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Display for Tagore boat replica

- Vessel to float on lake on Visva-Bharati campus

Santiniketan, Sept. 12: Visva-Bharati authorities have decided to put on public display the replica of the houseboat Padma in which Tagore travelled to his zamindari estate at Shilaidaha, now in Bangladesh.

Padma, which had living and dining spaces, was Tagore’s retreat during his stays at the family estate for managerial work for a decade from 1890. He wrote many stories of Galpo Guchho and numerous poems, including Sonar Tari, sitting at his desk on the Padma.

“We have decided to keep the Padma in Pampa lake (ion the varsity campus) as it will look odd if we place the boat replica in the Rabindra Bhavan museum. The boat will be on public display and will be a new tourist attraction,” said Tapati Mukherjee, the director of Rabindra Bhavan.

Mukherjee said the boat would be on public display soon. Tourists and visitors now get to see Tagore’s belongings and other memorabilia in Rabindra Bhavan, besides buildings such as Udayan, Shyamali, Bichitra, Konark and Udichi in the Uttarayan complex.

The houseboat was today formally handed over to the Visva-Bharati authorities by the minister of information and culture of Bangladesh, Abul Kalam Azad.

Tagore’s barge got destroyed over time. As part of the poet’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations, the Bangladesh government made the 12-foot-long wooden replica, complete with its dinghy, Chapala.

Rabindra Bhavan officials said Tagore’s son Rathindranath had constructed the Pampa, an artificial lake, in front of Guha Bari, the house he built in the Uttarayan complex in the late 1940s.

“He took the idea of the house and lake from a garden in Japan,” a Rabindra Bhavan official said.

Rabindra Bhavan sources said a meeting was held 10 days ago to take a decision on where the houseboat replica would be kept.

“Initially, we had thought we would keep it in a glass case in the museum. But some officials suggested it would look odd. It will look best in water. Then we decided to put it on Pampa lake,” the Rabindra Bhavan official said.

“We will keep the Padma close to the edge of the water. The houseboat will look good in the lake, which has an island and a stone fish that spouts water from its mouth,” the official added.

Asked if the boat could get damaged in rain and sun, the official said: “Boats are kept in the open. So in rain and sunshine, the boat will lose its varnish and get its original colour, which tourists will like. We will maintain the boat properly.”