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Monday, 15 June 2015

The ancestral home of the Tagores ......JORASANKO

     We walked from one room to another , in quick succession,eager to see more of the bits and pieces that made up the life of the great renaissance man ,who needs no introduction. We were at the Rabindra Bharati Museum in Kolkata,better known to the common man as the home of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, a place which saw him grow from a daydreaming child to the unparalleled stature he attained at a very early age.

                Photography is strictly prohibited inside the mansion ,but I must say that the look of it from outside was enough to keep me mesmerised.This mansion was made in the typical Bengali architectural style of the 19th century,and undoubtedly had an old world charm to it.

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   The house was known as the Thakur Bari...Thakur , as the surname Tagore goes in Bengali and Bari in Bengali means house.This place had been the nerve centre of the cultural renaissance of Bengal for over  a century and was frequented by the likes of Raja Ram Mohan Roy,Madan Mohan Malviya and many more. It was in 1961 that  the government of West Bengal converted this mansion  into a museum housing the memories of the great men of this family,and opened it to the public. 

Once inside, one gets to see  galleries where the works of Rabindranath Tagore,and articles associated with his life which has been preserved very well.  His works on art and literature,along with pieces of furniture and even clothing are all very well exhibited.I found it rather interesting to see an old fashioned kitchen used by Mrinalini Devi( Rabindranath Tagore's wife) at one end of the huge corridors.One can also get a glimpse of the rooms where Rabindranath Tagore was born and where he breathed his last, in this building.

      Walking down the airy ,pillared verandah or should I call them corridors ,I could not but feel privileged at the thought that it was somewhere here resting in those huge wooden chairs, the first Asian Nobel Laureate had penned down works like Dak Ghar or Chokher Bali ! One can see Lalbari,which in Bengali means the red house ,which is an auditorium where the plays written by members of the family were enacted and very often had famous dignitaries of those times as the audience.   

          Rabindranath Tagore  shared a lineage of very well learned men,scholars ,philosophers ,artists and even buisnessmen.His grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore was  a zamindar ,(a person who owns many estates),and was the first prominent resident of this mansion.His son Debendranath Tagore (Rabindranath Tagore's Father) was a very prominent religious and social reformer.who was instrumental in reviving the Brahmo Samaj after the death of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.He was one of the very first people to open the doors of higher education for women.This house therefore remained the centre for many important activities for a period of over three hundred years .Hence an entire  gallery is dedicated to Dwarkanath Tagore ,Debendranath Tagore,Abanindranath Tagore
( Rabindranath Tagore's nephew) and to other members of the Tagore family.

A separate gallery is dedicated to many other people who brought about the renaissance in Bengal during that period.

Rabindranath Tagore , is a name with which every child in Bengal grows up,and his works are synonymous to culture in the state ,even a century later   .A family which  gave birth to  such great men in every generation, only makes one wonder what made it happen.Though I do not know the answer,  I left this place with  deep admiration and reverence...for it was here that many reforming thoughts were first shaped.  Of the many ,women were encouraged to take up higher education,           all round development  with the help of co-curricular activities was stressed on in education,   and the method of rote learning was regarded with contempt for the first time. !!!!


OH!   Almost missed it ...the car used by  the family members,parked in a locked garage right beside the main entrance ,  seemingly in good condition  .(can anyone help me with the name of this
 model ?)

How to reach and other information
Jorasanko is about 2 kilometres from the Girish Park metro station of Kolkata ,and lies in the Dwarkanath Tagore Lane,M.G.Road Kolkata. Entry tickets are very nominally priced,and it is open on all days except Mondays(from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) A minimum of 3 to 4 hours should be set aside for a proper detailed visit to the place

Monday, 1 June 2015

Rohtang pass...a reason to revisit Manali

   Manali held promises for each one of us...for   my children ,the snow at Rohtang,for me it was the verdant landscapes and for my husband Ambar it was the fried trout,  fished  straight out of the river Beas  ...he has the capacity of hunting up non- vegetarian food at the queerest of places.
  As the car rode on the meandering roads ,Manali slowly receded from our view.The weather gods were benevolent on us ( the skies were clear).... we had experienced rainfall the night before. .We were on our way to the Rohtang La ,a pass in the Pir Panjal range of the inner Himalayas, which connects  Manali in the Kulu valley to Spiti  valley on the other side. The Rohtang La is a pass in the Leh Manali highway.,It was so difficult to pass through this pass due to its biting cold and strenuous terrain that name Rohtang  in the local language means a pile of corpses.

The river Beas on the way to Manali

    The sprawling green of the deodars around us slowly gave way to the barrenness of the mountains ,which soon turned white and whiter with each turn the car took in the winding roads.We wished to capture every moment through our lens but it was not a  good idea to halt in the mountain roads ,with so many vehicles passing every instant.So we had to satiate ourselves by clicking through the car glass.

  We had started quite early ,just after breakfast and the morning rays of the sun reflected on the snow on the mountain slopes.But we had heard that in the peak season it is visited by a large number of tourists at the break of dawn,.For this reason the traffic in the early hours moves slowly.,on these roads .Since we started at about nine in the morning ,we had a very smooth ride,both ways.

  All signs of habitation slowly faded from our view ,the only people other than the tourist vehicles were the people who had set up small shacks ,for renting out the outfits  for the snow.

 The mountains  no longer  seemed at a distance,and we suddenly found ourselves in a sea of ranges, each one mightier than the other.

And there we were at the top  ..the Rohtang Pass ...a road with two mountain  walls on either side,all covered in snow .The place looked somewhat like an uneven tableland to me.


 In Manali we stayed at the hotel Rohtang Manalasu,a HPTDC  property,and visited Rohtang the very next morning ,because  the weather seemed to be clear .We visited Rohtang in the same Indica we had hired from Shimla ,but one can easily visit it in buses or cars hired from Manali itself.. Information regarding vehicles and booking can be done from the many offices in Manali mall road.

One need not carry sweatshirts and warm clothing for Rohtang exclusively,as outfits and boots for the snow are easily available for hiring all along the way to Rohtang.While hiring them we must remember that haggling is a way of life in the mountains,so they can be got at half the quoted price.
 We had visited the place in the month of October,so there were no snowsports,but during season one can enjoy many snowsports and have a fun time there.