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Sanguvalley of Kolkata – a distant call of Chittagong

5 May, 2021 11:22:25
Sanguvalley of Kolkata – a distant call of Chittagong

This is a story that began long, long time ago. In the south-eastern hilly regions of Chattogram (Chittagong) in Bangladesh flows Ruposhi aka Sangu (it means a conch shell), a fast-flowing river. The foamy stream rushes through the emerald-green valley and its gurgling shatters the silence of the pristine ravine. H.P Barua hailed from this idyllic land who came to Calcutta for a living, but memories of his distant homeland overshadowed his very being. So, in 1945 he bought a plot in South Calcutta and launched a small restaurant. Located on S.P. Mukherjee Road next to Purna Cinema Hall, he bought the plot for a princely amount of Rs 11 only and set up his dream project, christening it Sanguvalley in memory of the river of his homeland he missed so much. He started with an offering of a vast array of delectable Indian and Chinese fare at a reasonable rate and hit the jackpot, literally.

The restaurant’s signature Moghlai parantha, Chicken cutlet or a cup of steaming ‘sugandhi’ (flavour) tea were hot favourites with Chhabi Biswas, Bhanu Bandopadhyay, Anil Chattopadhyay, Nabadweep Haldar, Robin Guha, Dhanraj-Venkatesh, Dinesh Chandra Sen to name just a few.

That was the time when a number of small restaurants similar to Sanguvalley like Basanta Cabin, Allen Kitchen, Mitra Café, Kumar’s Canteen came up and thrived as the intellectual and cultural hub of the city. Many of these are still operational and doing robust business, thanks to generations of loyal customers and there are many others who could not adapt to the changing market trends and were forced to down shutters and leave.  

Sanguvalley was patronized by people from all walks of life including big-wig stars of the Tollywood silver screen. The restaurant’s signature Moghlai parantha, Chicken cutlet or a cup of steaming ‘sugandhi’ (flavour) tea were hot favourites with Chhabi Biswas, Bhanu Bandopadhyay, Anil Chattopadhyay, Nabadweep Haldar, Robin Guha, Dhanraj-Venkatesh, Dinesh Chandra Sen to name just a few. Even Ms Mamata Banerjee frequented the joint when she was a student at Jogomaya Devi College. How’s the valley doing now?

“The situation is not conducive for robust business at present. The global pandemic situation has thrown everything out of gear. Footfalls have reduced acutely but we hope to get back to normal times once this corona wave subsides. At present I am running the restaurant with eight employees. There was a time when foodies from near and far thronged this place for delicious food to satiate all food cravings. Their ‘adda’ sessions continued uninterrupted for hours with a cuppa. I have heard many anecdotes from my father, but I observed how the situation began to change gradually during the time when I was growing up. Our restaurant is not one of those swanky hot-spot cafes that have come up in recent years in and around the city. Our eatery has an old-world look about it but this is not a conscious effort to sell this image. We don’t have any other branches.  The building that houses our restaurant is a derelict structure entangled in several property-related cases. Despite these stumbling blocks, we are trying to run the establishment in the best possible way,” says Prasun Barua, the present owner and H.P Barua’s successor. 

Prasun Barua is determined to repeat the success story of his predecessor and is leaving no stones unturned to offer the best dining experience to his customers. The employees too, have been associated with the institution for decades and are emotionally attached to the organization. They work hard to please all customers and fulfill their demands.

Prasun Barua is determined to repeat the success story of his predecessor and is leaving no stones unturned to offer the best dining experience to his customers. The employees too, have been associated with the institution for decades and are emotionally attached to the organization. They work hard to please all customers and fulfill their demands.  The items in the menu card remain constant and their tastes have not changed over the years. And all these items come at a price that’s easy on the pockets.  Sanguvalley’s Chinese spread, its cutlets and Moghlai paranthas are very popular items but people do not throng the restaurant any more to spend hours chatting with cups of hot tea and coffee.  Time is a precious commodity for most. Besides, the young crowd is attracted by the glitz of the modern trendy cafes and prefers to hang out in those places. 

Times have changed but the Baruas’ love and attachment for the city remains unaffected by the transformation. The family-run restaurant continues to hang on to its dreamland left in faraway Chittagong. 

(Translated by TTW)

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