The Ranchi district administration has given a no-objection certificate to the tourism department to develop and restore Tagore Hill, Jharkhand’s popular heritage and tourist site.
Once on the outskirts, now almost in the heart of the expanding city, Tagore Hill is a 300 feet-high hillock with a flat surface where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s elder brother, Jyotindranath Tagore stayed for nearly 13 years.
The senior Tagore, equally popular among Bengalis as a playwright and a musician, had come to Ranchi for recuperation from an illness. He was so mesmerised with the scenic beauty of this place that he extended his stay for over a decade and made the hillock his home.
“Jyotindranath Tagore had first visited Ranchi in 1905 and was mesmerised by the beauty of the hillock. Finally, he settled here in 1912. He had built two monuments named Brahma Sthal and Shanti Dham on the hillocks. He breathed his last in Shanti Dham in 1925,” Subir Lahiri, former cultural secretary of Tagore Hill Trust (THT), said.
According to historians, impressed by the renown of Jyotindranath’s family and senior Tagore’s fancy for the hill, local landlord Harihar Singh (who owned entire Morhabadi area before the abolition of Zamindari) donated the entire Tagore Hill, also popular as Morahbadi hill, and adjoining areas (17.5 acres) to him.
Later, Ranchi’s Chaudhary family is said to have bought the property. On the request of the THT members, Madhusudan Chaudhary from Chaudhary family had reportedly donated it to the trust in the 1960s, said THT member Barun Saha. The hill, which attracted innumerable tourists from West Bengal and Odisha for decades, wore a dilapidated look over the period in the absence of proper maintenance.
District officials said THT, which claimed to be the owner of the property, was unable to maintain it. The THT had reportedly gone defunct over the period. In 2011, the then deputy commissioner of Ranchi KK Soan revived the THT and made provision that DC would be the chairman of the trust. Thereafter, the trust carried minor repair to monuments occasionally.
The tourism department had been demanding clearance but the district administration had kept it lingering due to doubts about ownership of the hill.
“But a thorough examination of records revealed that the said land was not in any person or institution’s name. It is obviously government land,” Ranchi deputy commissioner Manoj Kumar said.
State tourism director Suchitra Sinha said there was no roadblock in restoration of the hill. The department has prepared the estimate of Rs 11 lakh for the first phase of restoration.
“Refurbishing of the Brahma Sthal, Shanti Dham and stairs leading to the top of the hill will be complete before Tourism Day on September 27,” Sinha said.
“We are trying to bring Rabindranath Tagore’s favorite Japanese rickshaw, umbrella and some furniture from Bolpur Shantiniketan to give it a true Tagore family touch and to rekindle the spirit,” he said.
Tourism department officials said if everything went as planned, Sharmila Tagore, famous Indian actress, would inaugurate Tagore Hill on September 27.