Monday, October 19, 2009


“Array Tum Kis Khait Ki Mooli Ho ”

said Jeevan ( real Name Onkar Nath Dhar. Jeevan was a kashmiri Pandit from srinagar city ) the actor (villain and Naarad of Hindi cinema ) when my friend Zahoor stood in between the camera and the actor in the plush lawns of Hotel Oberoi Palace Srinagar . Jeeven was shooting for some movie . That day we also saw Ashok Kumar , Sadhana , and her husband R K Nayyar shooting for another movie INTTEQAAM in the Hotel . In between the shots , Ashok Kumar would gulp down glass after glass of his favorite brand from the Bar under the Chinar in the Hotel Lawns .We were brought to the Hotel by Sri Krishen seeru , our teacher in DAV school Rainwari to see film shooting .We would attend his private tuition classes also in the evening . He had some contact in the Hotel .

“Let us unwind the Annual Bank Closing fatigue in the lawns of Oberoi Palace Hotel . we shall have tea over there today . Enough of Ahdoo’s .”

So said my friend Ajodhia Nath Kaul one day before we actually visited the hotel and sat in the majestic lawn overlooking Dal lake . We had tea , cookies and Butter toasts. We paid from our Pocket. The bill sounded expensive . Perhaps a hundred rupee in aggregate .

Later I again visited the hotel with a friend who had his overseas client staying over there. We saw McMohan ( Sambha of sholay ) sipping tea in the lawn . we talked to him for 15 minutes . He appeared to be a simple man , ignorant of the world around him. We moved a little close by to see Amitabh and Rekha ji shooting for Kabhie Kabhie . It could be 1975 or 1976. I am not sure . I was young, just 21 years in age . Amitabh was not approachable .

We had also befriended Mr Mukerjee Manager Finance in the Hotel . He was a tall Bengali Gentle man . He would intimate and invite us for any shooting event in the Hotel. We saw Mary Mcfaden ( Hollywood Dress designer ),V S Naipaul ( second visit ),Dilip kumar , Pran , Sanjay Khan , Waheeda Rehman , Pandit Ravi shanker , Kapoors ( Raj Sahib , Shammi ji, Shashi ji, Randhir and Rishi ), Hema Malini ,Johny Walker ,Sunil Dutt and many more names in the world of theatre ,cinema and fine arts. The hotel used to be Maharaja’s palace previously when dr karan singh leased it out to East India Hotels , a company managing Oberoi Hotels .
The location , The lawns , The royal buildings , Chinars , orchards , Zabarwan forest ( The hotel is situated in the forest itself ), The High and spacious lobby and its royal customers attracted every one. Once we saw late Adul Gani Lone ( later Hurriyat leader ) in the billiards room of the Hotel . He had long hair and wore elegantly tailored three piece suit and spoke fluent English . He was possibly education minister of our state at that time. Lone sahib was well informed , sharp , intelligent and had earned public goodwill with his work in the ministry .

I visited the hotel recently and was informed that the hotel had to be closed for some years due to prevailing Law and order situation in the valley . The oldest guard in the hotel also informed that wild animals would openly come down from the Zabarwan forest and roam in the Hotel lawns .Quite often they would burn Fire all night to keep the wild bears away who came for eating fruirts from the Hotel Orchard .Presently Lalit Suri family has taken over the management of the Hotel . More rooms have been added . The lawns are better maintained . The Hotel has come back to its past glory . The actors , artists , Top corporate executives , Hollywood actors and any one or every one who can afford to pay the tariffs bees into this lovely Hotel. The drive up from the Main road , the Orchards , The Flower gardens , The chinars are as inviting as they used to be .Enjoy some views of the hotel with some lines from Firaq Gorakhpuri’s poem .
Firaq sahib was a professor in Allahabad University and taught English . P B Shelley was his favourite poet .He wrote beautiful gazals . Beauty be it from the nature’s own side or its lovely creation: “WOMAN” touched Firaq. His real name was Raghupati Sahay . He lived an unhappy married life . Suffered from pangs of loneliness and Separation .He was close to Nehru family and Hari vansh Rai Bachan( a fellow professor of English in Allahabad university and Amitabh’s father ). Gandhi ji Called him “ Spoiled Genius of India.

Sar Me Sauda bhi nahin Dil me Tamanaa bhi nahin

Lekin Iss Tarqe Mohabaat Ka Bharosaa bhi nahin

Muddatein Guzree teri yaad bhi Aayee na hamein

Aur hum Bhool Gayein Hon Tujhe Aisa Bhi Nahin.

Muhn Se Hun Apne Burraa To Nahin Kahate ki FIraq

Hai Tera Dost Magar Aadmi Achha Bhi Nahin

(Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Raat Bhi Neend bhi Kahaani Bhi

Haye kyaa cheez hai Jawani Bhi

Paas Rehna Kissi ka Raat Ki Raat

Mehmaani Bhi Mezbaani Bhi .

(Firaq Gorakhpuri)


  1. Very exhaustive and enthralling post. The memories of past have been visited by your post and the wounds of separation from motherland made sore again. Photographs have been excellent.

  2. Thanks haku sahib and thanks vinesh ji. Isn't kashmir unforgetable /

  3. What a trip down memory lane, Autar-ji. Back in the 80s, you simply had to go to this hotel if you wanted to catch a glimpse of Hindi film superstars. (I managed to Get Amitabh Bachchan's autograph while he was shooting for "Laawaris"!)

  4. Thanks for the comments .In fact i saw almost everybody in this Hotel who had something to do with the film Industry or fine arts .

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