People frequenting in the Esplanade area may have noticed a small and rather unimpressive pavilion at the north-west corner of the erstwhile Curzon Park, renamed as Surendra Nath Banerjee Park and now known as 'Bhasha Uddyan'. If observed carefully, it will be proved to be a beautiful and finely crafted Jaipur Marble pavilion built in the Mughal Style and in fact, an attractive piece of architecture. The pavilion is decorated with nine-foiled cusped arch on each of its four faces, which clearly indicate the influence of the Islamic architectural style.
The unique pavilion was actually meant to shelter a drinking fountain for the public, built in 1898 at the initiative of Lord Curzon. It was named ‘Panioty Fountain’ and was dedicated to the memory of Demetrius Panioty for his faithful and assiduous service towards the Indian Empire, extending over a period of forty two years. A Biblical proverb, ‘A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches’ is inscribed on the top portion of one of the arches, which truly corresponds to the life and works of Demetrius Panioty.
Demetrius Panioty, a Greek, joined the Bengal Secretariat as a writer in 1849 and finally became the Assistant Private Secretary to Governor General Ripon. He was awarded the prestigious C.I.E. (Companion of Indian Empire), an honour awarded by Queen Victoria. After Lord Ripon, he also served several other Viceroys until his death in Simla in 1895.
Due to years of negligence and the consequent lack of maintenance, the pavilion is now in deep distress. The overhanging parts of the roof are severely damaged and need urgent repairing.
It is interesting to note that, Satyajit Ray, the famous film director, used this monument as the location in his film ‘Parash Pathor’, where the main protagonist of the film played by Late Tulsi Chakraborty, found the philosopher's stone on a rainy afternoon.