The Tagore Palace at Pathriaghata, considered as one of the most graceful and majestic colonnaded mansions of colonial Calcutta, was built by Prasanna Coomar of the famous Tagore family of Calcutta.
Tagore or Thakur family was originally Rarhy Kushari Brahmins of Shandilya gotra from Khula, in the eastern part of Bengal, now in Bangladesh. However, they were better known as ‘Pirali Brahmins’. The term ‘Pirali’ preceding ‘Brahmin’ is connected to one Mohammad Tahir Pir Ali, serving under a Muslim governor of Jessore. Originally, he was a Hindu Brahmin, but subsequently converted to Islam, due to some unavoidable circumstances. It is said that, after his conversion, his two other Brahmins brothers also embraced Islam. As a result, the infuriated orthodox Hindu society shunned his all other Hindu relatives, including those, who had not converted. The successors of these Hindu relatives came be known as the Pirali Brahmins and the Thakurs were one among them.
It is considered that, Panchanan Kushari was the first person among the Pirali Brahmins to migrate from Jessore with his brother Sukdeb and settled in the former Gobindapur area, near the River Hoogly. As he started his life as a priest in a temple, the locals started to call him ‘Thakur’. His son Joyram had two sons, Darpanarayan and Nilmoni. Due to a family dispute with his brother over property, Nilmoni left home in 1765 and built an ordinary house in Mechhuabazar. The Tagore family was thus bifurcated into the original Pathuriaghata branch under Darpanarayan and the comparatively new Jorasanko branch under Nilmoni Tagore.
Nevertheless, the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century coincided with the rise of the Tagore family in Pathuriaghata. Some of the distinguished and reputed members of the family are Hara Kumar Tagore (1798-1858), Prasanna Coomar Tagore (1801-1886) and Jatindra Mohan Tagore (1831 – 1908) – who were the forefathers of Prince Dwarkanath Tagore.
Darpanarayan was succeeded by his son Gopimohan Tagore (1760-1818), who donated a huge sum of money for the foundation of the Hindu College in Kolkata in 1817. Gopimohan was the father of Hara Kumar Tagore (1796-1858) and Prasanna Coomar Tagore (1801-1886). Prasanna Coomar was a leading law practitioner in his time and was a member of the governor-generals legislative council. Later, he also became the president of the British Indian Association. Apart from being a director of Hindu college, he was the founder of The Hindu theatre, the first local theatre in Calcutta.
Prasanna Coomar built a huge colonnaded mansion with a decorated pediment in ‘Natehata’ and named it ‘Palace’. However, even in those days, the building was popularly known as ‘Tagore Palace’. The locality, which was once known as ‘Naptehata’, has now become Prasanna Coomar Tagore Street, and the ‘Tagore Palace’ occupies house numbers 13,13A and 13B of this street.
It will be not out of place to mention here that, Prasanna Coomar disowned his son Gnanendra Mohan, as he was converted to Christianity and married the daughter of Reverend Krishna Mohan Banerjee. As a result, Maharaja Sir Jatindra Mohan Tagore, son of his elder brother, Hara Kumar Tagore, inherited the property from Prasanna Coomar, who subsequently constructed the massive Tagore Castle in the vicinity in 1895.
Today, though the pointed pediment of the portico is still supported by six massive Corinthian columns, the facade of the gorgeous palace represents a sad and miserable reminder of its past glory and glamour. The huge building, now hidden in a narrow alley, looks lost in the humdrum of the city.