Emerald Bower of Rajah of Tagore
by Mudliyar E R Gooneratne on 28 Jun 2009 1 Comment

It was on the noon of Thursday the 20th of December [18]’83 that the grandson of the Maharajah Sir Jotindra Mohun Tagore, a noble man whose name and fame is known through the length and breath of India, very courteously drove us in a cart barouche drawn by a pair of handsome chestnuts to show the princely villa of the Maharajah, which is called by the above name. Of course, a description of it on paper would give but a very faint glimmering of the sight, as I alighted on the steps of the house which put me in mind of the graphic narratives of the celestial world, those we often read in our oriental works.  Emerald Bower is a palatial building of two stories, the ground floor is tastefully paved with fine caravan marble, by a flight of broad and convenient marble steps you reach the upper story, & replete with oil paintings of continental Italian masters. They adorn the spacious halls and apartments of the Emerald Bower and form one of the principal attractions of the palace.

Out of the costly furniture with which the palace was decked, we were particularly stuck with a time piece which moved several birds at its chimes and a musical bore with Indian airs, among which recognised one of our familiar (keyal) tunes copied from the Hindus. The floors were all covered with lovely carpets and no expense or labour were spared to add beauty and comfort to the residence.

We were not a little delighted at the spacious compound which was most tastefully laid out with palms and large trees & on which two splendid fountains with marble figures which were worked on while we were there.

A beautifully gravelled path led us to a pond on the side of an artificial cave constructed with granite illustrative of a sylvan scene & quite a place where one could enjoy quiet with ease…

On the other side of the garden there was a most interesting labyrinth, the passage to the innermost chamber. We tried in vain to discover the passages. The passages were nicely walled with chocolate coloured tin roofing & it was a most agreeable recreation to hover about it. We found the following inscription here which we were told was composed by the famous proprietor of the country seat, the maharajah himself.


There was also another building in the premises, similar to a Burmese Buddhist temple with a tapering top. It was dissimilar in every way to our temples. Inside it were well carved busts of the late honourable Prassanno Kumar Tagore & the venerable Sir of the maharajah. The fountains, tall trees on the borders of garden, the building and its costly furniture, the ponds, streams, one of them spanned by a cast iron bridge, were so artistically laid out that we can safely pronounce it a treat to spare neither a little expense a time to pay a visit to the country seat of Rajah Tagore: THE EMERALD BOWER

Tagore  Family

The Tagore family, one of the noblest in India, is proud of its ancestry which it traces to the illustrious Bahatta Narayana. The present who is a lenient descendent is at the present day considered as the leader of the Hindu nobility in Bengal. To describe the beauties of this country seat on paper would be to give a faint glimmering of a sight which must be seen to be appreciated.

Having received a very liberal English and Sanskrit education, the maharaja and his renowned brother Rajah Surendra Mohun Tagore, doctor of   music, who were introduced  by Colonel Olcott, are two noble men who paid attention to us & gave quarters to reside when on a visit to India recently.

A description of our host in our poetical world in Sinhala
Nil mahanel piyum
Prendi indu nil iwurun bim
Rajahasa itu itum
Ratu pokunen sedunu monarun

Adorned with natural tanks abundant with full blown lotuses
Adorned with natural tanks with green borders as if studded with emeralds
Abundant with full blown lotuses & royal hansas
The maharajah is reputed to be a scholar & a poet of considerable tact

The two following verses that he composed a song of welcome to the Prince of Wales are quoted in Lord Northbrookes essay on the natures of India

Hail noble prince Hail to thee
With joyous we welcome sing
As bursting into festive glee
Bangala greets her future king

Tho’ humble in our reception be
And though our strains may halting run
The loyal heart we bring to thee
It’s warmer than our eastern sun

See Frazers Magazine, Dec 80, page 739.
Mud E R Gooneratne was Secretary to the Pali Text Society, Member of the Asiatic Society, Buddhist Text Society of India
Retold by Dr Janaka Goonetilleke


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