BHOPAL: Paan has a long association with history and culture of Bhopal. Even in the blockbuster movie Sholay, a character Soorma Bhopali portrayed the paan-culture of Bhopal on the silver screen. The culture of paan in Bhopal is far older than the movie itself. Paan was used by Hakeems for medicinal purposes. The paan is said to signify freshness and prosperity, and it is no surprise that paan is an integral part of all celebrations.
One simply cannot forget the image of elderly people, all gathered around a street, their lips reddened by paan, having endless discussions on politics and reviving their old funny stories. From the time of 11th ruler Shahjahan Begum who herself was a paan-lover until today, the love for paan in the people of Bhopal doesn’t seem to get any less. Today, Free Press Journal gives you a tour of famous and oldest paan shops across Bhopal:
Zaika Store, E2 Arera Colony
The winner of No.-1 Paanwala of city award, this Paan shop is the city’s favorite and has a huge fan base among all age categories. Due to the popularity of this shop, the complex in which the shop is located is famous by the name Zaika.
Owner Pradeep Sahu told Free Press that he started this shop about 20 years ago and since then the fresh taste of his Paan has never led any customer down. Ranging from Rs 20 to Rs 1500, the Meetha Patta Paan is always sought after at this shop while Maghai Paan and Banarsi Paan are other two specials of Zaika.
Shree Anandilaal Jain Paan Merchant, Lalwani Press Road
“Fire Paans, Ice Paans, Chocolate Paans are show-off and are harmful for health,” said Anil Jain, owner of Shree Anandilaal Jain Paan Merchant. This oldest Paan shop of old Bhopal offers you Bangla Paan, Madrasi Paan, Meetha Patta Paan, Kapoori Paan and Desi Patta Paan. “The basic concept of chewing Paan is to improve digestion and chuna (lime) is not added to Paan just for the sake of fashion. Infact, the water of Bhopal lacks calcium and so chuna is added to it,” said Anil.
“Original and natural condiments are very crucial to make a good Paan and today the changing trend of Paan is not a good one,” added Anil who seemed to be unhappy with the new Paans. More than 300 people from all-around Bhopal visit this shop to freshen their mouth with the taste of Paan that only Anil Jain can give.
Banarsi Paan, New Market
Established in the year 1962, Banarsi Paan shop is one of the oldest shops of Bhopal. Owner Rajendra Chaurasia who came to Bhopal from Banaras around 57 years ago brought these tasty Paans along with him. Raju, a worker at this shop told Free Press that ranging from Rs 15 to Rs 250 and the Banarasi Paan is the most sold Paan of their shop. Desi Patta Paan, Maghai Paan and Meetha Patta Paan are also in demand at this shop.
New Milan Paan Corner, Itwara road
Owned by Devendra Jain, New Milan Paan Corner aka A Midnight Paan Wala is the most unique Paan shop of Bhopal in all aspects. The first unique thing about this shop is that it only opens for 3 hours from 11:30pm – 2:30am. No Paan shop seems to be complete without the pouches of tobaccos hanging in the front, packets of cigarettes decked up at the back of the shop but this shop does not sell any tobacco product, not even Paan made of tobacco.
Devendra told Free Press that he started this shop around 33 years ago and since then he is opening his shop at midnight.
On being asked the reason behind the odd timings of his shop, Devendra said, “During the daytime, most people ask for tobacco Paan and even cigarettes but since I am a strictly against use of tobacco products, I don’t open my shop during daytime.” The shop only sells Meetha Paan and Saada Paan which costs only Rs 15.