The Glory Called Glenary’s

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The iconic Glenary's in Darjeeling
The iconic Glenary's in Darjeeling

Have you ever thought how did the now world-famous bakery Glenary’s started? It’s actually a long story. Let’s start from the beginning.

It was the early 1900s. A tribe popularly known as the ‘rotiwallahs’ in India, came to Darjeeling and joined the tea estates. Their main job was to travel downtown Darjeeling, buy groceries, meat and tonnes of bread (from where they got the name) and go back to their respective tea estates.

It was during this time that an Italian named Vado opened a bakery shop at a house called ‘Glenary’s’. He named it ‘Vado’s Bakery’. Vado was a good singer. In the mornings he would bake, and in the evenings, engage in music. His bakery was an instant hit.

The Glenary's changed hands multiple times
The Glenary's changed hands multiple times

In the meantime, Vado fell in love with a Tibetan woman. Courtship followed marriage and after the birth of his five sons, Vado’s mind wandered back to Italy. He decided to shut shop. It was during this crucial time, that Adolf Pliva arrived at the scene with the job of a steward at a neighbouring Englishmen’s club. The meeting of Pliva and Vado was nothing short of a coincidence. They struck a friendship at the first instance. It was just a matter of time that Vado sold off 75 percent of his shares to Pliva, following which the former set sail for Italy with his family.

Let’s reminisce the history of Pliva. Adolf Pliva was born in 1822 in the erstwhile Austro-Hungarian empire. After finishing school, a training in confectionary was followed by short stints in Vienna and Cairo. Then Pliva landed in India. After working in Mumbai and Calcutta, he came to Darjeeling. His meeting with Vado enthused him to leave his job at the local Gentlemen’s club and join Vado’s bakery of which he was soon to be the owner. He re-named it ‘Pliva’s Bakery’.

 

He brought in German bakers and turned the bakery into a shop having a distinct German flavour.

 

Pliva was an informal and an amiable man. He was popularly known as ‘Pop’. The house where the bakery was housed was named Glenary from which the bakery would ultimately take the name. The source of this name is unknown.

The house where the bakery was housed was named Glenary from which the bakery would ultimately take the name
The house where the bakery was housed was named Glenary from which the bakery would ultimately take the name

Glenary’s Bakery was running well. Parties, music, dance – the ambience was that of a life well-lived. But soon, independence of India brought with it a certain uncertainty. From 1945 to 1947, the foreigners began to return back to their homelands. Darjeeling became home to the Bengalis and the Marwaris. Almost all the tea estates changed hands. Pliva, owing to his love for the bakery, stayed on a little more, but not for too long. He sold off his dear bakery to a businessman named T Sinha from Patna. Upon Pliva’s request, Augustine Tarcius Edwards was employed as the manager of the bakery. But not for long. Soon, Edwards left the bakery to join the British army.

Edwards came back to Darjeeling in 1947 and upon witnessing the pitiful state that the bakery was in, he took on its charge with the help of two businessmen
Edwards came back to Darjeeling in 1947 and upon witnessing the pitiful state that the bakery was in, he took on its charge with the help of two businessmen

Glenary’s began to deteriorate. Edwards came back to Darjeeling in 1947 and upon witnessing the pitiful state that the bakery was in, he took on its charge with the help of two businessmen — Badal and Gulstan. In 1959, Sinha leased the property to Edwards. In between, Sinha had tried to convert the authentic German bakery to a local sweetshop. However, in the able hands of Edwards the bakery regained its former glory by turning into a distinct English-German-Italian bakery. The current owner of the bakery, Ajoy Edwards continues to carry forward his forefathers’ legacy.

Oh, for a cup of Darjeeling tea and a Glenary’s pastry! 

All Images: Google

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