The Shobhabazar Rajbari is among one of the oldest Royal houses of Kolkata aristocracy. It was built by Raja Nabakrishna Deb, who was a prominent aristocrat of Kolkata. He was an ardent exponent of Brahmo Samaj Movement initiated by Raja Ram Mohan Roy. The Rajbari is famous for its annual Durga Puja celebrations in the month of October-November. It is also an important heritage site of Kolkata resplendent with memories of the old zamindari (feudal lord) era that dominated the region once upon a time.
Location of Shobhabazar Rajbari at Kolkata
It is situated at Shobha bazar, near Shyambazar at Kolkata.
History of Shobhabazar Rajbari at Kolkata
The Shobhabazar Rajbari was built in the middle of 1700 by Raja Nabakrishna Deb, the youngest son of Ram Charan Deb, who was a businessman and a Dewan under the Nawab Of Cuttack. However, after the sudden demise of his father, Nabakrishna Deb’s family settled at Gobindapur. Tide of change in luck brought prosperity to the family after The British East India Company set up a fort at the village of Gobindapur. Bright and young Nabakrishna Deb’s acquaintance with Lord Clive changed his fortune for good. Being well versed in Parsi and educated well he started his career as a munshi and got engaged in the personal service of Lord Clive and gradually rose to power and fame with time. After Clive appointed him to the post of his personal Confidential Secretary, he became an influential negotiator between the British and the Mughals, Nawabs and Rajas. Everyone treated him with great respect in spite of his allegiance to the British.
He is most noted for his contribution in the Bengal Renaissance and for starting the trend of Durga Puja by retaining the cultural heritage of Bengal at a time when European culture predominated mostly. It was in the year 1757 after the Battle of Plassey, the first Durga Puja at the Rajbari was initiated. It was during his lifetime, this Rajbari became the focal point of Bengal’s culture. The Durga Puja festival was celebrated with much grandeur and pomp. Many erudite dignitaries & honorable persons of that time were invited. English stalwarts like Lord Clive and Warren Hastings were in the list of invitees during the festival. The Sovabazar Rajbari was also glorified with the foot prints of dignities like Sadhak Ramprasad, Thakur Ramkrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Debendra Nath Tagore, Rabindra Nath Tagore and many more.
Special Features of The Rajbari
The Nat Mandap: It is also known as Thakurdalan is an open courtyard area in the middle of the palatial building. It is situated at the northern end and is supported by pairs of columns with multifoil arches on top supporting the columns. The bases of the pillar columns are squared. The courtyard was used for special festivals and functions. The architecture was also known as saat-khilan thakurdalan. The double storey wings on either side of the courtyard connect the thakurdalan with the naach ghar to the south. A set of eight massive Tuscan columns support a wide projecting cornice at roof level. Two rows of multifoliate arches at the northern end provide access to the Nabaratna Temple at the rear. The roof of the naach ghar has fallen through and very little of the superstructure remains except for the huge courtyard that still remains intact.
- The family salvaged and patronized the dwindling Kobi Gaan, Half Akhrai and Bengali Jatra and was frequented by Hari Thakur, Antony Firingi and Bhola Moira.
- Many renowned dancers like Miss Rangham, Noor Baksh, Malkajaan, Gohor Jaan etc. had performed their feat in the naach ghars of Sovabazar Rajbari.
- The Nabaratna Temple of the Rajbari is housed by the family deity of Radha Gobinda which has been worshipped by the family since 250 years. The deity is still maintained in the new Rajbari adjacent to the old one by the descendents of Raja Nabakrishna Deb. Gopinath Jiu (Krishna), as the idol is fondly called is revered immensely by the family.
- Lakshmi Puja is celebrated by worshiping the idol of Radharani Devi, the eternal partner of Gopinath Jiu, as she is considered to be the incarnation of Goddess Maha Lakshmi.