I was raised in a typical Bengali household surrounded by books, music and the Bengali culture. In short it was an intellectual family having higher taste for humanities subjects and performing arts. I often remember my summer vacations in school when my mother would play harmonica and teach me music from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali. That was my first association with the poet. My parents were educated from convent schools and had great knowledge of books, music, art and culture. This helped me to delve into books of English, Bengali and Hindi. Their association with music drove me to learn piano and admire the chords of the church organ in school. My father would read excerpts of the poems of Gitanjali and explain to me deep thoughts of the poetry. He was outstanding in elocution and treasured the golden treasury of English Poetry too. I was quite astounded that Tagore had written every word, song and poetry on the various seasons, emotions and occassions as beautiful as the renditions of Vivaldi (music on every season). Sometimes he was inspired by English songs, at others he would resort to Indian compositions of states like Manipur. Many of the Poet’s songs have been incorporated into the Brahmo Samaj, a society founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy of Bengal as a monotheistic reformism and renaissance movement of Hindu religion.
That was when I was quite young in school. In childhood I sang and danced to the poet’s compositions. I got selected in All India Radio and Doordarshan and gave many performances as a child artist. The nobel laureate influenced my teenage years when I took to dancing Rabindra Sangeet Dance and Drama as stage performances. As soon as the spot light was on in the auditorium and the music began I would dance to the words of Tagore’s songs in trance. That was the power of the poet’s writings. Later on, I took to choreography and taught many girls who loved to work under me and some of them won awards too for their performances. So I was encouraged to teach more from the poet’s work. I was deeply associated with the poet through the dance.
When I was in intermediate school I visited Joransanko (Rabindranath Tagore House) with my relatives. I still remember wandering in the rooms and verandah of the house. I deeply observed the family tree map, notes, letters, utensils and other artifacts of the Tagore family. I remember the room of Tagore where I stood before the mirror and a thought came to my mind. There were shivers down the spine where I thought that this is the very mirror that reflected Tagore’s image. He dressed before this mirror numerous times. And I am so small before all that he has given to the world and the generations of humanity. His writings, paintings, scribble and doodles all remind me that he was an artist in every sense. When he was young he said “why twinkle twinkle little star” (the nursery rhyme) is taught in a classroom. Why not under the sky, in the open ? His innocent thoughts led him to build Vishwa Bharati University where students are taught outside under the sky and that lets their imagination and knowledge spread and the mental horizon widen. He was one great poet who was inspired by nature.
And as we all know we all have to become professionals at that one stage in life. My profession too took me away from Tagore and his beautiful deep compositions. I worked as a lawyer for many years and got married and settled with my husband. One fine day a wedding invitation came and the venue was Agartala, Tripura. I knew Tripura was once a princely state and there were many bengali’s settled there. Bengali was one of the dominant languages spoken there with a typical rustic Tripuri accent which was quite difficult for a Bengali like me who knows the more traditional language. We packed our bags and at once decided to visit Agartala.
The flight landed on time and here we were in the car on the way to the Tripura Tourism Guest House. Agartala was a neat and clean city and I could not wait to explore the South of Tripura. South Tripura encompasses of many towns and the beauty of Tripura lies in the countryside landscape. We were short of time hence our target was to visit only South Tripura. It was close to Agartala, whereas North Tripura a hilly landscape was quite far away from Agartala. The wedding ceremony was decent and we explored the taste of many kinds of fishes brought from Bangladesh. The delicacies were preparations like “Chital mach er moeetha” and “Shorshe Bata Illish “. The Illish or Hilsa fish is available in abundance in Bangladesh and exported to many other countries of the world. It is a sea fish but comes to river Padma, Bangladesh to lay eggs. It is at that point of time when the fishermen catch it. It is rich in vitamins and Omega 3 acid and hence considered good for health. Tripura has one of the best Paneer Cheese and many sweets are made out of it. The taste of Bengali sweets in Tripura is very unique just because of the quality of the milk they use in making the Cheese.
As soon the wedding ceremony was over we prepared to move around Agartala and visit the popular places. We first went to the Radha Krishna temple which is an official temple of the Tripura Palace ruled by Manicky Dynasty. The temple was hosting Bengali Keertan (holy music) and we loved the atmosphere. From there we went to the Haveli Museum which was the old palace of the Manicky Dynasty. On our way to the Museum we saw the Central Jail of Tripura. It is said that Surjya Sen, the renowned freedom fighter of the Chittagong Rising (Chittagong is now in Bangladesh) was kept as a captive in this building. Now the jail is not operative and lies vacant. It can be seen from outside. While standing and noticing the building I could hear the echoes of the past. The jail will be converted into a college by the Tripura government. The Haveli Museum was very unique as it gave detailed descriptions of the number of tribes living in perfect harmony with the Bengalis in Tripura. The stastistics described in the Museum showed that there were majority of Bengalis and Reang Tribes living in the states. It was followed by Jamatia etc. Each of the tribes had their own sense of dressing, jewelry, cuisine, festival and language. The tribe occupation included agriculture farming and handicraft making. Beautiful models were designed showing their daily activities of farming and livelihood. Each of the tribe constructed their own self designed and styled huts in which they lived. I was in love with their wrap around cloths, shawls and jewellery. The Museum also showed how the king’s Darbar(royal court) was hosted in ancient times in a dramatic form with display models. There was a beautiful throne and an ancient photograph of Manickya Dynasty where it was shown how the king hosted the Darbar.
From the Haveli Museum we moved to much more fascinating and thrilling performance of the Beating Retreat Ceremony at the Indo-Bangladesh Border of Tripura. The ceremony is conducted everyday at 7:00 am in the morning and 5:00 pm in the evening to display the national flag by the border security forces of both the countries border. At the dawn the flag is raised and at the dusk it is brought down with an organized parade by the security men. We clicked many photographs with the security men of both the borders. I felt very proud that there were Indian women too who were selected by the Border Security Force (BSF), India. There was a huge crowd gazing at the ceremony and our day ended on a beautiful note.
We slept early as the next day we woke up very early and left the guest house in a cab at
8:30 am in the morning. The Tourism guest house had designed our itinerary and we were very grateful to them. We crossed the Sepaijhala Wildlife Sanctuary and reached the Tripura Sundari/Matabari temple. Tripura Sundari Temple is situated in the ancient Udaipur, about 55 km from Agartala, Tripura believed to be one of the holiest Hindu shrines in this part of the country. Popularly known as Matabari, crowns in a small hillock and is served by the red-robed priests who traditionally, minister to the mother goddess Tripura Sundari. Considered to be one of the 51 Shakti Peethas, consists of a square type sanctum of the typical Bengali hut. It is believed that Sati’s right foot fell here during Lord Shiva’s Dance. The temple consist a square type sanctum with a conical dome. It was constructed by Maharaja Dhanya Manikya Debbarma in 1501, there are two identical images of the same deity inside the temple. They are known as Tripura Sundari (5 feet high) and Chhotima (2 feet high) in Tripura. The idol of Kali is worshiped at the temple of Tripura Sundari in the form of ‘Soroshi’. One is made of kasti stone which is reddish black in colour. It is believed that the idol was Chhotima was carried by king in battlefield. This temple is also known as Kurma Pitha because it the temple premises resembles kurma i.e. tortoise. Every year on Diwali, a famous Mela takes place near the temple which is visited by more than two lakhs pilgrims.
Legend has it that king Dhanyamanikya who ruled Tripura in the closing years of the 15th century, had a revelation one night in his dream, ordering him to install Goddess Tripurasundari in the temple that stood on a hilltop near the town of Udaipur. The temple was already dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and the king was confounded initially, unable to decide how a temple dedicated to Vishnu could have an idol of the consort of Shiva. However, the oracle repeated the divine injunction to the king once again the following night, thereafter the ruler decided to obey the ethereal command, notwithstanding the fact that Vishnu and Shiva typified two different sects of religious following. Thus, the Tripura Sundari temple came into being in around the year 1501, and is now about 500 years old. This legend is recounted as one of the example of how solidarity between the two sub groups, the Vaishnava and Shaiva sects, was known and fostered even during medieval times.
We had a peaceful prayer at the temple. There as a water tank constructed near the temple for the devotees to take a bath in that water before they offered the prayers. The temple is a Shaktipeeth and a site of hindu pilgrimage. The sweet “Peda” is of small size and given to the devotees in a small earthern urn. The taste of the prasad will linger on in my taste buds for life and that would be one more reason among others to visit Tripura again. From Tripura Sundari Temple we started for Bhubaneshwari Temple which was an ancient temple built by Raja Govinda Manickya. The temples were typical terracotta style of architecture found in many parts of Bengal. The chief temple was lying vacant and new idol was placed in a newly constructed temple. A statue of Rabindranath Tagore was constructed and bouquets and garlands were placed on the statue as the poet had his birthday on May 8th, 2016. The primary reason why the statue was constructed was because Tagore had mentioned about Bhuvaneshwari Temple constructed by the king Govinda Manickya in the two plays “Bisarjan” and “Rajashri” respectively.
The information available from google entailed many details on the temple as follows .Bhuvaneswari Temple in the famous Hindu temple situated on the bank of Gomati at Udaipur in Tripura. The Temple is immortalised in two of Rabindranath Tagore’s plays – namely Rajarshi and Bisharjan. Travelling just 55 km from the capital city Agartala, the Bhuvaneswari Temple Tripura is a rare specimen of temple architecture. The temple of Bhubaneswari at Tripura was built by Maharaja Govinda Manikya, is located near the old Royal palace of Maharaja Govinda Manikya constructed during 1660-1675 A.D.
The temple was built in between 1667 – 1676 A.D., during the reign of Maharaja Govinda Manikya. The temple is constructed on a 3 feet high paved terrace. The roof features the typical four-chaala style with stupa like crowns on the entrance and core chambers. The stupa on core chamber is adorned with floral motifs are exquisite. The historical significance of this temple is that it is the back-drop of the famous novel “Rajarshi” and the drama “Bisharjan” composed by Rabindranath Tagore.
From the temple we moved towards another destination called “Neer Mahal”. The name Neer Mahal was given by Rabindranath Tagore, who stayed in this palace for many months. It is a lake palace. The name of the lake is Rudrasagar. We visited the palace in a boat. The whole palace is white in colour and has beautiful rooms and gardens. The left hand side of the palace belonged to the king and the guests. The right was where the servants and staff stayed. The palace looked dreamy in between the lake. There was a cloud burst and it started to rain. The palace looked beautiful amidst the rain and soft breeze. It was the poet’s favorite season. “Sravana gagane ghor ghanghata, nishit yamini re”, the composition in Prakrit language by Tagore that describes rainy season where there are dense clouds and rain. The rooms reminded me of the times when the poet stayed and lived. I was thrilled to have that wonderful feeling of past imagination and presence of Tagore’s spirit. After a mystical wandering inside the palace we came back on the boat to reach the jetty. In between the lake there were water lilies, ducks and cranes all enjoying sudden rainfall. From the jetty we took two coconuts to sip it as we were thirsty and anxious to arrive at the next destination.
We crossed many lakes, hilly areas and started feeling that landscape was changing the further we moved towards Sepaijhala Wildlife Sanctuary. The forest looked deep, dark filled with dense shrubs, foliages and tall trees. The huge entry gate and ticket counter arrived in front of us and we bought a ticket for us and a car ticket to enter the sanctuary. Our car entered through the gates and we crossed an observatory and forest department buildings for many kilometers. I was wondering how far it is and it was noon time of the day. After many kilometers we reached at a destination where the second ticket counter was situated. We got down from the cab and bought tickets for ourselves. The driver warned us not to venture alone deep in the jungle as it was not safe. Initially we did not understand the warning but when we stepped inside we had a strange errie feeling that there was no one except us in the sanctuary. It was 3:00 pm., monsoon had arrived in the North-East and the clouds thundered with lightening. The sounds of the insects and the animals created a typical jungle feeling. Sepaijhala is famous for clouded Leopard and spectacle monkey.Each cage had an animal and the cages were far from each other. Sometimes the cages were so far from each other that we felt tired and scared of walking alone in the sanctuary. There was a unique animal called “Hoolah Gibbon”, a kind of monkey which made strange sounds when it saw people gazing at him. After walking quite few miles and looking at various animals including tiger, bear etc. All of a sudden we saw our road was blocked by a fallen tree. Last night a thunderstorm was followed by heavy rainfall and the tree had been uprooted. Hence from here we could not move any further and decided to go back. While we were walking back after few miles we saw a Raeng family of ten to twelve members walking ahead of us. We got relieved that we were not alone. All through our walk in the sanctuary we were haunted by strange imagination that a carnivore can appear from anywhere and would attack our neck from the back. With increasing heart beat we ventured too see the strange dense forest and came back to the main gate of the sanctuary safe and sound. The sanctuary main gate got closed at 4:00 pm right after we returned.
We were very hungry and asked the driver (who was also hungry) to take us to a dhaba where we could have some morsel of food. While on our way to another famous pilgrimage site called “Kasba Kalibari”, a hindu Kali godess shrine we discovered a unique small eatery where we had a typical rustic Bengali meal with a unique touch of Bangladesh cuisine. There was dal (pulses), rice, a very tasty vegetable dish followed by fish and mutton curry. The staff who was serving us the meal asked us whether we would like to have a pickle/chutney called “Shukti mach er chatni”, a chutney made of dried fish. We nodded and had it with dal, though it had the typical fishy smell we enjoyed the flavour of Bangladesh. As soon as we finished our meal I asked for the typical Bengali sweet pan (betel nut) as they made it by adding a piece of the typical Bengali Gondhoraj Lebu (the Kafir lime is available in plenty). With stomach filled with simple yet memorable food we moved towards Kasba Kalibari temple near the Kamalasagar Lake situated right at the border of Bangladesh. We offered our prayers and collected prasad and photographs of the goddess with us. There was no street lighting and roads were curvy, hilly and dusty.
One of the most unique features of South Tripura was the small lakes, forests and coconut trees that were part of a very natural landscape. It is said that North Tripura is a hilly region with many tea gardens. It is the place where many of the tribes of Tripura live in perfect harmony. There was beauty in simplicity and virginity. There was no urbanization and as we moved from one destination to the other we felt like it was part of a picture postcard. There was magnetism in Tripura certainly and one visit was just not enough to know about its culture, art and heritage. I could understand very well why the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore was so deeply connected with Tripura. I have visited countries abroad and seen many other states but the beauty of North-East is impeccable. It is like the words of an artistic poetry completely unscathed by negativities of a typical mechanical urban lifestyle.
The last day we visited one of the most beautiful heritages of Tripura. It is called the Tripura Palace now preserved as a State Museum. Earlier it was a Legislative Assembly but recently it was converted into a Museum with inauguration by Vice President Mr. Hamid Ansari. The palace has similarity with Victoria Memorial, Kolkata. It is white in colour and was constructed by Martin&Barn Co. As we stepped inside the gate we could hear Hindustani classical music being played. We entered the palace and were greeted by a softly playing Rabindra Sangeet. There was a huge picture of Sachin Dev Burman father of the renowned musician Rahul Dev Burman. The two famous musicians belonged to princely family of Tripura. There were many geographical, historical, economical and statistical data on the state of Tripura. We went through many details of it. The Museum had covered all information on the North –East and neighbouring countries of South-East Asia. We were glad to see the details and models on the various tribes of the North-East. The maps and notes gave genetic details, livelihood, cuisine etc. The palace was a store house of great information. It gave a huge historical detail of the palaces, temples and other historical buildings in the different districts of Bangladesh. My maternal grandmother belonged to Rajshahi and I was thrilled see the pictures and historical buildings of that district. My husband’s paternal grandmother belonged to Noakhali, a district in Bangladesh and there was immense amount of information on that part of the world. One of the significant features of the Museum was a gallery exclusively on the life of Rabindranath Tagore. Rabindranath Tagore’s grandfather Prince Dwarkanath Tagore had a deep bond with the royal family of Tripura (the Manickya dynasty) and that is how the nobel laureate visited Tripura often.
The Museum had beautiful paintings depicting the Rajmala (Bengali: রাজমালা). It is a chronicle of the Kings of Tripura, written in Bengali verse in the 15th century under Dharma Manikya I. Rajmala gives an account of the mythological origin of the kings of Tripura, tracing the genealogy of the ruling king to the Lunar Dynasty as the 149th king since Chandra (the Moon, treated as the founder of the dynasty). It also states that the ancient name of Tripura (Twipra) was Kirat, after the brother of Puru who was banished to the Eastern provinces by his father Yayati.
Reportedly, the Bengali version was composed by the pandits Sukreshwar and Baneshwar of the royal court based on the recitations by the royal priest Dhurlabhendra Chantai of an oral tradition in the Tripuri language.
The Rajmala presents a list of 149 kings of Twipra as of 1431. The first king of the chronicle is Chandra, the Moon himself; the seventh is Druhyu, one of the sons of Yayati, a Lunar dynasty in mythology. The 46th king is called Tripur (Tripura) as a kind of mythological eponymous ancestor of the Sanskritic name of the kingdom. The list of historical kings begins with the 145th king, Ratna Fa (fl. 1280). He was the first to assume the title Manikya and as such can be considered the founder of the Manikya Dynasty. We noticed many details of Rajmala and came back to research more regarding the Chronicle. The above details have been gathered from the internet.
The four Manickya rulers
While observing the detailed information and research work in the Museum we came across two major intellectual kings of Tripura. We came across the fact that the rulers of the ancient State of Tripura were not mere patrons of art and culture but also accomplished in different creative fields. There were many journals in the West mentioned that mentioned their works of art, photography, literature and music.
We need to mention Birchandra Manickya specifically as he was a superb painter, an excellent photographer, a great composer of music, a profound scholar of Vaishnav literature and a connoisseur of all creative activities. He created waves in the literary world by conferring the honour of the ‘best poet” in 1882 upon the young Rabindranath Tagore. The poet was hardly 21 years old then and he had to his credit only one book of verses – Bhagna Hriday – (The Broken Heart). Birchandra was so moved that he immediately sent a minister all the way to Jorasanko to convey the message that he could see the promise of a great future in the young poet. Tagore was taken by surprise to say the least. Tagore has mentioned the event in his autobiography Jiban Smriti and paid tribute to Birchandra on a number of occasions during his journeys to Tripura.
This was the beginning of what were to be lasting ties between the grand ruling house of a princely state and a great poet who dominated the literary world. This historic bond lasted for over sixty years till the end of Tagore’s life. He became friend and guide to four generations of Tripura rulers.
The elderly Birchandra was quick to befriend the young poet. Tagore went to Kurseong twice, during 1894 and 1896. On both the occasions the Raja invited Tagore to be a guest of honour. Those meetings provided a rare opportunity to both of them to know each other more intimately. Tagore was then hardly thirty-three years old and Birchandra almost double his age. The young poet felt shy about expressing his thoughts but in all literary discussions he was treated as an equal. Tagore often recalled the sweet memories of those golden days that he spent together with Birchandra at Kurseong.
Birchandra was pained at the ruthless criticism that Tagore’s early literary works drew from critics at the time. He even wanted to buy a printing press and invest one lakh rupees, a princely sum in those days, so that editions of Tagore’s works could be published. But as luck would have it, while returning from Kurseong Birchandra died in Calcutta in 1896.
Bir Chandra Debmanikya
Birchandra’s worthy son, Radhakishore, lost no time in extending an invitation to Tagore. Radhakishore ascended the throne in 1897 and died in 1909. During these twelve years, Tagore visited Tripura five times. On many occasions, Radhakishore sought Tagore’s help in dealing with complicated problems of statecraft. Tagore’s advice was sought in all matters right from the appointment of ministers, drafting of state budget, framing of code of conduct for the officers of the royal court and general approach towards dealing with erring officials. Tagore showed hitherto unknown skills in all these areas of statecraft. The erstwhile Tripura royal family still preserves the rare historic documents written in Tagore’s own handwriting where he has shown his remarkable ingenuity in matters of public finance, state policy and principles of education. Radhakishore became dependent on Tagore in all the areas of day-to-day administration.
Tagore with Radha Kishore Debmanikya
The King Radha Kishore Manickya had a close relationship with Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore first visited Tripura in 1900 during his reign. The King supported Visva-Bharati University with an annual grant of Rupees 1000.Although in dire financial condition on account of a devastating earthquake the king pledged his daughter in law’s jewellery to anonymously sponsor the scientific research of Jagadish Chandra Bose.
Ujjayanta Palace was built by Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya during 1899–1901 at a cost of 10 lakh (1 million) rupees despite financial constraints. The earlier royal palace of the Kingdom of Tripura was located 10 km (6 miles) away from Agartala. However, as a result of a devastating earthquake in 1897, the palace was destroyed and later rebuilt as Ujjayanta Palace in the heart of Agartala city.
King Radha Kishore Manikya was a patron of learning. He set up the R.K.I.school of Kailashahar besides donating funds towards construction of Victoria college of Comilla in Bangladesh. A full-fledged medical unit in Kolkata’s R. G. Kar Medical College and Hospital was set up with financial assistance provided by him.
This association of Tagore with Radhakishore had a lasting impact on Tripura’s ties with greater Bengal. The benevolent Maharaja contributed liberally in various literary, cultural and scientific endeavors of Bengal. Tagore once approached Radhakishore for financial help for scientific research undertaken by Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose who was in England and in a dire financial state at that time. Radhakishore himself was in a very precarious condition financially as the palace at Agartala was being re-built after being damaged by a severe earthquake. The marriage of prince Birendrakishore was also approaching. But the ever-generous Radhakishore did not fail to rise to the occasion. He wrote to Tagore that he was prepared to deprive his would-be daughter-in-law from a piece or two of jewellery for he was sure that in return, Jagadish Babu would decorate mother India in a much more befitting manner. He granted a sum of rupees fifty thousand, a vast amount of money in those days with the only stipulation that his name was not to be made public.
Radhakishore also sanctioned an annual grant of Rs. one thousand for Tagore’s Viswa Bharati which was continued for nearly fifty years till the death of the last ruler, Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore.
Birendra Kishore Manickya
Radhakishore’s son, Birendra Kishore, also inherited the rare artistic acumen of his grandfather, Birchandra. He was a great painter as well as a musician. Like his forefathers, he extended liberal financial grants to Viswa Bharati. It was during his time that Tripura’s relationship with Tagore acquired a cultural role. In 1939, Birchandra’s great-grandson – Maharaj Bir Bikram Kishore, visited Shantiniketan.He deputed Rajkumar Buddhimanta Singh from Tripura as a Manipuri dance teacher at Shantiniketan. Buddhimanta was followed by a number of other talented experts in Manipuri dance from Tripura. They made remarkable contributions in providing the floral foundation of effusive softness, style and grace to Rabindra Nritya.
Bir Bikram Kishore Debmanickya
Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, Tripura’s last ruler, Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore greatly respected Rabindranath Tagore. It was his privilege to confer on Tagore the honorific “Bharat Bhaskar” just three months before the death of the great poet. Tagore’s 80th birth anniversary was celebrated at the royal Durbar of Tripura. An emissary was sent to Shantiniketan to formally confer on Tagore this last tribute of Tripura. The ailing poet was so moved by this generous royal gesture that he made no secret of his feelings,”Such a free and disinterested bond of friendship between an immature poet whose fame was yet uncertain and one enjoying royal distinction is unprecedented in the history of any literature. The distinction that this royal family has conferred on me today illumines the final horizons of my life”.
During his last visit to Agartala in 1926, while addressing a public meeting Tagore had another occasion to pay tribute to Tripura. In response to the love showered on him by the Kishore Sahitya Samaj of Agartala, Tagore said, “…it has been my privilege to receive honour even from the hand of kings in the West. But the tribute I received from a prince of my own country is to me, personally speaking, of much greater value. That is why my relationship with the State of Tripura is not just that of a guest for a day. This relationship is wedded to the memories of the father and the grandfather of the present king
After a grand visit to the Museum we were very hungry and decided to visit a restraunt and have the cuisine of Tripura. The google helped us and we landed in Manickya Court which was being run by the Palace. We had the Royal Tripuri Thali which consisted of Tripuri rice, bamboo shoot curry, veggies, chicken curry and a pork dish. The thali was freaking spicy and tasty at the same time. There was a gulab jamun for dessert and we had it immediately to cut the spice.
The reception of our friend was conducted beautifully with great food comprising of the Bengali delicacy “Illish Bhape” (Steamed Hilsa in mustard sauce). What a beautiful and smooth trip it was. We carried many memories of Tripura. We saw the Indo-Bangladesh border for the first time. There was no difference in topography yet the land remained divided by a iron fence. I could understand how the Bengali’s felt during the partition of Bengal. Lord Curzon divided Bengal long back but the cries, love and pathos still haunts Tripura and its people. A feeling of morbidness and flashback engulfed me every time I looked at the fence. Recently, my cousin sent me a documentary on the life of Rabindranath Tagore and I clearly saw how all night the women of Joransanko (house of Rabindranath Tagore) stitched rakhi till the break of dawn to built brotherhood between the hindus and muslims during the East and West Bengal partition. I have many reasons to go back to Tripura and one among that would be “Tagore”.
“Nobel-laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore’s close relation with the princely state of Tripura and its four successive rulers forms an important chapter in the state’s history” –
The Tripura Tourism website entails the following details –
This was of course a natural corollary to the liberal patronage extended to Bengali language and culture by the Manikya dynasty rulers of Tripura since the days of king Ratna Manikya (1464-68). It was in the course of a political crisis that Tripura’s ruling monarch Krishna Kishore Manikya (1830-1849) got in touch with prince Dwarakanath Tagore, fabled grand father of Rabindranath, and obtained timely assistance.
In his maiden letter to king Bir Chandra Manikya (1862-1896) dated may 6 1886 poet Rabindranath Tagore referred to this familial relation while seeking ingredients of Tripura’s history on which he later based his celebrated novel ‘Rajarshi’ and dramas ‘Visarjan’ and ‘Mukut’. Even before that, young Rabindranath had occasion to have a feel of king Bir Chandra Manikya’s magnanimity in 1882. The king was in a state of shock following the untimely death of his dear wife and queen Ms Bhanumati in the year 1881 and during that period of bereavement he studied young Rabindranath’s celebrated love-poem ‘Bhagna Hriday’.
A highly refined and sensitive man – practically a poet in the core of his heart-king Birchandras sent his emissary Mr Radharaman Ghosh to the family home of the Tagores at Jorasanko near Calcutta to congratulate the poet on his behalf . Rabindranath’s relation with Tripura’s royal family did not however snap-as he himself had feared-with the demise of king Bir Chandra Manikya in 1896 .
Bibliography – Information is based on the visit, observation, discussion with people from Tripura and research on the internet post a visit to the State.