Imagine a place so unassuming that you might pass by without a second thought.
However, for over 70 remarkable years, London's India Club has served as a secret rendezvous for Indians seeking a taste of home and a touch of camaraderie abroad.
Nestled within the Hotel Strand Continental, in the heart of bustling London, the India Club is far more than just a lounge-cum-restaurant and bar. It's a treasured institution, a cultural hub, and a cozy haven where South Asian flavors and faces blend harmoniously.
#WATCH | Dr Christopher Cragg, a former journalist who has been visiting the India Club for the last 40 years says "It was a good place to come and the food is and remains characteristic to what we English would call Indian food. The best is available within London. I find it… pic.twitter.com/IG2wEmGIPE— ANI (@ANI) August 25, 2023
I am sorry to hear that the India Club, London, is to close permanently in September. As the son of one of its founders, I lament the passing of an institution that served so many Indians (and not only Indians) for nearly three-quarters of a century. For many students,… pic.twitter.com/bwyOB1zqIu— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 19, 2023
Founded by the India League, a group of advocates for India's freedom in the 1900s, the Club boasts prominent founding members like India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Fast-forwarding to the 1990s, the Markers stepped in to secure their lease.
History whispers that the Club's early days provided a refuge for freedom fighters strategizing liberation.
Over time, its focus shifted to become a hub for South Asian individuals bonding over shared meals and events.
A tribute to its socio-political legacy, the walls proudly exhibit portraits of distinguished figures who crossed its threshold, including Dadabhai Naoroji, Britain's first Indian MP, and philosopher Bertrand Russell.
The Club offered the comforting tastes of home, serving treats such as dosas and sambhar from the south, and butter chicken from the north. The menu showcased Indian street delights like pakoras, alongside essential cups of coffee and fragrant masala chai.
Its fixtures - chandeliers, Formica tables, and straight-backed chairs - have remained steadfast since its inception over seven decades ago.
As we bid farewell to more than just a lounge, the city is poised to lose a piece of its own history.