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PALACES OF THE RICH & THE FAMOUS OF COLONIAL CALCUTTA – Khelat Bhawan

Khelat Bhawan, Kolkata

The Ghosh family of  the Karatiya village in Hooghly, came to Pathurighata in Calcutta, at the time of Warren Hastings. Shri Khelat Chandra Ghosh was the son of Babu Deb Narayan Ghosh and the grandson of Babu Ramlochon Ghosh, a clerk under Lord Hastings. Khelat Chandra  was born in the year 1827 at 46, Pathuriaghata Street, Kolkata. He was a man with a lot of dignity and was a very learned person. He was a philanthropist, donated land for the construction of the Tala tank. He was  an honorary district magistrate too. He was an established person in the court of Warren Hasting, held a post of “Diwan” and was favored by Warren Hasting. He was well known in the society for his social welfare, religious, spiritual and cultural activities.  Khelat Chandra had contribution for the development of social welfare during the British period and was very much active in the promotion of fine arts like music, culture and literature. In fact, he himself was a maestro of Indian classical music.

Babu Khelat Chandra Ghosh
Babu Khelat Chandra Ghosh

Khelat Chandra constructed the “Khelat Bhawan” at 47 Pathuriaghat Street in the year 1846. A well known German architecture company, Martin & Burn, designed and constructed the building on his behalf. The construction started in 1844 and completed in 1846. The majestic mansion with Corinthian pillars was decorated with beautiful marble sculptures, paintings, crystal chandeliers and other aesthetic objects. The mansion’s pillared and arched inner courtyard is definitely one of  the most elegant of the North Calcutta buildings. Inside the building, a marble staircase with wood paneling on either side, lands in a long corridor of the upper floor. Both sides of the corridor were bordered with blue and white elephants, which were once used as flowerpot stands. The building  included a “Nach Ghar”, a grand dancing hall,  with a Belgian cut-glass chandelier. However, the dancing hall has since been converted into Khelat Ghosh Memorial Hall. The Thomson Chronometre grandfather clock in the Study, brought from London to Kolkata in 1819, holds pride of place.

Khelat Bhawan - Kolkata Municipal Corporation Sinage
Khelat Bhawan – Kolkata Municipal Corporation Sinage

Like the other palaces of those days, Khelat Bhawan was also divided into three main parts. The  “Bahir Mahal”, or the front section, was used for entertaining the visitors and outsiders. The ”Andar Mahal”, or the residential area, was prohibited for the outsiders. The third part, “Bagan Bari”, was a separate house in a beautiful garden area. Bahir Mahal was actually a well decorated theatre hall, a museum, Art gallery and library, where meetings or music conferences were held. Apart from the three sections, as mentioned earlier, Khelat Bhawan included a “Thakur Dalan”, or place of worship, where all the religious ceremonies or rituals were held throughout the year.

On various occasions, Khelat Bhawan was frequented by many eminent persons of the concerned period. Among others, they include Thakur Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa Dev, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sarbapali Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi. It was one of the major live theatre venues in Calcutta and had always been at the forefront of the performing arts.

Khelat Bhawan
Kheltr Bhawan
Khelat Bhawan - Lions above the main gate
Khelat Bhawan – Lions above the main gate
Khelat Bhawan - a portion
Khelat Bhawan – a portion

Location of Kehlat Bhawan

Kehlat Bhawan Location

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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