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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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