Rabindranath Tagore loved Hyderabad so much that he wanted to make City his second home

He loved the rugged rocks and the green valleys (in Banjara Hills). He even thought of building a house there and spending several months every year in Hyderabad.

In 1933 the Nizam of Hyderabad, through his administration, extended a formal invitation to Rabindranath Tagore to visit Hyderabad. The poet who had earlier visited some other places in this region, gladly accepted the invitation forwarded by Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jung, who was then one of the top officials of the Nizam government.

Before that, there had developed a sense of mutual respect and admiration between the Nizam and the famous poet. Education was a subject that was very dear to Tagore’s heart. He wrote in his collection of poems titled Geetanjali: “Where knowledge is free and the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls…etc.” Through his poetry, he urged people to broaden their outlook through the acquisition of knowledge and not fall prey to narrow prejudices and superstitions. He also founded the Visva Bharati University.

Tagore admired the Nizam for having established educational institutions within his domain. Osmania University, founded in 1921, had the distinction of being the seventh university built on Indian soil and it had already produced several eminent personalities.

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Tagore wrote to the Nizam stating: “I have long been waiting for the day when freed from the shackles of a foreign language, our education becomes naturally accessible to all our people. It gives me great joy to know that your State proposes to found a University where instructions are to be given in Urdu. It is needless to say that your scheme has my fullest appreciation.”

Tagore also wanted modern India to emerge fully armed with knowledge and education to tackle the world’s challenges. The Nizam appreciated and understood what Tagore was trying to achieve. Thereby he allocated a handsome grant of one lakh rupees for a hostel to be constructed at the Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan.

When Tagore arrived in Hyderabad it was a momentous occasion for the city’s intellectuals. He was feted at many mushairas and gatherings by some of the most prominent citizens of Hyderabad. He was put up at the Banjara Hills residence of Mehdi Nawaz Jung.

Early every morning Tagore would set out on foot to explore the environs of the hilly region. Soon he developed an abiding love for Hyderabad’s salubrious climate and peaceful living conditions. It awoke the poet in him. The Banjara Hills area which was then uncluttered and pollution-free captured his heart. He loved the rugged rocks and the green valleys. He even thought of building a house there and spending several months every year in Hyderabad. But eventually, he had to drop the idea because of his work commitments at Shantiniketan.

According to an article in The News Minute, one memorable event from Tagore’s visit was a get-together which was organised at Finance Minister Amin Jung’s residence. It was attended by a large number of the city’s elites including Sarojini Naidu. Both Tagore and Amin Jung sported long beards. Their beards grazed each other as the two embraced, thereby sparking witty comments from those present.

Prime Minister Maharaja Kishen Pershad, then serving his second term in office, was a consummate poet and an embodiment of the courtly culture of Hyderabad. On the spur of the moment he composed the following couplet: “Mehfil mein hain aaj jama do saheb-e-resh, Donon dilshad aur donon dilresh.” (Assembled today are two bearded gentlemen/ Both are cheerful and both have wounded hearts).

Tagore’s visit to Hyderabad drowned the political bickering of people of different affiliations. For a brief period, everyone forgot about their differences and thought only of peace, brotherhood, and poetry. When Tagore passed away in 1941 he was remembered by all those who had met him. All the newspapers in Hyderabad carried lengthy tributes to the poet from Bengal who had fallen in love with Hyderabad and had wanted to build a house in this city.

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