I, Abhimanyu Rattan Mehra, the youngest son of Rama & Ranjit Rattan Mehra, am happy to share with you our family history and heritage through my eyes.
I have penned down our ancestral lineage chronologically with stories and memories as gathered from my elderly. We are humbled to belong to such kindness & gratitude and it is with pride that we carry it forward in our little boutique manor, Ranjit's SVAASA.
Join me on my family tour which we hold in person when you stay with us at Ranjit’s SVAASA. Our pictorial Time Corridor relates this history going back seven generations for guests to relive and cherish with us.
Sahib Raja Singh
Sahib Raja Singh's parents hailed from Peshawar with over 53 square miles in North Western Frontier Province. Panjab has misls and each misl was recognised for its proficiency. The misls formed a commonwealth that was descdribed by Antoine Polier as an 'aristocratic republic'.
The story goes that they had huge cavalry and they traded in carpets, dry fruits, tea and weapons along the Silk Route. Sahib Raja Singh held prominence and respect amongst the misls and his family was well regarded by their people.
Sahib Rai Bahadur Kalyan Singh
Sahib Kalyan Singh was the son of Sahib Raja Singh, my great, great, great grandfather. He was given the title of Rai Bahadur. Kalyan Singh was honoured as the sarvara, sole custodian of Sri Harminder Sahib from 1860-1875 (now known as the Golden Temple). He was one of the entrusted for completing the gold gilding work at the Harmandir Sahib along with the Ahluwalia misl and Majithia misl.
Rai Bahadur Kalyan Singh’s tombstone set in 1886 reads "Ek Omkar Chinta Taki Kijiye Jo Anhoni Hoye Aye Marg Sansar Ko Nanak Phir Na Koi" which translates as “God is one, don’t spend time worrying over life’s troubles, follow the path of Nanak”.
Rai Bahadur Lala Rattan Chand
23rd January 1872 - 8th December 1931
A just and noble man, Rai Bahadur Lala Ratan Chand was very popular and much adored amongst the people of Amritsar. He was known for his philanthropic works dedicated to the welfare of the people and animals. He opened Amritsar’s first charitable TB hospital, a charitable blind school & home and a gaushala with over 500 cows. He also built a temple at Ram Talai, on the outskirts of Amritsar, all of which are operational till date under a trust. He also donated huge sums of land for social and economic welfare and women empowerment, one such land is an all-girls college in the heart of the city.
He was honored with the title of O.B.E., Order of the British Empire, a British Order of Chivalry rewarding contributions to Arts & Sciences, work with Welfare & Charitable Organisations, and Public Service outside the Civil Service. However, he refused the title of ‘Sir’ which was being offered to him by the British along with enough wealth and land if he would have supported General Dyer in his statement that the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre was not a peaceful meeting and it were the Indians who attacked his army which is why they opened fire.
He was a member of the Legislative Council, an Honorary Magistrate of the Amritsar District as well as a Founding member of the Municipal Corporation of the City.
He used to live in the walled city where he established the green tea market of Amritsar named after him. It was only later when the family grew that he moved to the now Mall Road. What is Ranjit’s SVAASA today used to be the guest house to the main palatial family haveli. There are streets in Amritsar named after him and one of the most prominent is the Ratan Singh Chownk, a crossing named in his memory.
The story goes, when he passed away, the entire city of Amritsar shut shop for two whole days in his honour. Everyone came out to the streets, there were crowds of thousands of people paying their last respect as his body was taken from his home to the family temple by the Amritsar Bus Stand for his last rites.
Our curated SVAASA Experiences takes you down his history as a guided immersion.
Rai Bahadur Lal Chand Mehra
8 February 1897 - 11 June 1973
He was the third son and one of eight children born to Lala Ratan Chand Mehra and his wife Amravati. Amravati belonged to the family of Maharaja of Bardwan.
Lal Chand Mehra was also honored with the Rai Bahadur title by the British. This title of honour was bestowed during the British rule in India to individuals for their service. Translated, Rai means "prince" and Bahadur means "brave" or "most honourable".
He unfortunately lost a leg due to gangrene and travelled by ship twice to London for his surgery and to get a prosthetic leg which was not available in India in those times. It was during his second visit that World War - I had broken out and with no communication to his whereabouts for months except the evening news on the radio, the entire family would gather in pin drop silence to learn of updates and the conditions of the war.
Luckily the day he returned, his youngest daughter Indu recounts, a large wooden box bigger than the size of a person was placed in the porch and when they opened it, it was full of toys from England for all the children, even his extended family. In those days joint families was much acceptable and a way of living.
He was very good with his math and book keeping, hence he was in charge of the shop at the green tea market and the trade that the family was involved in down the Silk Route.
Devinder Chand Mehra
8 January 1927 - 26 August 1991
Devinder Chand Mehra, my grandfather, was the oldest surviving son to Lal Chand and Amravati, and the only brother to six sisters. Standing at a strapping 6 feet 1 inch height, he affectionately went by the moniker of Tiny Mehra throughout the Indian tourism industry.
He had great foresight and understanding the family’s business of trading green tea across to Afghanistan and the possibility of growing tourism to Amritsar with guided visits to the Golden Temple, he joined hands with Ariana Afghan Airlines, Afghanistan’s official air carrier, and brought it to Amritsar in the 1960’s. This officially declared Amritsar as an international airport with booming regular passenger and cargo flights. He simultaneously opened the city’s first centrally air-conditioned hotel in Amritsar, Ritz Hotel and later the first private golf course designed by the internationally acclaimed golfer Dave Thomas in Delhi NCR.
Known for joie de vivre, he was a noted gourmand and he loved hosting family and friends at his table. An avid foodie, he was a big gentlemen due to his passion for eating the very best and cooking. Some of his best recipes have been curated in our Royal Family recipe menu.
His has immense passion and flair for the arts and music. This saw him celebrating the festival of basant each year in complete grandeur and pomp at the Ritz Hotel. His annual evenings of live music and lavish food was a private gathering of the city's elite and noble along with extended family and friends, many who were from the travel & tourism fraternity. Artists and performers across Pakistan and India like Begam Aktar, Ghulam Ali, Rita Ganguli, Anjali Banerjee, Mehndi Hassan among others took to the stage at his annual gala.
Rama Ranjit Mehra
She was the older daughter in law to Devinder Chand Mehra, married in 1977 to their eldest son Ranjit Rattan Mehra. Together they took the Ritz Hotel to alarming heights of service and popularity. However Ranjit passed away to cancer in the year 2000 in U.S.A. When Rama returned to India, there was nothing. The family’s ancestral 250-year old dilapidated manor is what she inherited. However in its sprawling lawns and the backyard yet lived squirrels and fireflies, the hibiscus grew rather unattended and the lilies self-sustained. Rama knew wanted to make a home where people could come to revive and recoup with caring service and a soulful ambience.
"This quest to do something for others gave a new meaning to my life, it became my raison d etre." She began restoring this home where she was married into, which once thrived with love and laughter into an abode of personalised comfort, peace and wholesome food. Thus, Ranjit’s SVAASA – A Heritage Boutique Spa Haveli was born and saw its first guest towards the end of the year 2003…then came another and another and more …
Ranjit’s SVAASA follows her ethos of wellness and life. It offers spacious boutique rooms and suites with a personalized service beyond the stereotypical hotel code of conduct. Each guest is like her own and her well trained staff caters to every need with ease. The food she serves is cooked fresh each day following the now popular farm to fork concept. Something she grew up with in her maiden home where only seasonal produce was cooked and freshly served from the kitchen. She believes in ‘we are what we eat and how we live’. Taking forward her award winning spa works on an ideology specifically crafted to balance the mind and body with the circadian rhythms of nature, known as P.A. S.T.
In the year 2005 she trained as a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner to further her knowledge of age-old wisdoms and alternative sciences for a healthy life. She practices till date and consults people with illnesses and degenerative and lifestyle diseases.