Bygone Tradition of ChanduKhanas and Gossips

Several times you encounter words or probers which have much significance but their origin are missing with the passage of time. Among such proverbs one is Chandukhana ki Khabar (news from the opium dens), its  very much in vogue in Hindi and Urdu languages. There was a time when Chandukhanas were very popular in the British India and the parts of China as well. Such Chandukhanas were very much frequented by the common folks habitual of opium usage, these clients were called Chandubaaz and the tales of these chandubaazs made a local folk lore.

The words Chandukhanas is a syntheses of two words Chandu + Khana. While the earlier signifies a concoction of opium, later denotes a house or a place where the same is enjoyed.

Chandu is a special preparation of opium which used to be smoked. It is derived by straining and boiling the raw opium. In medieval times (Chandu Khanas were popular in India cities like Agra, Lucknow, Lohore etc and used to provide the purest Europhobic  rush of the opium.

How Chandu Khanas used to work

Chandukhanas were equipped with all facilities. The manager of ChanduKhana was called Saki and assistant as Sakini. These opium dens were having cots (wooden beds) which were rented and if was necessary for Chandubaj to rent  a cot as it was so penchant flair of Chandu that when shot was delivered Chandubaj had no time in hand and used to loose his sense instantly. The shot was measured according to the time as these dens were closed by 10 PM and if the Chandubaj was not able to come to his sense he was forced to wake up.

The Chandukhanas were very popular in Awadh capital ,Lucknow , Agra and Bombay. During your Agra tour if you plan a heritage walk you can visit the Chippitola locality where near the Jahangeer hamaam area you can witness the traces of an erstwhile Chandukhana building.

In the Middle Ages opium cultivation was very common In India in different parts. From the opium extracts small pills were made and on a specially designed hubble bubble they were put and smoked by the Chandubaj. The Chandubaj used to lie an cot (Khatia) and wait for the Sakini who used to put Chandu an the pipe and he used to get the shot from the pipe, Chandikhanas used to have the privilege of rickshaw as the affluent people who were quite regular to respective Chandukhanas were transported in these rickshaws  or the manual Sedan Chair up to their houses in the case they were not able to come into their senses.

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ChanduKhanas as Gossip Centers   

As the Chandubajas were great prattlers many gossips used to sway under the influence of opium Chandubaj used to gossip and many fakes news used to arise from these opium dens. Thus the word Chandukhana ki Khabar was coined. Kissagoi or the tales telling was an important pastime of these chandubaaz who under the influence of opium told tales which were more of fiction than reality. Stories of valour, fame, sex, promiscuity money etc were told by these Chandubaaz which were referred to by the commoners as chandubaazon ki kahaaniyan.


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