Memories of Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar still resonates in the ruins of Nimtita Palace

1 July, 2017 15:15:29
Home / Memories of Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar still resonates in the ruins of Nimtita Palace
Memories of Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar still resonates in the ruins of Nimtita Palace

A dilapidated structure stands as testimony of its rich and glorious past. The ruins of a grand terrace, the staircase full of wild growth, the rickety bricks of the mansion jutting out from the walls, its plaster peeled off long ago –symbols of negligence and decay. Yet, Nimtita Raajbari stands as a mute spectator of its lost glory. Even today, the breathtaking architectural grandeur of the structure instills awe as time stands still.

Two brothers, Goursundar Chowdhury and Dwarakanath Chowdhury, jointly built this vast and marvellous mansion. The palace became the epicentre from where the brothers conducted their business. It was also a means of displaying wealth and grandeur. During Holi, they hosted Jatra-pala (proscenium theatre) for a fortnight every year. News of the splendor and riches depicted during the annual Durga Puja would be the talk of the town and even reached far and wide till Murshidabad. The brothers were patrons of theatre. During Dwarakanath’s son, Gnyanendranath’s wedding, the entire team of Calcutta’s Star Theatre was invited to perform.

Renowned actor / director, Kshirod Prasad Vidya Vinod, visited Nimtita Palace. When he went there with his troupe, the zamindars established Nimtita Rangamanch (theatre hall) on the lines of public theatre halls of Calcutta. Many famous artistes, including Natyacharya Shishir Kumar Bhaduri, performed on this stage. But all these are memories of a glorious past. The rangamancha was destroyed during a massive flood in 1944. This was the beginning of the destruction of the edifice. As decades went by, the erosion continued and now, we are on the verge of losing the palace itself.

Satyajit Ray shot his film, Jalshaghar (1957) in the backdrop of the Nimtita Rajbari. He went back to shoot two more films, Debi (1959) and Samapti (1960). The riches and grandeur of the palace is alive in the frames of these three movies. One cannot compare those exquisite vignettes with what one witnesses today. Instead, it is convenient to blame the colossal destruction to ravages of time.

The descendants of the Chowdhury family are all based in Calcutta and visit Nimtita during Durga Puja. The annual Durga Puja is an integral part of the family’s responsibility. The condition of the Thakur-Dalan (the courtyard earmarked for Durga Puja) is comparatively better than the other portions and seems to bridge the gap between the past and the present. But for how long one will hold on to this heritage is not known. The fate of this palace itself is uncertain. The brick-and-mortar structure is crumbling gradually. After all, who can defy the power and ravages of time? The Bhagirathi river flows close to the palace and during high tide, its turbulent waves kiss the courtyard of the Rajbari. The scenic beauty of the surrounding area is stunning. If proper initiative is taken to renovate the palace, it can very well be developed as a tourist spot. Meanwhile, efforts are on to impress upon the government to announce the palace as a heritage building. Once the proposal is sanctioned, it will become a tourist destination. We are optimistic it would soon happen.

Original Article written by Bongodorshon Information Desk
Translated by

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