Home > Bengal History, General, Weekend Tour from Kolkata (Calcutta) > Balakhana Heritage Home Stay, Maheshganj Estate

Balakhana Heritage Home Stay, Maheshganj Estate

Balakhana Heritage Home Stay

Maheshganj Estate, Nadia, West Bengal

Heritage hotels and homestays are an integral part of the Indian tourism industry. Although late, West Bengal has also joined the trend. In the last couple of years The Rajbari BawaliBaithakkhana Amadpur, Bari Kothi Azimganj, Rasbari Garden House Belur and Itachuna Rajbari have come up with some amazing heritage properties.

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Balakhana Heritage Home Stay, Maheshganj Estate, Nadia, West Bengal

Balakhana, Maheshganj Estate, an indigo planter’s bungalow, converted into a heritage homestay,  is also on the list. The Balakhana Heritage Home Stay, Maheshganj is Italian in origin, French in style and has a rich Bengali legacy.

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Marble bust of Biprodas Palchoudhuri, Balakhana

According to records Maheshganj Estate was established by John Angelo Savi between 1780 – 85. Savi was the physician of Tipu Sultan and moved to Naida region of Bengal and engaged himself in indigo cultivation and trade.

Indigo cultivation was introduced in Bengal in 1777 and within a short span of time, it became a principal revenue earner for the East India Company.

Savi took advantage of this and built the flourishing Maheshganj Estate centred around his French styled bungalow. The huge bungalow, was christened  Balakhana, literally meaning a large building.

The indigo planting became more and more commercially profitable because of the demand for blue dye in Europe. The indigo planters persuaded the peasants to plant indigo instead of food crops.

The farmers were totally unprotected from the indigo planters, who resorted to mortgages or destruction of their property if they were unwilling to obey them. Government rules favoured the planters.  Under this severe oppression, the farmers resorted to revolt in 1859.

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Indigo produced by Biprodas Palchoudhury, Balakhana

In 1860 High Court ordered a ban on forced cultivation of indigo. This was a severe blow to the indigo cultivators forcing many of the cultivators to wind up their business and head home.

In 1875 Henry Nesbit Savi, grandson of John Angelo Savi, sold the Maheshganj estate to Nafarchandra Palchoudhuri. Later the estate was taken over by his brother Biprodas Palchoudhuri.

A qualified engineer from England Biprodas continued to grow indigo, on a voluntary basis, but later on, shifted to tea plantation in the hills. Today Balakhana displays bits of indigo, produced by Biprodas, in a crystal jar and ignites a nostalgia spanning over three generations.

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The grand bed room of Balakhana, Maheshganj Estate

Biprodas died in 1914 and the ownership of the Maheshganj Estate passed on to Ronojit Palchoudhury, the youngest of his three sons. Ronojit laid out an airstrip next to Balakhana and used to fly from Kolkata in his Tiger Moth airplane. Even once he flew Subhas Chandra Bose for a Congress Rally.

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Dinning Room, Balakhana, Maheshganj Estate

It was only in recent years Ronojit’s eldest son Ronodhir Palchoudhuri converted the age-old Nil Kuthi (Indigo Planter’s Bungalow) into a heritage home stay, thus making it accessible to the large section of the public.

Balakhana Heritage Home Stay is located 12 km from the Krishnanagar Station. It is best approached by road via the Durgapur Expressway. The distance of 135 km can be covered in about 3.5 hours.

The Balakhan Heritage Home Stay is spread over an area of 17 acres and the Nil Kuthi (Indigo Planters Bungalow) covers 12,000 sq, ft. of living space.

The long verandah on the southern area of the building covers an area of 2,000 sq. ft. and is lined with antique furniture, consisting of planters chair and marble-topped tables. No wonder it serves as the centre of attraction in Balakhan Heritage Home Stay at Maheshgunj Estate.

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Drawing Room, with the grand fireplace (on right), Balakhana Heritage Home Stay

Balakhana is a self sufficient home stay and most of the vegetables and fruits served comes from within the Maheshganj Estate. The milk and most of the milk products are also supplied from the Estate.

Presently Balakhana a total of 5 guest rooms. 3 of the rooms have AC, but the high ceiling and thick walls provide an natural cooling mechanism.

The bed rooms also include the private bed room of the Savi’s and later the Palchoudhury’s which comes in with a huge four poster bed. The bed is so high that one need a flight of stairs to climb it.

The drawing room consists of antique sofas and a grand fire place reminds one of the  Savi’s and Palchoudhury’s legacies. There is a separate games room equipped with billiard and table tennis boards.

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Photographs and antique furniture at Balakhana Heritage Home Stay, Hameshganj Estate

The dinning room consists of grand mahogany table, lined with appropriate chairs. Dinning is a regal experience and Ronodhir Palchoudhuri and his wife joins the guest in a true home stay spirit. The menu consists of recipes, followed by the family for centuries.

Old family photographs and those of the Maheshganj Estate adorn the walls along with a few hunting trophies. The antique furniture have also been displayed in the most tasteful manner. The garden surrounding the garden is a paradise for bird lovers.

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The verandah with antique chairs, Balakhana Heritage Home Stay, Maheshganj Estate, Nadia

Although Balakhan promises to be a complete package it does offer some interesting excursions.

  1. Mayapur (4 km): Cradle of Vaishnav movement in Bengal
  2. Krishnagar (12 km): Ghurni in Krishnagar, the clay idol makers quarters and also the Krishnagar Rajbari (inside access denied). Krishnagar is also famous for indigenous sweets sarbhaja and sarpuria.
  3. Shantipur (30 Km): Phulia in Shantipur is famous for its weaving industry
  4. Ambika Kalna (35 km): An amazing temple town
  5. Ballal Dhipi (2 km): Archeological site
  6. Jalangi River: Jalangi River is a tributary of Baghirati – Hooghly and is located north of Balakhana Heritage Home Stay

Above all Balakhna Heritage Home Stay offers an opportunity to return to a slower life and savour its simple pleasure.

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Balakhana Heritage Home Stay, Maheshganj Estate, Nadia, West Bengal

Necessary Information:

  1. Balakhana Heritage Home Stay is located 12 km from the Krishnanagar Station. It is best approached by road via the Durgapur Expressway. The distance of 135 km can be covered in about 3.5 hours
  2. Room Tariff
  3. Official Website

Note: I visited Balakhana Heritage Home Stay, Maheshganj during the Silk River project

Special Thanks:

  1. Ronodhir Palchoudhuri and his wife for the warm hospitality
  2. The entire Silk River team
  1. अभिषेक 'मनोगुरू'
    February 7, 2018 at 7:37 PM

    Amazing blogs

  2. March 3, 2018 at 12:46 PM

    we have visited so many places and this is very nice post about travel and planning to take another services Tempo traveller per KM rate Bangalore

  3. September 12, 2018 at 8:50 AM

    Rangan, thank you very much for this information.

    • September 21, 2018 at 10:59 AM

      Thanks Amal da, please try it out during your next visit to Kolkata

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