Sanskriti Express, run by the Indian Railways, is an effort to honour the poet on his 150th birth anniversary

A mobile exhibition showcasing the life and times of India’s Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore arrived here at the Kudal Nagar railway station. The Sanskriti Express, run by the Indian Railways is an effort to honour the poet on his 150th birth anniversary.

The first coach showcases the life and thoughts of Tagore through photographs, while another coach, called Geetanjali, exhibits his great poems and songs. The third, Muktodhara, exhibits his literature, whereas Chitralekha, the fourth coach, displays his paintings. The last coach, Smaranika, exhibits and sells handicraft and other items from Santiniketan, the university founded by the poet.

Railway officials, Govindappa Raju, Senior divisional commercial manager, N. Venugopal, Senior Public Relations Officer, S. Rangarajan, Senior Divisional Eletrical Engineer and S. Pathipooranam, Assistant Security Commissioner, RPF were present during the opening of the exhibition. Initially during the day there was lukewarm response but later in the day school students and college students came in large numbers.

The first few images include Jorashanko Thakurbari, the name of the residence where Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 7, 1861. Images of his parents, Maharishi Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905) and Saradasundari Devi and an old portrait of their family, courtesy P. Vuccino and Co is fascinating to see.

A photograph of the poet when he was 12 years old and his stay in England in 1878-89; Tagore’s pictures with his elder daughter and elder son; photograph of Tagore’s wife Mrinalini Devi fondly referred as ‘Choto Bou’ who died at an early age of 29, Madhurilata, eldest daughter of Tagore and his son Rathindranath Thakur have also been displayed.

Images of the poet with world famous personalities like, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, George Bernard Shaw, and South American poet Victoria Ocampo formed part of the mobile exhibition. Letters written by Tagore to French writer, Romain Rolland, William Rothestein, his letters to WB Yeats after winning the Nobel Prize and to CF Andrews are also kept as exhibits.

The interesting collection among the exhibits was the photographs of original covers of his Nobel Prize winning ‘Gitanjali’ translated in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Lithuanian, Dutch, Armenian, French, German, Estonian, Polish, Bulgarian, Urdu, Pushtu, Turkish, English Danish and Czech language, these exemplified the popularity of the poet. Image of the Nobel Medallion was also displayed. Titled as “Helplessness of our position as British Subjects” a letter written by the poet on May 31, 1919, repudiating his Knighthood in protest of Jalianwalabagh Massacre is also there.

Tagore’s painting collection formed part of a single compartment and also a letter written by him to Sir Rothestein on August 29, 1930, that he was so excited to see his pictures finding a warm welcome in Germany which was beyond his expectation. He has said that five paintings have found a permanent place in Berlin National Gallery.

An iconic image of Mahatma Gandhi and Tagore, when the former met him for the last time at the latter’s ashram in 1940. A telegram of Gandhi where he wishes Tagore on the eve of his 80 birthday, Tagore’s meetings with Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose were among the other appealing photographs.

Funeral procession of Tagore who passed away on August 7, 1941, the Nimtala Ghat ceremony and the image of an empty chair decorated with flowers illustrate the vacuity that formed the Indian literary and art scene following his demise. “Let all my songs gather their diverse strains into a single current of flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to thee …,” from Gitanjali displayed there touches us when we leave the Express.

Stationed at platform number 2 at Kudal Nagar, the exhibition is open for public from 10.a.m. till 8 .p.m. on Sunday.

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