Who has not been mesmerised by this maverick genius of Indian cinema? To say that he is a legendary singer doesn’t do justice to his genius. He was also wonderful actor, director, producer, music composer. In short, he was one and only Kishoreda!
When we were planning the road trip to Gujarat and Rajasthan in Chritmas last year, we had different route options. We had just seen “Bajirao Mastani”. When we dug deep into the history of Bajirao, we could see that Bajirao had died due to illness on the banks of Narmada in Raverkhedi and was buried there. Scindia rulers had built a memorial for him. This made the road trip more interesting. Instead of going via Pune, we now changed the route to go via Nagpur to Indore which was the first stop. As we continued to brainstorm, Poorna suggested that we should also visit Khandwa which was the birthplace of Kishore Kumar and on the way to Indore. Everyone got excited on listening to this and Khandwa became another stopover.
We left Nagpur early in the morning after a quick breakfast. The road to Khandwa via Betul was a pleasure. We never expected it. Especially, the new road between Nagpur and Betul which is a lovely four lane road. We took a detour to Khandawa after Betul and for the next hundred kilometres we were driving in deciduous dry forests of Madhya Pradesh. The winding roads through the forests was a pleasure to drive. This route will be a riot of colours in march when flame of the forests will be in bloom. When we reached Khandwa, it was lunch time.
Khandwa is a small town. It is in the tribal heartland of central India. The first thing we asked locals as soon as we landed was about Kishore Kumar. Everyone in the city knows him and recalls some facet of him. We had a quick lunch and went to see the bungalow where Kishore Kumar was born and brought up. Checking with locals, we were guided to a big bungalow in the middle of the main bazar.
The signage in front of the house said it all. “Gauri-Kunj Ganguly House” said a sign on the small gate of the house. It was not hard for us to understand the reason. Kishore Kumar’s mother’s name was Gauri Ganguly and his father’s name was Kunji Lal Ganguly. Thus the name. Kishore Kumar Ganguly was born and brought up in this hosue along with his famous siblings Ashok Kumar and Anup Kumar. This house was very dear to Kishore Kumar.
We opened the gate and entered the house. The house was in bad shape.It seemed that the house had not been whitewashed for years. The walls were blackish and plaster had fallen off at many places. The caretaker of the house – Sita Ram – became our guide as he showed us the house. Sita Ram has been taking care of the house for more than forty years.
“You must have seen Kishoreda’ we asked.
‘Yes,’ said Sita Ram.
We requested him to tell us about how was it when Kishore Kumar came to Khandwa.
‘Kishore Kumar did not visit Khandwa frequently. But whenever he came, he came with whole family. There would be joyous mood in the house. Kishoreda would ask us to cook many delicacies and sweets,’ said Sita Ram.
After his death in October 1987, no one from the family took interest and we could see the result. It was a sad state of affairs. Here are some pictures of the house.
We bid good bye to Sitaram and paid him some tips. We only hoped that the house will not be razed and would be retained as museum for the legend. Sitaram told us not to miss the memorial built on Khandwa – Indore road on the outskirts of the city.
Few minutes drive out of the town, we were on the highway. Five minutes of drive on the highway, we could see a signage for his memorial. Built in Dholpur red stone, it is a sprawling memorial. Someone had conceptualised well and built it. As usual, it is not well maintained. There was no one taking care of it and the gate was closed. We opened the gate and entered inside and moved around.
When we were about to leave, the caretaker came running. He asked if we had seen the memorial and if we needed any help.
Our pilgrimage was over. We left after paying homage to one and only Kishore Kumar. For his memorable songs, for his histrionics and his exciting life!
Long Live Kishoreda.
Postscript – It is time for a campaign to convert this house into a nice museum showcasing Kishoreda. What is your say?
a) Khandwa is well connected by Train and bus. The nearest airport is Indore.
b) It is a district headquarters. Except for Kishore Kumar’s house and memorial, there is nothing much to see in town.
c) Khandwa can be made as base to explore Narmada region. Omkareshwar, one of the Jyotirlingas, Maheswar and Mandleshwar are all abodes of Shiva on Narmada. Can be explored from Khandwa.
d) The accommodation in Khandwa may not be great.
e) After rains, the forests of Khandwa will be lovely with few picnic spots. For more details on what to visit, you can check this link Around Khandwa