Tagore's tryst with Patna remains a forgotten legend

Tagore's tryst with Patna remains a forgotten legend

Eclipsed by concrete buildings, Patna's famous Fraser Road sports a handsome old red-brick house 'Shanti Niketan', which marks Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore's tryst with the city.

Patna's most recognizable and historic landmark, the Dakbungalow Chouraha which was rechristened to commemorate the visit of great poet Rabindranath Tagore to the city, now remains a forgotten legend, almost.

'Shanti Niketan', the house with Burmese teak staircase hides behind its sturdy walls the story of the visit of Tagore who stayed at this beautiful house as a guest of the renowned barrister P R Das, during his two-day visit to Patna in 1936.

Tagore visited Bihar's capital with his dance drama troupe on March 16 and 17 that year, during his north India tour in aid of Visva-Bharati. During his sojourn, the bard and his troupe had performed dance-drama 'Chitrangada' at the city's oldest theatre the Elphinstone Picture Palace.

While people of Patna may be oblivious to this historic event the Bengali community in Bihar has been striving to sustain the legend of Tagore's landmark visit, by commemorating his visit for the past few years.

Dilip Sinha, president of Bihar Bengalee Association dug into archives and old newspapers like 'Behar Herald' to get details about Gurudev's visit.

"He arrived by Danapur-Howrah Express and was received by Rajendra Prasad at the Patna Junction. He was also provided a special saloon for his travel by the Indian railways," says Sinha.

The Association with generous support of the Patna University, for the past few years has been reliving this heritage as they recall and 'reenact' his visit, at the historic Wheeler Senate Hall where the bard was felicitated by a citizens' committee on March 17, 1936.

Octogenarian Dilip Sen, a Patna-based pathologist, who was a special guest at the first reenactment, recalled the 'Chitrangada' experience with delight.

"We were small kids and were excited to catch a glimpse of Gurudev. He had a peaceful calm on his face like a saint. At that time we had 25 paise and 50 paise seats in theatres. It was a memorable occasion," says Sen.

However, despite the community's attempts to revive a lost legend and get the house declared as a heritage building, are seen to have not born much fruit.

"The house is currently in private hands and we did try convincing the owners to sell it to the government so that it could be converted into a memorial or a museum of sorts but the family doesn't wish to do that," says Provas Roy, General Secretary, Rabindra Parishad Patna.

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