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Home where Rabindranath Tagore found inspiration for his Epic ‘Gitanjali’ is now in ruins

Tagore used carriages lifted by men to reach 'Mahesh Khan', his home, which is 82,000ft above sea level

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Image Source: Firstpost (Shashwat Agnihotri)
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  • Mahesh Khan is now home to leopards and leeches. Some furniture was stolen, others devoured by termites
  • Mahesh Khan is special to Tagore because it was there he conceptualised Gitanjali
  • Senior officials of the Forest Department of the Uttarakhand government say that there are no discussions or plans regarding renovation of the home

A dilapidated home in the dense forest of Uttarakhand, where leeches and Leopards now crawl and roam, is the same place where Rabindranath Tagore once found inspiration for this Epic ‘Gitanjali’.

Tagore named the home ‘Mahesh Khan’ where now jungle creepers and weeds have now taken over, and female leopards found it a great spot to deliver babies. When the wild cats left the place, deer took shelter during winter and rains. When the roof collapsed due to neglect and rains, leeches grew in abundance in the slush.

The big stones on which the Bard from Bengal wrote beautiful songs by using charcoal are either lost or stolen by those who discovered it first. Not just that, the furniture too. The mahogany reclining chair where his terminally ill daughter Renuka used to look at the stars  was stolen too.

Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Gitanjali or “an offering of songs” is a collection of 157 poems and was published on August 14, 1910. It became very famous in the West and was widely translated.

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“Mahesh Khan is special to Tagore because it was there he conceptualised Gitanjali. Tagore also composed several children’s poems, eventually compiled and published as Sishu (The Child, 1903). The English title was later changed to The Crescent Moon,” said Nasreen, a Kolkata-based Tagore researcher to Firstpost.com.

Image Source: Firstpost (Shashwat Agnihotri)

Historian Prasanta Paul, who meticulously chronicled the bard’s life, mentioned Tagore’s journey to Nainital and how he used carriages lifted by men to reach Mahesh Khan, which is 82,000ft above sea level.

Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson, the authors of the biography titled Rabindranath Tagore — The Myriad Minded Man, claim that the journey to Mahesh Khan was long and difficult, the poet sometimes carrying his ailing daughter in his arms. He kept her entertained and cheerful, for she was moody and high-strung.

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Renuka, Tagore’s daughter whom he affectionately called Rani, was 10-and-a-half years old when her father married her to a husband she had never met but in 1903, i.e. two years later, he returned with Renuka to Mahesh Khan as she was recuperating from tuberculosis. Doctors had advised that the Himalayan air would do her good. “He hoped the change of climate will help Renuka recover. But it did not happen,” said Tagore historian Professor Sitabrata Chattopadhyay to Firstpost. Renuka died in September 1903, the same year she visited ‘Mahesh Khan’.

Nasreen also adds that on his 154th birth anniversary, last year, in 2015, there was a plan to create a Tagore trail connecting Ramgarh, Almora, Ranikhet and Mahesh Khan but the move initiated by the Uttarakhand government failed for unknown reasons.

Senior officials of the Forest Department of the Uttarakhand government said, there are no discussions or plans regarding the renovation of the home.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram. 

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8 must-read works of Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore was a versatile artist who provided an earnest insight into society and humanity with his various short stories, novels, essays, songs, plays, and paintings.

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Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature. Wikimedia Commons
Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature. Wikimedia Commons
  • Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature.
  • He has many landmarks works to his name which continues to inspire masses.
  • His collection of poems, Gitanjali got him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.

The Nobel Prize-winning writer, Rabindranath Tagore, also known as Gurudeva or the Bard of Bengal, was the trailblazer of Bengali literature. He possessed literary genius through which he brought a revolution in Bengali literature and music.

A painting by mullti-talented Rabindranath Tagore.
A painting by multi-talented Rabindranath Tagore.

Tagore was a versatile artist who provided an earnest insight into society and humanity through his short stories, novels, songs and paintings. His works even today inspire the masses and young readers and writers. Here is the list of some of his remarkable works:

Gitanjali

One of his best work is a collection of 157 poems called ‘Gitanjali’. The poems in this book vary in their themes, from spirituality to complexities of life. It was originally written in Bengali and was later translated into English. This work was so remarkable that Tagore got a Nobel Prize for it in 1913.

Gitanjali is the landmark work of Tagore. Wikimedia Commons
Gitanjali is the landmark work of Tagore. Wikimedia Commons

 Gitabitan

Rabindranath Tagore was a skilled and sensible songwriter. Throughout his life, he wrote a total of 2230 songs which are popularly known as ‘Rabindra Sangeeth’. The songs were compiled in this exquisite book called ‘Gitabitan.’

Chokher Bali

Chokher Bali or ‘A grain of sand’ is a Bengali novel written by Tagore, which was later translated into English. The story revolves around an extra-marital affair and depicts passion, desires, relationships and honesty in all its complexities. The novel is well known for its portrayal of complexities in a relationship.

Gora 

Rabindranath Tagore wrote 12 novels, and out of these, this one is the longest and most complex. It raises a number of concerns, which are relevant to our nation even today. This book aptly reflects different social standards in colonial India.

Rabindranath Tagore produced many works which changed the literature in India. Image source: buddybyte.com
Rabindranath Tagore produced many works which changed the literature in India. Image source: buddybyte.com

Kabuliwallah(The Fruitseller from Kabul)

The Kabuliwala is about an Afghan vendor who came to Calcutta, trying to earn a living. Along the way, he creates an emotional bond with the narrator’s five-year-old daughter. It is a very touching and heart-warming story which will leave you emotional.

Ghare Baire (The Home and the World)

This book has an autobiographical aspect. It reflects upon the deeper meaning of life by showing the struggles of three individuals. The story represents a war between the western and eastern ideology. Tagore chose Swadeshi Movement as the backdrop for this novel and provided a deep insight into the Bengal history.

The Postmaster

This is another one of Tagore’s work which revolves around the search for the meaning of life. This story of a city man working as a postmaster in a village to earn his living will give you lots of food for thought. The story represents loneliness in a beautifully haunting way.

Shesher Kabita

This novel was first released in a serialised form in the magazine ‘Probashi’. It was published as a book in the year 1928. The translated version of the book is called ‘The Last Poem’ and ‘Farewell song’ in English. The book portrays the platonic love of a matured couple and its complication. It is an epic love saga.