A visit to Netaji’s House
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Netaji Bhawan in Calcutta, the ancestral house of Subhash Chandra Bose, is a place of national pilgrimage, although he was born in Cuttack in Orissa but memories attached to Netaji Subhash Bose remains more prominent here in this house, as this house witnessed the historic escape of Netaji Subhash Bose. Bose escaped from house arrest at Netaji Bhawan in 1941 and fled to Berlin. After that, he traveled to Japan-occupied Southeast Asia by submarine (German U boat U- and Japanese Submarine I-29), organized Indian National Army, and fought against British Raj with the Imperial Japanese Army.
On 23rd January 1947, Sarat Chandra Bose, elder brother of Subhash Chandra Bose dedicated this historic house to the nation. A storehouse of inspiration and enlightenment, it attracts thousands of visitors all the year round.
The external appearance of Netaji Bhawan with its traditional pillars is that of a typical early 20th century Bengali residential house. A marble plaque bearing the name of J.N.Bose, (Janakinath Bose)Netaji’s father, decorates the front entrance. The house, built by Bose’s father in 1909.
As we enter, a fine profile of Netaji’s face in relief draws our attention. In the main portico stands a replica in red stone of the stately INA Memorial with the motto “Ittefaq”,”Itmad”,”Kurbani” inscribed on it.We climb up the wooden stairs to Netaji’s bedroom on the first floor. Excepting a protective glass barrier, we find the room just as it had been in January 1941,when Netaji made his great escape from India.Netaji’s own simple cot, clock, clothes, shoes, even his Ayurvedic medicines and Gita have been preserved. The adjoining room contains articles and furniture used by Sarat Chandra Bose.Netaji’s office room during the period of his Congress Presidentship is still painted in the hues of the Indian tricolor.His working desk, revolving chair, book-almirahs, etc. can be seen.
The top floor of Netaji Bhawan contains a treasure of numerous photographs, documents and articles relating to Netaji’s life and work arranged in systematic, chronological order. Special lighting and gallery techniques give it a very modern look. The starting-point of this fascinating exhibition is a page from Janakinath’s diary recording Subhas’s birth at midday on 23 January 1897. Through pictures and letters, we see Subhas gradually grow adolescent with a mystic air, student at cambridge, dedicated Swarajist, prisoner at Mandalay, G.O.C of the Volunteer Corps at Calcutta in 1928,his original passports and some curios brought by him from Burma are among the valuable exhibits.
The next panel tells the story of Subhash Bose’s sojourn in Europe. He visits several European capitals, meets important personalities, and sets up Indian Associations. Newspaper features on the youthful ambassador form India make interesting reading. Warm clothing used by him in Europe are kept in showcase.
Back in India, we find Subhash Chandra presiding over the Haripura Congress and inaugurating the National Planning Committee. Then comes the critical time of his final parting of the ways with Gandhiji. We read tense passages from the correspondence between the two leaders. Poet Rabindranath Tagore coronets Subhash Chandra as “Deshnayak”.
Subhash Bose’s career in India culminates with his dramatic escape from his Elgin Road House. The “Wanderer” in which he escaped is on view on the ground floor and the route followed by the car shown with the help of a map. The Congress President’s tie, articles used by Subhash Chandra during his last prison term in 1940, pages from his ultimatum to the Government, garments worn by him during the journey across the northwestern frontier and passages from a thesis written during his stay in Kabul are on display.
The next European phase of Subhash Bose’s activities is portrayed in another room. There are several pictures of the Indian Legion in training and of Bose’s meetings with European statesmen and diplomats. Postage stamps printed by Free India Centre. Azad Hind journals and Hindustani translations of German military texts are some of the interesting things to be seen. The perilous submarine journey from Kiel to Sabang is profusely illustrated through dramatic photographs.
We talk across the long corridor to the Asia Room. The drama of the Indian National Army and its historic assault on the northwestern frontier of India unfolds before us. Netaji parleys with Japanese leaders, the proclamation of the Azad Hind Government, the Greater East Asia Conference, Netaji’s visits to the Andaman Islands and the Indo-Burma front, are shown in the photographs. The supreme commander’s cap and top boots, the desk used by him in Singapore and even the garland he received on 21 October 1943 have been obtained for the museum.
Scholars of modern Indian history find the Freedom Library an important center of learning. Sarat Chandra Bose’s marvelous collection formed the nucleus of this library. Books, periodicals, and documents are being collected to cover the entire freedom movement of India since 1857 as well as national liberation and revolutionary movements in other parts of the world. The archives of the Bureau now consist of almost all works of and on Netaji in various languages, a large collection of his letters covering his entire life, an extensive compilation of his speeches and writing and journals, newspapers and other source material relating to Netaji.
Netaji Bhawan has modern auditorium called Sarat Bose hall with accommodation for a hundred and fifteen persons. Lectures seminars, symposia, etc. on Netaji, the Indian Independence movement as well as on current problems of national and international interest are frequently arranged.
The introspection, meditation and contemplation are all that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose has gone through inside the four walls of the room and this house has witnessed the creation of ideas for freeing the mother land from the clutches of foreign rulers in Subhash. One can feel the vibration of intense nationalism, when one passes through the corridors of the house. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is still alive for us and encouraging us to live and die for our Motherland.
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