Can an ideal Muslim Mosque structure be the inspiration for the creation of a clock tower in a Hindu-majority pre-Independence Santiniketan? – The question, no matter how ironic it apparently appears, indeed has a positive answer!
Built out of a donation by Satyendraprasanna Sinha of Raipur, the first Indian Advocate-General of pre-Independence Bengal in 1926, under the supervision of artist-architect Surendranath Kar, Singha Sadan, a clock tower located within the Ashram Complex of Vishwa Bharati University is an architectural miniature of the 15th century Atala Mosque in Jaunpur, the one that’s considered an archetype for the construction of other mosques in the vicinity.
To decipher the logic behind this discernible irony, we must delve a little deeper into the the-then socio-political scenario of Shantiniketan, and identify the true roots of this appreciable harmony.
Under the influence of an emerging Brahmoism, the Hindu reform movement started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, where instead of superstitious and idolatrous practices, the concept of monotheistic God got promoted, Shantiniketan and Viswa-Bharati University, founded by the famous Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, became a hot seat for cultural and religious exchange and international cooperation – thereby allowing inspirations to flow across the bounds of religion and caste.
Therefore, the purchase consideration of the land paid to the Sinha family of Raipur was returned to Tagores by Lord Sinha, and that same quota got utilised to realize this Singha Sadan structure that sports a bell tower with a functional belfry – the one which still gets used till date for regulating the daily routines of the ashram inmates. The playground in front is Gour Prangan and on both sides, the Singha Sadan structure is flanked by Purvatoran and Paschimtoran where classes are being held till today.
And to add more glory to the history of the structure, it was in this Singha Sadan building in 1940 that the famed Oxford University conferred its coveted honorary doctorate of literature upon Rabindranath Tagore.
So, the next time you suffer from a history bug, plan a trip and hopscotch to Shantiniketan without a second thought – we, at Mohor Kutir Resorts, will be delighted to serve you. Equipped with all modern luxurious amenities, we are one of the premier resorts for a relaxing stay at Shantiniketan: Taste a variety of lip-smacking dishes at our in-house restaurant ‘Panchmeshali’, unwind in the cozy comfort of your hotel room, have a splash in the pool, take a stroll around the history-warped locales or waltz into the lush greenery, the choice is yours to make!