Home > General, Weekend Tour from Kolkata (Calcutta) > Bawali and Achipur, A long awaited family tour

Bawali and Achipur, A long awaited family tour

Bawali and Achipur

A long awaited family tour

It has been almost two years since our last vacation in Boronti, a weekend destination in Purulia, and my wife and eight year old daughter were desperate for a holiday.

Bawali Farmhouse 09

With my wife (Debjani) and daughter (Rupsha) at the banks of River Hooghly, near Achipur Barood Ghar

We decided to visit Bawali in South 24 Parganas and my wife took the initiative of booking the Bawali Farmhouse.

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Tree house, cottages and dinning area of the Bawali Farmhouse, Bawali

As I was familiar with Bawali (Also see: 1. Bawali, Temples and Mansions 2. Bawali Rajbari, revisited 3. Rajbari Bawali, Heritage Inspired) I chalked out the tour schedule with a visit to nearby Achipur, the first Chinese settlement of the country.

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A swan at Bawali Farmhouse

We decided to make the trip in our car. It was the first highway experience for our two year old Alto 800, with Moloy as our driver.

It was 12 Jan 2018 and we started at about 8:00 am we took the Diamond Harbour Road and took a right turn from Aamtala.

A short tea break on the way and we were in Bawali Farmhouse in about two and half hours.

The Bawali Farm House is spread over an area of 12 bighas and consists of nursery, landscaped gardens, open areas and two ponds. Accommodation is available in tree houses and cottages which blend perfectly in the natural environment.

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My wife (Debjani) and daughter (Rupsha) enjoying at the Bawali Farm House

The dinning area, which accommodates about 50 person, is built in tune with the surrounding and so is the Gazebo, nick named the Gossip Corner, which accommodates about 40 guests.

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The nursery houses an exotic collection of decorative and rare plants. Fishing rods are available and visitors can try there hands on fishing on the two ponds. Groups of swan swim in the pond and we even spotted a giant monitor lizard.

Also within the Bawali Farmhouse is a school for unprivileged children. Visitors are requested to donate old clothes for the NGO, which runs the school and also carries out voluntary activities in the nearby villages.

After a quick breakfast we were out to explore the neighborhood. Our first stop was Achipur, the first Chinese settlement of the country. We drove to the Chinese Temple of Achipur which is dedicated to the God and Goddess of fertility, locally known as the Khuda Khudi.

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Idols of Khuda – Khudi at the Chinese Temple in Achipur

With the upcoming Chinese New Year (scheduled on 16 Feb 2018) the temple was having a fresh coat of paints (Also see: Chinese New Year Celebration, Kolkata) and the deities of khuda – Khudi have been removed form the alter, but I was still able to click their photos.

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Tong Achew’s Grave, Achipur

Next we headed for the river front and sandwiched between the two brick kilns lies the grave of Tong Achew, the first Chinese settler in India and after whom Achipur is being named.

After Achew’s grave we drove south, along the dirt road,  past several brick kilns and finally we had the Hooghly River on the left hand side.

We drove past several giant dead trees with their scattered leafless branches and finally reached an open area on the left hand side.

The area consists of several warehouse like structures along with the ruins of a two storied building. Locals refer to it as the barood ghar which literally translates into Gunpowder Magazine.

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A ware house of Barood Ghar (Gun Powder Magazine), Achipur

According to locals ships heading for the Kolkata port from the Bay of Bengal had to deposit their stock of gunpowder at this place and official receipt was issued.

The gun powder was then stored in this huge store houses. During the return journey the gunpowder was returned on production of the receipt.

The ships then could sail with the gun powder on wards to the Bay of Bengal and beyond.

Today the dilapidated structures, overgrown with vegetation, remind one of the flourishing days of the Kolkata port and the well managed plan of keeping the port safe.

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A structure at Barood Ghar (Gun Powder Magazine), Achipur

It was almost 2:30 pm and in spite of an amazing exploration we were tired and Moloy drove was back to the Bawali Farmhouse in less than half an hour, where an wonderful lunch awaited us.

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The Bawali Rajbari, Bawali

After lunch we headed for a short rest at your cottage named Bapti. The cottage was surrounded on three sides by balcony and over looked the larger of the two ponds in the Bawali Farmhouse.

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Dance performance at Bawali Rajbari, Bawali

We had our evening tea watching the group of swans swimming across the pond while a few fellow tourist tried their hands on fishing, with fishing rods provided by the Bawali Farmhouse.

It was time to hit the road again and our destination was the Bawali Rajbari, a heritage hotel.

When I first visited Bawali in 2009, I remember visiting the ruined mansions of the Mondals (See also: Bawali, Temples and Mansions).

Ever since my first visit I have seen the ruined mansion transformed into a luxurious heritage hotel under the guidance of Ajay Rawala. This time Ajay personally invited me to attend an musical evening at Bawali Rajbari with Craig Hall, U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, as the chief guest.

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Meeryung Hall, wife of U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, sings at Bawali Rajbari

The evening started with an open air barbecue, which served excellent kebabs. There was also a bar counter serving an assortment of drinks, to go along with the kebabs.

The musical program started with a Bharatnatyam performance. It was bitterly cold in the open air courtyard and a fire kept the dancers and audience warm. Piping hot kebabs and glasses of red wine also added to the warmth.

But the surprise was yet to come. Meeryung Hall, wife of U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, ended the day with the Rabindra Sangeet Phule Phule Dhole Dhole  (ফুলে ফুলে ডোলে ডোলে). It was memorable way to end an amazing musical evening at the Rajbari Bawali, a true royal experience.

We were back at the Bawli Farmhouse and straight away headed to bed. The next morning was more of a leisurely affair, we woke up late and had a late breakfast and spent the morning exploring the Bawali Farmhouse.

Finally it was time for home and we took a shortcut, through Thakurpur Bazar, and avoiding Aamtala and this saved almost an hours time, thus ending our long awaited family tour.

Special Thanks:

Ajay Rawala of The Rajbari Bawali for the wonderful hospitality

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  1. SANKAR MUKHERJEE
    January 30, 2018 at 3:17 PM

    Rangan babu, this is an excellent heritage place of stay near Kolkata…..

    Sankar Kumar Mukherjee,
    Asst. Professor – Tourism
    Amity University Kolkata

    • January 30, 2018 at 10:47 PM

      Dear Shankar Babu Bawali Rajbari is an excellent heritage property. Expensive but a royal experience is never cheep.

      I stayed at Bawali Farmhouse which is a resort and has very beautiful natural surrounding. The cottages and tree houses blended perfectly with the surrounding.

      Last and not the least both Bawali and Achipur have an interesting history.

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