Cooch Behar Palace: A majestic building of bygone era

Cooch Behar Palace is a symbol of pride for the local populace of the Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal. The grandeur of the palace takes the tourists to the bygone era. Know about the beautiful palace and other relevant details.

Cooch Behar (or Koch Bihar) town is the district headquarter of the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. This small and beautiful kingdom was ruled by the Koch kings. Cooch Behar city was developed in a planned manner by these kings. The Cooch Behar Palace (also known as Victor Jubilee Palace) was built in 1887. This magnificent building and European architecture take us back to the bygone royal ages. Let us learn about this resplendent palace of the Koch kings.

A small history of the Koch rulers

Historians say that Koch kings had been ruling the strip of land between the Eastern Himalayas in the north and the mighty Brahmaputra River in the south since the early part of the sixteenth century. In the year 1772, a mighty Bhutanese Army attacked the Koch kingdom when there was an internal turmoil relating to succession. The Koch rulers sought the help of the British and since then this kingdom almost became a vassal state of the British. The influence of the British can be found in every sphere of administration of the subsequent rulers of the state.

Who built this palace

In 1863, Maharaja Narendra Narayan died without an heir. A ten-month-old baby Nripendra Narayan was made the king, and the British started ruling the state on his behalf. Nripendra Narayan was given the best of English education. Later, he married Suniti Devi, the daughter of famous Brahmo social reformer, Keshab Chandra Sen.

Nripendra Narayan and Suniti Devi brought many major administrative and social changes in the state to make it modern. Nripendra Narayan built the Cooch Behar Palace in 1887. The Palace was built in modern European style. The next ruler, Maharaja Jitendra Narayan and his wife Indira, the daughter of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad, further improved the palace and brought many new artefacts for the palace.

About the royal palace

The king used to say in an old palace built in traditional Bengalis style. The new palace was built in Classical European style similar to the Buckingham Palace to showcase the modernity of Cooch Behar state. It is a double-storeyed building covering an area over 51300 square feet. The length is 395 feet and the breadth is 296 feet. In the ground floor of the palace, a visitor can see curved balconies. The first floor is built in a different manner. There are various halls and rooms like Durbar Hall, Billiard Hall, Ladies' Gallery, Library, Dining Section, Drawing Room, Toshakhana and Bedrooms. The Durbar Hall is the most important and awe-inspiring place of the palace. It has a metal dome and other features depicting the Italian Renaissance style. Maharaja Jitendra Narayan and his wife Indira brought many exquisite items in the palace from different places of the country and also from Europe.

The Cooch Behar state became part of India on 28th August,1949 when the last king Jagdipendra Narayan signed the Treaty of Accession. Subsequently, the palace was not properly maintained and many items and artefacts were stolen/pilfered. However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) took over the palace in 1982 and since then, it has been properly maintained. A section of the palace has been converted to a museum consisting of several sections displaying oil paintings, terracotta figures, clay models and various other antique objects.

How to reach Cooch Behar

The nearest airport is at Bagdogra at a distance of 143 Kilometre. Although Cooch Behar has a railway station, New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is a junction station with trains available from/to all parts of India. Frequent bus service is available from Siliguri at a distance of 114 Kilometre. Bus services from Kolkata and from other cities of West Bengal, Assam and Bhutan are also available.

Final few words

The tourists with interest in history must visit this beautiful and grand palace to have a feel of the bygone era. The museum in the palace is open all seven days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entry fee is Rs. 10/- per person. The best time to visit Cooch Behar is November to February. The Cooch Behar Palace is also treated as a symbol of pride by the local Rajbanshi and Koch people.

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Author: Sankalan Bhattacharya16 Nov 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

A nice article that describes the history of a palace built long ago. Though I haven't got a chance to visit Cooch Behar Palace, but had gone nearby and planned to visit there a few years ago. Somehow the plan did not materialize and am feeling tempted to visit the Palace after reading this article.

While the mode of transport and routes are mentioned in details, one can go there from New Alipurduar station also, if they are visiting Alipurduar for a short trip. Historical places are always important and fascinating because of the incidents attached to them and we get to know how things were there in those ancient times.

Author: Umesh18 Nov 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

The article has provided a detailed description of the Cooch Behar Palace which is now under the ASI.

Our country has many such heritage buildings which were made by the kings of the princely states in India during the British time.

The Britishers as a part of their diplomacy in India helped these states in one way or other by honoring the kings and heirs and even helped them in making palaces based on English architectural design.

These palaces are reminiscent of that time depicting the affluence of those royal families of our country. These places are to be preserved as they attract visitors and tourists from all over the world.

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