Novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Dream House ‘Samtaber’

More than 80 kilometers from Kolkata, Deulti is a small village on the bank of river Rupnarayan, but what makes it unique is its status as the village that Bengal’s Iconic Storyteller Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (1876-1938), quite possibly the most read, translated, and adapted Indian author of all time, has made his home for 12 years from 1923. He then moved to Calcutta, where he died three years later in the year 1938.

‘Sarat Kuthi’, as the house is called, is in the small village of Samta, which Sarat Chandra himself renamed Samtaber. He bought the plot of land for building the house in 1919. Though he was born in Debanandapur, a small village in Hooghly, he spent most of his childhood at his maternal uncle’s home in Bhagalpur, Bihar. As an adult he moved to Burma, after few years distraught by the death of his first wife and new born child he returned to live for 11 years in Baje Shibpur, which is also in Howrah.

The house at Samta was built at a cost of approximately Rs 17,000, and Novelist Sarat Chandra started living here from February, 1923. Many of his most popular novels, such as Devdas, Baikunther Will, Dena Paona, Datta, Nishkriti, and shorter fiction such as Mahesh and Ramer Sumati were written during his stay here.

Sarat Kuthi is Burmese in design, which is possibly his inspiration from his stay in Burma now Myanmar . Today, the renovated, two-storeyed structure houses many of the author’s personal belongings, and also accommodates a mini library. The house was also declared a heritage-historical site under the West Bengal Heritage Commission Act (IX) of 2001.

The Rupnarayan river is just a stone’s throw from the house. Strolling through the building, one can see furniture of Burma teak, Sarat Chandra’s writing desk, a Japanese clock, his hookah, charkha and bookshelves, all preserved with great care. The homeopathy chamber he set up to treat patients free of cost still stands today.

The house was also home to Sarat Chandra’s second wife Hironmoyee Debi, and his brother Swami Vedananda, who was a disciple at Ramakrishna Math, Belur Math. All of their samadhis are in the gardens around the building, which also house the bamboo and guava trees planted by the novelist himself. Though there are no official guides, but a caretaker named Dulal Babu will show you around.