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A slice of Rabindranath Tagore's Santiniketan, coming up in Houston

The Tagore Centre for Arts and Culture, expected to be ready by the middle of next year, has been conceived by alumni and faculty members of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

Last Updated: Jun 05, 2017, 10.25 AM IST
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The swastika, used as a symbol by Tagore for Visva-Bharati, will also be used thematically.
The swastika, used as a symbol by Tagore for Visva-Bharati, will also be used thematically.
(This story originally appeared in on Jun 02, 2017)
KOLKATA: Rabindranath Tagore's abode of peace, Santiniketan, is being replicated some 14,200 km away, in Texas's largest city of Houston.

The Tagore Centre for Arts and Culture, expected to be ready by the middle of next year, has been conceived by alumni and faculty members of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and has the full support of the Texas administration.

The centre will be completed with a Chhatimtala, commonly called the scholar tree, for which a sapling will be specially flown in from Visva-Bharati. It is known as Chattim in Bengali and Saptaparni in Sanskrit. It was under Chhatim (Blackboard) trees that Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate's father, came to rest on his way to Raipur in the 19th century.

The serene and tranquil place had a profound influence on the poet, too.

The design of Houston's Chhatimtala will keep the spirit of the original alive, promised Ashok De Sarkar and his wife Ruma Acharya De Sarkar, both IIT-Kgp alumni from the chemical engineering department. The Sarkars are bringing this dream alive with the help of IIT-Kharagpur's architecture faculty. The couple, who graduated in the late 60s, are leading industrialists in Texas today.

The entire campus is being designed in a fashion that will immediately give one a feel of the real Santiniketan — open spaces merging into learning centres, spaces for interdisciplinary approach, language centres, performance centres with open air theatres, continuing education centres and visual and performing arts centres complete with a fair ground for the signature Pous Mela.

Ashok De Sarkar, the brain behind Houston's proposed Tagore centre, said: "You cannot take out baul heritage from the heart of Santiniketan. Naturally, you can expect baul music to reverberate here too. This centre is being set up to promote Tagore-inspired humanism and inclusiveness through art and literature."

Joy Sen, head of the Ranabir and Chitra Gupta School of Infrastructure Design Management at IIT-Kgp, has designed the unique centre that is coming up on a 17-acre plot bought by the De Sarkars in a quiet residential neighbourhood. The total built up area will be a little over 30,000 square feet. "There is a natural gradient to the land and there are rivulets and creeks crisscrossing the neighbourhood. The setting of the place has an uncanny similarity with Santiniketan," Sen said.

The swastika, used as a symbol by Tagore for Visva-Bharati, will also be used thematically. "However, there will be no religious connotations. It will be a completely secular campus, a melting pot of all humanity like Tagore had envisaged," Sen added.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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