METRO PLUS

Kochi's favourite landmark

HEMJIT BHARATHAN

Bharat Hotel, where good hospitality combines with good food

Bharat Hotel, where good hospitality combines with good food  

BHARATH HOTEL has turned into an important landmark of Kochi. It has established an identity of its own among the numerous hotels that have sprouted in the ever growing metro. Ideally located, Bharat Hotel, has been catering to the culinary and lodging needs of Kochi for the past four decades.

Bharath Tourist Home (BTH) as its was formerly known, was established by Mr B Govind Rao way back in 1964. Born and brought up in Kochi, Mr Rao originally hailed from Padubidri near Udupi in Karnataka. He was in the catering business even before setting up this hotel, like most of them from Udupi, a town famous for its wholesome vegetarian food.

A hotel, which began with 30 rooms, a 40-seat restaurant and a conference hall, it has expanded to the growing demands of its faithful clientele. But all the while the hotel has stuck to its traditional, South Indian vegetarian cuisine. Mr Rao, who celebrated his 80th birthday a few years ago, however, reveals that ``most of the customers who frequent the hotel are non-vegetarians.''

Despite being exclusively vegetarian, BTH has managed to maintain its identity among a whole lot of new restaurants that have mushroomed all over Kochi. This hotel has also been able to draw in customers despite the popularity of fast food joints and regular food festivals. BTH has never gone in for the sensational campaigns like bringing in chefs from different parts of the world and by serving exotic dishes from the nook and corners of the country.

BTH has still managed to retain its traditional charm and retaining its individuality as a ethnic, cosy and comfortable place. At any time of the day and late into the night, Bharat Hotel is seen brimming with customers. It has not ceased to be a crowd puller and Kochi's favourite hotel.

Subiksha and Sulabh are the two restaurants in the hotel. At Sulabh, the cuisine is typically South Indian - Thali meals, iddlies, vadas, varieties of dosas and uthuppam, all with a distinct flavour, are served here ``On Sundays my husband wants to spend all his time with me and the kids. He does not want me to cook. So we get up leisurely and drive down to BTH for breakfast'', says Mrs. Krishnan, a housewife. ``I try out all the varieties of lip-smacking dosas, like the paper roast, rava-dosa, butter roast, onion uthappams, while my husband and kids freak out on the idllies, upma and vadas, adds Mrs Krishnan'' The Thali meal is a regular favourite. And it is not easy to find a place during lunchtime.

In Subiksha the accent is on North Indian cuisine. Framed in stylish decor and soft lighting and a hush of semi-classical music or ghazals eating out here is sheer pleasure. The regular menu includes North Indian rotis like nan, kulcha, tandoor paratha and delicacies like paneer butter masala, Kashmiri pulav, vegetable makhanwala, vegetable jalfraize, kofta curries etc.

The hotel has four spacious halls which can be used for special occasions. Samsar-1, with a capacity for 30, as one them is called, is ideal for a small function or business meetings. Samsar-2, with a capacity of 50, is usually used for bigger functions. In fact, both these halls can be combined by removing the dividers The elegantly furnished, air-conditioned halls, provides all facilities for a conference or business meeting. Sowbagh, with a capacity of 200, may not be as posh as the earlier ones. But is ideal for marriage receptions or public meetings. Pradarshan, which is situated on the ground floor with a separate entrance is ideal for painting exhibitions, ceramic displays or a garment sales. Mrs. Bina Valsraj a fashion designer says,'' I have been displaying my creations annually for more than a decade at Pradarshan. No place in Ernakulam can be more ideal for a sale, as not only the invitees, but also the people who come for coffee and from neighbouring states like Andhra-Pradesh, Karnataka who lodge at BTH, buy my items. All my sales have been sell-outs!'' This hall is booked throughout the year! And then there is Aangan- a massive hall with a capacity of 400- it has a gorgeous view of the Arabian Sea and the Cochin Harbour. It is usually used for religious conventions, marriages, etc.

BTH has 91 rooms spread over five floors. Elegantly furnished, room service includes laundry, fax, secretarial service, foreign exchange, postal service, car rental, doctor-on-call etc. A bookshop, sweet shop and an internet cafe are also available here. Mr. Reddy, a shipping executive from Andhra Pradesh, who visits Kochi very often says,'' Bharath Hotel has been my home away from home for the past eight years. The moment I reach Kochi I head straight here. My wife too feels very comfortable. She goes to the Shiva temple, which is just a stone's throw away.''

BTH is also the favourite haunt of movie stars. It is usual to see K J Jesudas exchanging pleasantries with his fans at the hotel reception, or Mohanlal breeze out of the lobby and get into a waiting car or Suresh Gopi and Mukesh browsing through the exhibition halls. BTH has an enduring quality and appeal. It's distinctiveness and homely atmosphere makes it the ideal family retreat. It is not just another eating joint but a place for family and friends to get-to-together and nurture relationships.

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