Tagore’s home, Jorasanko Thakurbari, is expectedly a thriving centre of art and education that attracts large numbers of tourists every year. Built in 1785, the enormous structure sprawling across 35,000 square metres is now a museum dedicated to the life and works of the Nobel Laureate. As you enter the magnificent gate of the Thakurbari, you will be astounded by the majestic façade and the solemn gravity of the building.
You feel a strange calm at being in the room where Tagore was born and standing in the room where he breathed his last. His eternal presence somewhere in some form draws visitors from every corner of the globe.
The museum is divided into three blocks: the oldest – Ram Bhavan, followed by Maharshi Bhavan, dedicated to Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, and the third, Bichitra Bhavan, dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore.
Stepping through Maharshi Bhavan you are bound to get a spine-tingling feeling. The personal kitchen of Mrinalini Devi commands the first floor. The large dining room surprisingly is furnished with Japanese-style chairs and tables, allowing a glimpse into the inclusive attitude of the Tagores towards other cultures.
Tagore’s music room, where he composed and sang numerous songs, and his living room where he spent most of his time have a magical aura. The museum preserves with great care many of the personal belongings which influenced Kabiguru’s life.
There are two art galleries belonging to the Bengal and Western schools of art. Preserved here are the paintbrushes used by Abanindranath Tagore and a number of paintings by Rabindranath himself which leave us in awe of his multifaceted personality.
Also earmarked are Debendranath’s room, Dwarkanath’s room, Abanindranath’s room, the Bengal Renaissance room, the library and the room in which Gurudev breathed his last.
The expansive thakur dalan, between Maharshi and Bichitra Bhavan boasts of the glorious times of the Tagores during festivities. The stage opposite the thakur dalan, once the most attractive area of the house, bustling with the staging of various dances and plays, now lies deserted, only to be marvelled at by the visitors.
There is a warm sensation as you enter Mrinalini Devi’s room. Her dressing table, chair and a showcase remain while the cot has been removed.
Coming across Tagore’s study is another breathtaking experience as it suddenly dawns on you that it was in this very space that Tagore held meetings with legendary personalities like Sister Nivedita, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, Narendranath Dutta (Swami Vivekananda), Brojendranath Sil and Sir Albert Einstein.
The huge hall of Bichitra Bhavan is where Tagore himself performed in several plays. There is a photograph of Tagore performing in the first staging of “Dakghar,” which was attended by Mahatma Gandhi. This hall also presents the model of Tagore’s very famous Padma Boat, Gagan Thakur’s paintings and Abanindranath’s utility items which include an esraj, an easel, a walking stick and his colour palette.
Apart from this, Bichitra Bhavan houses a representative collection of paintings ranging from the Indian, western and Anglo-Indian styles to the traditional schools of the Bengal district and Bazaar paintings. There is an expansive display of myriad items from furniture, utensils, craft and sculpture to records, photographs and archival documents that showcase how the Tagore family lived. The room of Dinu Thakur, Tagore’s grandnephew, is attached to the Bichitra Hall.
Tagore’s ties with China, Japan, the USA and Russia hold great interest at Jorasanko with separate galleries dedicated to some of these countries. At Ram Bhavan, you get to see the China, Japan, America and Hungary bithika (galleries). These galleries highlight Tagore’s involvement and relationship with each of these countries.
The US Gallery houses an exact replica of Tagore’s living room as it was in the US during his stay. You cannot stop marvelling at the photograph of Tagore with Helen Keller, the picture of the ship by which he travelled to the US and the miniature replica of the car in which he moved about in America.
The menu that was served to Tagore in the hospital when he was taken to Hungary for treatment consisted of clear soup, stuffed cold eggs, roast turkey, mixed salad, parfait, fruit, coffee, beer, white wine and mineral water. How do we know? Because it is on display in the Hungary Gallery!
Light and Sound
Jorasanko Thakurbari was a cradle for nurturing talented minds and an epicentre of aesthetic growth and knowledge. To recreate a feel of Kolkata then, a Light and Sound show is conducted every evening which elaborates on Kolkata’s ‘Babu’ culture and the time span from Dwarkanath through Debendranath to Rabindranath. The light and sound transport you back in time and is an exhilarating experience.
“I leave no trace in the air, but I am glad I have had my flight,” adorns the walls of the Thakurbari.
6/4 Dwarakanath Tagore Lane, Jorasanko, Kolkata – 700007
Entry fee: For students: Rs 10; adults: Rs 20
Light and Sound: Rs 50
Days closed: Mondays and other government holidays
Photography: Rs 50 for exterior only