Sunday, October 21, 2012



                            ( AHADOO'S   HOTEL, SRINAGAR )

“ I do not know How they mix it. We use Red Label and Green Label tea. Here is your order sir! chicken patties, pineapple pastries and one set tea. Anything else.? ”

Sharma a new waiter in the hotel said this when I asked him the trade secret of tea brewing in the hotel.  Saying so , Sharma moved ahead to take order from another table. I know all the waiters of this hotel. Three of them though old, still serve you delicious patties, excellently brewed tea, fresh pineapple pastries, crisp butter toasts and a variety of non-vegetarian preparations for lunch and dinner including the much relished Kashmiri Wazwaan.

This is Ahdoo”s hotel of Kashmir. Started by an enterprising gentleman Haji Mohammad Sultan,  in 1918 as a bakery cum confectionery shop under the patronage of Maharaja Hari Singh, Very soon the promoter added a restaurant to this shop. Haji Mohammad Sultan had learnt the art of bakery and confectionery from Kolkatta. The Bakery from this shop was bought by Maharaja and his ministers apart from the city's elite including the British residents.

In a short span of time , the Wazwaan of this restaurant became a  much sought after speciality in the valley. 

After Haji Mohammad Sultan, his son Ghulam Hassan took over the business. The baton then passed on to the next generation. 

Visit this place to know the quality of the tea served over here. I have tried to seek the formula of this excellently brewed tea from every waiter. One said that Red Label and Green Label Tea is mixed in the ratio of 75and 25 respectively to create a particular flavour and taste. Another said that the ratio is 60 and 40. I tried both at my place but failed and kept coming to the hotel to have the tea brewed magically. The tea is served in stylish heavy metallic tea sets by the waiters in proper uniforms. Heavy bone china cups, neatly laid out table cloths, laundry fresh napkin sets and the ambience inside makes you feel special. Whatever you order, you are given a cup of chutney free. The waiters are pleased to make your cup of tea if you so desire. Hot chicken patties, delicious pineapple pastries, a variety of cookies, cakes, black forest, crisp butter toasts, Paneer Pakoda, Kebabs, boneless chicken Tikkas and mutton Tikkas can be ordered with tea. For lunch or dinner, you have a variety in vegetarian dishes including green Haak ( Kashmiri delicacy ), Nadru Yakhani and Dam Alu. The non-vegetarians can relish mutton Yakhani ( mutton in yoghurt), Rogan Josh, Gushtaaba, Tabak Maaz ( yoghurt fried mutton from the breast portion ), Ristaa, Methi Maaz (, Chilli Korma, Dhaniwal Korma and chicken. One can also order a plate of complete Wazwaan dishes. They serve a variety of desserts and ice creams. You can also order coffee and juices. The hospitality inside the restaurant has to be experienced to be believed.

The hotel cum restaurant has undergone several changes since 1989. The ground floor is totally occupied by the bakery section and the restrooms. The first floor is used for the restaurant. The second and third floors have well maintained 24 deluxe rooms for the guests. The hotel has also added three spacious conference halls now.

The hotel has two entrances. One from the Residency Road while the other is from the Bund. Internet, resident doctor facility, cab hiring arrangement has also been added for the guests by the hotel management now.

Many memories are tied to this Hotel. Late Mohan Lal Aima and other artists of his team finalized the operational aspects of Dina Nath Nadim”s opera “ Bombur Ta Yemberzal ” over cups of hot tea and sizzling kebabs in this hotel only. So were the shooting sequences of the first Kashmiri movie “Maenziraat ” finalized in this hotel. Some very important meetings which changed the course of political streams in Kashmir took place in this hotel only. Raj Kapoor, Ajit, Saira Bano, Johny Walker, Jeevan, Pran, Dilip Kumar, Balraj Sahni and Kabir Bedi have visited either the Bakery or the restaurant Ahadoo's hotel. There is hardly any Kashmiri writer or artist who has not sat and gossiped with friends in this hotel over a hot cup of tea. We once saw the poet Nida Fazili in the hotel lobby. The present proprietors confirmed to me about the visit of many film stars to their restaurant during good old days prior to 1990.

 In 1985,  I was  attached to a parliamentary delegation that visited Kashmir. Our bank played  the host for this visit. Bal Kavi Bairaagi from Saagar ( M.P. ), Vithal Bhai Patel from Ahemdabad and Prof Samson ( If I remember his name correctly   ) from North East were also the members of this delegation. They were all men of different tastes. Bal Kavi Bairagi became quite friendly. He was a poet/ lyricist who wrote the popular film song “ Tu chanda mein chandini , tu taruvar mein shaakh re , tu badal mein bijri ” for Sunil Dutt’s movie ” Rashma Aur Shera ”. Bairagi Ji and his wife asked me for a good cup of tea and I took them to Ahdoo's. Both relished the tea and the pineapple pastries.

My friends in the bank especially Basharat Fazili, Tej Dhar and Ashok Padroo would pool money to go to Ahdoo’s on every Saturday. Bashrat would order patties, pastries, tea and end up having ice cream as well. Rinchen Bhutia ( A management trainee from Darjeeling who stayed in the valley for more than 15 years and worked with us ), Baleshwar Taneja ( a smart officer who worked in the valley with us ) and even our boss  Mohammad Shahid Aftab ( from Kanpur who worked in the Valley ) fell in love with Ahdoo’s tea. Shri Aftaab rose to become executive director of Vijaya bank after being posted out of Kashmir. He never forgot Ahdoo’s.

 We had devised a novel way of meeting the expenses of our weekly visits to the Ahdoo's hotel. Our friend Ashok Padroo took up an agency from the LIC in the name of his wife. Basharat Fazili and Tej Dhar would bring him business. Padroo would possibly get 35% of the first year's premium as his commission from the LIC. A part of it would be shared with the policy-holder and the remaining would be spent at Ahdoo's. The new policyholder was brought to Ahdoo's and humoured to foot the tea bills once he signed policy papers. He was made to believe that the best bargain had been organized for him and a tea at Ahdoo's was due from the portion of the commission paid to him by Ashok Padroo. So one policy for Ashok Padroo meant two sittings at Ahdoo's. 
Many like me miss Ahdoo's hotel. 

‘ Kabhi to subah tere kunj-e-lab se ho aagaaz 
Kabhi to shab sar-e-kaakul se mushk o baar chale’

( Faiz Ahmed Faiz )

(Let the dawn, for once, arrive
through the archway of your lips.
Let the dusk spread its perfume
like musk from your tresses.)

( Avtar Mota )


(  Photo and text by Avtar Mota)

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  1. Thanks for writing about Ahdoo's Hotel in Srinagar. I like your blog. It is very understandable and useful information with wonderful images. You can also check best hotels in Srinagar with an best amenities.


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