Home > Bengal History, Day Trips from Calcutta (Kolkata), General > Dhanyakuria, Palaces and a Cinderella styled Castle

Dhanyakuria, Palaces and a Cinderella styled Castle

Dhanyakuria

Palaces and a Cinderella styled Castle

If you are travelling on the Barasat – Basirat road about 7 km after the Berachampa crossing (known for Chandraketugarh) you will come across a magnificent gate way, which seems to come straight out of the pages of the fairy tales of Cinderella.

gayen castel 3

Gayen Garden House (Gayen Bagan Bari), Dhanyakuria

Sadly the gates generally remains closed but a peep inside revels a Cinderella styled castle, complete with tower, turrets, battlements and oriel windows. The castle is surrounded by a huge open space, which was once a manicured lawn intercepted by tree line pathways. The compound was once complete with decorative fountains and huge ponds.

gayen castel 1a

Gateway of Gayen Garden House

The place is called Dhanyakuria and the the castle styled building is the Gayen Garden House or Gayen Bagan Bari.

But the Gayen Garden House is not the only place of attraction in Dhanhyakuria, which is best described as a village of palaces.

Welcome to the non descript village of Dhanyakuria, located near Barasat in 24 Parganas (North), West Bengal. It is home to several palatial mansions belonging to landlords and merchants of yesteryear.

The palaces were built as outhouses in this village, so that the family members could spent time out of Kolkata, in utmost luxury.

So the Gayens, Sahoos (Sahus), Ballavs, Mondals and a few more constructed fantastic mansions to turn the non descriptive village into a village of palaces, which is probably one of its kind in the whole of West Bengal.

The Gayen Garden House dates back little over a century and was constructed by Mahendranath Gayen and covered an area of 30 acres. The building has remarkable resembles with the Tagore Castle in Kolkata. Unlike the heavily encroached Tagore Castle the Gayen Garden House has maintained its true elegance and grace.

gayen castel 6

Gayen Garden House (Gayen Bagan Bari), Dhanyakuria

For the last few decades a home for unprivileged girls is running within the complex and in the process entry in the complex is totally prohibited. In the end of 2018 the authorities have decided to move the orphanage out of the complex and entry permits can now be obtained form the local police station.

gayen castel c1

Ornamental stucco work, Gayen Garden House, Dhanyakuria

The gate of the Gayen Garden House is itself a prime source of attraction and is flanked on both sides by two domed towers. The arched entrance is crowned with the stone figures of two two English men fighting a lion bare handed.

gayen bari 1a

Gayen Bari, Dhanyakuria

Sadly the interiors are in a sorry state with lawns overgrown with weeds. The decorative fountains have long stopped working and are overgrown with vegetation the ponds are also in similar dilapidated condition.

gayen bari 2

Thakurdalan, Gayen Bari, Dhanyakuria

The castle itself is also overgrown with vegetation and portions of railings and battlements have fallen off but the it seems structurally intact.

Apart from an amazing assortment of towers and turrets the Gayen Castle, approached by a flight of stairs, also contains a portico, oriel windows and a series of intricate stucco work.

Although things are in a sorry state but since the structure is stable it can be easily restored in its original glory. With the removal of the girls orphanage and hopeful positive steps from the government the Gayen Garden House may soon be restored back to its original glory.

sahoo bari 1

Sahoo Bari, Dhanyakuria

Bidding farewell to the garden house it is best to head inside the village. Take the lane adjacent to the garden house and head inside the village of Dhankuria.

The road zig zag past the semi urban landscape and leads to the Gayen Bari (the house of the Gayens).

Built by Gopichand Gayne in the middle of the 19th century, it still serves as a residence of the Gaynes.

Monojit Gayen, a school teacher, stays in this majestic mansion along with his family and elderly father. Durga Puja is celebrated in the mansion attracting Gayens not only from Kolkata but also from rest of India and abroad.

sahoo bari 2

Intricate stucco work of Sahoo Bari littered with political graffiti

The light pink coloured two storied building is L shaped and has a series of ionic columns. A three storied domed pavilion stands at one corner. Known as the nazar minar (watch tower) it probably never served as a watch tower but was used for recreational spot.

ballav bari 1

Ballav Bari, Dhanyakuria

The Gayens were in joint business with the Sahoos, Ballavs and the Mondals and they traded in jute, jaggery and many other commodities. Each of these built magnificent mansions in Dhanyakuria.

ballav bari 3

Nazar Minar, Sahoo Bari, Dhanyakuria

From the Gayen Bari, retrace your steps towards the main road, after a few steps take a left turn leading to the Sahoo Bari.

An amazing structure with Victorian windows and intricate stucco work, sadly during my visit it was under lock and key and we had no option but to admire its exterior only.

The road meanders to the Ballav Bari also known as Doll House (Putul Bari), the name originates from the statues placed above the pediment of the house.

Sadly a fresh coat of paints have ruined the grace and elegance of not only the statues but of the whole building.

ballav bari 4

Ras Mancha, Dhanyakuria

At the far end and just outside the walled complex of the Sahoo bari is a Nazar Minar, similar to that of the Gayen Bari. Although the Ballav Bari is in excellent condition but the Nazar Minar seems a bit run down.

school 1

Dhanyakuri Boys School

A short walk past the Nazar Minar leads to the magnificent Ras Mancha of the Ballav’s. Shaped like a nava ratna temple, the ras mancha has five arched entrance on each of the four sides.

Apart from the Gayen, Ballav and Sahoo the Mandoals also have their share of mansions in Dhanyakuria but they lack in grandeur but do have their share of elegance.

Apart from building mansion the Gayens and the Ballavs were also involved in various philanthropic activities involving building of schools and hospitals.

The Dhanyakuri Boys School was established in 1885 under the patronage of Mahendranath Gayen and Upendranath Sahoo. The girls school came up in 1889 and both the schools have been running to this day.

mondal bari c1

Mondal Mansions, Dhanyakuria

Getting there by road: Dhanyakuria is located on the Barasat – Basirhat road. It is 7 km after Barachampa crossing. The gate on the left is bound to attracts once attention

Getting there by rail: Kankra Mirzanagar Station is the nearest railway station on the Hasnabad line. Autos are available from the station to the Gayen Garden House

Getting around: Walking is the best option

Places to eat: Only basic eateries are available

gayen castel 4

Gayen Garden House (Gayen Bagan Bari), Dhanyakuria

Photography Permission: For the Gayen Gareden House permission is required from the police station and may not be an easy task. For the mansions permission is required from the respective family members

Add on: A trip to Dhanyakuria can be clubbed with a visit to the archeological sites of Chandraketugarh

Special Thanks: A special thanks to Amitabha Gupta and Utsab Basu, who not only accompanied me but also arranged for the required permissions. Amitabh arranged the permission for the Gayen Garden House while the Gayen Bari permission was arranged by Utsav

 

 

Advertisements
  1. January 25, 2019 at 8:38 AM

    How interesting! Didn’t know such a place existed so close to Kolkata. This reminds me of Chettinad in Tamil Nadu which is dotted with now crumbling grand palaces of the Chettiars.

    • January 25, 2019 at 9:25 AM

      Thanks, Calcutta and is surroundings is dotted with many such colonial styled buildings. Thans for sharing the info on Chettinad, would love to visit the place

      • January 25, 2019 at 9:29 AM

        Agree. Calcutta is itself is a treasure trove of history. Alas, lot of such heritage houses in Kolkata are in pitiable state and are being torn down to make make way for shining new residential complexes and offices. Sharing my post on Chettinad. You might find it interesting to read: https://wanderfulweekendz.com/2016/11/03/chettinadu-chaska/

  2. January 25, 2019 at 2:31 PM

    Amar bari Barasaat, yet I never knew about the existence of this place. The only regret the places are not promoted for tourism. The graffiti on the sahoo bari wall is so disgusting. The Ras mancha is a replic of Dakshineswar temple it seem. Beautiful post Rangan Da.

  3. debasmitabose
    January 26, 2019 at 1:53 AM

    Wow…i get to see so many hidden treasures of Kolkata through ur articles… thank you 😊

  4. Saranya
    January 30, 2019 at 8:00 PM

    The famous Bollywood film Sahab, Bibi aur Ghulam (1962) was filmed at the Gayen House, Dhanyakuria….

  5. February 10, 2019 at 7:56 PM

    “non descript”, not “non descriptive”. Also, it seems to me many of these houses could become successful resorts which might bring in money to aid their maintenance

    • June 24, 2019 at 10:17 AM

      Thanks for pointing out the mistake, it has been rectified. The entire village has immense tourism potential but nothing is happening.

  6. March 30, 2019 at 11:46 AM

    Rangan da, the surroundings of Kolkata has so many places worth a visit. Unfortunately, we hardly see any promotion related to tourism for such places. Very informative article.

    • June 24, 2019 at 10:13 AM

      Thanks Sonia, it is really true, hope things develop in our state

  7. Soumya hazra
    June 23, 2019 at 12:10 AM

    Prottek ta rajbari te ki dhokar onumoti ache?ghure dekhar jonno?
    Ar oder bongshoshor ra ki akhono ache?
    Plz reply..

    • June 24, 2019 at 10:12 AM

      Dear Soumya, most of the jamidar bari’s allow people to a certain limit. In some houses the family members still live, others are managed by caretakers.

      It is difficult to get a entry into the Gayen Castle compound

  1. January 26, 2019 at 2:49 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: