Historic home in highrise shade - Block of flats set to dwarf Ashutosh Laha Mansion

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 29.05.06

The red house at 96, Raja Rammohan Sarani is often mistaken for the great social reformer?s, after whom what was formerly Amherst Street was renamed. His residence is actually a couple of buildings away.

Its other claim to fame is that it housed a Bengali newspaper office which, of late has shifted to Salt Lake, although one of its supplements is still printed here.

This building was possibly constructed at the turn of the 19th Century and has all the characteristics of the stately homes of Calcutta. It belonged to Hrishikesh Laha (1852-1935), a Bengali businessman and philanthropist who specialised in export and import, owned ships, and was once the sheriff of Calcutta, besides being president of the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce for 26 years.

A big name in Calcutta and the Subarnabanik community to which he belonged like his equally-renowned father, Durgacharan Laha, the title of Raja was bestowed on him in 1913. He had donated a lakh of rupees to the Chinsurah waterworks and Rs 75,000 to Hindu Viswa Vidyalaya.

Hrishikesh Laha?s residence was in keeping with his standing in life and the ambience of this old neighbourhood. But it may not be visible any longer. A new building is reportedly being constructed in front of it and Hrishikesh Laha?s house will have to remain in its shadow for the rest of its existence. A small signboard with ?Under possession of City Construction? written on it says it all.

A building has already come up behind Hrishikesh Laha?s house. It had reportedly been leased out since 1969. Now, it will be eclipsed by a block of flats.