Kolkata’s Gen-Y believes in indulging in the western culture in this 21st century. Hence, we always see today’s generation spending their ‘quality’ time at restaurants, be it at a mall or some normal hotel or at a ‘dhaba’.
But how many of the Gen – Y section believes in going to some old yet amazing hotels? Especially when it is just at the heart of Kolkata, and when it has its own history of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as its customer? Our reporter Debjani Sarkar enlightens us with more details along with excellent photography by Sashi Ghosh.
‘Swadhin Bharat Hindu Hotel’ is located just beside Presidency University at College Street (Bhawani Dutta Lane). This hotel has an interesting history:
Mangovind Ponda from Odisha started this hotel in Kolkata in 1927 in the name of ‘Hindu Hotel’. Being a youth leader, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was its regular food-eater. Not only had that, several freedom fighters, including Rishi Aurobindo, lunch and dinner here. Not only did they indulge in its amazing delicacies, but they also hid here during their revolution. Post independence, the name was changed to its present one on January 25. Even today, this hotel teems with Bengali customers, everyday.
The best part of this hotel is that it still believes in old traditions. It serves food in banana leaf with water served in earthen glasses. Bengali’s favourite dish, fish, is an essential and most prioritized delicacy served here. Everyday, a minimum of 12-13 types of fish dishes are prepared which includes Rui macher kalia, Chitol macher korma, Pabdar jhal, Chingrir malaikari and many others. Other delicacies include Macher matha die mug dal, Pui-bitulir chochhori, Alu bhaja, Seka papad and Aam er chatni.
Arunansha Ponda, a relative of Mangovinda said that the Bengalis does not like having the same dish every day. Hence, different items are prepared daily. He also informed us that hand-made spices are used in cooking. Since, it mainly caters to students of colleges and universities; they have kept their rates reasonable. But he also points out that not only students, but people from different sparks of life visits there.
Arunansha, a student of cinematography, has heard about Netaji-Aurobindo’s visit to the hotel, from his grandfather-father. He said that Netaji had food here while he was a student at Presidency. Thinking this gives him goosebumps. He lets us know that he has a wish to open branches in several parts of the city, but failed due to unavailability of land.
One of our old tradition remains through such wonderful hotels in the city. And food-lovers like us keeps it alive!
Edited By Saheli Dey