This star-struck hotel is now history

Hotel Nataraj one of the popular hotels of Vijayawada in the seventies and eighties.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT_E_MAIL

When the hospitality industry was in its infancy in Vijayawada, one hotel with star ratings, run by the sons of the soil, took care of the palate and comforts of the denizens in the seventies and eighties. However, after a quick ascendency, it faded away into the history books.

The very thought of a strong filter coffee and steamy idly-sambar and ‘pesarattu’ brings back the memories of the ‘late’ Hotel Nataraj at Governorpet.

A bunch of like-minded local entrepreneurs led by Veeramachineni Subba Rao, Tummala Venkateswara Rao and others joined hands in the late sixties with a common urge to launch a quality vegetarian hotel with high-end boarding and lodging facilities.

The site on which the hotel was built was then a yard where coal was sold for domestic and industrial use.

A majestic structure with provision for more space for corridors came up on a 950-odd square yard area in 1970 and giving shape to it was architect Govind Rao from Madras. The liberal use of wooden panels in the interiors also lingers in the memory of the senior citizens.

“The two-storied building had 18 spacious rooms and also a presidential suite for VIPs. From the parking area one can see the open sky,” says Tummala Tilak, son of Tummala Venkateswara Rao, who took care of the day-to-day chores of the hotel. A book stall-cum-fancy stall, run by CPI(M) senior leader Ch. Babu Rao’s father was an added attraction to the hotel.

How was the name chosen?

“Those involved in the hotel had a liking to the popular Hotel Natraj at the Marine Drive in Mumbai. They liked the name,” says Tilak.

He reveals the secret of the irresistible coffee made in the kitchen which won the hearts of many. “We used buy the granules from Coffee Board directly and the master chef used to follow a method of filtering which made the beverage leave an ever-lasting aroma in the mouths of the customers.”

Many doctors, academicians, politicians and businessmen used to kick-start their day after sipping a hot coffee from the hotel’s restaurant. “It was a daily routine for the many to watch an English film in Navrang Theatre and visit hotel’s roof garden to relish a cutlet with vegetable garnish. Many used to visit the hotel from the surrounding villages.”

The owners, to maintain the standards, used to visit the best of the hotels in the country to upgrade their knowledge.

“The a la carte system (ordering as per menu) was popular in our hotel and we had as many as 122 items in the card. The multi-cuisine restaurant served a variety of cuisine to suit the customers,” recollects Tilak.

The roof garden was the star attraction of the hotel as the lush greenery amidst clear air provided the much-needed to relief to the customers in the evenings. The rows of flower pots and roof plantings added aesthetics to the ambiance. The hotel was the most-sought after one for the film industry when Vijayawada was the hub of film distribution in the united Andhra Pradesh. During the shooting of Driver Ramudu Nataratna N.T. Rama Rao stayed in the hotel for nearly one month. Several politicians both the State and the national significance used to stay in the hotel.

B. N. Reddy of Vijaya Pictures, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Dasari Narayana Rao, Krishna, Sobhan Babu, Vanisree, Vijayanirmala, Chalam, cricketers Nawab of Pataudi, Sharmila Tagore, M.L. Jaisimha, G.R. Viswanth, Syed Kirmani and several others stayed in the hotel.

Says Turlapati: “When Diviseema tragedy struck the film fraternity stayed in the hotel and staged shows to collect donations in 1977.

The conference hall which was spacious was preferred after hall by the social and cultural organisations like Lions and Rotary Clubs to conduct their meetings”.

The management had a costly silverware dinner set which was used while VIPs like Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers and others visited the hotel. “Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had food served from the hotel,” Tilak adds.

The hotel introduced the sterilisers in kitchen to spread the message of hygiene and involved rock bands for the New Year bashes and also introduced cabaret to the city folks.

“We used to think ahead of time to match the changing tastes of the customers. We arranged tables as per English standards in the Telugu marriages which the customers liked very much,” signs off Tilak. However, the dissolution of the partnership deed, paved for the closure of the hotel, which left an indelible mark in the city’s ethos.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 1:16:58 AM |

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