Ever since I came to Kolkata five months back, I was keen of visiting The Marble Palace. I had read in some book on Kolkata about it. So one fine morning I started and took metro form Jatin Das Park and got down at Mahatma Gandhi Road station. Few minutes walk from the station is Mukhtaram Babu Street where this huge Mansion is located.
At first it doesn’t appear that there can be such a huge Mansion in so narrow lanes. The reason being that at the time when it was built it was the poshest location but now the encroachments have not spared the grandness of the locality. You are walking and suddenly you come across such a grand mansion.
Although permission from West Bengal Tourism Department is necessary to visit the palace, but the gatekeeper was kind enough to allow me expecting a tip when i come back. As I entered the main gate, I saw the palatial nineteenth century Grand mansion and on the right side was a large pond and the family temple. In the middle of the pond is a statue and the fountain in the center. I entered the main building assisted by a guide who took me to the ground floor. The large halls on the ground floor had sculptors of high artistic caliber and the paintings were adorning the walls on all sides. The Guide told me that ninety different varieties marble was imported via the sea route for building the Marble palace.
The mansion was built in 1835 by Raja Rajendra Mullick, a wealthy Bangali merchant who had a passion for collecting art pieces from all over the world. The halls previously ball rooms have huge chandeliers, paintings by famous artists of the time and sculptures from all over the world. There are wall size Belgium Mirrors in the ball room and other halls. Interestingly there was a old piano in one corner of the ball room. The corridors around the varanda have huge cages of various kinds of small colorful birds.
I would say that if somebody visits Kolkata, a visit to The Marble Palace is a must. The Marble Palace is a private property and is maintained by a private trust. It also has a lush green garden and lawns. There is a small zoo which is believed to be the oldest zoo in India.
I paid the tip to the guide and the gatekeeper and asked the gatekeeper about other interesting place nearby. Surprisingly, just few minutes of walking distance was Jorasanko, Thakur Bari, The ancestral family residence of Thakur Rabindra Nath Tagore about which I posted a couple of months back. Guru was born and brought up here. The house was built by Rabindra Nath’s grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore in 1764.
Last time I visited this place was Thakur Rabindra Nath Tagore’s birthday. and the place was bustling with activities throughout the day. It is a three storied structure which has now been converted into a Museum. It contains the Guru’s personal belongings and the display of paintings, books and other art pieces created by the Guru himself.
Again a worth visit. Thakurbari now houses the Rabindra Bharti University established in 1961. The University offers undergraduate and post graduate programs in Performing Arts and Visual Arts.