About the place: Chikpet in Kannada means small market. On the contrary Chikpet is not small. Its Big and you get anything and everything from Sarees , glass items, Furniture, Brass and steel items, crockery, hardware and a lot of stuff that you can imagine to buy in a market for bulk. It is a whole sale market for these items. Nestled in the heart of Bangalore, Chikpet is a very crowded place at any given time of the day and year. It is known for its small lanes and narrow streets. The main roads are pretty wide and but you hardly realize that. The vehicles that are parked in abundance and the Street hawkers make the roads look very narrow and unmanageable. Never take your car here, not even a bike. Shop on and by your own feet is the mantra. The roads adjacent to main Chikpet have their own special offerings. The avenue road is known for used or second hand items. Largely you get to see used books being sold by street hawkers. Yes, one gets them at a decent price. Books for kids to grown up, from novels to technical stuff you get it all. Its a shopping paradise for anyone who knows how to bargain!!
My Trip to Chikpet: I have never liked crowded place to spend my weekend. But Chikpet is special as it has something special to offer. In the heart of Chikpet is a restaurant, the NEW UDUPI KRISHNA BHAVAN, popular for the MASALA DOSA. Yes!! now you know what drove me to Chikpet. The sole reason to go to Chikpet was the masala dosa. I was accompanied by my closest friend Kritika on this short trip. This was planned long long back and was pending since then. May be a year and half it took us to realize that this was the best time to visit Chikpet.
Kritika came to Majestic (Central bus Station in Bangalore) and i joined her there. Chikpet is roughly around 2 km from the station. It was hot and very sunny that day, so we hired on an autorickshaw to Chikpet which cost us 12 rupees. We opted first to go to Avenue road as Kritika wanted to witness the stacks and stacks of books on the road side. It was me who had created that excitement in her that drove her crazy in Avenue road. We were taking photographs of the Book stacks and the vendors. With cameras in our hands we always expected the question from the vendors... Sir are from the Press?? :). No, its my hobby was the answer and we laughed. Having camera with us has its own advantages and disadvantages. People will welcome questions from us and give as much as details as possible. Disadvantages are also there, people take you as a foreigner and the rates of the commodities immediately double. As i and Krits were speaking in Hindi, the people always took me as non- Kannadiga. If you don't want to be foxed, speak in Kannada or learn to Bargain. If you can do both, your chances of carrying heavy shopping bags double!! Now that we had a nice look of the old part of Bangalore in the hot sun, we were hungry. I bought Limca 500ml bottle and Boy! it was tasting heaven. We had lost our away in this heat and almost forgot that we had to explore the famous masala dosa. Almost everyone knew about Udupi Krishna Bhavan, but very few could really help us to the restaurant. After enquiring here and there we reached the restaurant we were here for, The Udupi Krishna Bhavan.
Udupi Krishna Bhavan: It does not have the old look from outside which we were expecting as it was renovated recently. But the owners have proudly put the Board which reads 'New
Udupi Krishna Bhavan, since 1926'. Before reaching here we both always knew that the restaurant was 100 + years old. To our surprise and disappointment it was just 81 years old. It was around 3 pm when we reached the place and we straight away went to the family seating area of the restaurant. The family area and the rest is separated by just a waist high wooden parition. The family area displays a board 'one rupee extra per head'. Fair enough. As it was lunch time the waiter came to us for the order and i with smiling face i said 'two masala dosas , sir'. Pat! came the reply 'Snacks and other Dosa items after 3.30 pm, now we serve only lunch' :(. We had come all the way from two different areas of Bangalore, so we ordered two filter coffees and passed our time till 3.30. And it was good for us, we made best out of that waiting time and caught a head waiter to give us all the info about the restaurant and its history. Seen cameras in our hand, the waiter was more than happy to answer all the questions and gave us much details as possible.
The restaurant was started in 1926 by a Brahman family headed by Subramanya Holla who hailed from a place near Mangalore. In those days, the restaurant served people on the floor on the plantain leaves. There were no tables and chairs. Typical Brahman style! No separate partition for family. Just two rows of people from end to end of the restaurant, one side with all men and other side with women. Those days it was called Udupi Khanavali, a Kannada word for restaurant. The waiters till date wear the traditional Lungi(munda), white shirt and white topi. The items you get at this place have not changed since its started, says the owner. Time in there have been few additions to the snacks items they serve here. Mysore bajji, Maddur wade came in late in the 70's. The Masala dosa and the vegetarian lunch were always there. Nice to see this place making good business even today without any addition to its menu items like Pizza and burger! The owner of the restaurant is proud to tell us that the tastes too have not changed since decades. The same tradtional recipe is followed. Now the restaurant has dining tables to serve people. The old style has gone. The old wooden furniture is quite pleasing and takes us back in time. There is also a very old British ceiling clock which hangs from the one of the wooden partitions of the ceiling. Originally the watch had two machines to run, which were running fine till the 60's. They have replaced the old machine with a new single machine, but the clock bears the same old look. Old wine in new bottle? No, its new wine in old bottle !! The old machines are not available even in England claims the owner.
Aah!!! The Masala Dosas were ready and on our tables already by the time we finished gossipping! The Masala dosas taste great. You can smell the flavour of the pure desi ghee that goes into it. The dosas are very crisp outside and soft inside. Wow! what fun we had gulping them down. I have had better masala dosas than these but its worth giving a visit here and they are pretty down priced too, 20 odd rupees. what else can you ask for?
A satisfied tummy and overjoyed heart is what we came back with. Being a fond Masala dosa lover, visit to Udupi Krishna Bhavan in Chikpet will always have a refreshing effect on me.
My special thanks to Kritsi for accompanying me. I have always enjoyed visiting and taking photographs of the places we go together.