Guwahati: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday visited Gauripur town in Dhubri district to attend the ceremonial handing over of the authority of Hawa Mahal to the State government in Dispur for converting the old bungalow into a heritage monument and museum as tributes to the empress of Goalparia folk music.

Located on the bank of Gadadhar river, a tributary of Brahmaputra, the multistorey house was built by Prabhat Chandra Baruah of the Gauripur royal family and was used by legendary Goalparia folk singer Pratima Baruah Pandey till her demise. Hawa Mahal was constructed in 1914 with the budget of Rs 3.2 lakh. The government has paid Rs 15.20 crore to the family members of Pratima Baruah for parting with the ownership of the property.

Speaking on the occasion, Sarma stated that due to lack of scientific approaches in preserving the bungalow, it was slowly decaying. He exuded confidence that its formal handing over of ownership would ensure the structure with great historical significance would receive its due care and attention from now onwards.

Referring to Hawa Mahal as the place from where Goalparia folk music spread far and wide across the country, Sarma added that the authorities would ensure sentiments of the people of Gauripur to be taken care of while developing the premises. He said the aim was to complete the renovation and restoration work of Hawa Mahal by December 2023 and open it for the public by 1January 2024.

Talking about Pratima Baruah, Sarma described that she was born in a royal family but preferred to live a common individual’s life. Her music was a reflection of her simplicity and extraordinary personality, said Sarma, adding that she was a passionate observer of the relationship between elephants and mahouts, which is vividly reflected in her musical creations.