Heritage Home of Guwahati: Borooah Nilaya
Guwahati has a rich heritage like all other old cities. Lost amongst the concrete ultramodern megastructures of today, the city still has a number of heritage structures to brag about.
One such building is the ancestral house of Robindra Nath Borooah, former editor of The Assam Tribune.
Jogendra Nath Borooah was originally from Sarupathar, Golaghat. He was the district judge in Gauhati at that time and chose to settle here.
What’s unique about this British era house is that it was the first private house of the city to have a structural frame of steel, something far ahead for its time. The structural steel columns and beams were manufactured in England and were used to construct the roof of the ground floor, and for the platform for the first floor. In between the steel, columns have placed the bricks and then a layer of cement. The walls of the house are made of cane and mud paste. So also is the false ceiling. The top root is of tin.
The ‘porte cochere’ (covered entrance) of this beautiful building has ornamental ironwork brought in from England and Belgium. The house has four rooms on the top floor including a living room, a dining room, and two bedrooms. There is also a kitchen on this floor. There are four more rooms on the ground floor.
As Guwahati had much colder winters at that time, fireplaces were built in each room on the ground floor. And two wooden staircases, at the front and back of the house respectively.
As the family supported the ideologies of the Swadeshi Movement, at the back of the house there was a ‘jotor’ (spinning wheel) to spin thread from cotton and a ‘taat saal’ (loom) to weave handloom clothes keeping up with the Assamese tradition. The Barooah family also had a ‘bhoral’ (granary) to store grains.
“Apart from their eight children, Jogendra Borooah and his wife Chandra Prova Borooah had also hosted a lot of family members who came to Guwahati for education and jobs. The couple also helped most of them settle in Guwahati,” said Jayanta Barooah, their grandson.
As the family expanded, the brothers had shifted to the neighbouring land. Currently, the house is maintained by a caretaker and the ground floor is given to a NGO.
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