One of the Oldest Bars in Guwahati: Ashoka Restaurant and Bar | Guwahati News

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One of the Oldest Bars in Guwahati: Ashoka Restaurant and Bar

Barasha Das | August 30, 2020 19:33 hrs

Today’s Guwahati is filled with restaurants and bars. Areas like GS Road, Uzan Bazar, Chandmari Commerce Point among others, have been turned into hubs. Customers and especially the young crowd have numerous such places to choose from. 


But just a few decades back, Guwahati did not have so many bars and pubs. Those that did were segregated by class and were not meant for all.


One such famous bar of Guwahati is the Ashoka Bar and Restaurant on HB Road, Panbazar. 


Established in the early 1960s, it is one of the oldest bars of Guwahati. 


The place belongs to the Barman family that originally set up the ‘Harimal Barman & Company’. Harimal Barman & Company was one of the oldest garment stores of Gauhati. Harimal Barman came from Nalbari after leaving his job under the British government. 


In Gauhati, he took to selling clothes. At that time, the establishment was at an old two storey wooden building, where the current bar stands. After Harimal Barman’s death, his son Subodh Chandra Barman, who was also a government contractor, opened the Ashoka Restaurant in the 1960s. The bar was started a decade later in the 1970s.  


Earlier, there was a regular open restaurant on the ground floor for all. The first floor housed a classy family restaurant serving Indian and Chinese cuisine. On the second floor was the bar. In the beginning, women were not allowed to enter the bar. Later they were permitted to drink in the restaurant but were still not welcome in the bar area. 


Very popular amongst Guwahatians, Ashoka Bar has a glorious past. Rantu Barman, the present proprietor of the establishment fondly narrated, “The place used to be filled with students in the day. There were students from Cotton College, the Gauhati Medical College that was then in Panbazar (where the current Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital is located) and also from the Engineering College. Many renowned doctors, engineers and politicians of today were frequenters of Ashoka Bar. The engineering students would leave for hostel by the 8 pm bus, the last one to Jalukbari. Then the office crowd would take over.” 


“Even student meetings were held at the ground floor restaurants. It was the students’ adda point,” Barman recalls. 


Sadly, now only the Ashoka Bar remains. The restaurant has been shut down and the bar also caters to a limited crowd, mostly the older generation, although it’s open for all.

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  • Santo Sinha

    I was a regular visitor to this Ashoka Restaurant & bar for many years , both with friends and individually and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere there , as my office was ontop floor of Shaikh Brothers, panbazar. We used go there for our lunch breaks and whenever we visit Panbazar from Dispur, where i resided. Do zi have fond nostalgic memories of this place. Santo Sinha , Mathuranagar, Dispur.