Bengalauru: Amid the hustle and bustle of the tech hubs and high-end apartment complexes in Bengaluru's Whitefield, the aromas of Kashmiri delicacies waft out of 'Habba Kadal' the city's own Kashmiri nook.
It's just a few months since it opened its doors but people in India's silicon valley are warming up to the place that offers slices of a bygone Kashmir.
And, for the city's small but vibrant Kashmiri Pandit community, Habba Kadal is also a lifeline to the customs and heritage they so miss.
From offering authentic Kashmiri cuisine, to space and facilities for the Kashmiri Pandit community to perform their traditional rituals, Habba Kadal has it all.
The place is the brainchild of entrepreneur Aparna Challu, a Kashmiri Pandit who has made Bengaluru her home. Named after the iconic bridge in Srinagar - her ancestral home, 'Habba Kadal' is Challu's humble tribute to the legacy of her forefathers.
"Habba Kadal in my vision is the bridge that leads us back home to where our heritage is rooted. To where our people, our customs, crafts, our language, our culture, everything to do with our way of life was. And eventually due to various circumstances that has changed. This is my tribute to my Kashmiri ancestors and the place in which they were born. And where they created a very high integrity, high learning, fulfilling, productive life for their families and the community," Aparna Challu told IANS.
Right from the traditional utensils, recipes, slow cooking over firewood stoves, to the chefs, everything at Habba Kadal is an ode to old-world Kashmiri authenticity. It is also doubling up as a heritage hub for the Kashmiri Pandit community that has made Bengaluru its home.
"This place has been set up as a Kashmiri heritage hub. We've had book launches, music performances of Sufi folk music. We are also in collaboration with a gentleman, trying to revive the Sharada script which is extinct. This is a place where people, either adults or kids, can come to learn how to write in that script."
Thanks to Bengaluru's Habba Kadal, the local Kashmiri Pandit community can easily perform the traditional rituals that are an integral aspect of their heritage.
"People can come for their weddings, traditional thread ceremony, where everything is performed according to the original rituals. Even the food is prepared accordingly. If they tried to do it individually, these rituals would be very difficult and costly" Aparna explains.
Over the few months that it opened its doors, Habba Kadal has been attracting members of the community. For the older generation, the place offers a chance to relive the good memories of old times.
For the younger generation, Habba Kadal is turning out to be a link with the food and customs of the older generations.
Aparna Challu emphasises that for her Habba Kadal is not about business. It's simply her labour of love to preserve the Kashmiri way of life of her forefathers.