Brookside Bungalow Shillong
The beautiful Brookside Bungalow lives up to its name as it quietly stands besides the Umshyrpi stream. The freshly installed Tagore’s statue and numerous stone inscribed plaques give away the identity of the famous ex resident . The house is famous for being one of the haunts of Rabindranath Tagore... Nobel laureate and internationally acclaimed poet. The serenity of Shillong city and the picturesque setting of the bungalow inspired one of Tagore’s most famous novels Shesher Kobita.
There is a small library in the freshly renovated Brookside Bungalow that hosts most of Tagore’s important works besides documentaries and books about the poet. You can also see framed letters and handwritten notes by the poet inside the Bungalow. The compound is beautiful and has an orderly garden along with large eucalyptus trees that provide serene shade to travelers. The building adjacent to the bungalow has been hosting Meghalaya legislative assembly sessions for years.
Unfortunately, the bungalow disintegrated into a deplorable condition and was almost on the verge of being demolished to give birth to a high-rise. Luckily the literature and art lover community in Shillong struggled fiercely to preserve the Brookside Bungalow as a “Rabindra Memorial” and sought the president’s intervention in this matter.
In 2007 the Meghalaya Government declared the building to be a heritage site and in 2011 it underwent a complete renovation after which a statue of Rabindranath was also installed there. There was also a plan to convert the place into a full fledged Rabindra Bhavan but as of now the plans have been shelved. Right now a museum detailing Rabindranath’s life, family, memorabilia and literary accomplishments is being developed inside the Brookside Bungalow complex.
Incidentally, the Brookside Bungalow in Shillong is now at the centre of a political, ethnic and cultural battle. Most literature lovers in the city are aware of the fact that the Nobel Laureate had paid a visit to Shillong in 1919, 1923 and then 1927 and he had written a series of letters full of poetic descriptions of Shillong that have been translated later into local languages. Interestingly, a prominent figure lobbying for the reconstruction and maintenance of the Brookside Bungalow is Uma Purkasthya who is an author and the former principal of Government Girls High School in Shillong and Sylvanus Lamare ...the Principal of St Edmund’s College (he is credited with translating Shesher Kobita into Khasi)
Helemon Diengdoh was the first famous Khasi poet who had been credited with translations of Tagore’s greatest works into the Garo and Kahasi languages in the 1930’s. Helemon was followed by many other authors and today a stroll into any local bookstore is enough to make one understand the deep connection that Tagore and Shillong share.
Though not included in the usual tourist itineraries, the Brookside Bungalow sees a lot of international tourists who are fond of Tagore’s work. The visit can be a worthy experience for Tagore lovers and those who want to savor the cultural side of Shillong. Incidentally, the nearby JeetBhoomi (this is now a private residence) was also another place where Tagore stayed in his visits to Shillong.
How to reach
Location: Rilbong Area, Shillong
You can take a cab from police bazaar to reach Rilbong in about 18 minutes (4.2kms).