Laha Bari - Prominent Palaces
30-12-2018    229 times
Laha Bari

Like the other buildings of the rich and the famous people of the colonial Calcutta, the Laha Bari, on Bidhan Sarani, is also ornamented with large porticos and colonnaded verandas that are a perfect match to the exquisite chandeliers and stained glass windows. With time, the size of the family increased with the addition of new members and to meet the situation, new buildings were constructed around the locality. At present there are at least four wings of the Laha Family and their residential buildings are situated at 2A Bidhan Sarani (erstwhile College Street), 121 Mukataram Babu Street, 50A, Kailash Bose Street, and 1 Bechu Chatterjee Street. The beautiful building, located at 2A Bidhan Sarani is very near to the Thanthania Kali Bari and the building on Bechu Chatterjee Street is located just opposite to the Kalibari. The building at 121 Muktaram Babu Street is the lane just after the Bina Cinema Hall and Kailash Bose Street is near to the Sreemani Market on Bidhan Sarani alias College Street.

Laha Bari - Bidhan Sarani
Laha Bari - Bidhan Sarani

It is said that, in an article published in a magazine named ‘Subarnobanik Samachar’, Shri Narendra Nath Laha wrote about the history of almost all the ancient and famous families of Calcutta. But the name of Laha Family was conspicuously absent in the article. It is believed that, the first generation of Laha family, Madhu Mangal Low (Laha) had a roaring business at Saptagram and the Durga Puja of Laha Bari was started by Late Bhagibati Charan Laha. However, the Puja flourished about 170 years ago, during the time of Late Prankrishna Laha, who had developed a huge profitable business. Others opined that, Rajiblochan Low, father of Pran Krisha started it about 200 years ago. People say that, Rajiblochan was a very religious and ritualistic person.

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Once, while in his sleep, he was directed by Devi Durga to perform the Puja in his residence. That was the beginning, and even today the descendants of his three sons - Pran Krishna, Naba Krishna and Bata Krishna - continue to perform the Puja in turn, in their respective residences. Accordingly, today the Puja is held alternately at Bidhan Sarani building of Kristodas Laha, at the Muktaram Babu Street of Ramcharan Laha, at Kailash Bose Street House of Joygobinda Laha and at Bechu Chatterjee Street of Parbaticharan Laha.

However, the family idol of the Goddess is unlike the traditional image of Durga, it is something unique in a sense. Here Duga is seen sitting on the lap of Lord Shiva – without the Lion and without the Mahishasur. The idol is known as ‘Hara Gouri&rsquo or ‘Shiva Durga’.

Laha Bari - Bidhan Sarani
Thakur dalan
Thakur dalan
Durga Puja in Laha Bari
Durga Puja in Laha Bari

In the rich history of Calcutta’s famous and aristocratic families during the colonial period, the Lahas will always stand out as patrons and connoisseur of art. The family has marvelous collection of art and sculpture. Most of the artworks were collected by Bhabani Charan Laha, who himself was a gifted painter. He mixed naturalism with Indian sensibility. Apart from portrait and landscape painting in water colour and oil colour, he also worked to illustrate various incidents, based on the mythological events of Ramayana, Mahabharata and other literary themes. He had collected several paintings, sculptures, ceramics and antiques from all over the globe, including Europe and East Asia. The valuation of the collection is rather unimaginable or priceless. Parbati Charan, another member of the family, had close friendship with the famous painter Hemen Majumdar, who had contributed much to his art collection.

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During the end of the year 2009, a theft of valuable articles was reported to the police. Times of India reported on 4th Dec 2009 that, the police finally ascertained the list of the articles stolen from Laha Bari, and they confirmed everyone's worst fears - they were priceless.

Laha Bari - Bidhan Sarani
Laha Bari - Bidhan Sarani
Laha Bari - Bidhan Sarani
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    Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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