As I am staying at Bolpur for the past 1 year, i got to know about the place better. And it was an irritant for me that the entire Bolpur-Shantiniketan region lacked a clean and cheap cha thek where one can spend an evening over tea and some chitchat. So when i learned about newly opened Chhayaghar Cafe at Ratanpalli, my enthusiasm knew no-bound.
One evening ( some months back) I prodded my sister to accompany me for one ( or two) cup of tea at Chhayaghar Cafe. Those who know every nook-and-corner of Shantiniketan must know that Ratanpalli appears like a hamlet,next to the road towards Goalpara. The cafe is located in front of the famous Alcha Boutique at Ratanpalli market. So if you are a newbie at the place, you know what to ask to the passer-by for the exact location.
The cafe looks quite plain from the outside. Unfortunately I didn’t have any good camera with me on that day, so below is the only moderate image of the entrance i can offer right now
This one-and-half storied building had an open terrace seating arrangement and it certainly exudes a spacious appeal. Chhayaghar Cafe had a basic decoration with hand-made paintings and few wall-hangings. All these lent a certain organic ‘hip’ vibe to the whole ambience.
Once we seated comfortably, a silent type waiter handed us a menu-card. Each items displayed unbelievable cheap price and it lifted our mood. After mulling over the menu for quite some time, we ordered two cups of honey-lemon tea and plate of chicken pakora to share. As we visited the cafe few months back, i forgot the exact prices, but i certainly remember that the tea didn’t cost more than Rs.20 and the plate was priced around Rs.50.
As there was no other customer except us during that moment, the tea came promptly followed by pakora.
See, i was not exaggerating when i told everything was basic about this cafe- from the table to the tea-cups. But I can vouch for the fact the that the tea was piping hot ( a rarity even in many high-end cafes), smelled good and tasted citrusy and not-too-sweet at the same time. In one word, i liked it so much that I ordered another cup after finishing one.
The pakoras were generously stuffed with meat and not-oily at all. Even if you avoid deep fried foods like a plague, you may have one bite of one of these fluffy beauties to feel the difference between this and any other pakora sold by a roadside vendor. In summation, we didn’t feel bloated after consuming 3 pakoras in succession!
Once we paid the bill and tip to the waiter and descended down, the ground floor was bustling with the presence of a gang of students with artistic air. Chhayaghar Cafe hosts a studio ( you can gauge it from the signboard) as well and it organizes photography/art exhibitions quite frequently. So if you have set your foot for the first time in Shantiniketan and are bored to death over- how to pass the evening, you now know where to head over.
- Reasonable pricing
- Decent service
- Neat and quiet ambience
- It seemed to me only one waiter runs the show, so you may well imagine what happens when the footfall is higher.
- If you visit the place during peak of the hour, it can be harder to locate a vacant table. Reason? This has become quite a groovy den among the local youngsters.
- They don’t offer any tissue/water with the food. You have to ask for it and it can be annoying if you are looking for a prompt service.
P.S.- Chhayaghar Cafe remains open from 5.00 pm-9.30 pm 7 days a week. At Least that was the case when we visited it some time back. For the latest change of timing, you should check out its Facebook page.