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In 1920s, a group of four friends came to Nagpur from Rajasthan looking for work. They were Nandlal Joshi, Champalal Joshi, Keshav Trivedi and Podar Purohit. They were all poor Brahmins from Mewar and had heard that there were many jobs available for them in a far off city called Nagpur, capital of British-Indian state of C.P. and Berar.
For some time they worked as domestic servants in the homes of rich lawyers of Nagpur who all had palatial homes in Dhantoli and then in 1924, they thought of starting their own residential hotel and restaurant serving ‘vegetarian thali’ in Dhantoli itself. Thus started Anandashram.
The place soon became a magnet for freedom fighters like Gandhiji and his followers. They are known to have also stayed in the rooms of this modest hotel.
The patriotic owners, had a soft corner for freedom fighters, who often had to leave home and live under police threat. They were offered free meals in Anandashram!
Later, Narsimha Rao, during his college days of Nagpur and other leaders like George Fernandez also ate here regularly.
In the fast turning-into-hospitals area of Dhantoli, in one by lane, you can still see Anandashram, the hotel and restaurant, exactly as it was then… the same furniture, the same decor and owners of the same families, into their 3rd generation now.
They will serve you food as lovingly and graciously – which consists of two vegetables, dal, kadhi, roti, rice and papad. All cooked on ‘chulhas’ – not gas. And still made by Brahmin cooks, but from Rewa, in M.P. now. Many students have made in into their permanent mess, but now there are patients’ relatives also, asking for ‘simple dal-chawal’ for their sick family members. Whatever the time, they are never sent back empty handed.
Adjacent to the lunch place, is the ‘snacks’ cafe known by the same name where you can get south Indians refreshments. The sambar aroma was very enticing, vouching for the food being genuinely ‘south’. (Their dosas are very popular one hears).
So what are you waiting for? Check out THE place where Gandhiji ate while in Nagpur!
Abhyankar Marg, Mohadiya Nagar, Dhantoli, Nagpur – 440012.