lined by eucalyptus trees and guarded by paddy fields on both the ends I can spot a beautifully structured colonial house constructed in a unique combination of European and Indian architecture amidst the shallow waters of a mini lake.

Past the explicit beauty of the colonial house, I also see how faded it has grown to be over the years. The house speaks of mysteries and ghost stories, a sheer kind of a loneliness lingers by the tiny pathways within the house premises. The walls have now overgrown bushes and a flock of birds rests on the edges of the terrace facades. The stairs that descend down the lake are somewhat broken and the green waters look dirty and pale.

According to the historical facts, the Jolhori served as an outhouse to the rajas of the Narajole Rajbari which dates back to the 18th century.

Narajole Rajbari – (aka Narajole Palace)

A bit of an indulging drive takes me to the interiors of Narajole where I can spot the Narajole Rajbari.

This Rajbari was constructed by the hierarchical family of Raja Narendralal Khan and his son Raja Debendralal Khan. National patriots like M.K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Sarojini Naidu, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and literature laureate of India – Rabindranath Tagore were regular visitors here.

The palace premises welcomes me with an abandoned canteen with faded pastel yellow walls, dull black doors, and windows, and a series of some more broken buildings ladled with a musty smell.

Getting inside the Rajbari, a maze of criss-cross lanes, maroon and yellow buildings and tiny sculptures are all that I can spot.

As the Sun dims a little, the Narajole Rajbari appears to be more daunting, being spread over a vast area of 360 bigha land and over 250 rooms, the more you explore the intricate lanes and the corners they scare you more! While snakes are a common sight, I am more afraid of ghosts and spirits! 🙁

Present day, the ruins accommodate the lecturers and their families who teach in the closely located Narajole College. A few decades ago, this Rajbari was utilized as a college but now the college has shifted a few kms towards the town.

Hawamohol (Ball Room of 18th century)

The Hawamohol is located at a close proximity from the Rajbari. You probably can’t get inside it because of the broken infrastructure and is also spooky at the same time!

The Hawamahal located at a distance

Entry to the Hawa Mahal

A total of 54 450-year-old temples surround the Narajole area

Have a glimpse of some of the temples I found en route.

A Radha-Krishna temple

A 'Rath'

The Sun’s far gone painting the sky in pink and orange pastels. While the wind plays with my hair strands I think to myself of how there’s an uncertainty to bidding goodbyes to places and heading forth to new journeys. Every time I drift to another place, I carry a bit of my previous journey with me. From all of my frequent travels, I have had felt some strange uniqueness for every place I have been to. There’s no twin to any place. I believe!What can be felt in one place just can’t be felt in the other.

Somewhere in the hidden alleys of the vintage corridors, I found my own place of peace and my own corner of solitude. It is here where history paved way for realization and openness towards compromising on the much-adorned luxury.

This trip also tells me how just a little bit of mindful presence is ‘actually’ needed to transform a second into a moment of bliss!

**The Narajole Rajbari, is declared as a heritage building by the West Bengal Heritage Commission in 2008, yet no strict action is taken to preserve this beautiful heritage town!

This is how I travel. This is how I believe travel stands up to teaching me a lot!

So, over to you now, how do you travel? Is travel your teacher too? Do you prefer luxurious travel over local living?

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