Just like our group there were multiple other groups with guides going through the maze. Each guide ensured that their group was in sight. With so many people walking around, you constantly kept bumping into others.
Our guide continued his narrative; the structure is made of edible items and not using cement or the usual construction materials – things like lentils and limestone were used. So if you did happen to get stuck in the maze at least you wouldn’t have a shortage of food!
“Stand there. Put your ear on the wall,” he shouted to a few folks at the back of the line. And then he said something to the wall on his left.
“Did you hear it? The walls will carry sound.”
We tried doing it ourselves and felt we could hear something but with the number of people going back and forth we weren’t sure of what we were hearing.
Apparently there are also tunnels from this place that lead you to other cities in India but those tunnels had been sealed after people disappeared in them.
The terrace beside the maze provides a nice view of the city including some important buildings. It also offers photographic spots unlike the tunnels where you can barely stand. Some of the tunnels were illuminated by the sunlight coming through openings but the others that were closed on all three sides pretty dark even though it was a bright sunny day. The guide took us through an alternative route to get us out of the maze and the building.
On the left of the main building was where we left our footwear and on the right side was a stepwell – this is where water used to be stored; and it also served as a hideout from where the people inside could see outsiders but the people outside couldn’t see inside. As the guide takes you through this structure they’ll show you the point from where you can also witness this. Pretty impressive idea back then to come up with something like this – the use of reflection from the water and the alignment of windows makes this possible.
We spent about 2 hours in the Imambara; we wanted to buy a water bottle – but the vendor inside was selling an unknown brand. He did have the regular brands in a new pack but refused to give one from there. But we didn’t have to go very far – we picked a couple of bottles from the shops at the entrance of the complex.
In search of the kebab
When you come out of the Bara Imambara you will cross a large gate – the Rumi Darwaza it is called; this is pretty much on the main road and you have traffic going via this gate. Someone said that this gate appeared in the Tamil movie Petta. After clicking a few snaps our gang split into the veggie and non-veggie groups. It was 2pm. My stomach was rumbling a bit but I was ok; and I was hoping we’d finish lunch soon and get back to the hotel. We were in the quest of one of the Lucknow’s most famous dishes. The bridegroom had sent us the area where the shop was located; but he had never been there since he is a vegetarian. So with the aid of Google Maps, we directed the auto driver.
After a few minutes the driver stopped and said he can’t go any further. But looking at the map we said he can drop us a little further down the road so that we’d be at the start of the gully that was supposed to lead us to the famous Tunde Kabab restaurant. The auto driver relented but his vehicle struggled to go up the slope – the road went up by a very small angle but bearing the load of 6 of us, we could sense that the engine was stretched to its limit. There was a point where we felt the auto would go backwards!
There was no way the auto could go through the narrow gully which was packed with pedestrians. Following Google’s instructions we walked down the gully. My primary fear was of my stomach upset recurring and me having to find a toilet; there’s no way that there would be a clean public toilet in this place and the further down we went the longer it would take me to even get to an auto to leave this place!
The gully kept narrowing and it merged into another gully which merged into yet another one. As we neared the destination we kept looking at signboards. Very soon, as per Google, we had even crossed the destination but we didn’t see any signboards of Tunday Kebab. Just as we were about to ask one of the shopkeepers we spotted an open restaurant; the entrance side was completely open and we could see a huge tray with plenty of uniform light pink kebab patties and on the other side was a guy making fresh parathas. We spotted a large menu inside the restaurant which listed the main items as beef and buffalo kebabs. The prices were very affordable but none of us wanted to have buffalo or beef meet; also the place was super crowded and so we didn’t even step inside to check what else was available – there definitely was no place to sit and I feared having to visit their toilet in case the need arose. We decided to move on.