Dalmia House in Varanasi, an ideal destination spot for weddings these days, is a graceful two-storey colonial structure in a serene shade of milky white. Upon entering the gates, one is greeted by the bustling thoroughfare of Varanasi. A picturesque driveway flanked by lush green lawns on either side leads to the imposing Dalmia House. As the gates close behind, a tranquil oasis is created, shutting out the clamour and commotion of Varanasi.
The first-floor balcony of Dalmia House
The property also has a banquet hall and is available for other social and business events. Shailendra Singhania (Sheru), the manager of the property, said, “The place can accommodate up to 1,000 guests and prices start from ₹ 1 lakh (excluding food). The Dalmia House serves as a guest house for overnight guests.” He further added, “The property is immensely popular among the elite class of Varanasi and we even get bookings from patrons beyond city limits.”
History of the house
The logo of Kishorilal Goswami (KGL) inside the Dalmia House compound
Dalmia House belongs to the illustrious Dalmia family of Kolkata. Kunal Dalmia, the current owner, informed, “The Dalmia family acquired the property in 1960, but the building has a history with a Bengal and Danish connection. It was constructed by the Goswamis of Serampore, which was in a Danish colony (1755 – 1845). The building was constructed by Kishori Lal Goswami.” The original logo of Kishori Lal Goswami, with the initials KGL, can be still seen on the gate within the property. According to Dalmia family sources, the building has been home to many famous personalities, which include Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Annie Basant, to name a few.
A walk along the Man Mandir Ghat
Dalmia has plans of converting the age-old property into a heritage hotel. The process will take about two years and will offer heritage stay with all modern amenities. Presently, the building only houses family members and invited guests, who can explore the ancient city with this century-old colonial bungalow as the base. Curated city tours in Varanasi are arranged on request.
Ghat walk and ‘aarti’
Evening 'aarti' at Assi Ghat
Varanasi boasts 80 (or some argue, 84) ghats, each a testament to the diverse patronage of local kings and dignitaries from across the Indian subcontinent over the ages. With their unique architectural styles, a stroll along these ghats offers a glimpse into the rich culture of India. The solemn pyres at Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat serve as poignant reminders of the eternal cycle of life and death. While not too long ago, the evening aarti in Varanasi was confined to Dashashwamedh Ghat, in recent times, it has expanded to several other ghats, providing a grand spectacle not to be missed during your ghat exploration. For the early riser, braving the morning chill is rewarded with Subh-e-Banaras, the morning aarti held at Assi Ghat.
Ghats of Varanasi captured from a boat
Although boat ride happens throughout the day, it is most common during the evening time when shared boats are available. But, the boat rides are best done in the morning hours and as the ghats are located on the western side, it provides ideal light for photography. Although shared boats are not available in the mornings, private boats are available for customised rides.
Namo Ghat, the newly built corridor leading to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Dalmia House arranges visits to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The trips are well planned and guests can opt for only darshan and puja. Trips to Sankat Mochan Temple and Kamakhya Temple (Varanasi) are also arranged on request.
Caesarean toast (a specially made butter-filled toast)
Varanasi is known for its chatpati street food and Sheru, a die-hard foodie, leads this walks through the winding allies of Varanasi. The walk is mostly done during the morning and evening. The breakfast consists of malai toast and Caesarean toast (a specially made butter filled toast. The butter is filled with a sharp cut on the toast).
'Aloo tikkis' being prepared at a chaat house in Varanasi
Kachoris of all possible shapes, sizes and texture is another way of breaking the morning fast. All these are gulped down with cups of steaming tea or ice cold lassis. The evening snacks mainly consist of various kinds of chaats. The evening meal ends with a sweet note of kulfi, rabri malai (only in winter) and gulab jamun.
'Baati-chokha', one of the local delicacies of Varanasi
So, after the heavy breakfast or evening snacks, if you have some space in your stomach, Sheru will lead you to one of the fine dining restaurants of Varanasi to feed you with local delicacies, which may include elaborate veg thali and baati-chokha.