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PALACES OF THE RICH AND THE FAMOUS OF COLONIAL CALCUTTA – Dhurjati Dham

Dhurjati Dham - Kolkata

There stands an old Victorian building on 35/2/A, Khudiram Bose Rd, Tala, near the Belgachia Metro station, which is often wrongly referred as “Belgachia Palace”. In fact, the actual name of the palatial building is “Dhurjati Dham”.

At the advent of the 20th century, it was built by Martin Burn Company on behalf of the owner, Narayan Kisson Sen. It is claimed that, Narayan Kisson Sen was one of the direct descendants of the legendary Gouri Sen, who was famous for his incredible wealth and unbelievable generosity. The popular saying “Laagey Taka Debey Gouri Sen”, which means, if you ever need money, Gouri Sen will arrange it for you, is still a valid common proverb in this part of the Country.

Narayan Kisson Sen had the intention to arrange the marriage ceremony of his Grandson Sisir Sen with a particular girl of his choice from the renowned and distinguished Mullick family of Pathuriaghata. But for reasons unknown, Narayan Kisson’s son Jugal Kishore was dead against this decision of his father. He opposed the marriage so adamantly and vehemently that ultimately Narayan Kisson got extremely mad. Finally, he disinherited his son from his property and disowned him as his son. As a result Jugal Kishore left his father’s place and shifted to a house at Raja Nabakrishna Street with his family and thus the chain of direct descendent of Narayan Kisson ended tragically.

Ironically, the present owners of the house are the inheritors of the Mullick family and they are also the descendants of Narayan Kisson Sen, but actually they are descendants from his daughter’s side. A few years ago an elderly man known as Shailendranath Mullick, a grandson of Narayan Kisson Sen, was in charge of the palace. He used to cordially receive the visitors and show them proudly around the grandeur of the palace. The duties and responsibilities regarding the trusteeship of this property were entrusted to him by his widowed grandmother, Bhagabati Dasi. However, Shailendranath passed away a few years ago. As he was unmarried, some of his distant relatives are the present owner of the place who often rent the house for the purpose of shooting of films and earning money in return.

Dhurjati Dham - Entrance Gate
Dhurjati Dham – The Entrance Gate
Dhurjati Dham - Porte Cochere
Dhurjati Dham – The Porte Cochere
Dhurjati Dham - Porte Cochere Inside
Dhurjati Dham – The Facade

Today the enormous building looks almost dilapidated. There is a beautiful “Porte Cochere” (known as “Gari Baranda” in Bengali, a porch where vehicles stop for the passengers to embark or disembark) at the entrance of the building and just below the balcony above. There was a time when the imposing vehicles of Narayan Kisson used to take entry through the gates of this palace and stop under the Porte Cochere. Today, the modern structures of Metro Railway pose as an obstruction to the view of the building from the road.

The flight of stairs leads to the entrance of the private area, where there are statues of two marble lions and elephants on each side of the door, resembling the silent and faithful doorkeepers of an orthodox house inside. People say that in earlier days there also stood a huge life-sized wooden bear here. The main attraction of the house is its palatial staircase ornamented with wrought iron banister and the glass covered roof above it. The glass top usually remains covered for ages with dirt and dust and only cleaned during the shooting of a film, permitting sunlight to come through it and brighten the otherwise dim and dark corridor and the neglected stairs. Just at the end of the staircase, there is a long corridor leading to the balcony. Except the floral paintings on the walls of the drawing room, other rooms are devoid of any decoration.

Dhurjati Dham - Staircase and Corridor
Dhurjati Dham – Staircase and Corridor

The other side of the house has long corridors too. The courtyard is embellished with Ionic columns on the first floor and Doric columns on the ground floor. Unfortunately, probably some film unit with vested interest painted these pillars with deep blue colour, which simply does not match with the surroundings. Apart from the main building, there is an ordinary and unimpressive Shiva temple in the backyard of the house.

Dhurjati Dham - Shiva Temple at the backside
Dhurjati Dham – Shiva Temple at the backside
Dhurjati Dham - Pond at backside
Dhurjati Dham – Pond at the backside

Till the last decade, there was little more antique furniture left in this house. Besides the old Grandfather clock near the staircase, there were ornamental lamps in the main hall, quite a number of Belgium mirrors and statues of maidens holding lamps along the banister of the staircase. It may be added in this context that the eminent poet and filmmaker Late Purnendu Patri mentioned in his book “Kolkata, Kolkata” about the grandeur of the Persian carpets, French bronze statues, and Greek vases in the building. Today, nothing is left there, except a huge wall painting of the Narayan Kisson Sen over the staircase, counting the day of ultimate decay.

Dhurjati Dham - partial view of Shiva Temple at backside
Dhurjati Dham – Partial view of Shiva Temple at the backside
Dhurjati Dham -backside
Dhurjati Dham -back view

Portion of Dhurjati Dham

A Portion of Dhurjati Dham

Belgachia Metro Station blocking the view of Dhurjati DHam
Belgachia Metro Station blocking the view of Dhurjati Dham

Location of Dhurjati Dham

Location of Dhurjati Dham

Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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