A Rainy Day in Raichak

It was long time since two of my friends suggested a day out of Kolkata at Raichak, a small town located in south 24 Pgs district on the banks of river Hooghly. So on a rainy Saturday morning we finally left the hustle and bustle of the city for peace on the banks of the Ganges.

Raichak is about 50kms south of Kolkata and takes 1 to 1.5hours from Tollygunge via Amtalla. The road is congested till you literally leave Kolkata after which you will be greeted by lush green fields on both sides. We also did not have any complaint about the road condition.

Our destination at Raichak was ‘Sonar Tori’, a Bengali fine dining joint at ‘Raichak on the Ganges’, a premium property of Ambuja Neotia Group. On reaching there we realized why our friends had said that it was a ‘must visit’. From the very entrance to the property you will feel your senses calm down.

Entrance to Raichak on the Ganges

Entrance to Raichak on the Ganges


The very look and feel of the resort is towards conservation of nature, bringing back the old world charm with thatched roof, mud walls and small stools which in Bengali we call ‘mora’. There is ample area around the place, where you can sit and have a leisure time with family and friends.

Sitting Area

Sitting Area

As you will approach the ‘Sonar Tori’(the restaurant) area, leaving the ‘Ganga Kutir’(the residential area), you will find an old bullock cart.

Bullock Cart

Bullock Cart

As you enter the gates of ‘Sonar Tori’(meaning Golden Boat), you will be transferred to some three or four decades back. Everything here is built of old antique pieces. Above all, the entire ‘Sonar Tori’ is a true representation of Bengali culture and heritage. The property is entirely build of decades old used bricks, wooden doors, windows, tables, chairs even iron grills.

Balcony

Balcony

The balcony leads you to the lounge or resting area. This lounge will amaze you. Four-poster bed, easy chair, gramophone, tables, chairs, sofa – decades old decorates this lounge. One can also notice the typical Bengali red cemented floors here. The only touch of modernization in this room perhaps is the air conditioning. The best part was the view through the large glass window panes which got frosted because of the rain outside. It rather added to the rustic beauty.

Lounge

Lounge

Easy Chair in Lounge

Easy Chair in Lounge

Sofa in Lounge

Sofa in Lounge

Lounge Area

Lounge Area

Lounge Ceiling

Lounge Ceiling

View of Restaurant from Lounge

View of Restaurant from Lounge

Way to dining hall

Way to dining hall

The dining hall at ‘Sonar Tori’ overlooks the Hooghly River. The entire ceiling of the dining area has Tagore’s poems and songs inscribed on it. The chandelier is a unique piece made up of a cluster of brass jars with bulbs attached inside them. I wondered how elegant and mystic it would look when lit up in the evening.

The dining table tops are made of old wooden windows and doors with glass tops placed over them. The chairs are also made of old used wooden pieces with embroidered cushions on them. You will find a number of old antique pieces here like a hookah, large pots, all grandma’s age old. Adding to the ambiance are the heavy brass plates, bowls, glasses and cutlery sets in which food is served.

Brass Cutlery

Brass Cutlery

View of Hooghly River from Dining Hall

View of Hooghly River from Dining Hall

Not to miss the napkins(Soft Bengal cotton cloth with red border-typical Bengali ‘lal par shada sari’)

Bengali Zamindari Thali

Bengali Zamindari Thali

Antique Pieces in Dining Hall

Antique Pieces in Dining Hall

Lunch although was very nice, with every item having a distinct taste of its own, I personally felt it to be much on the costlier side. But then, that is expected from a star category hotel. Outside the dining hall is a large table with benches.

The top of the table is strewn with brass pots covered with glass on top. We took some rest there enjoying the rain which added  romanticism to the entire ambiance. Then we walked down the corridors whose walls are laden with old antique pieces and photos.

The corridors lead to the Hooghly river bed where there is ample space for one to sit and chat or just sit and stare at the river. There is a distinct earthy smell around the entire ‘Sonar Tori’ area which is very typical of Rural Bengal.

Boats in the Garden Area

Boats in the Garden Area

Sitting area in Garden

Sitting area in Garden

Pond inside garden

Pond inside garden

Ok now,  I could not resist sharing this unique wash basin photo with you.

Wash Basin

Wash Basin

The Reception

The Reception

In all ‘Sonar Tori’ cannot be called a restaurant alone. It is a poem in itself telling the tale of ages and ages. Above all, it defies the notion that architecture develops at the cost of nature. In fact, when the two join hands they produce such beauty which is beyond comparison.

14 Comments

  • Avtar Singh says:

    Hi Sharmishtha Dan
    Excellent post with equally taken beautiful snaps.
    Living in north India, we do not know much about the places of Bengal, which is of-course a matter of shame!
    Bengal has a great reputation in the field of literature, cinema and culture.
    Your post indeed throw light on other places to explore rather than Darjeeling etc.
    Thanx for sharing…

  • PANKAJ RAI JAIN says:

    Thanks for discovering and publishing these hidden beauties of nature which are not on the general touristy map but are wonderful places indeed to merge with mother nature. My nerves are having a soothing impact just by viewing your pics and I can imagine what will happen when I really go there.

    May God help me to reach these places somehow >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    • Sharmistha Dan says:

      It is true Pankaj, even I want to visit so many places in India but I do not know when I can. Thanks to Ghumakkar that we are all getting to share and read about the unseen beauties and treasures of our country.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Seems like a good find. For a total driving time of 2-3 hours (both ways), it is a good quick break from Kolkata.

    Sharmishtha, incidentally ‘mora’ is called ‘muda/moda’ here in Delhi and it is exactly the same thing. :-) The wash-basin is a first for me. The entire place looks pretty plush.

    Any details on their website, rates would help plan better.

    • Sharmistha Dan says:

      Hey Nandan, Raichak on the Ganges is a perfect weekend gateway from Kolkata. The rates are pretty high here. The lunch and dinner is around Rs.1500 per head and lodging in Ganga Kutir starts from Rs.14,500. You can check out the website of Ganga Kutir for further information. It is also nice to know that muda is also used in Delhi. I wasn’t aware of it. Thanks.

  • ashok sharma says:

    it looks great, never heard of it. the philosophy behind this beautifully built, not exactly built but carefully carved out gem is highly commendable.very good photographs.

    • Sharmistha Dan says:

      Thanks Ashok, this piece of beauty has been crafted by Sri Lankan architect Channa Daswatte and indeed deserves an applause.

  • Rakesh Bawa says:

    Sharmishta Ji Namaskar. A very nice post on a relatively unknown place especially to we North Indians. The place seems straight out of Ray,s classic Jalsaghar when seen from the angle of antiquities placed here. But the cost of entertaining oneself at these kinds of places put off a budget traveller like me. Owners should ensure more footfalls by reducing the cost.

    • Sharmistha Dan says:

      You are true Rakesh. Even I myself can never afford to stay there. But you can sure have a day out like we did. I am sure you will like it. It was a completely different experience to visit this place.

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    Hi,
    Nice to read the post and some old memory refreshed.

    No doubt, it (The Raickak on Ganges, formerly known as the Radission Fort) is one of the finest properties in India. It’s a huge and has an excellent strategic location…and you need to shell out a large amount of money to be a guest! The restaurants are good, including ‘Sonar Tari’.

    The place is very near to Diamond Harbour (~15 KM) and every year we cross the place on our way to go to my sister’s house. NH-117 (Kona Expressway or Diamond Harbour Road) is in excellent condition upto Bakkhali (~125-130 KM) and it’s a pleasure to drive (except a few KM in Amtala) – this time it was raining heavily as soon as we crossed Joka, but one thing I was sure that I could drive smoothly without thinking of potholes.

    I spent most of my life at nearby places and often we took the ferry services from Diamond Harbour to Nurpur on our way to Digha…seeing the old Fort (built by Dutch…though in ruined state)…the Hotel came up I think in late ’90s.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Vinay Rajput says:

    Wow. full-to masti li boss.
    Great photographs & good place to velagiri.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Sharmistha,

    I remember driving out of Kolkata during the rains towards south 25 parganas and the lush greenery is to die for.

    Sonar Tori looks pretty with the river setting.

    For Delhiwallas, something similar with excellent food will be Neemrana Fort; of course in the setting of fort and hills.

    Lot of gems from Kolkata slowly emerging out!

  • Birchi says:

    Nice post for travelers. I am also a regular traveler and will try to visit this spot soon. Hope will have some money in pocket soon.

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