Have you ever wondered how it feels like to be a Zamindar living in a palatial mansion? Maheshgunj Estate will tell you exactly how.
The zamindar bari at Balakhana is one of those rare spots in India where you can experience heritage first hand. Referred as the Maheshgunj Estate, it is a beautiful mansion which is more than 200 years old. It was constructed in the 19th century and was first used as a Neelkuthi, home of the infamous indigo plantation masters. Later it changed hands and the Palchowdhuri family got its ownership. Since then, the mansion has had seen many glorious times.
Biprodas Palchoudhuri was the first owner and since then his family had been hosts to many illustrious people, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose being one of them. His grandson Ranodhir has opened up the mansion as a homestay for the heritage loving tourist.
When we enter the premises of Maheshgunj Estate and we get to see the mansion amidst the green orchards, it is love at first sight. The Palchoudhuris, the Bengali zamindar family still live here on the 16 acre estate. The whole area is beautifully maintained with widespread gardens. A beautiful Buddha statue adds to the peace of the place.
An airstrip remains signifying the days when people flew in to the estate from Kolkata. Among the many heritage objects, there you can see the snooker room, an old library with valuable books, classic mahogany furniture. There also used to be a fixed-wing Tiger Moth in the estate.
The whole mansion has a constructed area of 12,000 square-feet with a verandah that runs over 2,000 square-feet. The walls are lined with antlers. You can spend your time lazing around in the antique recliners in the verandah and enjoy the cool wind that blows in from the river Jalangi. You can also take a boat ride or simply enjoy the stars in the pollution-free sky. The estate also enjoys the company of many kinds of birds. You will never know when the time has passed away watching the geese of the farm and the monkeys in the trees.
The rooms are big and comfortably furnished with the old furniture. The delicious food is cooked and served with care, giving the feeling of being at home. Whether it is the milk or the fish or the vegetables, all are fresh from their farm. If you go at the right season, you can also get fresh nolen gur from their date trees. On top of that, the warm hospitality of the family makes this trip truly special.
For cinema lovers, just outside the estate lies the spot where the famous Apur Sansar was shot. In some shots, parts of the estate have also been shown in the film.
Also see: Uttam Kumar as the zamindar in Stree
How to go
- Nearest airport is Kolkata. You can take a car from Kolkata.
- By road, Balakhana can be reached by VIA NH 34 or Kona expressway/Golden quadrilateral State highway.
- By train or bus, go till Krishnanagar. From there, Balakhana is 12 km away. Vehicles will charge about Rs. 500 to take you there. However it is better to ask the Estate for a pick up when you book with them.
- Mayapur is very near to Balkhana, just within a few kilometers. You can visit Krishnanagar for its fabled sweets, or to Phulia for shopping saris and clay dolls.
- There are 4 Non-AC Guestrooms available, and you have to book beforehand.
- Weekend rate is from Friday to Sunday and it also includes public holidays. The weekend rate is thus Rs. 4500/- per night for double occupancy and it includes breakfast.
- Weekday rate is applicable for Monday to Thursday. It costs Rs. 3500/- per night for double occupancy, and includes breakfast. However as there is a tourist rush from 15 December to 2 January, therefore the weekend rates apply. Lunch and dinner is flat per meal, Rs. 400 for vegetarian and Rs.500 for non-vegetarian. Room service is not available.
- If you want accommodation for a driver or maid, it is also presented.
- The Maheshgunj Estate does not permit for alcohols as it is a heritage homestay.
Credits: www.balakhana.com, www.facebook.com/MaheshganjEstateBalakhana