While the central election office for BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is right in front of this bar, Yelchiko, the poll offices of other major parties such as Congress, Samajwadi Party and Aam Aadmi Party, are also in the vicinity.

As a result, this bar is doing brisk business, especially in the evenings and during late hours, while demand keeps pouring in for a few extra drinks till last minute of its closing time at 11.30 pm.

While owners of this bar refused to comment due to political issues involved with the matter, waiters and shopkeepers of the area said the bar was drawing huge crowds ever since various political parties had set up offices in its vicinity.

The business is expected to further pick up as the polling date nears as that is likely to bring in thousands of more supporters and party workers to Varanasi in general and to this locality in particular.

Known as a holy city with temples almost at every corner and in each of its thousands of bylanes, Varanasi does not boast of many bars and the people here mostly depend on 'bhaang' and 'ganja' on various ghats to get their 'high'.

There are also not many high-end hotels with in-house bars and liquor-serving restaurants and most of them are located in the cantonment area of the city. Also, Varanasi liquor shops and smaller outlets in the city have a notorious reputation of selling counterfeit liquor and there are only a few established names which are trusted for genuine brands.

Among the few 'genuine' standalone bars in this city, Yelchiko Bar and Restaurant is known as the oldest of the lot and used to be located in the crowded Godowliya area, which has got thousands of small and big shops and is close to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple and many nearby ghats.

However, this bar decided to re-locate itself to the more upmarket Sigra area more than a decade ago to catch on traders and upper middle class residents. While there was no official version, the bar is said to be in business at least for more than three decades.

The local BJP leaders have hired the entire ground floor and one big apartment in a high-rise Seva Shree building in Sigra locality which happens to be opposite this bar.

The bars and restaurants of the high-end hotels in Cantonment area are also doing brisk business, as many senior leaders of various parties are staying there and meeting various kinds of people in these bars and restaurants.

Managers at some of these hotels said on condition of anonymity that the bills are getting mostly generated in the name of individuals and not the political parties and these rarely include any senior party leader even if they are present there.

According to legend, Varanasi was founded by Hindu deity Lord Shiva 5,000 years ago and is considered the oldest city in the world, though evidence of habitation only goes back to about 3,000 years.


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