Society

A home away from home

At Shahran hotel in the Old City   | Photo Credit: G_RAMAKRISHNA

There is a mix of the ancient and contemporary near Hotel Shahran in Old City; anywhere you look, there is a photo op. It’s a bustling area, with regular shoppers, roadside hawkers selling their ware, tourists walking towards the Charminar, all amidst busy traffic. As we pass through a row of shops, we spot a burqa-clad woman, along with her granddaughter, walking towards Hotel Shahran opposite Kamaan. Inside, the duo sit in the general section and place the order. This is one of the regular scenes at this famous hotel where time seems to slow down. Regulars relax on the iron benches in front of the hotel and drop in for a cup of milky tea. Hungry souls can gorge on lukhmi, different kinds of kebab, biryani, tandoori roti, chicken and mutton curry, paya, nahari, shorba and lassi.

Life moves at an unhurried pace here, smiles Shahran Bin Ali. “Shahran is a Persian word which means greenery or nature,” he shares. He informs it was his grandfather Shahran Bin Md., who started this restaurant in 1950. Back then, when restaurants were not so common in the Old City, the new hotel Shahran was much-talked about. It soon became a meeting point for friends for chai and share hansi mazaak and din ke baatein. Altaf Khan, who has been coming here for the past 30 years says the hotel is popular for the view it offers of Charminar. “Many tourists like to walk from Madina across the row of shops and halt here for a tea or snack as they proceed to Charminar,” he points out.

Old wooden tables and chairs, ceiling fans and a simple setting complete the ambience. The hotel has a first floor too which is the family section. “During holidays when there is a rush of tourists, the first floor is bursting with people and becomes noisy,” smiles Shahran Ali. He observes how the hotel is very popular with women. “Idhar bahut privacy milta,” he explains, adding, “So women feel comfortable when they have their tea, lassi or snack.”

Shahran Bin Ali calls the hotel a home away from home. “People like to eat here because of the homely atmosphere, the food is simple and is almost similar to biwi banaye waisa ghar ka khana,” he laughs and claims it was their hotel which introduced kebabs, lassi and haleem to the Old City. “Be it seekh kebab or the boti kebab... it is very popular. Also actor Rana is a big fan of our kebabs. He comes during Ramzan to enjoy them. Last year, even Prabhas accompanied Rana and the duo came before the release of Baahubali to enjoy the kebabs.”

The business is seasonal and it is only regular customers who visit this place often. Shahran sees more business once the holy month of Ramzan begins. Khadir, who handles the cash counter interacts often with customers, especially tourists. Some foreigners even ask about the city or take his help in finding out a new address. “Last time, there were Tamilians from Chennai who asked about the history of Charminar,” he smiles.

As Altaf sips his milky tea and waits for his friends, he is grateful for the simple joys in life.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 7:42:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/life-moves-at-an-unhurried-pace-at-hotel-shahran-in-charminar/article17555362.ece

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