We had just landed in Secunderabad in the summer of 2006 and knew nothing about the city,almost.One evening we decided to have dinner at a famous Chinese restaurant on Park Lane but to our dismay we could not get a table even after waiting for half and hour. With two little children and a parking slot which is as difficult to manage we thought we would settle for something a little less fancy.
Bang opposite to the chinese place we saw a number of boards declaring that there was a restaurant and a bar somewhere.We could not figure out where ?
There was this old colonial structure that looked more french than british but it hardly looked like a restaurant or a bar.
But since the board said that this was the place we wanted to have a dekho at it.As our party of 3 and a Quarter headed in the direction of what looked like the entrance we were accosted by a fierce looking man with a guards uniform and club in hand.He ordered ” You cannot go inside” and put his club in front as in to hold us back.
Surprised beyond belief I confronted him”But why not? We will go.You cannot stop us like this”.His expression had by now turned from mild retribution to anger and he thundered” I am saying you cannot go means you cannot go and certainly not with these people”.It was now my wife’s turn to question him while my two kiddos looked at each other and the three of us with a not so amused look.” Have you put a board here that who all can go and who all cannot.India is after all a free country”.The poor guy had given up by now and he said in a very deep tone almost like a whisper”Sir madam does not understand.It is better you first go and check out your self” I had begun to grow suspicious by now as some of the characters coming out of the building did not exactly look like gentlemen.Even they had a weird expression on their faces and they were looking at us as if they had seen some strange ghosts.I asked my wife to wait in a corner besides our car while I went ahead like an adventurer.
Once I entered the hall I could not believe my eyes.The place was straight out of the 18th century.I had never seen anything like this before in my life.Rows and rows of tables with two benches on each side,a dim lit bulb over them and all of the occupied by men in various stages of intoxication.Some were chatting or blabbering but most of them were drinking silently and by the look on their faces it was clear that they did not know the person sitting in front of them and neither did they care.There were 3 such halls and together there must have been some 100 tables !!!
Pulling myself up from the shock I got out and told my wife the whole story.Both of us were at our wits end that how could such a place exist almost frozen in time.I could not get over it and wanted to know the whole story so I went back the other day this time alone and all by myself.
What I found out was this :
It is amazing that even after more than 100 years the place is preserved in all its original glory.I imagined how groups of soldiers from the British cantonment would come and spend their evenings at the Monty’s hotel.Many of them would even stay there before their quarters were allotted or something like that.
I called up and checked with some friends who have been living in Hyderabad for years together but no one knew about the place.
I promised to SHOW them Hotel California one day.And if anyone of you are in town I would be happy to take you there too but remember …No women and children please !
Unfortunately The Authorities have decided to delist the Monty’s Hotel from its Heritage building status and soon the place will loose out to a swanky mall or some other fancy and ‘modern’ building.