It was surprising that the magnificent Netaji Museum located in the Oriya Bazar of Cuttack is a hardly known place. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was born in Cuttack on January 23, 1897. His ancestral house, the Janakinath Bhawan, in Odia bazaar area, where Netaji spent his early childhood, has been converted into the Netaji Birthplace Museum and exhibits memorabilia associated with the leader. The museum now has 15 galleries displaying rare photographs, letters written by the Netaji to his father and other family members during his stay in various jails, household articles used by Netaji, his uniform of the Indian National Army and many other rare artifacts. It is unfortunate that many other freedom fighters who did not toe the conventional Congress line, Netaji’s Museum is neglected. While nation will be celebrating his 117th birth anniversary, there is a need to revisit the place where Netaji’s personality was groomed.
While talking to the visiting tourists of Odisha, it was visible that most of them were not aware of the fact that Netaji Subash Chandra Bose was born and grew up in Cuttack, Odisha. Perhaps his Bengali name gives the false illusion that he was from West Bengal. Though the concept of the museum is pleasant and connects with the unknown facets of Netaji’s life, it is hardly sold. The light and sound show which was supposed to be functional in 2009 is yet to see the light.
The museum is a two storey house and each room has each stage of his life as a gallery which can be visited with a nominal entry fee. The Museum comprises of a ground floor and a first floor. Each room has an exhibit. There are 12 galleries: Gallery 1: Study Room (contains the table and chair of Netaji and book shelves); Gallery 2: Early life (Has exhibits and photos of the early life of Netaji); Gallery 3: Prison life (This depicts his life in prison with letters written by him from the prison. The table has his characteristic spectacle frame); Gallery 4: Political life (The gallery has photographs of the events of his participation in the freedom struggle and interactions with various Indian leaders); Gallery 5: National Bank of Azad Hind Ltd. (Netaji started a bank to fund the activities for the freedom struggle. In this gallery there are the application forms for opening the account, currency notes and letters); Gallery 6: Netaji and INA (This gallery depicts the activities of Netaji in various activities in establishing the INA. There are samples of the dress of the INA soldiers. There is an original sword that was used by the INA women cadre); Gallery 7: Provisional Government of Azad Hind (has the INA insignia, stamps and various other photographs); Gallery 8: Azad Hind Radio (Netaji started a radio service. An exhibit of a radio and the items he used for the transmission are placed here); Gallery 9: Netaji’s Birth Room (This was the room where Netaji was born. The room has the cot, the book having the write up of his birth and photographs); Gallery 10: Letters and furniture (has the original iron cot, stools, table lamp and easy chair used by Netaji); Gallery 11: Family life (shows his family life depicted through photographs of his wife and family, sofa set and chair); Gallery 12: Household (has exhibits of crockery, glass tumblers, spoons, letters written to his father from prison and various other household items). . Netaji’s rare letters stating his vision for strong and independent India is the most touching thing at the museum.
If life of such revolutionary freedom fighter is exhibited well, it can become a source of inspiration for generations to come.
Some interesting facts about Netaji
p Netaji’s death in a plane crash is still not proven by any evidence. There are many evidences in favour of Netaji’s existence in Russia and India even after many years of India’s independence. The Mukherjee Commission was the latest one to have submitted the report as late as in 2006.
p Netaji refused to obey the prohibition to carry his umbrella while meeting the Governor General at his office in Kolkata after being successful in Indian Civil Services (ICS) examination. It was then a traditional dignity to carry the umbrella for every Bengali gentleman. When the Governor General objected to this, asking him to explain his behavior, he dared to put the umbrella around the neck of British Governor General and warn him to mind his behavior.
p During his stay in Berlin in the year 1943, Netaji had established the Free India Center and Azad Hind Radio station. In January 1943, the Japanese invited Bose to lead the Indian nationalist movement in East Asia. He accepted and left Germany on February 8 and later led INA.
p Bose travelled from Germany to Madagascar by a German Sub-marine named U-180 and from there a Japanese sub-marine called I-29 took him to Japan. The voyage in two sub-marines covering such a long distance was extremely hazardous.
p Bose was incarcerated 11times in 20 years, and British also tried to murder him.