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Rediff.com  » News » Bangalore loses its Kohinoor, iconic cafe shuts down

Bangalore loses its Kohinoor, iconic cafe shuts down

Last updated on: December 24, 2012 15:17 IST

A hot cup of chai, some warm memories

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It is curtain call for the 57-year-old landmark Kohinoor Restaurant in Bengaluru. Vicky Nanjappa settles down for his final cup of chai

For the last 30 years, each time I visited Brigade Road in Bengaluru, I never missed an opportunity to stop by at Kohinoor Hotel.

Today, I visited this place with a sense of sorrow, knowing that I would have my last cup of sulaimani chai (lemon tea).

The 57-year-old landmark Kohinoor Hotel at the foot of Brigade Road will close on Monday, following an order by the Karnataka high court, which ruled in favour of the landlord of the premises who had been seeking more rent.

The owner of the hotel and the landlord have been entangled in a legal battle over the rent. The hotel owner had clearly stated that he cannot afford the rent that is being demanded by the landlord.

Chandra Babu from Thrissur, my favourite waiter, looked lost for the first time. He has been with the hotel since the past three decades and is always a bundle of energy.

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Image: Kohinoor Restaurant
Photographs: Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

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I will miss Kohinoor dearly

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Today, he tells me in Malayalam that he will go back to his home town. If the owners manage to open up another joint in another place in Bengaluru, he will return. But it would never be the same.

Rehman, the cashier, is 67 years old. He came to Bengaluru when he was only 13 years old and joined Kohinoor.

"I had Rs 7 in my pocket and I reached here from Mannapuram with only that much. I started working here as a cleaner and I was promoted to the post of the cashier after almost four decades. Kohinoor has been very famous for its sulaimani chai. However, when we started off, we earned a name with our samosas. They were very famous and people in large numbers would come here to eat them. Each samosa would cost 10 paise and by afternoon we would sell out all of them. The biryani too was extremely famous and along with that came the sulaimani chai. The biryani was priced at 60 paise and the chai would cost 10 paise," he says.

Like every other Bangalorean, I will miss Kohinoor dearly. Here, a biryani cost only Rs 60 and a sulaimani chai cost Rs 10.

I could have the best meal for only Rs 70. The other specialities would include bheja fry, Kerala chicken curry and the very oily but heavenly kebabs.

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Image: Rehman, the cashier at the hotel
Photographs: Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

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'Let us see what fate has in store'

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Regular customers are aghast at the news.

During the afternoons, people from every walk of life would congregate at Kohinoor.

Satish, who visits Kohinoor every week, says that he will miss this place. "Brigade road is not Brigade road without Kohinoor," he says.

The near-antique clock on the wall, the hot chai, the spicy biryani, fans as old as me and that massive mirror on the wall will be truly missed, he says.

Will there be another Kohinoor someday? That no one knows.

"The rents are too high around this place. But we are constantly looking out around the Church Street area, which is adjacent to Brigade Road. Let's see what fate has in store for us," Rehman says.

For now, it is curtain call for the iconic Kohinoor Restaurant in Bengaluru.

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Image: The iconic cup of 'sulaimani chai'
Photographs: Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

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