Serampore (formerly a Danish colony), now a sub-divisional town of Hooghly district of West Bengal had many heritage places. One such place is Unique Lodge (addressed locally as Singha Bari) of 21, Dey Street, Serampore – 712201.
The 130 year old house had many things from antique furniture, curios to clocks and lamps. This house was built by Durga Prasanna Bhattacharyya, a renowned building contractor during the British period. The lodge is unique in architecture meeting the strictest British standards of that era. I was told that the youngest portion of the house was built in 1926. Notun Sadar and the grand staircase was constructed in the early 1930s for an amount of one lakh rupees.
Originally belonging to Debipur of Bardhaman district, the family shifted to Serampore during the middle of the nineteenth century. It was Pandit Kalinath Bhattacharyya, the father of Durga Prasanna Bhattacharyya, who was asked by Pandit Iswarchandra Vidyasagar to come to Serampore to teach Sanskrit and, thereafter the family started living here at Dey Street. But Kalinath died young leaving his son Durga Prasanna, who had an intense desire to become a doctor; but could not fulfil his dream and instead became a renowned building contractor.
Inspired by Raja Rajendra Mullick’s famous Marble Palace’s garden and the zoo, he too owned a zoo, though private, housing Indian and Burmese white peacocks, macaws, cuckoos, African and Australian parrots, white and black swans, exotic pigeons and even spotted deer. Now one can witness different kinds of birds in the verandah of the first floor of the house.
Beautiful statues in the courtyard
Durga Prasanna also owned different species of dogs like Great Danes, Irish setters and English setters. He also bagged a large number of trophies in the dog shows. I have been shown those cups and throphies by his grandson Pradipta Bhattacharyya, who compulsorily visits his paternal property every weekend. Not only that he personally cleans each and every curios and furniture. He said that he is in the habit of purchasing old things and it started a decade back.
Different clocks in Unique Lodge
Mr. Bhattacharyya showed more than a dozen clocks, some of which are quite costly – all in running condition. He personally winds those clocks and I was little surprised and asked him does it last seven days. “Yes”, he answers. His love for his paternal property is reflected in his face.
Different lamp shades in Unique Lodge
When I visited this mansion, I was greeted by Bhattacharyya himself and he took me to a drawing room, which had a beautiful round table with Italian marble coupled with exquisite work from Agra.
I listened to the old Bengali songs being played in a record player and it made me nostalgic. The room temperature is pretty lower compared to outside. Different paintaings and portraits of the family members hung from the wall.
There is a beautiful fountain in the courtyard and a number of wrought iron chairs along with a rare collection of marble statues will surely take you a hundred years back. One can spend much time here and will not be dissapointed. I have been told that there exists 41 rooms – big and small in this two-and-a-half storied heritage house.
The house also has a rare collection of porcelain artefacts, Burma teak furniture, crockeries, chandeliars, and different lamp shades which adds to the beauty of the rooms. The most beautifully decorarted room is in the first floor which also has a large collection of curios and different toy cars – some of which are brought by Pradipta Bhattacharyya from the overseas and all are in spick and span. The carpet though old is beautifully kept. This room had the portraits of the family members and here I found the picture of Pandit Kalinath Bhattacharyya and his wife.
The thakur ghar or the room for worship was basically upstairs but it was now shifted to the ground floor. When I entered the room, a beautiful smell of insence stick makes the entire ambience truly mesmerizing.
I simply can’t believe how two hours were spent in seeing such beautiful things in Unique Lodge and Pradipta babu accompanied me to each and every room. It had truly been a great experience for me and I will always remember this trip to Serampore.
I feel indebted to Sri Praditpta Bhattacharrya who actually helped me a lot.
Date of posting: 9th September, 2018.