Deolali/Devlali, Maharashtra – India

My memories of Deolali:

I have been more of a Deolali man than of Mumbai. Deolali is very dear to me. Most of my childhood holidays and vacations have taken place in Deolali than at my village “Kudachi”.

Fatmabai Sanatorium

Fatma Bai Sanatorium – owner Fatmabai Abdul Rehman Moledina

As I am a half  ‘Kutchi Memon’, we used to stay in this beautiful sanatorium called “Fatmabai Sanatorium” which was built in 1934 by Fatmabai Abdul Rehman Moledina who belonged to Kutchi Memon Jamat. Right now the sanatorium is being taken care of by her father Abdul Razak Saeed sister’s son Abdul Ahad Saaz who also happens to be the trustee of the sanatorium.
The sanatorium has 10 blocks

Main 6 big blocks of Fatmabai Sanatorium

Main 6 big blocks of Fatmabai Sanatorium

6 big blocks and 4 smaller blocks.

Smaller Blocks

4 Smaller Blocks of Fatmabai Sanatorium

The sanatorium also has its own small Mosque as well.

Fatma Sanatorium Mosque

Fatma Sanatorium Mosque

Fatma Sanatarium Mosque

Fatma Sanatarium Mosque

We the kids had a great time playing cricket, local games like Kabaddi pakdam pakdi and cycling. In the evening there were gole walas, ghodewalas and oonthwalas coming over to give us the happiness of our life time.

There was a a very close relative of ours called Hanifa Maa, we all use to call her ‘Ammijan’.

All the mothers and the aunties use to gather in her block and make delicious Paaya or Khichda. I can vouch for this that the best period of Fatmabai Sanatorium was when Ammijan used to come and stay at sanatorium. She unfortunately has expired but the people who has stayed at the sanatorium with her at that point of time would vouch that those were the glorious days of sanatorium when everything was just bubbling with excitement and happiness. We all miss you Ammijan. Allah bless you where ever you are. Amen.

The evenings used be in the famous and popular restaurant of Deolali called “Bharat cold drink house” gulping down faloodas. The Bharat Cold Drink House was estd in 1948 and is owned by Gopal and Deepak.

Bharat Cold Drink House Estd: 1948

Bharat Cold Drink House Estd: 1948 – Owner Gopal and Deepak

We use to stuff ourselves with cakes and pastries from the ‘Empire stores and bakery’ which is just round the corner of ‘Bharat Cold Drink House‘.

Empire Stores and Bakery - Quick Bite

Empire Stores and Bakery – Quick Bite

Occasional evening stroll at the Deolali Railway Station or

Deolali Station

Deolali Railway Station

at the ‘Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple‘ would be best way to end the day.

Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple

Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple

History of Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple
Shri Khandoba Maharaj is an incarnation of Lord Shiva and this temple dedicated to him is reportedly over 500 years (Five hundred) old. As per mythology, the incarnation of Lord Shiva into Shri Khandoba is because two brothers amongst the demons Malla Daitya and Mani Daitya pleased Lord Shiva with their prayers and obtained his blessings that nobody on earth could kill them. Brothers after getting the boon from Lord Shiva however became power drunk and started harassing the common people, saints and sages. This could not be tolerated by Lord Shiva and he himself incarnated as Shri Khandoba and killed both the demons. After killing them, Lord Shiva relaxed on this hill and hence this temple is called ‘Vishramgadh’.

Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple

Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple

There is also an ancient legend centering this hill is that during “Shiv Kaal” ‘Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj’ while traveling on his mission towards the north relaxed on this hill.

Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple

Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple

The management of this temple is with the Amale family since its inception.

Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple

Shri Khandoba Maharaj Temple

This religious landmark of Deolali is also known as “Temple Hill”.

Oh those were the days when fun and frolic was the order of the day. As some one put it .. childhood is the best period of one’s life.

That was about my childhood, now I have my own kids and even though I have my small little house in Deolali but still me and my family prefer booking the sanatorium and staying at “Fatmabai Sanatorium”.

There is that same serenity, peace and calmness even now in the sanatorium. The fun and frolic  .. laughter and the smiles are all there intact.

It’s just that the generation has changed. Earlier there were we now there are our own kids. As I remember probably they too will remember all this.

Its been 3 years that I visited this beautiful town ‘Deolali’. Last when I visited I was not into photography. This time though it was quick visit, I didn’t want to miss opportunity to shoot certain landmarks of this town whose memories will always be etched in my mind forever.

Apart from my personal association with this beautiful hill station .. a little brief about Deolali is that it was set up in this hill station as a Military Sanatorium by the British army, about 100 miles northeast of Bombay.

One of its functions was to act as a transit camp for soldiers who had finished their tours of duty and were waiting for troop ships to take them back to Britain. Deolali is what the British used to call Doolally once.
Deolali is a census town in Nashik District in the state of Maharashtra, India.
Deolali is home to the School of Artillery, the premier institution for imparting training to all ranks of the regiment.
Also the great legendary actor Shri Dilip Kumar has his childhood link with this town. Before becoming an actor, his family had a fruit business and he used to come down from Deolali to Mumbai for his business purpose.
Other celebrity actors who are associated with Deolali are Mr. Vinod Khanna, Mr Arshad Warsi, Mr. Arjun Rampal and Ms. Bhumika Chawla. As per my knowledge they all studied in Barnes High School.

Photography: Humayunn N A Peerzaada



  1. farida · March 7, 2009

    hi there
    how r u. thank u so much for all the information u gave me. it was so perfect i felt as if i was just there at tht moment. i hope to see all those places some day. hope u have many more such treasured memories with ur family n friends. take care

    • humayunn · March 7, 2009

      Thnks so much Farida for reading entire content. Just wrote what i felt. I hope yo visit all these places and thnks so much for the wishes. Lots of regards. Humayunn

      • reza writer · November 24, 2012

        Hi Hu,

        Thanks for sharing the memories of this lovely place…

        I spent 2-3 years of my childhood in Deolali; some of it in Fatma Sanatorium & some in Jamal Sanatorium.

        We had a special permission from the owners for a prolonged stay for educational purpose as i wasa day’s scholar at Barnes school.

        Have no pics or memoirs from the time but i am very nostalgic about the place…

        I still remember the tonga rides from the station to the sanatoriums….and when it would was simply beautiful.

        Because of the2-3 years spent in Deolali, i have never been able to fit in completely in the bombay life….

        But the starngest thing is that i have never revisited this place inspite of missing it so much !

        But thanks again…

  2. Abbas Ali · March 16, 2009

    The name is Abdul Ahad Saaz (not Saad).

    Muhabbat ke liye kuchh khaas dil makhsoos hote hain;
    Ye wo naghma hai to har saaz pe gaaya nahin jaata.

    And how sweet it is to say that I am more of a Deolali man. Only a man of love
    will say such a thing. May Allah Almighty protect this flame of yours.

    How kind of Allah Almighty to grant us, not known to each other, a common blessing in that place.

    Please make prayers for me, my family, friends and elders.

    May Allah guide us both on the right path.


    • humayunn · April 2, 2009

      Salaam Abbas thnks for correcting me for the name. Deolali is really dear to me. thnks so much for the wishes and duas. I will surely keep you in my prayers. And yes Allah the almighty show and guide us on the right path. Ameen.

  3. soma · October 13, 2011

    for accommodation in this sanitarium, whom to contact.. i stay in mumbai and planning to spend my holidays in deolali. pls help me with email add or contact no.

  4. Mohit Rohra · January 28, 2012

    Hello Humayunn !
    Deolali is my own home town !
    Its, for me atleast, heaven on the earth !
    I have been to Bharat Cold Drink house, and The Empire Stores,
    The railway station and the Temple Hill as Well !

    But the sanitarium !?
    I would love to know where it is, Please give me the location.
    Cause I am just 17 but settled with my parents in dubai, I visit Devlali Once in an year,
    So I would love to see the sanitarium !

    By the Way, Arjun Rampal has Studied In St. Patrick’s Convent School, located Near to The Temple Hill.

    • Arif · April 27, 2012

      Dear Humayun,
      Thanks for updating all the information about deolali. I always stay at NUR Sanitorium. Fatima is also good, stayed once. You are right when Dilip Kumar’s family migrated from Lahore (now in Pakistan) they make DEOLALI as their hometown in India and also started friut bussiness. Still his elder brother Late Haji Norrmohammed Khan’s Sons Amjad, Aszad and Nissar Khan stays in deolali and they have their fruit orchads over there.

      Dear Mohit,
      This sanitorium is in contenment area the road called is Lam Road, do visit Nur sanotorium also both are near by only I think Nur is better because I have seen both and also stayed in both.

      Regards !

  5. Gazala Parveen · January 18, 2013

    Hi All, thanks for the wonderful post and all the comments, which are quite informative!
    I wish to visit Deolali soon, if you could provide me the contact details /telephone/website etc of the sanitorium as well as that of Noor Sanitorium, it would be great, coz I stay in Mumbai, and would like to pre-book before setting afoot for the city!
    Thanks in advance,

  6. Abdul Hakim · March 11, 2013

    I have been visiting Deolali since 1988 and my father has been staying at Fatima bai sanitorium since1952-1955. Love this place.
    I use to spend my yearly school vacation at the sanitorium visiting all the way from Dubai.

    Hope to see the old places soon.once again.

  7. Naf · March 23, 2013

    Dear Humayunn,

    Great blog. From my Greenfield bedroom I can see the mosque.I was born and brought up in Deolali. Do you remember Adelphi Cinema and after one colony was our sprawling haveli. My dad had a shop E. Esoofally. Thanks for the beautiful pictures

    • suresh · May 3, 2013

      Hi Humayun, just wondering that how you forgot to mention the pride and the landmark of Devlali, it’s very own ‘Royal Bakery’ which is established from the time the place got its name. Personally I feel you should visit Devlali once again just 4 Royal Bakery. By the way do you know that Empire stores and bakery sell pork products too?

  8. Kirit Asher · July 5, 2013

    Kothari Sanetarium, Deolali is very good. We stayed in mid June 2013. Rate Rs. 1400 per day for two bedrooms, hall with t.v., kitchen with fridge, gas with stove & utensils etc. dining area with table and chairs,bathroom with gas-guiser, verandah with jhoola [half banglow, two apts. in one bunglows], 2 beds for 4 persons, [but can get extra beds on request]. There are about 12 bunglows, [24 apts] with beautiful garden and a Jain Temple in the compound.You can get breakfast & meals at Rs. 25 & Rs. 60 respectively per person just behind kothari sanet in the Sugar Merchant Asso. dining hall. Kothari san. is on Lam Road. – Kirit Asher contact 919221242149 Mumbai.

  9. Arif · July 14, 2013

    Bhaijaan Salaams !!! Your beautiful description with photos brought back tears into my eyes as i miss my Deolali… I too like you spent my childhood in Deolali in jamaal Cenetariium….. like you also mentioned i too dis most of the things you did !!!! oh ! How i miss my Deolali !!! Now i too have grown up and have College Going kids !!!! Alas ! Jamaal Cenetarium i am told is no longer there. I am very eager to come back once again to my deolai…. after nearly 25 years !!!!!!! Bhaijaan I would really be obliged if you cud kindly guide me as to where i could stay ???? i am a Agakhani Khoja and i dont know if i would be acoomodated in Nur Cenetarium or at any other place…. when we could not find place in Jamal, we used to stay at Coronation Hotel, but i think that too has closed down now and also at Ozarkars Place opposite the Agiary but i dont know if he still gives the place for homestays…. I would really be humlbly obliged of you could give me some names of some hotels or guest houses or homestays ( which are family type) as i now plan to come with the wife and kids so i can visit my deolali Again !!! I would be humbly obliged of you could mail me the details at Thanks and Salaams ! Arif Fazulbhoy ( Mumbai )

  10. nalu · May 22, 2014

    I lived next to nur sanitorium and played football on the property with the sons of the manager. Left in 1971. Dilip kumar had a house at the corner of lam road. We used to takeTongas and rode bikes all day. We went to Adelphi and Cathay cinemas with my mother. Remember temple hill bhagur artillery center empire stores royal bakery. I used to get military bread from royal. Great childhood.

  11. Salma · June 27, 2014

    Hello Humayunn,

    I lived in the sanitorium whn i was 2 and half and my family had to rush back to mumbai as i fell and fractured my hand.
    I am completing 50 in September and wish to spend a month in isolation writing.
    Can u please help me with the contact details
    I m grateful I found ur blog


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  13. Mehnaz Shahdokht Khandakee · October 30

    I spent two years of my life in Doelali, from the age of 3 to 5. My mother always spoke about life in the cantonement. My father was at the Artillery school there for training feom the Bangladesh army. I like to trace all the memories mom spoke about. She told us amazing stories. We had a Marathi housekeeper and many friends. She told me I used to wait for a Sardarji Uncle and beg him to take me around on his scooter. Thank you for sharing your article. It filled up my heart with such fond memories. Bless you.

  14. Yasmine Jalnawala · February 20

    Humayann Hi, Today for the first time I stepped upon the site of my Beloved Wonderful Devlali. I belong to Devlali and I spent my entire life there. I know my Devlali so well. My grand father owned the Hotel Coronation on Lam Road which he bought some time in the early 1919 till we sold it in 1968. It was a lovely building ment to be a hotel. Yes I did study at the Barnes School and so did my mother and uncles. Yes Vinod Khanna Jalal Agha Helen Honey and Daisy Irani are all products of Barnes. I know Dilip Sahebs family very well and am still in touch with them – such lovely people. We had lot of film personalities come to stay with us, Dilip Saheb of course, his brother Late Haji Noor Mohommed and his wife spent there honeymoon at our place accompanied by his sisters Farida and Fauzia.(1952). Saira Banu Naseem Banu Dharmendra, Balraj Sahni Manoj Kumar Shakuntala devi all stayed with us for a over a week for the shooting of Shaadi. Late Mohommed Rafi saheb and his brother Ghulam Mohommed use to come often. Nigar Sultana and SM Yusuf the producer and director, Meena Kumari and Dharmendra use to come frequently for an over night stay. The princes and Maharajas also stayed with us. My Grand Father was great Shikari and he was known as EK Goliwala Saheb in the District. In the War Time Deolali was different – it had so many chinese and fish and chips joints. There were not just Cathay and Adelphi theatres, there was Munroe behind Rugby Hotel at Bhagur, Garrison near the Military Hospital, Royal opp. the Cantonment school on Anand Road. There were more hotels too ours Royal, Rugby, Grand at Dhondy Road, and one more at the corner of Anand Road. All hotels were owned by Parsis. Devlali has the highest number of Sanatoriums. I love my Devlali and I do still have my childhood friends whom I do visit whenever I can. I use to be working for the Indian Air Force at South Devlali (beyond the Barnes School). Humayunn, please to get in touch with me I now reside at Ahmednagar. God Bless you and your dear ones. amin.

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