Jorasanko Thakurbari – where every corner tells Tagore story (Feature)

Posted by on May 8th, 2010 and filed under Art/Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Kolkata, May 8 (IANS) A leisurely walk down the spacious balconies of 6, Dwarkanath Tagore Lane transports one to the time of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore with every brick and object telling the story of the poet, his family, lifestyle and achievements.

Located in a congested north Kolkata lane, the Rabindra Bharati Museum is housed in Tagore’s ancestral home at Jorasanko – the Jorasanko Thakurbari – where he was born in 1861 and also breathed his last 69 years ago in 1941.

The museum, which will celebrate its own birthday Saturday, is part of Rabindra Bharati University set up in the palatial edifice and contains more than 700 photographs and a similar number of paintings of India’s first Nobel laureate.

‘There are around 750 paintings and more than 700 photographs in the museum,’ curator Indrani Ghosh told IANS, as workmen were seen busy setting up a marquee on the lawns near the main gate for holding the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of the poet who has the unique distinction of authoring the national anthems of two sovereign nations – India and Bangladesh.

Come May 9, the courtyards and lawns surrounding the museum will reverberate with the songs, poems, dance dramas and plays of Tagore to usher in the yearlong celebrations planned by the university for one of the world’s greatest ever literary figures.

The various departments and classrooms of Rabindra Bharati University have now been shifted to another location for the preservation of the age-old structure.

‘Only the Centre for Tagore Studies is still there and it conducts research and seminars on the poet throughout the year,’ the university’s dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Amita Dutta, told IANS.

The museum, inaugurated by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru May 8, 1961, as part of the centenary celebrations of the bard, has three galleries.

‘We get around 50-60 visitors on a daily basis during summer. But during winter we get 250-300 every day,’ a security man told IANS.

The museum has three parts – Vichitra Bhavana, Maharshi Bhavana and Ram Bhavana – overlooking a clean courtyard.

Vichitra Bhavan has a large hall with a rich collection of Tagore’s photographs covering his visits to erstwhile Burma (1930), Moscow (1930), and meetings with scientist Albert Einstein, deaf-blind author Hellen Keller. There are also snaps of the poet with Arabic Bedouins.

On the right side of the hall is the living room of the poet’s wife Mrinalini Devi. It is written, ‘She breathed her last in this room.’ A showcase in that room still has her Nilambori sari (blue sari), a Japanese hand fan, cosmetic box and some silver decorative show pieces.

One of the many photographs adorning the walls of the room captures young Mrinalini with Tagore. The invitation sent out by Tagore himself for the wedding hangs from the wall.

A stroll of Vichitra Bhavan while listening to Tagore’s popular song ‘Chokher aloye dekhechhilem’ helps people to become one with the master. It also exhibits costly utensils of porcelain and white marble used by the affluent Tagores.

Tagore’s study during the later years of his life is replete with handicrafts and books written by him that were translated into other languages.

Maharshi Bhavan has almirah showcasing his clothes, his bedroom with a low lying bed and the room where he breathed his last.

A little aloof from all these rooms is the family maternity room where Tagore was born.

A chief attraction of the museum is the art galleries that contain paintings by several artists. Another must-see is a labyrinthine gallery dedicated to India-Japan relations during his time and photographs of Tagore with the Japanese people.

The room where Tagore’s father Debendranath worshipped is also open for public view along with his bedstead.

(Aparajita Gupta can be contacted at

Categories: Art/Culture

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