It was an impulsive decision to visit the heritage building of Andul Rajbari. Santanu, Anirban and I boarded a local train from Santragachhi and got down after a couple of stations at Andul. From Howrah, it is a half an hour ride by train.
The Rajbari, spread over 10 bigha and comprising more than 100 rooms, can be reached in about 10 mins from the Andul station in a cycle rickshaw. The building is in dilapidated state now but the massive structure and lofty pillars speak of the affluence the royal family must have enjoyed in the past. It is heartbreaking to witness the neglect and ill-maintenance which is driving the grand heritage building into ruins. The large open ground in front of the Rajbari has now been converted into a football playing ground for the locals.
Interestingly, the building is still being used as residence by a handful of people although sections of it looked dangerously in need of immediate attention. A part of the building however has been renovated recently and newly painted adding a contrast to the remaining majority.
After taking some snaps from the outside we were a bit jittery about whether to enter the building or not. At the end, setting aside our apprehension of whether we were committing trespassing, we did take a small tour inside, and had we not entered we would have definitely repented afterwards. There is a small courtyard (may be the erstwhile naach mahal) inside which has withstood the test of times and still depicts the elegance and grandeur of the bygone era. The intricate decorations of the pillars have remained relatively unimpaired and transports oneself to an altogether different time and the presence of the pigeons flying around flapping their wings and making intense sound somewhat renders a haunted feeling to the mansion.
There is precious little history that can be found on the history of the palace. A signboard in front of the building acknowledges that the palace was built in 1834 by Raja Rajnarayan Roybahadur. However from a website (which is the sole reference that I came across on the internet) I could gather that the Andul Raj Family was founded by Ram Charan Roy even before the Battle of Plassey (1757) and the construction of the palace building was started by Kashinath Roy. However, I could not crosscheck the authenticity of the information. Interestingly, in a recent article in Times of India on heritage buildings, someone with a surname of Mitra was quoted as one of the descendants of the Andul Raj Family. Not sure if he belongs to the extended family or whether the palace changed hands (which seems less probable).
Just beside the palace building, there is an old Annapurna Temple surrounded by Shiva shrines. The temple complex also houses an old cannon (supposedly gifted by Lord Clive as per the same source mentioned earlier).