Holy grail of 'Vande Mataram' to be restored

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Kolkata, Jan 31: Never was a nation more inspired by anything than the words 'Vande Mataram'. And now its time for deja vu as the place from where the words germinated is all set to rise in its glory.

Lalgola Royal Estate in West Bengal's Murshidabad district, where Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay conceived his epic creation Ananda Math, is all set to get a face lift albeit via the stripes and stars.

US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation yesterday sacntioned the grants to the National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to renovate the halloed grounds of Indian freedom movement.

Lagola now houses the inmates of Lalgola Correctional Home. And behind these walls the jailmates could see themselves as part of the efforts in protecting the heritage for the civilisation outside the prison.

West Bengal State Convener of INTACH G M Kapur, while accepting the grant from the US Consul General in Kolkata Henry V Jardine yesterday said, ''We on behalf of the government and the people feel grateful that we keep getting funds from the US Consulate for the purpose of rebuilding and recreating our heritage structures, which are the only remnants of our rich history." ''This year we received Rs 2,775,000 for giving new life to the Lalgola Correctional Home along with its temples and the vast campus. Here Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay conceived his Ananda Math,'' he said and added that this money will be utilised for renovating the Shiva and Kali Temples, the Thakur Dalan(portico and mansion), the gateway to the Lalgola Rajbari (Palace) among other smaller structures within the vast grounds of Lalgola Correctional Home.

''The guest house where Bankim Chandra had stayed when he conceived his famous literary works of Ananda Math and as some say the Vande Mataram's concept, will be considered in the next phase of renovation,'' said IG of Correctional Services, West Bengal, B D Sharma said the guest house was in ruins with the roof having caved in. It may only be possible to give the front facade a facelift.

In 1960, the Lalgola Palace was handed over to then chief minister of West Bengal Bidhan Chandra Roy by Dhirendra Narayan Roy, the descendant of Raja Rao Ramshankar Roy, who ruled Lalgola in Lalbagh subdivision of Murshidabad district in the 1800s.

In 1987, it was turned into a prison, which later under the Correctional Home Act of April 14, 1992, became Lalgola Open Air Correctional Home.

The project was originally conceived in July 2006 and work has already begun to give back to Murshidabad at least a fraction of what had been its past glory, Mr Sharma said and added that there are other projects they are considering that needs bigger funding to be rejuvenated.

''The Central Correctional Home in Midnapore, where six freedom fighters were hanged in the 1870s for killing the then DMs of the British Raj, is among those which need serious help and we have already received the green signal from Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in this regard,'' the IG of Correctional Services said.

Earlier in 2004, West Bengal received such grants from the Ambassador's Fund for the preservation work for the art, architecture and traditional crafts of Bishnupur in the state's Bankura district. The project had assisted Archaeological Society of India in reviving the past glory of Bishnupur.

UNI

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