Marble Palace

Top choice in Kolkata (Calcutta)

Built in 1835 by a raja from the prosperous Mallick family, this resplendent mansion is as grand as it is curious. Its marble-draped halls are overstuffed with dusty statues of thinkers and dancing girls, much Victoriana, ample Belgian glassware, game trophies and fine paintings, including originals by Murillo, Reynolds and Rubens. To enter, you need prior written permission from West Bengal Tourism or India Tourism. Entry is technically free, but tips (₹100 per group is fine) are expected by staff guides.

The estate is still maintained by the Mallick family, so it is private property. Photography is not allowed within the palace premises.

Of particular note within the building is the music room, with its lavish floor of marble inlay, where Napoleons beat Wellingtons three to one. The ballroom retains its vast array of candle chandeliers with globes of silvered glass to spread illumination (original 19th-century disco balls!). There's also a private menagerie on the mansion's grounds, dating back to the early years, which is home to a few monkey and bird species.

To find Marble Palace from MG Rd metro, walk north and turn left at the first traffic light – 171 Chittaranjan (CR) Ave. From the east, it's on the lane that leaves Rabindra Sarani between Nos 198 and 200.

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