I had wanted to visit this place for such a long time and somehow my plan got disrupted every time. Either some emergency work would come up or I would suddenly fall sick and on some occasions, I would simply be unable to make the trip to this place. Then there was Covid lockdown and everything was at a pause. Even after when restrictions were lifted, I had planned to visit this place but both the times, it rained so heavily that I just could not think of stepping out of my house. And this time too, when I made the plan to visit it, it was unbearably hot! But my stubborn mind told me to make it happen at any cost ! So I went out in the scorching heat to this place.
Let me take you with me through my own personal experience.
Amidst the lush green environs, in a tucked away location in the silver city of Cuttack stands a tall two storied mansion like house where the legendary leader Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born. Yes, I visited his birth place –JanakiNath Bhawan which is named after his father . The Netaji museum is a beautiful vintage mansion painted in sparkling white and is surrounded by lush beautiful pruned gardens with flowering plants around the museum and lined with many emotional photos depicting Netaji and his selfless contribution for our country’s freedom.The museum covered birth room, reading room, prism ambiance, library ( you can read books from library), INA (Indian National Army) bank , huge number of photos of political movements etc. There is a souveneir shop also in the compound. The entry fee is just Rs 10/- for Indian Nationals.
Subash Chandra Bose was born on 23 January 1897 in Cuttack. His father Janaki Nath Bose had migrated to Cuttack which has always been the judicial epicentre of the state to practise law and established himself as a reputed lawer. Subhas was the ninth child and the sixth son. Subhas entered the Baptist Mission’s Protestant European School , which is now known as the Stewart School in Cuttack in January 1902. He then joined the Ravenshaw Collegiate School, which is still functional even today in Cuttack. He was deeply influenced by the ideologies of Ramakrishna Paramhansa & Swamy Vivekananda and exhibited inclination towards spirituality & teachings of vedas & Upanishads. In the year 1913, he joined the Presidency College in Calcutta.
In February 1916 Bose was alleged to have masterminded, or participated in, an incident involving E. F. Oaten, Professor of History at Presidency.Before the incident, it was claimed by the students, Oaten had made rude remarks about Indian culture, and collared and pushed some students; according to Oaten, the students were making an unacceptably loud noise just outside his class. A few days later, on 15 February, some students accosted Oaten on a stairway, surrounded him, beat him with sandals, and took to flight. An inquiry committee was constituted. Although Oaten, who was unhurt, could not identify his assailants, a college servant testified to seeing Subhas Bose among those fleeing, confirming for the authorities what they had determined to be the rumor among the students.Bose was expelled from the college and rusticated from University of Calcutta. He was ordered back to Cuttack by his parents and stayed till 1917 post which he joined Scottish Church College in Calcutta after much persuation from all concerned.
The museum has an aura to itself. I have myself been an NCC cadet and like maky of us, whenever I read about the Indian National Movement or any freedom fighters , I mostly get goosebumbs and I find myself immersed in the patriotic flavour. So , when I was walking the premises and witnessing gallery after gallery exhibiting details about the early life including his entire journey of becoming a world class freedom fighter who carved out the Indian National Army ( Azad Hind Fauz ) almost single handedly , I was certainly very overwhelmed. His personal life including his family tree, pictures of his wife & daughter are all very clearly exhibited.
The museum has many galleries showcasing the study room of his father, Mr, JanakiNath Bose, the early life of Subas Chandra Bose , Rare pictures shocasing his rise as a freedom fighter and playing an important role in the Indian struggle for freedom. There is a chamber replicating the prison life of Subash Chandra Bose and it also exhibits innumerable letters that he wrote to his parents during this time. 22 original letters written by Netaji from Geneva, Milan in Italy, Mandalay Jail, Rangoon Jail in Myanmar, Presidency Jail, Alipore New Central Jail in Calcutta and Berlin to his parents and family members.
There are maps depicting his mastermind plan to succesfully escape the house arrest in Calcutta in the year 1941 to Berlin that till today remains the most sensational escape trip by any leader of such grand repute.
The chambers showcasing the details of Azad Hind Fauz where swords used by both the male & female contingents, their uniforms, their insignias and the hierachy or the organisational chart created by none other than Subash chandra Bose, can only make one wonder that , how far can one think and actually make it happen !
I was in awe when I perticularly stood infront of Galery 9 which was the room where Subash Chandra Bose was born. This may seem just normal to many, but I was in a different mood where all I could think was just a boy who was born into a huge family in cuttack, carved out his fate on his own and who by his sheer determination , courage & dedication changed the course of the freedom struggle as he represented aggrresion and extremism, which even made the Britishers panic because they had never imagined Indians who they enslaved for more than two hundred years to be capable of such prowess.
Photography of the inside of the room was strictly prohibited and I could just manage to capture the below image.
The walls of the museum have beautiful carvings of the Indian National movement and once inside this campus, you feel totally cut off from what is happening outside it.
This visit of mine lasted for about two odd hours but the memories that I carried will be a life long affair. When I left the palace, I bowed my head in reverence to someone who himself could not see his dream of an independednt India getting fulfilled , but was a one man army who till his last breath was synonymous with fearlessness & was a true patriot.
I also felt a little ashamed of myself to belong to a generation where we have taken this freedom for granted & everyday that we witness happening in the society is a testimony to this fact. Supposedly , Subash ji would be witnessing all this, what would he be thinking ? I ask my countrymen, do we actually deserve the gift of freedom ? Do we actually worthy of the selfless sacrifices that such leaders gave for us to be free from the sackles of British Slavery ? How about asking these questions to our own conscience once in a while and see where we stand.
Last but not the least, I would urge all the visitors to the state of Odisha to surely come and visit this historical place of importance and experience on your own.
Having said all this, there has to be better promotion, better connectivity to this museum by the state tourism department and the entire strech leading to this museum needs upliftment because to downplay the relevance of such a place is not justifiable, in my opinion.