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Nimtita turned out to be everything that the old man had claimed — and more. No onecould have described in words the feeling of utter sadness that surrounded the palace.The river Padma had changed its course over the years, so that now there wereendless stretches of sand where once had been villages. The palace itself—Greek35pillars and all — was a perfect realization of my dream image. It stood looking out overthe stretches of sand with a sad dignity. It had somehow escaped being totallydestroyed when the river changed its course. The river had approached within tenyards of the front of the palace — having swallowed the garden — and then stopped.Ganendra Narayan Choudhury, who is seventy and owns a British title and the palace,40told us how it happened : “We were having breakfast one morning when we heard alow rumble. We went out on the verandah and saw a big chunk of our estate — almosta square mile of it — go under water, disappearing forever. It all happened in a matterof seconds. Padma’s appetite is legendary.”“But aren’t you afraid that the river might encroach further ?”45“Oh, yes, the rains bring with them the usual fears.”“Then why do you stay here ?”“We’d sooner go down with the house than leave it and go away.”On returning from our first trip to Nimtita, I telephoned the author, Mr. Banerji. Hehad been just as anxious about the location as we were.50“We’ve found our palace at last, Mr. Banerji,” I said.“Have you ? And where is it ?”“At a little known place called Nimtita.”“Nimtita ?” There was a note of recognition in his voice. “You don’t mean the palace ofthe Choudhurys, do you ?”55“That’s the one.”“But that’s extraordinary! I haven’t been to Nimtita myself, but I’ve read about theChoudhurys in a history of Bengal zamindars, and it was the music-loving UpendraNarayan Choudhury who served as the model for my rajah.”(Extract from a piece written by Satyajit Ray)
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