“I can’t think of another institution which has done so much for the arts as this tiny, cramped tea house where the crockery is cracked, and the lights don’t function.”

–Intezar Hussain

Image: Scroll.in          -       Located on Mall Road next to Anarkali Bazaar, the Pak Tea House (then called the India Tea House) was set up in 1940 by a Sikh family in Lahore. It remained closed during the partition riots, and it 1948 was allotted to Sirajuddin Ahmed, who named it the Pak Tea House.

For decades, the Pak Tea House served as a rallying place for professors and students of various institutions. Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Nasir Kazmi, Sadat Hasan Manto, Intezar Hussain, and several other intellectual and artistic personalities were frequent visitors of the Tea House. It also became the birthplace of the literary movement, The Progressive Writers’ Association.

Political activism also festered in the dimly lit restaurant. Under the military rules of Ayub Khan and Zia, students and activists would discuss their views around its tables. In 1967, the Tea House also became an informal meeting place of the newly formed People’s Party.

In 1999, the Tea House was closed due to a lack of business and remained so for 13 years. In June 2012, the Punjab government announced its intention to re-inaugurate the restaurant, and in March 2013 the Tea House finally reopened.