maha maya

menu & infos


credits & supporters

how to get there


sounds and visuals


approximate meaning of the name


the sanskirt word maha means major – as used eg in “major effect” or “major acts you perform, have performed or will perform”.


the sanskirt word maja means illusion, something that seems to exist but does not.

maya is also the name of the smiling, seducing goddess who causes delusion.

maya is illusion. she is outer appearance, the illusory power of everyday life.

maya exists as the cause of perception of universe’s diversity, but in fact, she is not real.
she is as illusionary as the illusion she creates. her existence can be acknowledged but it
can also be denied.

she is the wrong cause of the deceiving illusiveness. her existence cannot be defined.
she is abysmal and indefinable.

maya is neither true nor wrong. she is truly wrong and wrongly true. she is neither real nor unreal. she has not got brahman’s reality for she disappears as soon as awareness is achieved. she is not as unreal as an infertile woman’s son or as a rabbit’s horn for you can feel her presence.

this maya is an impostor. one is bewildered as long as the impostor remains unseen.
as soon as the impostor is revealed, the effects become unreal; the miracle suddenly
comes to an end. the miracle of maya’s effect disappears as soon as brahman is realized.
one realizes that the astonishment is not real.

when the hypnotist hypnotises the whole audience, everyone believes that the man climbs up the rope in the air. everyone sees that the hypnotist swallows a big sword and that he cuts apart the body of a lady in a box. in the same way, we are hypnotized by maya, and
we consider this unreal world as given reality.

the reality that we do not want to see or to accomplish exists behind maya’s curtain.

at mahamaya’s not everything is illusionary; our food is very real and authentic. But perhaps, you will find a new experience that will make you dream and relax.


on may 3rd, 2003 we discussed for the first time if there was an indian restaurant in berne that would warmly welcome us and whose indian atmosphere would appeal to us. sadly, there was no positive answer to this question. this is how mahamaya's fire began to burn inside us.

about us / behind the curtains



we had never run a restaurant or a take away business. so, first, we had to define our expectations - as guests.

we imagined an indian restaurant that would not be an anonymous dining hall with some naked light bulbs, faded indian paintings and pieces of decoration lost in a corner.
we never felt comfortable in the few indian restaurants we knew. although the food was sometimes excellent, the ambiance was never welcoming.

we imagined a restaurant that was urban but that would also be some kind of mini india in berne. authentic meals would be served. the restaurant would invite guests to stay. even readings, lectures or classic indian concerts could take place there.

mahamaya aims to merge both the indian and the western culture. it serves as a bridge, but, at the same time, it is an oasis where people can rest and shed their every day stress.
it is indian in a way you have not experienced before – 21st century indian lifestyle in berne. modern-day india is represented, a country torn between ancient mystic culture and
modern open-mindedness that has evolved from the former. culinary speaking, customers can choose from three dishes which can be eaten on the go or in our restaurant. for lunch, there will be no menu.

in the evenings, the front part of the restaurant is transformed into a bar. in the rear part, customers can choose meals from our menu which we intend to change every three months.

slowly, we had to give form and content to the dreams, images and ideas lingering in our heads.

we found a location that met our expectations in the länggasse – an event with a triggering effect. but first, we had to transform the former shop into a restaurant. but how?
what does it take? By many detours, we finally found an architect who was of great help
at planning the reconstruction and at taking constructional measurements. very soon, in august 2003, we we able to hand in the construction application.

it took a staggering seven and a half months for the reconstruction to be authorized.
during this time, we learned how conservatively berne is run and how slow bureaucracy is still today. we still do not understand the interpretation of the norms, guidelines and laws.
thus, we have to mention that we have to close the outdoor part of our restaurant in the courtyard at 10 p.m. – other garden restaurants in the neighborhood, however, are allowed to stay open until 00.30 a.m. the lack of the city authorities’ friendliness alienated us, too. on the other hand, we would like to thank the trade police officers who always treated us
in a friendly way, professionally informed us and gave hints.

much had to be straightened out, reconstructed and bought: a ventilation system, a whole kitchen, a bar, new flooring, a noise control system, a new display window, new toilets, doors, furniture, benches, dishes, glasses, pans – just about everything. as “ex-guests”,
we could hardly imagine the amount of things that are required to run a restaurant.

during this year and beyond, we have come to learn a lot and we have gathered a lot of useful information. not all experiences were positive, but our positive thinking could not,
and will not ever be ruined. here we stand with a big smile on our face and are giving you
the experience of the mahamaya restaurant.
authentic north indian food in a urban enviroment - a complete new restaurant experience
in berne. bollywood screenings, background music: nujazz, acid jazz & indian beatz at lunchtime and chillout & ambient in the evening. we will indulge you with authentic and spicy indian dishes made with much love. come in, feel at home and be our guest -
we bring you the taste of india - authentic, spicy & with love.

behind the curtains / about us

rajiv chaudhry and georgios rafailis are mahamaya’s soul.

rajiv chaudhry aka vj-wallah

on december 3rd, 1967, rajiv was born in a little indian village, located 300 kilometers northwards of new dehli , at the foot of the himalaya, in the federal state of himachal Pradesh.

some of his relatives had already emigrated to europe when the chaudhry family with
three-year-old rajiv followed them and came to live in switzerland.

rajiv's view :

when my family settled in switzerland, i was three years old and encountered western
culture for the first time. curious like all youngsters, i absorbed everything new.
experiences and impressions seemed to be without boundaries.

like so many immigrants, my parents would not deal as much with the new impressions as they were trying to find a balance between the two cultures. i think that they had not put enough thoughts into what would expect them in switzerland. i, on the other hand, had no problems dealing with this balancing act.

i’ve always had soft spot for computers. in the beginning, i only used them for gaming, but later, i realized that a computer’s quality is dependent on its individual components. so i began to focus on hardware and assembled some pc’s myself.

i finished an apprenticeship in precision mechanics, but soon i switched to the commercial part of business life. at mahamaya’s, i am still the one who sits behind the computer. my last employer was swisscom; i worked in a helpdesk and was responsible for the internet access support for business customers.

as a matter of fact, my mother had already dreamt of opening an indian restaurant in
berne for a long time. but, due to different circumstances and family problem,
this dream was not meant to become true.

realizing such a project alone would have been an impossible task. during a discussion with georgios rafailis i mentioned the project. georgios was instantly hooked with the idea.
he has an excellent knowledge of india and is a very professional man. it is a fact that he knows the subcontinent and its culture better than i do. time and berne were finally ready for the mahamaya.

georgios rafailis aka babag

georgios was born as an only child of two greek immigrants from corfu in foggy, depressing langenthal on march 4th, 1967.

he has experienced and done a lot and remained a smiling child of the sun.

as far as his conventional business career is concerned, it should only be stated that he not only worked as a medical lab assistant but also as co-educator, assistant nurse, commercial employee, apple computers sales person and network supporter and operator.

georgios has traveled a lot, mainly to asia and inda. india is one of his favorite countries where he has spent almost one year, all visits combined. his relationship with india is of the love/hate kind, for india demands and provokes a lot. but, as soon as he enters the plane
for the flight back home, he would like to exit it again. he knows most regions and has traveled to most of them. he loves indian food and is very culinary critical. he has a deep knowledge of indian history and culture. india – the country of his heart.

georgios has done many things associated with music. for 12 years he organized events in berne. these were mostly live concerts but also clubbing nights and raves.

he has been particulary fascinated by electronic music’s melting with conventional musical instruments or music. thus, he got to know the new asian sounds in the beginning of the nineties. these sounds, as well as the whole ambiance spectrum, are still his absolute
musical favorites.

he also worked as a barman, bar coordinator and dj at the isc club in the late eighties.
he is still an active dj, but can only be seen behind the decks if it is chill out and ambiance time. he was part of the program commission and the event planning group for radio rabe until shortly after the definitive grant of concession was issued. he was also in charge of
the event planning group during approximately two years. together with swissofficeartists
he founded and managed a small record label and a whole decoration and dance troupe
that bedazzled all the big parties all over switzerland. georgios was and is still active as an event consultant and flyer designer.

he is the soul and the fire of the mahamaya. he is responsible for the mahamaya events,
the marketing, the press, the processes, the workflow, the staff, the menues, the grafix
and t-shirts, the concept and so much more.....and of course the sound in the mahamaya.
he is the godfather of the mahamaya.


the future - what we plan