Green Door and Red Veranda of Pachpan Mahal: The ‘Green Door’ has a significant Tagoreian history. Prince Dwarkanath Tagore, Bengali entrepreneur, industrialist, zamindar and the paternal grandfather of poet Rabindranath Tagore, bought this house—which serves as an entrance to Pachpan Mahal—in the mid-1830s because of its locale, beauty and convenience. The palace is located between Varanasi and Calcutta along the Ganges. The red-floored veranda (seen above) was built by Armenian general Ghurghin Khan. ‘Carr, Tagore and Company’, run by Tagore, purchased the first Indian coal mine in Runigunj in 1832 and shipped most of the coal to Varanasi.
I first visited Munger—a landscape dotted with marble and granite, palm trees and wheat fields —in Bihar at the turn of the millennium. A corporate factory in Basdeopur had engaged me to click photographs of their 200-strong office staff on the last dawn of the century on 31 December 1999. With a tight schedule of just two days, it was not possible to explore either Munger or its twin city Jamalpur, except for the hot chai and jalebi the team tasted in the overcast cold morning as we drove down from Kiul junction railway station.
Munger or Monghyr, as the British called it, is also the place where acclaimed Bengali litterateur Saradindu Bandhyopadhaya, creator of lovable detective Byomkesh Bakshi, grew up. Munger figures in historical references right from the days of the Rig Veda to Buddhist times, Chandragupta Maurya’s regime, Islamic rule of the Khiljis, the Raj, and Gandhiji’s movement against Indigo planters. The Aryans, in fact, considered Munger the ‘Midland’ of their settlement.
All my scholarly research and reading about this ancient region was put to touristic use after 15 years last spring when I got the chance to go back again for the same corporate house. Accessible by overnight trains from Kolkata and Patna, the fame of this ancient seat of power today rests on being home to the Bihar School of Yoga and manufacturers of arms.
Text & Photos: Shilbhadra Datta
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