PARADIP: As the country celebrated Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary last week, the Nobel laureate’s ancestral house lies dilapidated in Jagatsinghpur district.
The bard’s ancestral house at Pandua village under Kujang tehsil of the district faces the imminent threat of being reduced to rubble in the absence of conservation.
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.
“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 schoolteacher.
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 had mentioned the name of the village in his book ‘Rabindra Jeevan Katha’.
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 layer of dust.
Although the Culture Department had last year decided to give the place its much-needed face-lift with ` 1 crore, no step has been taken so far. The department had envisaged a plan to erect a heritage wall at the place where the house is presently lying dilapidated. A memorial heritage wall at the ancestral home site was also planned. A mini-museum was to be set up at Pandua, besides an amusement park for visitors and tourists.
Tagore Smruti Committee secretary Sarat Chandra Das said none of these measures had been taken up by the government.