Photographer's Note

Pictured here is a portion of the Baikunthapur Palace, also called Jalpaiguri Rajbari (Rajbari – Palace in Bengali), which was constructed in the early years of the twentieth century - replacing an older palace - by the Raikat rulers of the Baikunthapur Forest Estate.

The Raikat family was a princely family that controlled large estates in what is now , India, first as subjects to the state of Koch Bihar , later as Zamindars (Landowners) to the Nawabs of Bengal , and then to the British Raj.

Descended from the Koch dynasty, the family founder was Sisva Singha, the elder brother of Visva Singha, the second Maharajah of Koch Bihar (present day Koochbihar in West Bengal).

The Baikunthapur Forest Estate was established by Sisva Singha after defeating the King of Bhutan and Gour in 1522, covering an area of 328 square miles (850 km2). His capital was at first built at a remote location within the thick forests near the river Teesta in the present day Rajganj Block of the Jalpaiguri district. It was shifted to this site in the open plains (within the limits of Jalpaiguri town) as a sign of growing confidence by the thirteenth Raikat, Darpa Dev, with whose death, the independent Baikunthapur Estate after a reign of 250 years. ended in 1774,

Raja Prasanna Dev Raikat, the last Raja of Baikunthapur, died intestate on 4 December 1946 and the Zamindari was officially abolished in 1955.

There are at least two institutions in Jalpaiguri by which the Raikats are remembered, namely Prasanna Deb Women's College and Sarojendra Deb Kala Kendra, a museum and art centre.

Some portions of the building are still in occasional use by the descendants (see WORKSHOP) of the Raikats and much to my dismay, I wasn't allowed access into the main compound. The portion that I could see clearly offered this picture of a crumbling ruin.

(Right click and view image)

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Additional Photos by Satya Ghosal (photographer_sg) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 302 W: 2 N: 690] (4414)
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