The room at the old Budge Budge station, where Swami Vivekananda took rest after reaching the place following his success in the west, has been converted into an office room of the Chief Yard Master.
The jetty where the steamer carrying the monk had reached Budge Budge is also in a shambles. Only a plaque unveiled by Swami Lokeswaranandaji depicting the story of that day is the lone witness to the historic chamber.
On February 19, 1897 Swamiji had reached Budge Budge Ferry Ghat after a few days stay in South India while returning from the West. He delivered several lectures in South India before coming to his motherland. He had set out for Calcutta on February 15 and reached Budge Budge after four days. His steamer was anchored at jetty number 6 at Budge Budge as there was a road connecting the old Budge Budge station situated around 500 metre from the jetty. He took a train from there to reach Sealdah Station. On the auspicious day, the old Budge Budge station was decorated with flowers and hundreds of people had welcomed Swamiji. After reaching Sealdah, youth had removed the horses of the carriage in which he travelled and drove him to Pashupati Bose’s house in North Kolkata.
However, hardly anything is being done after 119 years of the day to let today’s youth know about the historic importance of the place.
The present condition of the jetty where he had stepped in Bengal after returning from the West is shocking. It would be hard to believe even that there was a jetty once as it was completely damaged leaving behind a few iron pillars coming out of the river Hooghly. Those too get submerged under the water during high tide.
According to the policemen posted at the outpost in Budge Budge, many people often come to have a watch of the jetty without knowing that it had damaged “due to lack of maintenance” and return without getting a glimpse of the place as it is within the area of the Kolkata Port Trust where outsiders are not allowed. The reason behind not allowing outsiders is that huge oil tankers of different petroleum companies are situated in the area.
There were in all eight jetties of the Kolkata Port Trust from gate number 1 to Budge Budge Kali Bari. At present, two including jetty number 1 where Swamiji had set his foot have been completely damaged. The place is also historically significant for the incident of Komagata Maru in which 19 people were shot dead by the British soldiers in 1914 and it is the same jetty where the Japanese steamship Komagata Maru had anchored after 350 passengers including 340 Sikhs on board were not allowed to disembark in Canada.
After getting down on the jetty, Swamiji walked up to the then Budge Budge station that at present is functioning only to pass oil tankers and goods trains and took rest in a room.
The chair on which he had taken rest has been sent to the railway museum at Howrah, according to a person who was found working in a computer installed in the room bearing a nameplate of “Chief Yard Master”.
A marble half bust of Swamiji has been kept at the corner of the room, where the chair was positioned when he took rest and there is a photo frame of the great monk on the wall of the room.
Local people who take interest in the life and works of Swami Vivekananda have expressed their grief as no steps were taken for preservation of such an important place.
When approached, Prakash Sarkar, Senior Assistant Traffic Manager, KoPT’s Budge Budge Petroleum Wharf, said that it was brought to his knowledge by some people and he would discuss about it with the senior authorities.