A visit to Jorasanko Thakurbari
Photos: Zahedul I Khan
Bangalis are fondly call Kolkata the "city of Tagore, Teresa and Ray". Jorasanko Thakurbari - the ancestral home of poet, philosopher and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, is a great place for the tourist who wants to feel the cultural history of Kolkata. Situated in Dwarknath Tagore Lane, the brick-red structure of Thakurbari sprawls over a vast area. Open seven days a week, entry tickets are priced at Rs 10/-. Built in 1784, the house is named after Debendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore. Rabindranath was born and brought up in Jorasanko Thakurbari, spent half of his life here and also breathed his last here.
Located at the junction of the Chitpur Road and the Vivekananda Road, near Girish Park metro station, it's now Rabindrabharati University, a famous centtre for the study of the Indian Arts. There is a museum too in memory of the great Tagore family.
Tagore was born on Tuesday, 7th May 1861 in a wealthy family in Calcutta. He was the ninth son of Debenadranath and Sarada Devi. His grand father Dwarakanath Tagore was a rich landlord and social reformer. Even though he was from a very wealthy family, in those days Jorasanko house was a centre of culture.
The Thakurbari was the hub of Bengal's cultural life for well over a century. From the early nineteenth century, the Jorasanko Thakurbari was flourishing and resonant, a pioneer in social reforms. The men of this household were progressive and innovative thinkers. The women were also far ahead of their times. They travelled to England and America for intellectual pursuits, took part in the freedom movement and worked towards promoting the cause of women. Digambari Devi, wife of Dwarknath Tagore, is believed to have consulted Brahmin Pundits on whether a wife could reject a husband who had abandoned traditional principles. Maharishi Debendranath sent his daughter, Saudimini, to Bethune College as one of its first students, setting an example for other Bengali families. The very first progressive Brahmo Samaj wedding was also held in this household.
The Thakurbari now houses the Rabindra Bharati Museum, which was inaugurated on May 8, 1961 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The museum has three impressive galleries. The first gallery covers the life and activities of Rabindranath Tagore. The second gallery portrays the distinguished members of his family like Dwarkanath, Maharishi Debendranath, Abanindranath and the brothers and sisters of Rabindranth. The third gallery tells the story of the Renaissance of nineteenth century Bengal and the part played by distinguished pioneers in different fields. Light and sound programmes are held in the evenings at Thakurbari, bringing alive the historic moments that encompass this house. Tapes containing Rabindranath Tagore's recitations are also played for visitors.
The Assembly Hall of Jorasanko Thakurbari was the venue for religious gatherings of the Tagore household. On the stage, there's an engraved message reminding everyone that there is indeed one God who prevails.
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