As the country celebrates Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, the Nobel laureate’s ancestral house lies in a dilapidated state in a village in coastal Orissa.
The bard’s ancestral house at Pandua village under Kujang tehsil in Jagatsinghpur district faces the imminent threat of being reduced to rubble in the absence of any conservation effort.
The house was one of his most preferred retreats and it was here that the poet had penned his immortal dance drama ’Chitrangada’ based on Pandava prince Arjun’s visit to Manipur and his marriage to the princess by that name.
Pandua was a part of the erstwhile vast zamindari estate of the Tagores and like other rural settings, the village portrays poverty, backwardness and unemployment.
The neglect is evident as the drive down to the village is unnerving on the pothole-ridden road.
“We are proud that our village once housed a great son of the country. But we are sad at the same time that nobody seems bothered to preserve Tagore’s legacy,” says Surendra Nath Swain, a retired school teacher.
Swain rues the condition of Tagore’s house. “It is in complete ruins. The 1999 super cyclone ravaged it. The apathy of the government is appalling. It will be soon reduced to rubble. It could have been well preserved and turned into a major tourist destination.”
Pandua, he said, was one of the 53 villages that comprised the Tagore estate and noted Tagore biographer Prabhat Kumar Mukherji in his book ‘Rabindra Jeevan Katha’ had mentioned the name of the village.
Locals have named the road that connects the village to the highway as ‘Rabindra Sarani’. But the road expansion work has left the stone plaque, which has the name inscribed on it, uprooted. Tagore’s bust in the village lies covered with thick layers of dust.
“The Orissa government has completely ignored the great poet here,” says Basudeb Das, a researcher.
“I was a member of the Tagore birth centenary committee. The late chief minister Harekrushna Mahatab had paid a visit to the village and had also committed that the Tagore house would be preserved at government cost. He had also assured that an auditorium named after Tagore would be built at the village,” Swain says.
It was the lone occasion when a VIP paid a visit to the village housing Tagore’s ancestral property. The Rabindra Mandap auditorium complex, which came up in Bhubaneshwar, was originally planned to be located at Pandua, he said.
The 150th birth anniversary of Tagore was celebrated in a function organised by local Rabindranath Youth Club.
Keywords: Remembering the legend