Something sweet?

  • The story behind Bhairahawa’s iconic sweet shop, Pawan Misthan Bhandar
- MADHAV DHUNGANA, BHAIRAHAWA

Feb 11, 2019-

Pawan Misthan Bhandar is a Bhairahawa landmark. This local sweet shop has established a reputation for itself as the one spot everyone should visit when in the southern city. Its clientele is varied, from rickshaw and tempo drivers to labourers, students, political leaders and businessmen, a testament to its broad appeal. Pawan Misthan Bhandar is where locals and tourists alike gather for a spot of tea and a plateful of its famous pedas.

Over thirty-five years ago, when it first started, this sweet shop was a one-room store, barely more than a hut. Now, its popularity has meant that it has grown to a three-storey building that is part of Bhairahawa’s identity.

“Our fathers contributed to this popularity,” says Pawan Haluwai, who currently operates f the shop. “We have succeeded because of the purity and traditional flavor of our sweets, which were handed down by our fathers and grandfathers.”

Pawan’s father Radheshyam Haluwai and his father’s grandmother Karamdani Haluwai first opened up the sweet shop nearly 25 years ago. Radheshyam, now 68 years old, recalls starting the shop after going through a number of trials and tribulations. Nearly a century ago, the Haluwai family, which was very prosperous then, began to face financial troubles after they were robbed. Things started to go from bad to worse when the Haluwai family was forced to sell their lands to maintain their livelihoods.

Radheshyam’s father, Motilal, moved to Sunauli bazaar and opened up a sweet shop there, but the business did not manage to take off. It was then that Radheshyam’s maternal grandmother Karamdani called her grandson over to Bhairahawa and taught him about the sweet business. Radheshyam learned how to make tea, snacks and sweets from his grandmother, which he applied at his newly-founded sweet shop in Bhairahawa.

After his grandmother passed away, Radheshyam, who was only 17 at the time, started his business under a shack. At first nameless, Radheshyam decided to name the shop after the birth of his eldest son, Pawan. In 1971, the Pawan Mishthan Bhandar was formally born.

“I became a successful businessman because of all the pain and suffering I went through,” says Radheshyam. “I remember the day when I sold my bicycle due to a shortage of money. I didn’t even have Rs 400 at that time.”

It was Karamdani’s special recipe for pedas that made the sweet shop popular. The pedas have always been the most popular sweet, with its reputation having spread far and wide across Nepal. What slowly spread through word-of-mouth has now become a phenomenon where anyone who visits or leaves Bhairahawa takes away a box of Pawan’s famous pedas. According to Pawan Haluwai, their peda is made from pure milk and lasts longer than many others of the same variety.  

“I take Pawan’s pedas while going to meet my friends and relatives in Hong Kong, the UK and the Philippines,” says Dusyant Thapa Magar, an official at Siddharthanagar Municipality.

Since establishment, Radheshyam attempted a number of other ventures, including another sweet shop, Kasturi Misthan Bhandar. However, none have achieved the level of success as Pawan Misthan Bhandar. Building on the popularity of Pawan Misthan, the sweet shop opened up a branch in Butwal. Pawan himself also expanded the shop into a hotel—the Hotel Pawan International opened in 2000 at a cost of around Rs 35 million. Their success has even allowed them to franchise their sweet shop, with the Pawan Palace opening up in Uttar Pradesh’s Shrawasti district across the border.

“I was inspired by the late PM Sushil Koirala to become a tourism entrepreneur,” says Pawan. “Koirala had requested businessmen to invest in hotels after laying the foundation stone of the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa.”

Pawan’s ambitions have grown ever higher. Another hotel is currently in the works—Hotel Pawan Palace, a five-star hotel, is soon going to open in Lumbini.

For Pawan Haluwai, his success has been built on the back of the Pawan Misthan Bhandar. Without this singular, iconic sweet shop in Bhairahawa, Pawan might not have enjoyed the kind of success he does now.

“I owe all my success to the Pawan Misthan Bhandar,” admits Pawan.

Published: 11-02-2019 11:52

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