Dining with the Dead: The Graveyard Restaurant

 (sanjay austa      sanjayausta@gmail.)

The graveyard restaurant.


Life and death are so finely interwoven into the matrix of Indian life that sometimes  it is   just a matter of course.  Like in this quaint restaurant in Ahmedabad, Gujrat where the living come out to dine with the dead. Built over a graveyard, the New Lucky Restaurant has more graves than tables. The graves are painted bright green and the waiters and clients have learnt to negotiate their way around them to the tables.

Far from spooking customers, who sit here till late in the night discussing   Chief Minister Narender Modi’s next move,  over tea ;  the graves lend an aura  of Sufi spirituality to the eatery , increasing footfalls.

‘’ Some of the new customers ask if this is some sort of a dargah’’, says the manager of the restaurant.

The owner Krishan Kutti Nair has no clue,  neither how old nor whose graves they are but says its important to respect the dead. ‘’We make sure no customer put their feet on these graves. We make sure the graves remain clean’’, he says.

Every morning a swarm of restaurant attendants dust the graves and ceremonially place a rose at the foot of each grave.  The graves also have a small protective railing around them.

 (sanjay austa      sanjayausta@gmail.)

Supping with the dead.

The graves are said to be of the relatives of a   local 19th century Nawab but there is no written record and everyone has a different version. The restaurant itself came up in 1950’s  when vacant plots began to be annexed in Ahmedabad’s  steady urban expansion. Sitting  along the way was this ancient graveyard.  Rather than being bulldozed or circumvented it was adopted and assimilated in a way that is characteristically Indian.  The founder of the New Lucky restaurant K. H . Muhammad originally had the tea-stall outside this Muslim graveyard.  The tea and buns here became so famous that he had to build a structure around the graveyard to accommodate the rush.

Tombs have traditionally had a spiritual connection in India. Some of them like the Nizamuddin’s Tomb  in Delhi, or the Dargah in Ajmer are places of great spiritual importance for pilgrims across faiths . Some others like the tomb of  Taj Mahal or Humanun’s Tomb are invaluable world heritage sites.

’’Its peculiar. But in India we honor our dead and remember them. So its makes sense to sup with the dead’’, says Vijay Naik a banker whose office is not far and who is a regular  customer here.

 (sanjay austa      sanjayausta@gmail.)

Hussain's painting adorns the restaurant wall.

Besides the grave,  the restaurant also accommodates an old bent neem tree  which is in the middle of  the eatery with its  slanting trunk going right   up through the roof.

The restaurant is also known for its Hussain. The maverick Indian painter M. F. Hussain was a regular here in his youth.  He like everyone was drawn here by the famous tea and buns.  As an act of appreciation he gifted  one of his paintings to the eatery which finds its pride of place on a wall in another section of the restaurant.  ‘’ A lot of people ask me about the price of this painting. But it’s a gift and how can one put a cost to any gift. We will never part with it’’,  says Nair.

And as for the graves. They are not going anywhere in a hurry. Not over anyone’s dead body for sure.

3 Responses to “Dining with the Dead: The Graveyard Restaurant”

  1. farah khan says:

    Its really surprising, graves and restaurant….dining with dead..?

  2. Sameer says:


    Nice Post. Can we use these photos for our blog post : http://www.mapsofworld.com/travel/blog/travel-tips/top-ten-unusual-restaurants-in-the-world

    We’ll provide a linkback to this post.

    Please let me know.


  3. A. Patel says:

    I recently visited this hotel when we asked our cab driver to halt at some hotel for a good tea. This place is awesome and combination of Milk Tea with Bun Maska is something you would like to savor. Saw few tourist as wells taking pics of hotel and graves. A must visit in Ahmedabad.

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