It was quite a bright sunny day and I along with my two friends were on our way back after staying overnight at Itachuna Rajbari. We had such a pleasant time that none of us were in a mood to head back home. Just at that weak moment one of my friends said, “Chol Serampore jabi? Raastay porbe“. Without much thinking, we shouted “Chol Let’s go” a little too much that almost frightened the e-rickshaw driver. We are adventure-hungry souls and such impromptu plans give us much thrills. My friend was well acquainted with Srerampur and she suggested that we must visit the Goswami Rajbari and the Denmark Tavern as we were not yet over with our dose of Rajbari’s Royal treatment. But Goswami Rajbari of Serampore was much different than what you have seen/ read in my post on Itachuna Rajbari. It was in a deplorable condition and thankfully when we visited we saw restoration work going on in full progress.
Goswami Rajbari, Serampore , West Bengal
Interesting Facts about the Goswami Rajbari
To begin with, let me share a few interesting histories related to Serampore. 30 km North of Kolkata across the Hoogly river, Serampore is located in West Bengal’s Hoogly district. The town has deep roots in Danish, British and Bengali History. Doesn’t it sound exciting, a town in Bengal where you can get a glimpse of these three cultures is in itself worthy for at least a day’s visit? Serampore was under the rule of King Frederik V of Denmark somewhat between 1755 and 1845.
According to certain reports, the Danes had arrived much earlier to Bengal but later they settled down after receiving trading rights from Aliwardi Khan of Murshidabad. Later they crafted a well-planned town under Governor Colonel Ole Bie and Serampore came under the Danish rule in 1777. Though not much has remained from history yet there is the Serampore College set up bu the Christian Baptist Missionary in the year 1818. Just near the College is the Serampore Johnnagar Baptist Church founded in 1800 and from there a few minutes walks will lead you to the 230 years old Denmark Tavern. All of these are now fully restored.
But what we three were interested was to visit the centuries-old Goswami Rajbari. Along with these Danish structures, Serampore has some of the finest old mansions of the wealthy Bengali merchants. Among all the Goswami Rajbari was the most incredible and covered a huge area. This house which belonged to the Goswamis of Serampore was built by Raghuram Goswami, somewhere between 1815 and 1820. Later the local people started calling it Goswami Rajbari. The two-storied structure is not used as a School, a part is used as a wedding venue/hall, another part is used as the District Employment Exchange office.
When we went there we saw renovation work was on full swing. Though it was not open for public visit, yet our e-rickshaw driver was very generous and he said he knew a few people there and it wouldn’t be a hassle to help us have a look around.
It is said that Raghuram Goswami offered to buy Serampore town when the Danes were about to sell it off to the British but the British declined the offer. The Goswamis were Vaishnavas who are descendants of Advaita Acharya, a disciple of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
This enormous mansion is also the shooting location of some parts of the Bengali movie Bhooter Bhabhisyat in 2012. The palace has three wings and each echo loud European architectural styles in detailing and embellishment. The “Naatmandir” is adorned with 24 Corinthian Columns, 32 feet in height and 5 feet in diameter were constructed upon which the roof rests. The roof was supported on rafters and beams made of sal wood brought from Nepal. The area that witnessed great festivities and grandeur of the Goswami family is in a deplorable condition now.
The floor was made of Chunar stone, a kind of reddish stone or buff coloured atone widely used in ancient Indian architecture. As we visited the mansion, the restoration process was in progress with some areas in dangerous condition to even set foot. The Thakur Dalan was so pristine and for over 300 years Durga Puja is celebrated in a grand manner here. We took some photographs and the left the place in full admiration of the life that the Goswamis have once lived in that mansion.
The information provided in this article is collected some from sources available over the Internet and some from our talkative yet informative e-rickshaw driver. Glad I come across such people while I travel. Hope you loved reading it, do share with your friends.