June 19, 2007 / 3:54 AM / 12 years ago

Over my dead body! Indians enjoy graveyard eatery

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters Life!) - Sipping a cup of tea and chatting with friends in a graveyard — this is what attracts visitors to a well-known restaurant in western India.

A customer waits for his food as he sits next to Muslim tombs at the "Lucky Hotel" restaurant in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad June 16, 2007. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Serving Indian cuisine to over 300 customers daily, the “Lucky Hotel” in Ahmedabad has 22 tombs nestled between wooden tables and chairs.

Visitors eat sitting by an ancient Muslim burial place and waiters jump over the tombs to serve food.

“It is a bit eerie to sit beside a grave for a meal but I have got used to it,” said 45-year-old Usman Vora, who has been visiting the restaurant since the age of ten.

“The green tombs make me realize that every bit of life is precious,” Vora said.

A visit to Lucky Hotel is part of the itinerary for many tourists and artists.

Many graveyards in India have been reclaimed for development over the years, according to local officials. But the owners of “Lucky Hotel” decided not to demolish the tombs — some of Sufi poets and saints from the Mughal rule in India — when the restaurant opened about 40 years ago.

The walls have paintings from the well-known Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain, a frequent tea drinker at the bustling restaurant.

Every morning, owner Krishna Kutty, a Hindu, wipes the graves with a damp cloth and decorates them with roses.

“I am not aware who was laid to rest here but I know that they are very lucky for me and the visitors,” said Kutty, sitting near one of the tombs.

“Many suggest me to destroy the cement tombs making room for more customers but I’m happy with the way it is,” he said.

The restaurant offers about 90 vegetarian food items and is most popular for its tea and white butter-buns.

“I am mustering some courage to enter the hotel,” said Geeta Khanna, a tourist found standing outside. “I am scared, the burial chambers are everywhere.”

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