Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose’s Abode in Guwahati
This ancestral home was built more than 120 years ago at Bharalumukh, Guwahati. It was built by Nabin Ram Phukan and gifted to his younger brother, Deshbhakta Tarun Ram Phukan when the latter returned to Assam after completing his law studies at Bar in London.
The six main foundation pillars of the Assam-type house are actually iron railway tracks covered in wooden frame. The house originally had thatched roof that was later replaced by tin sheets as straw was not easily available.
The house has a glorious past and it hosted great luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi. When Gandhiji visited Assam in 1921 to propagate the message of non-cooperation amongst the masses, he stayed in this very house for two days where he held important meetings.
Showing the exact place where Mahatma Gandhi slept on the floor of the living room, Dr. Hemen Ram Phukan, the grandson of Tarun Ram Phukan said, “We did not now that Gandhiji slept on this very spot until former Chief Minister of Assam, Bhumidhar Barman told us. Barman had visited us when our father Bolen Ram Phukan had expired. Then there used to be a sofa at the very place where Gandhiji had slept.
We asked him to take a seat on the sofa but Barman would not, saying he cannot dishonour the Mahatma.” Gandhiji also burnt foreign items in the Phukan compound as part of the Swadeshi Movement. The government later erected a wooden ‘fire like’ monument at the place, but only the pedestal of the same now remains, as the wooden structure had perished with time.
Behind the house is a temple that is almost 200 years old. It was built by Tarun Ram Phukan’s grandfather after Lord Krishna had appeared in his dreams. As the story goes, in the dream Lord Krishna showed him that an idol of the infant God, called ‘Laddu Gopal,’ covered in mustard seed, was lying in an abandoned boat at Uzan Bazar Ghat. Lord Krishna asked the idol to be installed in a temple properly.
The next day when he went to the boat at the Ghat, Tarun Ram Phukan’s grandfather indeed found the idol as he had seen it in his dream. Ever since then the Phukan family has been worshiping the idol.
In the past, the family celebrated every religious function with grandeur in the temple including Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Doul Utsav and others. During Holi, when ‘Doul Utsav’ is celebrated, the ‘Laddu Gopal’ idol used to be taken in a grand procession around the area in a palanquin. Now, only Holi is celebrated amongst the family members.
The Phukan family also hosted regular theatres in their ancestral property during the yesteryears. The plays used to be directed by Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha, music director was Bhupen Hazarika, Hazarika and Sudakshina Sarma sang the songs. Phani Sarma used to perform in the plays.
They also had another house behind the main building where Subhash Chandra Bose had stayed in the guise of a ‘sadhu’ for two nights before going to Japan.
The old kitchen having four rooms also narrates the busy activities of the house during its glorious years. The dining room has an old fan brought from London. The ceiling fan, although small, is working just fine even after more than six decades without ever being serviced, Dr. Phukan informed.
Tarun Ram Phukan had brought a bicycle and a Douze car from London that were reportedly the first in Assam. He also owned a horse-cart on which he rode while going to the court.
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