A pristine canopy sheathed in liberal swathes of white, the opulent Marble Palace is an embodiment of elegance and a beauty that transcends the very existence of space and time. A stunning relic of the 19th Century, the palace was built by Raja Rajendra Mullick, and is characterized by a tapestry of walls, flooring and sculptures which are brilliantly-clad in marble. Awash in spectacular semblances of Neoclassical architecture, the palace harbors several collections of western sculpture, artifacts and antique treasures such as clocks, urns and chandeliers, along with paintings by well-known artists such as John Opie, Titian and Murillo. Cloaked in unabashed grandeur, the magnificent interior of the palace spills into rolling, open courtyards which are much reminiscent of the Bengal which once was. Having been responsible for largely shaping the historic and cultural landscape of Kolkata, this timeless palace is adorned with jubilant fountains, glorious sculptures, a string of picturesque Corinthian columns, a serene lake, a rock garden and the Marble Palace Zoo, which shelters a troupe of delightful birds and animals like monkeys and diverse species of deer.
Perched along the banks of the tranquil Hooghly river is an erstwhile French Colony established in 1673, after being granted permission by the then Nawab of Bengal. One of the first trading posts in India, Chandannagar (formerly, Chandernagore) is a quintessential pocket north of Kolkata, which bears a plethora of vestiges of the country's colonial past. Even though this dainty town has brushed off most of its history, remnants of its colonial epoch still linger along the delightful pastel facades, antiquated French Maisons, and even the archetypal, three-wheeled rickshaw carts. Strewn across its dainty expanse are traces of profound Indo-French structures, an architectural style akin to the one found in Puducherry's French Colony. The town boasts a host of structures that have braved war-torn times, sustaining their historical allure - like the winsome, cream-colored Dupleix Palace which is now an expansive museum, centuries-old Sacred Heart Church and Patal Bari (Underground House), the lowest floor of which is submerged in River Ganges. Patal Bari's wooden sunshades and ornamental water outlets have played host to the likes of Rabindranath Tagore. The French Cemetery is another iconic relic bearing 150 tombs, one of which is the tomb of Duplessis, who was the founding father of French Chandernagore. Albeit dotted with motley monuments and religious temples, the Strand is primarily dominated by the Durgacharan Rakshit Ghat, an ornate, pastel-pink pavilion, complete with elegant columns and stucco work. A stroll along this riverside promenade promises quite a peaceful and enriching experience.