Tucked away in central London, the India Club may not grab your attention at first glance. Yet, for over seven decades, it’s been a cherished spot for London’s Indian community, offering a comforting taste of home.
Situated within the historic Hotel Strand Continental, the India Club, with its lounge, restaurant, and bar, holds a special place in South Asian hearts in London. But, sadly, it’s facing closure as the building’s owners plan a modern hotel upgrade that involves knocking down a part of this historic structure.
The impending closure has left many saddened. Despite earlier efforts, the Club’s management recently declared September 17th as the final day of operation.
The India Club’s history runs deep. It was founded in the 1950s by members of the India League, including India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. In the 1990s, the Markers took over the lease.
Initially, it was a meeting place for India’s freedom fighters, but it quickly transformed into a hub for the South Asian community in London. Kusoom Vadgama, a historian, remembers that it was the place where Indians in the 1950s and 60s could gather, speak their language, enjoy their food, and feel less alone in a new land.
For those craving the tastes of India, the Club served up dosas, butter chicken, pakoras, masala chai, and more. The Club’s ambiance, with its chandeliers, Formica tables, and classic chairs, harked back to pre-independence India’s coffee shops, where culture and politics were the topics of discussion.
The Club’s walls adorned with portraits of famous Indian and British figures who visited over the years, adding to its historical charm.
Over time, it became a favorite hangout not only for immigrants but also for journalists, and various India-British groups. Journalist Shrabani Basu remembers it as an affordable spot for Indian food in central London during the 1980s.
Smita Tharoor, a motivational speaker, fondly recalls her father’s stories about the Club. It held a special place in their hearts, and even after her father’s passing, she continued to visit. Now, as the India Club faces its final days, cherished memories are all that remain.
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