Dalmia Bhavan (Bhavan or Bhawan is a Hindi term for a building, palace, or mansion) is a 19th-century garden house located in Kamachha, Bhelupur at the center of Varanasi city.
Garden House :
In the nineteenth century the term “GARDEN HOUSE” was used in British India to refer to the residences built on flat land, which were located in the middle of a lawn or garden.
Such Garden Houses were very popular in those days as they served as the residences of Indian kings, wealthy merchants, the East India Company, and British officials.
According to Hindu religious texts, Kamachha is an ancient and holy place. This place is named Kamachha after the name of Goddess Kamakhya.
The ancient temple of Maa Kamakhya still exists here. Hindus believe that this temple was built in Treta Yuga. It is believed that this temple was built even before the birth of Lord Shri Ram and Shri Krishna.
DALMIA BHAVAN (Garden House)
Presently known as Dalmia Bhavan, this garden house is one of the prominent ones built in the nineteenth century in Varanasi.
It has been known by different names in different periods of time. The Dalmia Bhavan has been the property of the Dalmia family since the 1960s.
It is noteworthy that, the Dalmia family is not just a prominent business family of India, it is also known for its faith in Indian culture, strong nationalist views, and service to the country, as well.
The Dalmia House now belongs to KAHM Properties Pvt Ltd a company of Kunal Dalmia and he is converting the house into a luxurious 5 start hotel/resort and will be named “SABO” after his mother’s pet name.
Laxminiwas Dalmia(Kunal Dalmia’s father) was married to Savitri Devi of Banaras. She was called SABO by her near and dear ones.
Late Laxminiwas Dalmia Ji
Late Savitri Devi Ji (SABO)
Duli Chand Dalmia Hostel
Late Laxminiwas Dalmia father of Kunal Dalmia had donated a 425-room hostel in the memory of his father Late Duli Chandji Dalmia to BHU in 1973. This Hostel is popularly known as Dalmia Hostel in BHU. ( Banaras Hindu University)
Savitri Devi Dalmia Vigyan Bhavan
A Home science block for the students in BHU named “Savitri Devi Dalmia Vigyan Bhavan” was also donated to BHU
History of Dalmia Bhavan
Dalmia Bhavan has been a witness to many historical events, For our convenience we can divide its history broadly into two parts based upon the dates on which these events took place.
@ The 19th century events
@ The 20th century events
(The 19th century events)
According to the documents related to 1910 AD kept in the archives of Banaras, this garden house was the property of Raja Kishori Lal Goswami.
(Raja Kishori Lal Goswami S/o Late Gopi Lal Goswami residence of Serampore District Hooghly Bengal).
These papers confirm that this garden house was the property of the famous Goswami Rajbari of Serampore. In those days the Goswami family was listed among the most prominent landlords and bankers of India.
RAJBARI: a mansion or palace built as a residence for a Hindu rajah, typically in Bengal.
SERAMPORE: The Danes, who arrived here in the early 17th century, named their flourishing trade settlement as Frederiksnagore, otherwise known as Serampore.
Christian IV, the king of Denmark, established the Danish East India Company on 17th March 1616 CE through a charter. Settlements were established at Tranqueber or Tamil Nadu in 1620 CE and Serampore in Bengal in 1676 CE. The Danish East India Company was headquartered at Serampore.
The members of the Goswami family were initially employees at the Danish East India Company, later generations of the family took up other professions.
Later, after the division of property among the Goswamis, this garden house was given to Raja Kishori Lal Goswami.
RAJA KISHORI LAL GOSWAMI
Kishori Lal Goswami was the son of Gopikrishna Goswami, he was a lawyer in the Calcutta High Court and a member of the Bengal Assembly. He was given the title of Raja(King) by the British Government.
After a family dispute, Kishori Lal Goswami got a new house constructed in Serampore and he started living there. The present municipality building of Serampore is named after him.
The Royal seal of Kishori Lal Goswami can be seen at the rear gate of Dalmia Bhavan.
According to an old employee working in the building, earlier this used to be the main gate of the building, later when the new gate was installed, this gate was removed and installed in the rear part of the building.
THE ROYAL SEAL OF KISHORILAL GOSWAMI
SIDDHI SEBITAM BRATAH
The story behind this seal is quite interesting. The Goswami of Serampore had a different royal seal but when their property was divided, Raja Kishori Lal Goswami in 1910 after the division of the property made this very symbol his royal seal.
This is the royal seal of Kishori Lal Goswami if you look at it close enough you will notice the letters K, L, and G which not very surprisingly are the first letters of Kishori Lal Goswami’s first, middle, and last name respectively.
“Siddhi Sebitam Bratah” is what is written below the seal in a mixture of Bengali & Devanagari letters from the original Prakrit script. Meaning “Moksha or siddhi (i.e fulfillment) comes through serving people.”
Kishori Lal Goswami’s grandfather was Raghuram Goswami. He was the agent of Kolkata’s John Palmer & Company, he had amassed an enormous fortune.
The Rajbari built by him is still present in Serampore.
A lot of tails regarding his riches are famous, the most famous of them being his attempt to buy the Danish town of Serampore. Raghuram Goswami had offered 11 lakh rupees to The Danish East India Company to buy Serampore, but the British East India Company did not allow him to do so. It is worth noting that 11 lakh rupees was a massive sum in 1845 AD.
Some old books indicate that a few properties were bought by Raghuram Goswami in Kolkata and Banaras. The Dalmia Bhavan was known as Goswami Bari in those days and it was most probably built/ bought by Raghuram Goswami.
At present, papers related to Goswami Bari of that time are not available in Banaras archives, but there are strong pieces of evidence suggesting that it was the property of Raghuram Goswami.
Listed below are a few of this evidence-:
1) According to the British Gazette of 1894, “This building was the property of a famous zamindar and banker of Bengal”.
2) From the beginning to the middle of the 19th century, many private buildings, schools, and temples were established by prominent Bengali kings in Kamachha and its surrounding area. (source: British Gazette)
3) Even today, this area is dominated by Bengali people who settled here in the middle of the 19th century. Talking to some of these people, I came to know that this Garden House was always known as Goswami Bari.
4) In 1781, Banaras was taken over by the East India Company.
It was only after 20-30 years that the construction of garden houses of western design started in Banaras and some major garden houses were built during this period. Goswami Bari, Kashi Naresh’s Nadesari Kothi, Nepal Raja’s Kothi, Raja Kali Krishna Thakur’s Garden House, Bhinga Naresh’s Garden House, Hathua Naresh’s Kothi, built during this period and all these can be seen even today.
BAPTIST MISSION IN BENARES (BANARAS)
It is necessary to mention one more thing here, remember that the first Christian preacher to come to Banaras was from Serampore. (1816 AD)
These missionaries of Serampore were also associated with the merchants of the East India Company of Denmark in Banaras (Varanasi).
The Goswami family comes from Serampore as well and during that time Harinarayan Goswami, father of Raghuram Goswami, was working as Diwan in the Danish East India Company of Serampore, so the possibility cannot be ruled out that this garden house was bought by the Goswami family from the Denmark East India Company because during this time the East India Company of Denmark was leaving India (1845)forever by selling all its business.
The historical significance of Dalmia Bhavan is a heritage of the history of 19th century India, especially Banaras(Varanasi).
We see that Dalmia Bhavan has been a witness to 3 main events, changes that took place in Banaras in the 19th century,
surprisingly there is very little evidence available related to these three events, due to which the historical importance of this garden house increases manifolds.
These 3 reasons are listed below-:
1)Currently in India, except for Tarangambadi (Tranquebar) in Tamil Nadu, and Serampore in West Bengal, buildings belonging to the Danish East India Company are very rare, whereas the connection of Goswami Bari can be clearly associated with the Danish East India Company.
2) Goswami Bhavan has been a witness to the struggle between the British East India Company and the Danish East India on the banks of the river Ganges and the eventual victory of the British.
3) Varanasi was one of the most important cities in India in the 18th century. Its importance can be understood from the fact that the Nawabs of Awadh, the Marathas, and the British all wanted to establish their supremacy over this city. But till the time the Great King Balwant Singh of Varanasi was alive, he let no one gain control over Varanasi. Unfortunately, Raja Balwant Singh died on 22 August 1770 AD.
The tyranny of the Nawabs of Awadh badly affected the trade of Banaras.
According to a letter published in the Calendar of Persian Correspondence, in 1754 AD many moneylenders of Banaras had gone bankrupt.
Amazingly, Banaras regained its old glory in just 4-5 decades and was once again listed among the prestigious business cities of the country.
This Garden House has also been a witness to the amazing story of Banaras transformation.
The commerce and wealth of the city had been remarked upon from the early decades of the nineteenth century. Thus, Bishop Heber, the Anglican Bishop of Calcutta, in his travels through the Upper Provinces in 1824 commented:
Benares (Banaras) is, in fact, a very industrious and wealthy as well as a very holy city. It is a great mart where the shawls of the north, the diamonds of the south, and the muslins of Dacca and the eastern provinces, Centre, and it has very considerable silk, cotton, and fine woolen manufactories of its own…
Some other important facts related to Dalmia Bhavan
Rajbari built by Raghuram Goswami in Serampore in 1815-20. Notice the design of the arch at the entrance
The arch made according to Danish architecture is clearly visible in the Dalmia Bhavan.
This very same design can be seen in The Dalmia Bhavan of Banaras also.
Wooden stairs were in vogue in the early and mid-19th century.
Cast Iron Wrought Railings.
Another prominent feature of buildings built in the early and middle of the 19th century is the heavy use of cast iron.
IRON RINGS (KUNDI)
Notice the 3 metal loops/rings
The iron loops/rings fitted in a straight line on the ceiling of the building were used for PUNKHA (fan).
PUNKHA:- A large swinging fan, fixed to the ceiling, pulled by a punkah wallah during hot weather.
It can be easily understood from this painting of a Western-style house in India in the 19th century how the “fan” worked.
Mrs Gladstone Lingham’s drawing room at her residence in Berhampore (India), 1863.
A glimpse of the glorious History of India
Some pillars in Dalmia Bhavan are made of Chunar sandstone, and there is no joint of any kind in them.
It is to be noted here that the Rajbari built by Raghuram Goswami, which is located in Serampore, also has pillars made of Chunar sandstone.
Chunar: Situated at a distance of about 25 km from Varanasi, is an ancient place that has been famous for sculpture for thousands of years.
In the 19th century, the use of stone pillars made in Chunar in the houses of other cities of the country was limited to wealthy people because it was a very expensive process. After the artisans in Chunar manufactured the pillars, they were sent to the destination by bullock carts or by loading them on boats on the banks of the Ganges at Chunar.
The National Emblem of India is the Lion Capital, which is taken from the Ashokan Pillar located in Sarnath (Varanasi). This pillar was also built about 2300 years ago by Emperor Ashoka from the sandstone of Chunar, thus these pillars also reflect thousands of years old craftsmanship of Chunar.
Dalmia Bhavan: A Living Chronicle of History and Heritage.
(The 20th century events)
surajiye to hamesha se yahan aate rahe hain .
Swarajist always used to come here.
Tapan Ghosh: Tapan Da’s ancestors belonged to Nadia in Bengal but later settled in Kamachha, Varanasi in the 18th century.
The term Swarajiye was used for people striving for Swaraj from the beginning to the middle of the twentieth century.
SWARAJ :- Swarāj means self-governance or “self-rule“.
Why did prominent nationalists of that era visit Dalmia Bhavan often?
To answer this question it is necessary to know a few things about the history of Banaras and the unique geographical location of Dalmia House.
Even before she arrived in India, Annie Besant had earned worldwide fame as a British social reformer, a staunch supporter of women’s rights, a theosophist, writer, speaker, and someone who supported India’s independence.
Mahatma Gandhi met Annie Besant during his stay in England, and it was only after this meeting with Annie Besant, that he developed a desire to read Hindu religious texts and understood the propaganda of Christian priests who said that Hinduism was full of superstitions.
The arrival of Annie Besant in India
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the ideology of nationalism began to flourish in India. In such circumstances, Annie Besant debuted in Varanasi.
Annie Besant had a dream of awakening the Hindus, both spiritually and politically.
Undoubtedly Banaras was the most suitable city to fulfill her dreams. Banaras has been famous for thousands of years as SARV VIDYA KI RAJDHANI (capital of all learning) and the most sacred city of Hindus.
After she arrived in Varanasi in 1895 AD, Annie Besant started putting in efforts to open a school for the upliftment of Hindus.
And soon, Amma was indeed successful in doing so. (Amma is a term used by Hindus for mother. Annie Besant preferred to be addressed by this name). A Hindu school was started in the Saptsagar locality of Varanasi. After a few days, the school shifted to a building named Angrezi Kothi, which was located in the Nandan Sahu locality.
Impressed by Amma’s efforts, the king of Banaras granted her a huge piece of land in Kamachha. In 1899, Hindu school was established here. Presently this Hindu School is known as Central Hindu School(CHS) and it has been taken under Banaras Hindu University(BHU)
Note:- The place where the Hindu School was established is at a very short distance from the Dalmia House and this is one of the reasons why Dalmia House got the opportunity to host the nationalists.
Annie Besant’s house “Shanti Kunj” was completed in 1907, She later went on to live in this house for the rest of her life. This building is still located on the campus of the Theosophical Society near the Hindu School.
According to the people associated with the Theosophical Society, Annie Besant was staying in a garden house near Hindu School on rent for some years before shifting to Shanti Kunj Bhavan, Till date Dalmia Garden House near Hindu School is the only garden house that could be found in this area, so it is highly likely and almost obvious that, Annie Besant had lived in Dalmia Bhavan for some time before coming to Shanti Kunj Bhavan.
Some other evidence regarding Annie Besant’s stay at Goswami Bhavan (Dalmia Bhavan/Dalmia Garden House)
@ According to Banaras Gazetteer published in 1909 AD —
The nearby houses were often used by people associated with the Hindu school.
@ In those days, the only residential house near the Hindu School was the Goswami (Dalmia )Garden House.
@ Annie Besant was counted among the fierce nationalists in those days. Her popularity was like that of Lokmanya Tilak in the whole country, not only this, she was seen as the forerunner of the awakening of Hindu culture, and as a result everyone considered it their moral duty to cooperate with her.
@ There is evidence of the Goswami family of Sirampur generously supporting the activities of the Hindu School over the years. The great Hindi litterateur Harivansh Rai Bachchan wrote at one place in his autobiography NEID KA NIRMAN FIR ( नीड़ का निर्माण फिर) the following lines.
The training college was a part of the university, but it was not in the university campus but in Kamchha. The college building was in two parts. Next was the King Edward Hostel, with the principal’s and warden’s residences at the two corners. At some distance behind, there was a big hall and many rooms connected to it, in which classes of different subjects were held. Nearby was a hostel for girls; In fact it was not a hostel building but a huge residential building in which six to seven college girls lived.
The last few sentences of Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s autobiography also point directly toward the Dalmia House which, perhaps has been referred to as the “Residential Building”.
Harivansh Rai Bachchan was the father of Amitabh Bachchan, the most popular actor in the Indian film industry to date.
A note kept in the Banaras Archives mentions the stay of Raja Indrajit Pratap Bahadur Shahi at Dalmia Garden House. Notably, Raja Indrajit Pratap Bahadur Shahi was associated with the Hindu School and following in the footsteps of Annie Besant, started compulsory education for children above the age of 5 in Tamkuhi State in 1925.
Here it seems necessary to mention two major events of that period.
Mahatma Gandhi (1902)
The below-mentioned lines are an account of Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi first visit to Banaras in 1902. At this point of time Gandhi wasn’t addressed by the name “Mahatma”.
After this visit to the temple, I waited upon Mrs. Besant. I knew that she had just recovered from an illness. I sent in my name. She came at once. As I wished only to pay my respects to her, I said, ‘I am aware that you are indelicate health. I only wanted to pay my respects. I am thankful that you have been good enough to receive me in spite of your indifferent health. I will not
detain you any longer.’ So saying, I took leave of her.
Above mentioned lines are from Mahatma Gandhi’s Autobiography “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”.
Something similar has been described by Pandit Nehru in his autobiography “Jawaharlal Nehru an Autobiography”.
So I became a member of the Theosophical Society at thirteen and Mrs. Besant herself performed the ceremony of initiation, which consisted of good advice and instruction in some mysterious signs, probably a relic of freemasonry. I was thrilled. I attended the Theosophical Convention at Benares(Banaras) and saw old Colonel Olcott with his fine beard.
Both these incidents are of the same time when it is said that Annie Besant resided in Dalmia Bhavan.
Annie Besant shifted to her newly built house Shanti Kunj in 1907 and Dalmia Bhavan got the opportunity to host other nationalists, mystics, and scholars of the country.
Hindu School and Dalmia Bhavan
The Hindu School expanded under the able leadership of Annie Besant, the Kashi Naresh Hall was built in the Hindu School, in which many nationalistic conferences, meetings, and committees used to take place in those days.
Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary Mahadev Desai’s book Day to Day with Gandhi reveals that if any one place is mentioned the most in Gandhi’s letters, it is the Hindu School in Varanasi. Undoubtedly, the Hindu school had the status of Mecca among the Swarajists.
Note :- In the book “Gandhi ji in Uttar Pradesh” written by Ram Nath Suman, there is a mention of Gandhi ji coming to Banaras 11 times. It is notable that almost every time during Gandhiji’s visit to Banaras, Gandhiji visited the campus of Hindu School or shared one or the other platform with the people associated with Hindu School.
According to the local people, Goswami Bhavan (Dalmia Bhavan) had the privilege of hosting many nationalists of that era. This comes naturally because of its geographical location.
Unfortunately, none of the papers of that period are available in the Varanasi archives, but it is clear from the writings of litterateurs, intellectuals of that period, conversations with local residents that the arrival of famous nationalists, mystics of that period in Goswami Garden House was something, ~not so special.
The local residents still have memories of the stay of some great men in Dalmia Bhavan.
Some elders told a few interesting stories related to Mahatma Gandhi and his visit here. According to Tulsi Prasad (83 years), he has been hearing from his forefathers since childhood that Gandhiji had stayed in Dalmia House not only that, according to him, Gandhiji’s goats also stayed here along with him.
According to his story, Gandhiji’s goats were kept in a part of Dalmia Bhavan at the back, which was built for a wagon or horse carriage and that room thereafter came to be known as Gandhiji’s Goat Room for many years.
Mohandas K. Gandhi on his arrival from India at Marseille, France, on September 11th, 1931, going to England to attend the Table Round Conference. On his right is Madeleine Rolland, sister of Romain Rolland. On his left is Madeleine Slade, often called Mirabehn. Gandhi brought with him from India two goats to provide his daily ration of milk.
Why did Gandhiji keep goats with him?
According to Gandhiji’s autobiography, once his health deteriorated. He was advised by a doctor to consume milk. Gandhiji considered the process of cow milking as violence, so he refused to do so, then his wife Kasturba, who was standing nearby, proposed the consumption of goat’s milk, which was accepted by both Gandhiji and his doctor.
Tulsi Prasad also told that there is a well nearby, according to some people, once Gandhiji suddenly came here early in the morning and a huge crowd gathered within minutes.
Similarly, I came to know through some Bengali family that Gurudev (Rabindranath Tagore) too had once rested for a few hours at Dalmia Bhavan along with some other Bengali litterateurs.
After a lot of research, I came to know some surprising facts regarding this incident.
Tagore had also come to Banaras many times, but his visit in 1923 had a great importance.
Nikhil Bhartiya Banga Sahitya Sammelan:
This conference was organized every year. The first annual conference was held at the Hindu School and the conference was presided over by Gurudev himself. (In 1923 this conference was organized by the name of Prabhasi Banga-Sahitya Sammelan)
Many eminent expatriate Bengali writers, poets took part in this conference under the chairmanship of Gurudev. From these facts it appears that Gurudev must have been visiting Dalmia Bhavan in 1923.
Some old residents also mention the incident of Sarojini Naidu staying at Dalmia Bhavan around 1947.
Sarojini Naidu :
Sarojini Naidu was also known as the Nightingale of India. She was a poetess and political activist. and the second woman President of the Indian National Congress and also the first woman Governor of India (U.P)
We see that the present Dalmia Bhavan is an ancient historical building, which contains about 150 to 200 years of history.
This building has been a witness to the famous events of the 19th century like the Danish East India Company, the famous Goswami Zamindar and Bankers of Sirampur, and the destruction and resurgence of Banaras, while in the 20th century this building has also closely seen the growth of nationalism, the struggle and victory of nationalists.
It would not be wrong to say that a glimpse of the gradual development of 200 years of Indian history can be seen in this building.