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Monday, Dec 09, 2019

Rudyard Kipling's Allahabad bungalow in shambles

The author's 19th century bungalow close to Allahabad University is now in shambles and a portion of land around it has been sold off.

books Updated: Jun 09, 2008 15:25 IST
By S. Neelam By S. Neelam S. Neelam
By S. Neelam By S. Neelam S. Neelam

A bungalow close to Allahabad University where Rudyard Kipling - the renowned author of such classics as Kim and The Jungle Book - lived for a year in the late 19th century is now in a shambles.

With successive governments in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and Allahabad University turning down requests from the bungalow's owners to purchase it, it is gradually collapsing for want of upkeep. A major portion of the land where it was built has already been sold off.

Kipling had lived in the bungalow, located on 1,300 square yards of land next to the Motilal Nehru Road, from 1888 to 1889 when he was assistant editor with the Pioneer newspaper in Allahabad.

"If I recall correctly, as vice chancellor of Allahabad University, I had written a letter to the University Grants Commission in 1985 to provide funds to get the land and the bungalow," R.P. Mishra, former vice chancellor of the varsity, told IANS on phone from Delhi.

After Mishra left the university, there was no follow-up.

The owner of the land, Sudhir Tandon, too asserted that he had approached the state government and the university authorities many times to buy the place at a reasonable price but they did not seem to be interested.

"I approached Gopal Mehrotra, the then principal secretary to chief minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari, himself an alumnus of Allahabad University, and submitted my proposal to sell the land to the government in 1989," Tandon told IANS.

He said he had also approached Mishra in 1985. "I finally entered into an agreement with a private developer, Kamzor Varg Evam Karmachari Sahkari Grih Samiti, and sold off 70 percent of the land," said Tandon.

He clarified that the bungalow stood on the remaining 30 percent of the land, which has not been sold so far.

Tandon said, "I feel strongly for a personality like Kipling and understand the bungalow's importance. I will sell it if the government approaches me."

The former vice-chancellor and Tandon are not the only ones to have written to the authorities. Successive principals of the Government Nursery Training College, which was run from the bungalow till 2007, had written over a dozen letters to the government and the university, requesting them for the building's upkeep.

When contacted, the present acting Finance Officer of Allahabad University, J.N. Mishra, told IANS, "I don't have any idea about this land. Contact the university registrar."

Registrar Firdau Wani said, "I am on leave, I can't comment on it."