Sohini and Anandita, colleagues and co-travellers, decided to take a plunge into the old world charm of India yet again (in case you have missed their previous adventure, read it here). This time their destination was Lucknow, the city of Nawabs and Kababs. After a day’s halt at a friend’s place in Delhi, they reached the Nawabi Lucknow at around noon. It was the month of January and Lucknow had a soothing weather. The bliss of technology presented itself in the form of Ola and Uber apps. While the auto drivers charged a hefty amount for a ride to the city center from Airport, Uber was happy to provide an air-conditioned vehicle for half as much (India Travel Tip: use these apps, you’ll probably find them cheaper to the local transportation).
Tryst with Tunday Kababi
The hotel, The Maple Leaf, was quite near to the city center at Hazratganj. They had a couple of days to spare and decided to take it slow. Being foodies and Mughal cuisine lovers, the much-famed Tunday Kababi (you might have heard of them after the slaughterhouse ban issue) was their first destination. Located in a narrow alleyway in Aminabad, this outlet is said to be the best and oldest in the city.
The girls ordered for Tunday (Galauti) kababs, Biriyani and a chicken curry. The kababs are traditionally served with paranthas or rotis, and simply melt in your mouth.
The fresh, soft texture left them craving for more. Much to Sohini’s dismay, the Biryani lacked the flavor and boiled potatoes of Kolkata Biriyani.
The Badshahi Tour
The next day was dedicated to sightseeing and they took off quite early. Anandita was excited to visit Bara Imambara, an architectural wonder, that she had read about in Satyajit Ray’s Badshahi Angti. They hired a tour guide, but were disappointed to know that guides usually do not provide service until it is a large group of at least 10 people. They waited for a while and finally a group was formed.
The guide took them through the mazes of the Imambara and narrated stories glorifying the deeds of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. There is a legend amongst the tour guides of Lucknow that the Imambara was built over a span of six years. Noblemen and commoners alike were employed to build the structure.
During the famine of 1784, the Nawab decided to help his subjects by paying them for building and destroying this structure. The common men were employed during day time to build the structure, while the nobles were paid to destroy it by the night.
The Lucknowites are still awestruck by this generous leader and often say “Jisko na de Moula, usko de Asaf-ud-Doula”, meaning if someone is not gifted enough by God, Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula will compensate for that.
Sohini and Anandita were mesmerized by the Lucknow city view from the rooftop of the Imambara.
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