BHUBANESWAR: The recent decision of Odisha’s Puri Municipality to demolish the ancestral house of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore located on Chakratirtha Road at Puri has evoked sharp reactions from across the state.
The Patherpuri house, which was built by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, is an iconic building, more than 100 years old, and an invaluable heritage structure. The place was home to the famous poet who loved Puri, and where he had composed some of his famous literary works, including his magnum opus Gitanjali. A bust of the bard is installed at the far end of the building. A large number of documents and articles penned by Tagore are still preserved at the building. Some of these documents have been lost due to decay and lack of proper maintenance, but a few invaluable artifacts still remain.
A portion of the building was being used as a hostel for students of an adjoining college. However, the asbestos roof of the building was blown away during cyclone ‘Fani’ a few months ago, and since then it has taken the look of an abandoned structure.
The sub-collector of Puri, Bharat Charan Sahu has said that the building is in ruins and there is no other option but to demolish it.
A researcher informs that it is not known if the district administration has given a thought to restore this building keeping its heritage value in mind.
According to Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, former Director General of Police (DGP) of Odisha, who is the present convener of state chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), certifying a building unsafe is a routine thing for the public works department (PWD). The department lacks qualified persons who can do proper restoration and conservation work.
Tripathy has written to the state administration to stop the plans for razing the building and instead take measures for its proper restoration and conservation. He assured that Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage could take up the project and ensure that the structure gets a new lease of life.
Anil Dhir, a renowned heritage expert and historian, says the Odisha PWD had declared many buildings unsafe and through the efforts of Intach, they were repaired with proper conservation techniques.
“The Kanika library and Assembly Hall at the iconic Ravenshaw University, the Cuttack Circuit House, and the old Board of Revenue Building too were at some time declared as unsafe, but were restored. In fact in Cuttack, the same PWD which had declared the structures unsafe, did the restoration with proper guidance. The Jobra Workshop was worked upon by Intach and a grand Maritime Museum stands in place.
In Puri, father of Netaji Subash Ch Boses’ father’s house was given to Intach in 2015 and the building stands after proper conservation,” Dhir cites....