Tagore or Thakur family was actually Rarhy Brahmins (Kushari) of ‘Shandilya Gotra’ from Khula, in the eastern part of Bengal, now in Bangladesh. But they were better known as “Pirali Brahmins”, as they were connected to a Brahmin family, which had converted to Islam due to some unavoidable circumstances. The Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century coincided with the rise of the Tagore family in Pathuriaghata. Some of the well known members of the family are Hara Kumar Tagore (1798 -1858), Prasanna Coomar Tagore (1801-1886) and Jatindra Mohan Tagore (1831 – 1908) – who were the forefathers of Prince Dwarka Nath Tagore.
In 1820 Kali Kumar Tagore built a huge mansion in Naptehata, which people used to call ‘Tagore Palace’. He gave it to his younger brother Prasanna Coomar. With time Naptehata became ‘’Prasanna Kumar Tagore Street” and now Tagore Palace occupies house numbers 13, 13A and 13 B of this street. However, Prasanna Coomar disowned his son Gnanendra Mohan, as he was converted to Christianity and married Kamalmani, daughter of Reverend Krishna Mohan Banerjee. As a result, Maharaja Sir Jatindra Mohan Tagore, son of Hara Kumar Tagore, inherited the property from Prasanna Coomar. But he had some other ideas. In 1895, with the help of Macintosh Burn, he constructed a new building in the vicinity, in the design of an English castle, complete with a 100 feet high central tower like the Windsor castle. He even had the permission to fly the Union Jack on the tower. The majestic building was also crowned with a big clock like Big Ben, imported from England. This surprisingly unusual building situated at 26 Prasanna Kumar Tagore Street, was popularly known as “Tagore Castle”.
Tagore Castle had a number of large rooms, like the century old castles of England. There was an auditorium on the second floor, known as “Nachghar”, meant mainly for staging plays. Jatindra Mohan Tagore and his brother Shourendra Mohan Tagore were ardent theatre enthusiasts and they contributed substantially to the development of theatre in Calcutta. Jatindra Mohan himself was an eminent actor. He inspired and insisted Michael Madhusudan Dutta to write “Tilottamasambhab Kabya” and took the generous responsibility to print and publish it at his own cost. In 1865, he established the “Banga Natyalaya” at Pathuriaghata, which was patronized by Rabindranath Tagore for some time. The first play staged in Nachghar during July 1859, was Kalidas’ “Malavika-Agnimitram” in Sanskrit. Even before that, with the financial help of Jogendra Mohan Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Gupta published “Sambad Prabhakar”, from here, first as a weekly from 28 January 1831.
The building was leased to Haridas Mundra (M/S S.B. House and Land Pvt. Ltd) in 1954. They took over the building and drastically altered most of it to beyond recognition. Sreejit Tagore, the present owner of the dilapidated building, is fighting several fierce legal battles in the courts of law to regain control over the castle. Several hundreds of people now reside in the castle, most of them do not bother to pay any rent and as if that is not enough, most of them have made illegal constructions to suit their purpose.
Location of Tagore Castle