Kolkata Soundscapes

Tagore Castle (Natun Bazaar)

The striking castle near Pathuriaghata in north Calcutta may be the only building of its kind in all over the country. What was once a fantastic palace has turned into a death trap with only two entrances, illegal structures which have come up all over the building? Tagore Castle was constructed in the year 1820 and was remodeled in 1896. Tagore castle is one of the Kolkata’s lesser known (native architecture) buildings, but it is no less of a magnificent structure. Herein lays the shame of India, completely devoid of any sense of heritage, preservation of its history and architecture. It has been carved up and butchered almost beyond recognition, and certainly beyond any restoration.

The first house, on the land where Tagore castle now stands on at 26, Prasanna Kumar Tagore street in Pathuriaghata, was built by Kali Kumar Tagore. It was a three-story structure. Kali Kumar had given the house to his younger brother Prasanna Kumar. In 1895 Jatindra Mohan drastically renovated and turned it “Tagore Castle”. The building was remodeled by Macintosh Burn. It had a 100 ft high center tower, inspired by the “Windsor Castle” a flag staff and a clock imported from England, reminiscent of “Big Ben”. He even had permission to fly to Union Jack.

The building had large rooms as in the castles of England. There was an auditorium on the second floor, meant mainly for the staging of plays (Nachghar). The Tagore’s patronized Banga Natyalay, from 1859 to 1872. It was started by Jatindra Mohan Tagore and his brother Shourindro Mohun Tagore, both ardent Theatre enthusiasts. The first play staged here was Kalidas’ “Malavikagnimitram” in Sanskrit, in July 1859. From here Jogendra Mohan Tagore helped Ishwar Chandra Gupta to publish “Sambad Prabhakar”, first as a weekly from 28 January 1831. Later the building had been given out on lease to the S.B. House And Land Pvt Ltd of Haridas Mundhra ( a Marowari banian ) and has altered most of it to beyond recognition.