The influence of the River Hooghly & its environs on the Tagores

Submitted by: Kavita Chowdhury

The concept was an interesting one – visiting the natural environs, the heritage homes along the River Hooghly that influenced the artistic genius and sensibilities of Rabindranath Tagore and his nephew Abanindranath Tagore. From Panihati across the river to Konnagar, the boats, the boatmen , the picturesque ghats, the sprawling trees, the book readings – all made it a memorable and evocative trip, quite like any other.

Starting off at Panihati, at what is now the sprawling Gobindo Kumar Home; where Tagore then a 10 year old spent a few months away from Calcutta which was engulfed by a dengue epidemic; the guava trees, ebb and flow of the river, the open skies – all deeply influenced his literary sensibilities. The original house, which is out of bounds to the public, has been renovated by the West Bengal Heritage commission. We got a sneak peak into the property.

A fun toto ride carted us to the ferry ghat, from where the enjoyable river ride and gentle river breeze took us to the other bank – to Konnagar Bagan bari, the former home of Abanindranath Tagore’s father. The majestic trees and grounds of the house, influenced the artist as a child and it was intriguing to know how he first learnt to draw thatch roofs of the mud houses during his stay here.

The ferry ride back on the waters against the setting sun, gave scope for memorable photographs.

Interestingly, these getaways from bustling Calcutta, were for the children from the Tagore household, their first encounters with rural life. The selected readings by the DAG team made the whole experience more meaningful.

The evening concluded quite aptly with select verses of poetry and Rabindrasangeet performed by the legendary exponent Srikanto Acharya; the venue being Nihar on the Ganges – a heritage property on the Hooghly. It helped to bring home to all of us present there how deeply the river impacted the Nobel Laureate’s life and work.

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The influence of the River Hooghly & its environs on the Tagores