Thursday, August 12, 2010

TEOTA RAJBARI PALACE, BANGLADESH


One of the most fascinating of the many vanishing palaces of Bangladesh, Teota is about a two hour drive from Dhaka. It was the home of a dynasty founded by Panchanan Chaudhuri, who was born about 1740.
From a not particularly high status background, it is probably no coincidence that the development of his fortune spans the period of the first fifty years of the ‘Honourable East India Company’s influence in Bengal following the battle of Plassey in 1757.

The foundations of the family fortunes were laid in North Bengal, on the cultivation of tobacco, but early in the 19th Century, Panchanan returned to Manikganj, his home district, presumably acquiring the rights of tax collection and becoming zaminder, and commenced the building of the palace complex that was to become the main residence of his family for 150 years.

So highly regarded did the family become that they were one of the few zaminder families in Bengal to be accorded a personal honorific of a royal title, presumably Nawab.

Succeeding family heads sustained the fortunes of wealth in lands and trade, although in mid 19th Century they acquired a large property in Calcutta, the provincial capital. They also built a further Rajbari in Benares.

Around 1920, the striking Navaratna temple was built beside the palace. In a style that might be described as Art Deco meets Hinduism, the temple was probably the last great construction on the site. Whilst the family estates were recognised as some of the most professionally and paternalistically managed in the country, and scions of the family, highly educated, made an outstanding contribution to public life in pre partition India, following partition Teota was abandoned. For the past fifty or so years the buildings, still fascinating and splendid, have gradually crumbled. But still merit a visit by any lover of such ancient buildings.


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