Kolkata is the historic and cultural capital of India. The former capital of the British Raj has produced some of the country’s most revered artists; the most notable is Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Today, people come to learn about the man at his childhood home, Jorasanko Thakur Bari, restored to its appearance when he lived there in the late 18th century. As the youngest of 13 surviving children, his family’s servants raised him for most of his early years. Tagore’s mother died when he was young and his father traveled extensively as a Hindu philosopher and proponent of the Bengal Renaissance along with Rabindranath’s siblings.
Tagore largely avoided the classroom, instead roaming his family’s manor and getting tutored by his eldest brother. He would later attend Presidency College for a single day, believing a proper education does not teach, but stokes curiosity. Preferring to read on his own, Tagore went on a tour of India with his father after completing his upanayan (coming-of-age) ceremony, voraciously studying history, astronomy, science, poetry and Sanskrit on his travels. He first began writing poems at the age of eight, and would complete his first major set of writings upon his return to Jorasanko. Always the joker, he convinced literary experts they were the lost works of a 17th-century poet.
Tagore left his childhood home in 1901 and would become one of India’s most venerated writers. Fans of his writing and political work can learn about his life at the Tagore Museum, located on Rabindra Bharati University campus.
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