160-year-old Shooting Lodge by the River Banas in Tonk Rajasthan has undergone a magnificent interior restoration
Now transformed into a tastefully designed palatial home, it was built as a hunting near by the lake in late 19th century, the Summer house also called as Kothi Pukka Banda is owned by Salim and his wife Begum Khalida Khan, the great granddaughter of Nawab Ibrahim Ali Khan.
The triumphal arches and rock cut structure of the Palace bear testimony to timeless craftsmanship of Rajasthan. Spread across more than one acre of land at the foothills of Aravali range, the 160-year-old monument is a rare and fantastic combination of nature and architecture.
Surrounded on three sides by the River Banas, it is picturesque and serene, with a long and rich history. Near Lake Pukka Banda, within the Aravalli mountain range, hidden in the greenery is an elegant and grand palace.
According to Mr Salim, the site is approximately 10 kilometres away from the city, which used to be a dense forest earlier. Even today, it’s peaceful and reminiscent of the past glory and grandeur.
The palace and Tonk’s histories are entwined as Afghan’s Pathans were a mighty military force, brandishing terror and building strategic relationships with British and Maratha rulers. In 1818, Khan signed a treaty and the British acquiesced to consider him as the ruler of Tonk, and he earned the title of Nawab. “Tonk was the only state that never paid taxes to the British,” says Salim.
By and by, Tonk turned into a centre of culture and learning. The Nawab had brought with scholars, artists, and other skilled persons, and different fields from the arts to cosmography and from palaeography to food, flourished. Tonk came to be identified as Adab ka Gulshan, Rajasthan ka Lucknow and Hindu Muslim Ekta ka Maskan.
Today the Palace has undergone a tremendous restoration, there is an alluring modernity introduced tastefully in its design language. It is a terrific example of rock-cut architecture, which gives it a rustic and sturdy look. The first thing one sees upon entering is a terrace, with the lake on three sides.
One can enter the main building, which leads to the central parlour, a room painted light pastel blue. One of the room’s walls has three arches and wooden beams hold up the structure. A statement round table sits in the middle of the room, grounding the space.
The first floor has a grand hall that’s dressed up as a dining and sitting area. The floor also has one personal bedroom, with a small baithak next to it. The second floor has two suites, each with its own living room, bedroom, and bathroom attached. The floor also leads out to a small terrace.
The parlour is decorated with an array of photographs, portraits, and other collectibles placed carefully on the many niches in the arched wall. Two retiring suites lie beyond the parlour, with beds and bathrooms, using fine upholstery and a playful amalgamation of colour, fabric, and texture that blend familiarly with each other.
Image by Media Studio BluOra