Marble Palace – A hidden treasure in the heart of Kolkata
Beginning our first post with the Marble Palace.
Situated at Muktaram Babu Street, I myself did not know that Kolkata had such a treasure trove within her. This is one of the lesser known places of interest in Kolkata and thus the apt choice for my first post.
Marble Palace was built in 1835 by Raja Rajendra Mallick, an affluent businessman and zamindar of those times. About a few minutes walk from the Mahatma Gandhi Road Metro station, stands the grand white Marble Palace which is a testimony to the opulence and grandeur of the period.
As you enter the premises, you will be first impressed by the grand white building with a beautiful pond with a stone fountain and statues of mermaids. The fountain does not work now, but nevertheless it does not lessen the beauty of the place. There is a well maintained green lawn with marble statues of lions sitting in different positions of sleeping, sitting and prowling. It seemed that they were the protectors of the place. As you roam about the garden, you will get a glimpse of the eccentricity of the Raja. Seating arrangements were also spread across the lawn and in some places there were tables with marble table tops. A perfect place for recline !
We were welcomed into the palace by a huge deer bust. As we entered the huge white mansion, we were transported to a different era. The colorful marble floors are a treat to the eyes. We were informed that the floors are made up of at least 96 different types of marbles. The ceilings too are intricately designed. Like all other mansions of those times, this also has a big courtyard or thakur dalan. I later found out that the palace was built in Neo-classical style (Thanks to google!)
In the ground floor, there is a huge billiard room where two billiard boards were kept. There were other beautiful statues of other Greek mythological characters like Apollo, Thalia in this room.
From the Billiard room, we entered the “Victoria Room”. Here a magnificent statue of Queen Victoria of about 16 ft height was present. The statue was carved out of a single piece of wood! There is a bronze bust the queen along with the Greek Goddess Medusa. What caught my eyes were huge porcelain vases and urns from China and Japan.
Next we moved on to the reception room. Imagine the kind of reception one would get in such a grand reception hall! Here you will see the remarkably intricate designs of the ceilings and the colorful marble floors. The raja did not want to miss anything… There is a piano standing in the room along with various marble and brass statues. There were statues depicting the four seasons of summer, winter, autumn and spring at the four corners of the room. In between them, there were statues symbolising agriculture and commerce. This depicted the symbiotic growth of agriculture and commerce in developing the economy of our country.
We came out of the room to the huge courtyard (Thakur Dalan). In the corridors, there are cages of exotic and colourful birds from Australia and South America. We moved on upstairs through the wooden stairs to the first floor.
Here we saw a portrait of Raja Rajendra Mullick and many other beautiful paintings, of which one was painted by Raja Ravi Verma.
We moved on to a room where many spectacular paintings of various famous painters like “Dushmanta & Shakuntala” by Raja Ravi Verma, “The Infant Hercules Strangling the Serpent” and “Venus and Cupid” by Sir Joshua Reynolds, “The Marriage of St. Catherine” and “The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian” by Rubens, Murillo beautifying the walls. We were simply awe stuck by the collection. Along with these art works were present huge chandeliers which were simply unique and breath taking. The place can be one of immense interest to art lovers.
We entered another room where paintings of “Diana Hunting” and “Raja Harishchandra” along with some others were present. Some beautiful furniture was also strewn in this room. An antique French clock and a huge Belgian mirror completed the magnanimity of the room. A 200 year old wall clock of King Charle’s nephew was present.
Next we moved on to the awesome ball room. Here are two gigantic mirrors of about 20 feet made up of single piece of glass on either sides of the room. Antique Victorian furniture beautified the room.
The corridors were also worth seeing. They were filled with vases, paintings, marble and wooden sculpture. Bust of Homer and Laughing Satyr were present among many others. A huge brass hookah with beautiful design is kept at the hallway.
The garden has a privately maintained zoo having antelopes, porcupine and barking deers along with some birds. The aviary inside the palace containing parrots, hornbills, macau and different varieties of parakeet are simply outstanding. It can put any zoos into shame. This is supposedly the first zoo in India and the only privately maintained zoo in Asia.
The artifacts are a mixture of Greek, Roman and Indian mythology as well as that of Biblical features. Raja Rajendra Mullick’s love for both oriental and western arts could be very well understood from his collections. Cultural wealth amassed in this palace is quite unparallel and it has art and historical relics from many countries across the globe. The paintings, the Japanese and Chinese porcelains, the antique furniture and wall clocks, mirrors add great value to the palace. Yet this place remains unnoticed as tourist attraction! Renovation and care can turn this place to a treat for the tourist as well as for the connoisseurs of art and culture. The dilapidating structure can be transformed into a museum of enviable collection.
Marble Palace – Some Facts:
To visit Marble Palace, you have to obtain prior permission 24 hours in advance from the West Bengal Tourism Information Bureau at BBD Bag, Kolkata.
Being a private property, photography is prohibited there.
Marble Palace is open from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on all days except Mondays and Thursdays
You have to take a guide to go inside the palace which is chargeable.