An urban getaway from Kolkata

The Rajbari Bawali

The Rajbari Bawali


, West Bengal
, India

A 300-year-old palace belonging to the Zamindars, Rajbari isa delightful itinerary on your visit to the erstwhile Capital of India during the British Raj. Here, among the slowly crumbling temples and generous ‘pukurs’ (small fish ponds) Rajbari Bawali invites you to experience the tradition, culture and cuisines of the Zamindars of Bengal.

The palace is resplendently restored, retaining the original ruins but all made safe and secure. Known as ‘inspired heritage’ the interiors have a shabby chic feel to them. Pillared verandahs and balconies surround a beautiful, green, flower-filled inner courtyard which is stunningly lit at night.

Rambling wings of the building lead out to ponds and down to the pool and spa and other bedrooms. The interior design combines rustic, chunky furniture with some rooms having a distinctly Indian style, others almost classical French / European and others understated.

Comfortable seating can be found in the many different relaxing areas be it by the pool, on the shady pavilion, sitting room and dining room. Almost all of the furnishings and fittings have been sourced by the owner who has spent months scouring India for the perfect pieces.

Our Rating: Premium
Property Type: Heritage


In verdant country just 60 minutes from Kolkata sits Rajbari Bawali, a glorious, restored, neo-classical palace. Surrounded by Bon tribal villages and lakes, the area has a ‘time warp’ feel to it and is close to the Ganges and easily reached from the Sunderbans. A rambling property in spacious, leafy, verdant grounds.

Time seems to have stalled, the pace seems slower in Bawali village, famous for its nurseries of ornamental and landscape plants.


Set on an estate that sits between two fish ponds, the rooms are spread all around the premises with most being in the main palace, opening onto the central courtyard and others in buildings next door. Each is different in style, size and colour schemes. The palace comprises 30 rooms, categorized as 2 twin, 28 double, 6 of which are suites. All rooms have air conditioning, overhead fans, televisions, DVD players, tea and coffee making facilities, safes, hairdryers (on request), showers, bathrobes and internet. Interconnecting rooms are also available. Hotwater bottles can be provided. Plenty of water in excellent bathrooms all with showers (some with bath tubs). There are ground level bedrooms with easy access for wheelchair users.


Between Thakur Dalan for private dining, a bar on the first floor opposite the imposing facade, The Pavilion, a recent addition with the Tea Terrace, and a number of al fresco dining options, Rajbari makes a very powerful statement with its cuisine. When travellers from nearby towns, including Kolkata flock to a place for a meal, weekend stays and small celebrations, it speaks volumes about the quality and appeal of Rajbari’s cuisine, which ranges from pure local to Indian and a selection of international cuisines as well.


Rajbari weaves into your stay elements of Bengal’s history, local culture, folklore, cuisine and day to day life outside the city. For those keen to explore, there are references to a tragic exodus of a group of Sikhs from Budge Budge – a river port nearby, the gurudwara Komagatamaru (named after the Japanese ship), which stands as a testament to human spirit, and a settlement of Chinese immigrants around the Ahchi temple. Every evening begins with the ‘sondhya arti’ at dusk to the roll of drums and chants. It continues with various performances like dances by a local troupe, singing by the wandering Bauls and a display of the energetic Bengal drums. Walks in Rajbari’s lanes in the morning or early afternoon are a great way to see life in small town Bengal. A late afternoon cruise on country made boats on the Hooghly to catch sunsets and visits to local textiles are not to be missed.

Rajbari is also ideal for events and has been used for small engagements, movie shoots and photography. The ambience, service and cuisine coupled with the fact that Kolkata is close by, ensures easy access and good organization capability. A two bed Spa, is ideal for lazy, restful afternoons while the pool is the best place to unwind.

Perfect For
leisure, independent travelers and small groups, The Rajbari is versatile and has something to offer for all age groups. A sprawling property, The Rajbari can be an artist’s retreat, a staycation, a celebration as well as a place to discover Bengal.

Why we love this place

The Rajbari springs a surprise at every step. The conservation story takes your breath away as you stand in the middle of the courtyard looking up at the wide stairway leading up to the majestic, columned Thakur Dalan which is a private dining space. Rajbari is also a confluence of all that is best and enduring of Bengal – music, dance, traditions, cuisine and mysticism.

A stay here offers a window to the past, revealing a little of this grand building’s extraordinarily illustrious and extravagant history; and a glimpse of a world few get to see. Hugely relaxing, restorative and peaceful after a hectic journey!

About your host

Ajay Rawla is a third generation Punjabi living in Bengal and loves to call himself a ‘Bongjabi’. An environmentalist with an eye for architecture and aesthetics, a keen mind, hunger to learn more, and bring alive the lost and untold stories of our past. From constructing the nationally important AGNI base in Chandipur, Orissa while living in a thatched-roof hut, to founding the national award-winning export house, The East India Natural Goods Co, to restoring the 300 year old Rajbari to its former glory, he is committed to promoting Bengal’s cultural and architectural heritage.

When Ajay first spied the Rajbari in the small village of Bawali, just south of Kolkata, he was immediately smitten and vowed to bring it back from the beautifully elegant but sadly crumbling ruin that it had become.

Replete with collapsing ceilings, trees growing through it, and the outside encroaching inwards from all corners, it was a monumental task but one that he has miraculously achieved and with stunning results.

Ajay strives for excellence and believes that standards have to constantly improve. A generous host, his passion is restoration, music, performing arts and culinary delights, all of which come together to create delightful experiences, not just for the guests but also set standards of excellence within the industry.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

The story of restoration of The Rajbari, Bawali has resulted in Bawali not being the same today and is known better even to those in close proximity and is visibly thriving, with local initiatives for restoration springing around the estate.

Water Conservation: Rainwater harvesting and designing a flowback into the groundwater is in place. This enriches the natural waterbodies which make sites like th Pavillion & Lawns the most luxurious spots adjoining the natural waterbodies and green cover.

Local Community Engagement: The hotel takes in and trains local ladies and young men in hospitality and services, showcases regional folk art and everyday traditions of Bengal by curating region specific experiences.

Sensitive Destination Discovery: The experiences and activities offered are tuned to allow one to immerse in the destination that is just outside Kolkata, and gives an insight in to rural Bengal.

Heritage Preservation: The heritage preservation story of The Rajbari is a personal story of commitment for Ajay Rawla and his years of painstaking work. He has created an experience that is a retreat as well as a reflection of Bengal and its many sentiments. This has led to other restoration projects in the area.

Human Touch: The Rajbari trains and upskills locals in hospitality.

Our Recommendation

Best for a long stays if you are planning to write. The rooms of The Rajbari offer privacy and space. For explorers, it is ideal to combine The Rajbari with Glenburn Penthouse in Kolkata and Bari Kothi in Murshidabad for a well-rounded Bengal story.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

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