Tagore in Mymensingh
Locations replete with memories of Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore should be preserved, say locals who pinpoint Alexander Castle, popularly known as “Lohar Kuthir” or “Rang Mohol”; and “Shashi Lodge” in Mymensingh town and Atharabari zaminders' palace in Ishwarganj upazila of Mymensingh.
Tagore arrived in Mymensingh by train from Dhaka on February 15, 1926, on a four-day visit. The then zaminders of Muktagacha arranged special programmes under a banyan tree at the castle premises now known as “Rabindra Botomol” to welcome the poet.
“Shashi Lodge” of then Muktagacha zaminder Maharaja Shashikanta Acharya Chowdhury is now under the wing of the Department of Archaeology.
The poet was accorded several receptions during his stay, including by Mymensingh Municipality, Mymensingh Sarswato Samity, Mymensingh Nagorik Samaj, Viddyamoyee Girls School, City Collegiate School and Mohila Samity.
Maharaja Suryakanta Acharya Chowdhury constructed the castle on 27.50 acres of land at a cost of Tk 45,000 in 1879. Apart from Tagore, many other great personalities including Russian Grand Duke Boris, Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose stayed at the castle, sources said.
After partition in 1947, the 14-room house has been used as the library of Teachers Training College for men and teachers' dormitory. Now the ground floor, also in a precarious condition is used as college library, sources said.
Officials of Ministry of Cultural Affairs contacted the college authorities with a proposal to renovate the castle but there was no follow up, said Professor AKM Nasir Uddin, principal of TTC.
Despite its rich history, not many of the present generation are aware of the castle's glorious past and it should be preserved, said Professor Rokeya Begum, ex-vice-president of Rabindra Parshad, Mymensingh.
On invitation of Promod Chandra Roy Chowdhury, the then zaminder of Atharabari, Tagore visited the zaminder palace on February 19 in 1926, as part of his Mymensingh tour.
At a grand reception, the zaminder presented the poet a “Golden Key” of Kacharibari, adjacent to the main palace on 21-acre of land to inaugurate the Kacharibari, now in pity state.
The Kacharibari was being used as Atharabari Degree College established in 1968 but later the college was shifted to new buildings on the palace premises in 1998 as Kacharibari's condition went beyond use, said college sources.
Mitu Mariyam, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Ishwarganj said, local administration informed the Department of Archeology last year to take over the charge of the palace for its preservation but no response yet.
The places are rich with Tagore's memories but poor on preservation, lamented young Tagore artiste Mamunul Islam, also secretary of Jatiya Rabindra Sangeet Sammilon Parishad here.
He also urged the government to take immediate steps to protect the places associated with Tagore's visit.