A search for a cool fire extinguisher in the narrow lanes reveals hidden gems like Ganu Shinde Ice cream, Gujar cold drinks and Murlidhar Rasvantigruh
Birthplace of ‘Mastani‘
Around 100 years ago, most of the wholesale market in the city of Pune was concentrated around the Peth area before moving to Bhavani Peth and eventually Market Yard. Baburao Malhari Gujar, an enterprising young man saw an opportunity where people came to sell or buy stuff from the market needed a cold drink. In 1923, he opened a soda and sherbet shop at 1055 Budhwar Peth. He would get the soda from Ardeshir in the cantonment of Pune, one of the oldest soda makers in the country, bring it to the regions of Peth and sell it to the thirsty.
“One of his new employees was someone we only know as Nair. He taught my grandfather the techniques of making ice cream. We got the manual ice cream maker from Ahmedabad, from the ice cream from Irani ice cream factory in Gawali wada, and started making ice cream in a tub. Since there was no freezer, we kept all the mixture in a tub covered with ice and the ice cream was forming,” said Vishwanath Gogawale, a third generation in the family. His son now runs their outlets in Hadapsar and Market Yard.
Pune’s own drink, Mastani, has always been on top. Its origin starts at Gujar Ice Cream store. “About 70 years ago, my grandfather mixed ice cream and a cold drink to make what he called the doodh-cold drink. It was an instant hit. Soon there was a demand for it. Since the name was long and Mastani is associated with Pune, we started calling the drink Mastani. Since then, many flavors have come and gone, but the mango mastani is still a favourite,” Gogawale said.
former ice cream parlor
In 1885 it was a pharmacy. In 1934, he became a wine merchant. But an alcohol ban followed and in 1940 Abhijeet Shinde’s great-grandfather opened the cozy little ice cream shop on Laxmi Road. This humble place is a wink and a miss, but those who know it also have a thousand memories associated with the place.
While his great-grandfather was selling tub ice cream, he once saw an advertisement in the newspaper for how to make touch-free ice cream. “It was then that he bought an Elwood ice cream maker from the UK. It was a big investment and it took several days for him to arrive by ship, but he was a patient and passionate man,” Shinde said.
Couples well into their old age had met here years ago, or who used to come here when they went out together, and still carry on the tradition of coming here for ice cream on their birthdays or when they visit India from time to time. Grandparents gather with their grandchildren and while they sit and read the newspaper, the children enjoy ice cream. Then there are people who order everything on the menu and eat it at their leisure, said Abhijit Shinde whose family now runs the place. But like a true blue Puneite, he does not interfere with his clients’ privacy.
They still get milk for the ice cream from traditional dairy farmers and pride themselves on not using any artificial product or selling day-old ice cream. “It’s not good for business to throw away so much product every day, but for us our heritage matters, not the money. My dad was a doctor and I’m an engineer and we make our money. We use pistachio in our ice cream there is no tampering. During the lockdown, every time the store was open, we were wasting about 5,200 liters of ice cream per day,” Shinde said.
Sweet cane juice
Muralidhar Rasvantigruh was initially just one of many makeshift shops in the Old City. Located near Shanipar, it was run from a makeshift center rented by Mukund Bhelke in 1947. His daughters run the place now.
“As the Muralidhar Maruti temple was nearby, it was named Murlidhar Rasvantigruh. My father worked hard and saved money. When the wada next to the store called Dr Bendre wada was sold, he bought it in 1974 , took a loan and some personal money. He demolished the place and built what is now Murlidhar Rasvantigruh,” said Rohit Jagtap, an entrepreneur whose mother and aunts own the place.
A safe stop for any shoppers in the Tulsibaug area, the year-round juice center has also changed over time and since the 2000s has been serving light snacks. Like many old restaurants and shops in town, the workers are also old timers and make sure the cane they get is of good quality and the juice to customers is fresh.