The Marble Palace in Kolkata is without a doubt one of the most beautiful private houses you will ever see in the country. It is a very well-preserved 19th-century palatial mansion that is famous for having marble floors and walls. It is unique for its owner, architecture, pieces of furniture, and zoo.
The marble home was constructed in 1835 by the wealthy Bengali merchant, Raja Rajendra Mullick. He was one of the wealthiest people during his time and even back then his house was very unique and highly adored. Mullick was also known for his collection of beautiful pieces of art. Through the years as it is today, the Marble Palace is still owned by descendants of Mullick.
The adoptive father of Raja Rajendra Mullick was Nilmoni Mullick, also a highly respected figure. He is best remembered for building a Jagannath temple that is near the palace but much older than the popular marble mansion. The temple still stands today but only family members are allowed to enter and worship.
The Marble Palace is unique also for its architecture. The mansion itself follows Neoclassical architecture but the open courtyards are clearly influenced by traditional Bengali style. Surrounding the mansion are lawn gardens, a rock garden, lake, fountain and zoo. The lush green lawn is littered with statues of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Lord Buddha, Christopher Columbus, Hindu gods and lions.
The nearby temple accentuates the palace’s architecture since the temple resembles a Chinese pavilion. It has three floors, Corinthian pillars and elaborately decorated verandas.
Also, the palace made use of 126 different types of marbles that were transported from several corners of the country and Italy. This is why it earned the moniker Marble Palace, which was first used by Lord Minto.
The third distinguishing characteristic is the mansion’s rare collection of artworks, which are from the personal collection of Mullick, and expensive pieces of furniture. These include Western sculptures, Victorian furniture, antique paintings, and paintings by famous Indian and European artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, Rubens, Titian and Murillo. Some of the most expensive pieces are “The Marriage of St. Catherine”, “The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian” and “The Infant Hercules Strangling the Serpent”.
The house also has chandeliers, floor to ceiling mirrors, 82 different types of exquisite clocks, urns and busts depicting different kings and queens.
Fourth and finally, what people found really amazing is that the Mullicks have their own zoo. It was, in fact, the first ever zoo that opened in India. Today, it is more of an aviary than zoo since its residents are peacocks, pelicans, storks, hornbills and cranes. There are a few monkeys and deer.
Although the Marble Palace is considered a tourist attraction, it still is a private home of the Mullick family. Fortunately, the owners open their house to the public for free admission and viewing. It is open four days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., although it is best visited from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It is located on Mukta Rambabu Street, Chorbagan, Kolkata.