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PALACES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS 0F COLONIAL CALCUTTA – Shobhabazar Rajbari

Sobhabazar Rajbari - Calcutta

Shobhabazar Rajbari, the palace of the Shobhabazar Royal Family, was built by Raja Nabakrishna Deb, who lost his father, Ramcharan Deb, early in life.

When Ramcharan Deb was murdered by Maratha Bargis in the jungles of Midnapore, his widowed wife came back to their house at Gobindapur with her three sons and five daughters. Unfortunately,  their house was washed away by an abrupt and unusual current of Hooghly River and they were compelled to move to Arpooly and from there to Shobhabazar. With time, Ramcharan’s youngest son Nabakrishna rose to fame and power. In his early life, his mother was very much concerned about his proper education. At first she arranged to ensure his proficiency in Urdu and Persian and then Arabic and English. With time he was appointed as the Persian teacher of Warren Hastings in 1750. At one point of time he got the opportunity to be engaged as a “Munshi “(clerk-cum-interpreter) of Governor Drake. Slowly and steadily he proved his worth, earned the trust and confidence of the  English people, even advised them on foreign relations. Personally, he was in favour of the establishment of British power in India. With the advent of time, he became a good friend of Lord Clive and was appointed as his Confidential Secretary. Prior to and during the Battle of Palashi, he was often entrusted with confidential works for the British East India Company and he carried them out faithfully.

It is beyond any reasonable doubt that, Nabakrishna Deb, along with Mir Jafar and Jagat Sheth, played a key role in turning India to a British colony by defeating Siraj ud-Daulah at the battle of Palashi. It is said that, after the death of Siraj ud-Daulah, Deb along with Mir Jafar, Amir Beg and Ramchand Roy acquired a huge sum of money, not less than eight crore  or eighty million rupees worth of treasures, from some unknown secret treasury.

Sobhabazar Rajbari - Main Gate, Old Picture
Sobhabazar Rajbari – Main Gate, Old Picture

Raja Nabakrishna Deb constructed two houses during his lifetime.. At first he constructed a building on the north side of the road, at 33 Raja Nabakrishna Street, locally known as, Choto Shobhabazar Rajbari. It is often said that Raja Nabakrishna Deb (1733-1797) acquired the palace from Shobharam Basak and extended it to look like what it appears today. Whatever may be the case, subsequently he gave it to his adopted son Gopimohan. Later in his life, when a son was born to him,  he constructed a new building at 36 Raja Nabakrishna Street, popularly known as Baro Shobhabazar Rajbari. He gifted the new building to his biological son Rajkrishna and his descendants. The main building is probably predated 1757, while the “Naat Mandap” was probably constructed during 1830’s.

Sobhabazar Rajbari - Framed Picture
Sobhabazar Rajbari – Natmandir

Though it was originally a “Saat-Mahala” house, today nothing but the courtyard along with the “Thakur Dalan” of the Rajbari remains intact. The “Saat Khilan Thakur Dalan”, otherwise known as “The Naat Mandir”, with multi-foliate arches, were supported on pairs of squared pilasters (rectangular column, especially one projecting from a wall). Pairs of columns with plain shafts rose up between the arches for the support of the Entablature, comprising the main beam (architrave), frieze, and cornice above. The double storey wings on either side of the courtyard  connected the Thakur Dalan with the “Naach Ghar” to the south. A set of eight Majestic Tuscan columns supported a wide projecting cornice at the roof level. Two rows of foliated arches at the northern end provided access to the Nabaratna Temple at the rear. The Nabaratna Temple is housed by the family deity of “Radha Gobinda” which has been worshipped by the family for about 250 years. The roof of the Naach Ghar has caved in and very little of the superstructure remains today, except for the huge courtyard that still remains intact as the dumb witness of its glorious past.

Sobhabazar Rajbari - History
Sobhabazar Rajbari – History
Sobhabazar Rajbari - During Durga Puja
Sobhabazar Rajbari – During Durga Puja
Sobhabazar Rajbari - During Durga Puja - 01
Sobhabazar Rajbari – During Durga Puja
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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