Ambu Nath sharma
GAURIPUR, Nov 3 - The Hawamahal of Matiabag, situated in the north-eastern area of Gauripur, a two storeyed building built 103 years ago by the then zaminder Prabhat Chandra Barua of the Gauripur Royal Estate is presently in a dilapidated condition.
King Prabhat Chandra Barua stated construction of the building in 1904 with the help of thousands of skilled and unskilled labourers depicting Hindu, Muslim and Christian architecture and was one of the famous buildings of the undivided district of Goalpara. He completed the building in 1914 and used to live with his family. The Hawamahal built on the top of a hillock on the bank of the rivulet Gadadhar was once an ideal place of living specially during the period of summer season. The hillock was full of various valuable trees and flowers. Prabhat Chandra Barua used to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of the rivulet where hundreds of migratory birds came there during the winter season.
Pramathesh Barua, the legendary film maker, Prakritish Chandra Barua, the famous elephant expert, Pratima Barua Pandey, famous folk singer, her sister Parbati Barua, the famous elephant expert were born in this famous building. Practically the building was the centre of folk culture and tradition.
It may be mentioned that late Uttam Kumar, the legendary hero of Bengali films came to Matiabag and paid homage to Pramathesh Chandra Barua by touching the soil of the Hawamahal. Dr Bhupen Hazarika and his wife Priyam Hazarika came to the Hawamahal in 1955 and performed musical nites with Pratima Barua Pandey.
However, things has changed now. During the period of AGP rule in 1987, the Government of Assam tried to purchase the Hawamahal and proposed to make it into a place of tourism. But that too was not materialised due to non-co-operation of the heirs of the building. Presently four descendants are occupants of the building. Prof Ganga Sankar Pandey is living in the Hawamahal and is leading a struggle-torn life in absence of his wife Pratima Barua Pandey.
To keep the memory of Pratima Barua Pandey alive her daughter Alaka Pandey Jha, her grand daughters Priyam Sarkar and Punam Barua are practising Goalpariya folk songs and are trying to win the hearts of the music lovers.
The All Assam Students’ Union tried to make the Hawamahal into a place of heritage site but could not. The people of greater Gauripur area urged upon the Government to initiate talks with the owners of the Hawamahal and preserve it without further delay.