In memory of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

In memory of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

September 15, 2014

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, born in Debanandapur in Hooghly district (then part of Bengal Presidency) September 15, 1876, celebrates his 138th birth anniversary today. Many of his literary works portrayed rural Bengali society, warts and all. He often wrote against the social superstitions and oppressions of that era. His first published story was ‘Mandir’.

Due to his difficult financial conditions, Sarat Chandra left his college education midway and went to Burma (now Myanmar) to earn money in 1903. Before his departure, he submitted a short story for a prize competition under the name of Surendranath Ganguli, his uncle; it won the first prize in 1904. In Burma (then a part of the British empire), he found employment with a government office in the capital, Rangoon (now Yangon). He also spent twenty years of his life in Bhagalpur in Bihar, his experiences in which town formed the landscape of quite a few of his novels.

In his later years, he moved to a house he built in Samtaber, or Samta, a small village near Rupnarayan River in Howrah district.

Sarat Chandra's house in Samtaber village

Samtaber to become a tourist spot

The house in Samtaber was a large one: lavishly built and fitted up. It cost Rs 17,000, which was a fairly large sum of money at that time. He spent twelve years of his life in this place, from 1926 to 1938 (in which year he died). During these years he divided his time between Samtaber and Kolkata.

This house is soon going to be in the 'must visit' list on West Bengal's tourism map. The state government is planning to convert the house, and the village itself, into a tourist spot.

When Sarat Chandra lived there, the Rupnarayan River flowed close to his house; in fact, so close that the writer could get a direct view of it from his bedroom. Though it has moved some distance away, erosion of the banks is posing a threat to the house. The government will repair the embankment along the riverfront to make the house secure. The house suffered some damage during a flood after which some renovation was done.

The village is easily reachable from Deulti station. The government is planning to introduce a bus service, too, from Esplanade.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s house in Samtaber

Literary pilgrimage

Most of the celebrated author's personal belongings are preserved in the house. Apart from the author's 'samadhi', the major attractions for visitors are the writing table and chair used by him, along with an armchair, in his ground-floor study. The bed used by the author on the first floor is still there and so are some other furniture and books. His chappal and walking stick can also be seen. The kitchen and the puja mandap are also worth a visit. Apart from a collection of his works, some books read by him as well as some personal letters have also been preserved.

Here he penned some of his immortal creations like the short stories ‘Mahesh’, ‘Ramer Sumati’, ‘Abhagir Swarga’ and ‘Bamuner Meye’, and the novels Palli Samaj and Srikanta (Part 4).

Sarat Chandra’s room at his house in Samtaber

The pond mentioned by Sarat Chandra in Palli Samaj

Memorial to his immortal creation, the bull Mahesh

Sarat Chandra’s ’samadhi’ in Samtaber

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