Friday, January 15, 2010

A FORGOTTEN PALACE IN WEST BENGAL (INDIA)



A VISIT TO SONARUNDI


I visited a small village named Erera during January,2007 ...... this was my first visit to a small place without any official bindings in many years.It is near a station called Salar in Murshidabad district.The village is predominantly inhabitated by agriculturists - the land owners and the peasants.

I stayed at Erera for two days and two nights.The last place where my host took me on the 1st day was Sonarundi.It is at the border of districts Burdwan and Murshidabad, 5 km from the place where I was put up .... may be 17/18 km from Katwa , a big and quite well known town in the Burdwan district and on the confluence of the Ganges and Ajay rivers.

TRIPS TO SONARUNDI :

The Palace, the Gate ,the Tower and the stable are in ruinous stage, ravaged by time . A small part of Palace only is habitable . Inside ,within the habitable part itself, there is a huge courtyard and a 'thakur-dalan' where idols of Radha-Krishna are worshiped. A large-scale repair work was going on there on the structure around the court-yard ... unfortunately , photography of the court-yard and 'thakur-dalan' is prohibited.

(On LH, a view of the once-magnificent Arch of the Entrance)

Most of the external areas of the palace are a photographer's delight.But, it is important that this once-magnificent structure gets fund for repair urgently, as I was told by my host that the deterioration is rapid.

( On the LH, a view of a small portion of the Palace which has properly maintained facade.

On the left, we can see the sprawling Stable with no roof and at the far end, the Watch Tower with 52 stairs......... now inaccessible. )

The Palace was a two storied brick-and-mortar structure , rectangular in shape , built with bricks.The structure could be at least 125 years old.The photos 'Ravaged by time' posted at the end of this page as well as the one above give the Viewer idea about the height . The compound wall and the minor gates with arches are gone. But, as one walks around this Palace, and also on the ground beyond the Stable, one can see crumbling structures of the once-strong boundary walls , gates etc.

I felt sad at the way two cannons were lying on the dusty ground , neglected . If they could have been mounted on masonry blocks , with their respective histories inscribed on plaques fixed onto the front face of these blocks, it would have looked quit regal !

(On the RH, one of the two cannons lying on the ground)

The owner, known as 'Ranee-ma' stays at Katwa with her relatives.I would like to meet her during the coming winter during my next visit to that region , learn and publish the history of this Palace with some more photographs . This will create an awareness about the urgency of the situation. Also, I believe , publicity will attract tourists to Sonarundi.After all , Katwa is not very far from Calcutta. Crossing the rivers in a ferry while wondering at the width of the confluence , homage to Ma Kali and Radha-Krishna at BilalaBabar Ashram at Shankhai Ghat and then a visit to 'Uddharapurer Ghat' on the Ganges and then enjoy an afternoon's photography around this Palace, feeding the age-old fishes of adjacent pond can be an intersting trip to travel-crazy Bengalis.

A post-script : Forefathers of my mother are from a neighbouring village ... Shimulia. I was told that my maternal Grandfather, Yoshoda Nandan Bhattachayra, who was a freedom fighter and a Doctor, studied in the school adjacent to the Palace of Sonarundi. It was at least an hour's walk for a boy from his village those days.

A FEW MORE PHOTOS FROM MY ALBUM :

( Clockwise from the top :

Ravaged by time -I

Ravaged by time - The entrance to the Tower.

Ravaged by time - Another view of of I )

DESTINATION SONARUNDI :

If one plans to travel by train and buses from Calcutta , there can be two alternatives .

  • One can go to Burdwan by train, take a Burdwan-Baharampur bus and get down at Sonarundi.This trip will take upto 90 minutes.
  • At the time of returning, one has to change buses at Pachindi to visit Uddharanpurer Ghat on the Ganges and Shankhai Ghat at the confluence of the Ganges and Ajay river.These are small distances which can be covered on foot . The ferry-ride across the confluence in a bright afternoon is a trip one must enjoy. On the other side of the ferry-ghat,one can take a rickshaw to the market of Katwa town, relish his/her pick of the choicest sweets available from the neat eateries and then take a train to Calcutta.
  • The other way is to start from Katwa , cross the confluence to Shankhai Ghat and follow the reverse of the bus journey mentioned above.Once back to Burdwan, there will be lots of trains to take to Calcutta.

From top to bottom ( clockwise) :

(Confluence of the Ganges and Ajay river)

( Uddharanpurer Ghat on the Ganges )

( While I was standing at the Sankhai Ferry Ghat)


NOTE : for details regarding location, please view :

http://wikimapia.org/#lat=23.670311&lon=88.114471&z=13&l=0&m=a&v=2

5 comments:

Samit said...

THANKS A LOT SIR.
ALSO I AM A RESIDENT OF SONARUNDI BY NAME SAMIT KUMAR RAY.
AFTER READING YOUR THIS TAG I FEEL THAT OH OHOOO I AM A RESIDENT OF THIS MAGNIFICENT VILLAGE.


ONCE AGAIN THANKS A LOT.
skr_mkr@yahoo.co.in

Rana Bandyopadhyay said...

Kaka,

Now, I am posted at Katwa and had an opportunity to visit this place. Thereafter, I found your article. You did a great job. I could also know about the child life of our Doctor Dadu.
regards
Bubu

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