I visited Ratnagiri this December after almost a decade. Ratnagiri is a beautiful coastal port town in Konkan Maharashtra.
A few kilometers away from Ratnagiri station is Malgund, a quaint village with narrow lanes, lush green trees, rustic houses with sloped roof tiles, and an extremely special memorial, Dedicated to Krishnaji Keshav Damle who wrote by the pen name Kavi Keshavsut, because of this exceptional personality Malgund is known as the poetry capital of Maharashtra. Malgund is merely at a distance of 2km from Ganpatipule, a famous lord Ganesha temple (Paschim Dwar devata) which exists since the era of Peshwa’s. Kavi Keshavsut is known as the father of modern Marathi poetry.
Kavi Keshavsut was born on 15th March 1866. Even though he was a teacher by profession his true calling was poetry. Kavi keshavsut’s ancestral home and its adjoining land were in possession of Malgund education society, they decided to give it to Konkan Marathi Sahitya Parishad (also known as Komasap) for the purpose of building a memorial in the name of Kavi Keshavsut. This memorial was inaugurated by the great poet Kusumagraj in 1994, later for the purpose of tourism the government of Maharashtra granted komasap funds for expansion and beautification of the memorial.
In the year 1905, At the young age of 39 Keshavsut passed away. He wrote 132 poetries in his short lifespan, yet his contribution made history.
This memorial is open for visitors from 9 am to 6 pm, the entrance fee being 10rs. Also, an Information pamphlet is provided to all the visitors.
On the left side after entering the premises stands Kavi keshavsut’s home, it’s a peaceful well maintained Konkani-style countryside home. The surrounding area of the memorial is quiet. Kavi Keshavsut’s belongings are restored and kept in his home. I was in awe of this place, the moment I entered, I felt as though I am living in the 18th century, the entrance was decorated with traditional rangoli. Just like Old Konkani homes, this house also consists of various rooms like padawi(veranda), Ota (Sitting space for visitors), Maazghar (Hall), Devghar (Small room for worshiping God) and Swaipakghar(kitchen), Nahanighar(bathroom).
His writing table is kept in his living room, and his famous poem Nava shipayi Is displayed in the room he was born. An old lamp hanging on the wall adds a vintage touch to the architecture.
After stepping out of the house from the back door, is a beautiful garden adjoining a space consisting of Kavi Keshavsut’s poetry carved on granite stones.
After walking further into the premises is a beautiful pond with lotus and home to a bunch of frogs. On the wall behind the pond are two famous lines from Kavi Keshavsut’s poetry.
“प्राप्तकाल हा विशाल भूधर सुंदर लेणी तयात खोदा” which means, “live in the present moment and carve a beautiful path for yourself on planet earth.”
Further on the premises is a graceful statue of Kavi Keshavsut, and towards the left is a vast library consisting of various genres of Marathi literature. There is a sitting space for reading books and newspapers, accompanied by the chirping sound of birds.
On the right side of the library is a Photo and Poetry library which displays the literary contributions of various famous Marathi writers and poets like Freedom fighters and poet Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Kavivarya Kusumagraj, Poet Anil, Poet Yashwant, Poet Vinda karandikar, and more.
Inside the premises is a vast open theatre for cultural and literary events.
Two of Kavi keshavsut’s famous poetries are Tutari and Nava Shipayi, the Konkan railways paid their tribute to Kavi Keshavsut by naming a train after his famous poetry TUTARI, Tutatri express runs between DADAR (Mumbai) and SAWANTWADI (Konkan).
The main attraction at this memorial is a tall statue of a man holding a TUTARI (trumpet) and Kavi Keshavsut handwritten poetry is carved on a granite stone, it was written on 28th March 1893 in Mumbai.
एक तुतारी द्या मज आणुनि
फुंकिन मी जी स्वप्राणाने,
भेदुनि टाकिन सगळी गगनें
दीर्ध जिच्या त्या किंकाळीने,
अशी तुतारी द्या मजलागुनी.
– कवी केशवसुत.
Kavi Keshavsut is known as the father of modern Marathi poetry as before his work was published Marathi poetry consisted of abhang’s and panditi kavya, these poetry were devoted to gods and goddesses, and poetries depicting Hindu mythology. In the 18th century when the nation was ruled and oppressed by the Britishers when the dark clouds of superstition were hovering over India and Maharashtra Kavi keshavsut stood firmly and wrote his heart out about social reformation, superstition, all wrongdoings, orthodox traditional beliefs, and dogma.
I consider myself lucky, I had the chance to visit this gem of a memorial. This is the first memorial I have visited which is dedicated to a great Poet of the 18th century. I am immensely inspired by this extraordinary personality, a poet of the 18th century who wrote fearlessly and had such a strong vision for independent India.
People from all walks of life take inspiration from the literary work of Kavi Keshavsut, especially people who worship Marathi literature. Special appreciation and thanks to veteran writer and Padmashree awardee Shri. Madhu Mangesh Karnik, through his vision and dedication this memorial was brought to life.
I humbly request my readers to visit this memorial on their trip to Ratnagiri. Where else will you get to experience the vintage aura of the 18th century?