Ukil Bari – The Chattopadhyay Clan

Ukilbari (a Bengali word, meaning Lawyers’ House) was established about 175 years ago by Sri Manmathanath Chatterjee at erstwhile Mondal Street (now Netaji Subhash Road). Manmathanath was a lawyer and became subjudge in Dacca (now in Bangladesh). However, this house is still called Natun Bari (new house) by other Chatterjee family members whose ancestral house is known as ‘Chatterjee bari’

Few notable persons of this house

1) Nalini Mohan:
Eldest son of Manmathanath famous Ayurvedacharyan and principal of a renowned college. He translated William Shakespeare’s “Mid Summer Night’s Dream” into Bengali which was published by a Calcutta Publisher.

2) Jamini Mohan :
Youngest son of Manmathanath. He was a famous lawyer & practiced at Chinsurah and Serampara courts. His large portrait still adorns Serampara Bar Association Library.

Manmathanath’s other two sons were also lawyers who practiced in Hooghly district court.

3) Alokenath :
Second son of Nalini Mohan, Aloknath (popularly known as Alkubabu), was a brilliant student of Calcutta University in law & English. He started his carrier as a lawyer in Serampara court but soon relocated to a humble village high School in Uttarpara as Assistant Headmaster, leaving his high profile law practice. Aloknath subsequently became Headmaster of Uttarpara Town School (Now Amarendra Vidyapith). He was a leading educational light in Uttarpara and took active part in setting up large number of educational institutions in and around Uttarpara

4) Byomkesh :
Youngest son of Nalini Mohan, Byomkesh was an accomplished actor and organizer of cultural functions. He took part or directed many memorable cultural performances in Uttarpara. His contribution towards development of Uttarpara Jai Krishna Public Library” is still remembered by library lovers.

5) Hrishikesh :
Grandson of Manmathanath and son of Mohini Mohan – Hrishikesh was an eminent Uttarpara resident who organized numerous social and cultural movements. He joined Indian National Congress and took part in non-cooperation movement led by famous Gandhian leader Satish Desguptha, while studying in College. His other colleagues were Sri Atulaya Ghosh, Sri Binoy Chowdhary, Sri S K Sirajul Haque etc of that period.

Hrishikesh, a cousin of Biplabi Amarendranath Chattopadhya, took active part in freedom movement and went to jail several times. He was one of the founder members of Indian People’s Revolutionary Party. Later, Hrishikesh joined trade union movement and was associated with numerous trade union organization. He took active part in the development of Uttarpara Joy Krishna Public Library and was founder member many local organizations like Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra, West Bengal Tourist’s Association, Uttarpara Sri Arabinda Parishad etc.

6) Chaitanya Dev:
Eldest son of famous lawyer Jamini Mohan – Chaitanya Dev was a notable person for many reasons.

A famous artist and revolutionary – Chainatanya Dev took to gun and paint brush with equal ease and aplomb. He took his first lessons of fine arts at Calcutta Govt. Arts College and later learnt the fine nuances of subtle Bengal art from at “Jorasako Thakur Bar” under the guidance of Silpacharya Abanindranath Tagore.

Involved in revolutionary movement and convicted in famous “Dakshineswar Bomb” case, he was exiled to a remote place near Kalimpang, Darjeeling from Alipore Central jail. He was principal of “Indian Society of Oiental Art.” He is famous for his “Bengal Style” water colour paintings, popular among art connousiers. His paintings were published in Prabasi, Bharat Barsha, Modern Reviews etc. He became president of Prabasi Banga Sahitya Sanmelan. His two books Kalipuja Chitrabali and Durga Puja Chitrabali were published by Calcutta University. His disciples have set up “Chaitanya Kala Bigyan Kendra” art gallery in his memory.

7) Sisir Kumar :
Grand son of Manmathanath and son of famous lawyer Gopi Mohan, Sisir Kumar was a brilliant student of Calcutta University. After completing his M.Sc Geology – he went to England and did his Ph.D. from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, affiliated with the London University.

He became Supt. Geologist in Geological Survey of India after returning from England. However, soon became disgusted with Bureaucratic system. Finally, he left his job and set up a shop in College street “Indian Silk Kutir” to popularise Indian silk in domestic and foreign markets

We gratefully acknowledge help from Dr. Niranjan Chatterjee, son of Sisir Kumar, who, following his father’s footprint, did Doctorate from the University of Goettingen and held a professorship for Mineralogy at the Ruhr University Bochum from 1970 to 1997. Interested persons may contact him at Detmold, Germany – Editor

The Ukil Bari still stands tall in Netaji Subhash Road, Uttarpara. Though divided in many parts among the grandsons and great grand sons of its founder Manmathanath – it is a familiar landmark in Uttarpara. The famous play ground, theatre stage, garden and ponds are no longer there – but people of Uttarpara still remember and respect the family and its contribution to social, academic and cultural development of Uttarpara.