Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Red Fort and Anarkali !

I'm not a restaurant reviewer but I really wanted all my non-Karachite blog readers to know about this place. Its one of my favourite theme restaurants in Karachi. Lal Qila - Translated as Red Fort is located in almost the centre of the city with an easy approach from just about everywhere in Karachi. What I like best about it is the ambience and the environment. It has been designed to look like a fort back from the mughal times, the exterior just gives you a slight idea of what you can expect inside, a guard dressed like a Mughal soldier is there to welcome you at the gate. Once you step inside, the exquiste decoration, architecture and the waiters all dressed like Moghal fortmen will take you back to the 1600s. Just to give you a brief flashback of  history, the Mughal emperors who hailed from Central Asia ruled the sub continent from the 16th to the mid 19th century and that period was one of the most culturally and architecturally gifted periods that the sub continent has seen. The remanescents of their glory still stand majestically and include the Taj Mahal, Lahore fort, the Badshahi mosque etc.
The buffet with live cooking...Did I mention it's out in the open air ?

Coming back to Lal qila, I would suggest that every foreigner who comes to Karachi and likes eating out should make a visit. All my relatives from abroad have been there, loved it and have a special request to be taken there everytime they come to Karachi. The food there is excellent, I love the Mughlai cusine, and my dad is a special fan of the quails that are served there.The only glitch I find it to have is that it serves a a few Chinese dishes also which really doesnt go with the theme of the restaurant and I think should be replaced with more of the Mughlai dishes.

The interior
And ofcourse , if you wish to throw a birthday party there, that too would be in the true Mughal fashion as  around six waiters dressed like soldiers with fake swords and a cake in between will make a small parade to your table and then announce the emperor's order out loud to have you cut the cake ! Sounds interesting right ?

Something that I really look forward to is meeting the dressed up character of Shahzaada (Prince) Saleem ! He roams around and visits people on their tables, reciting duets in the love of Anarkali. The story of Prince Saleem ,son of Emperor Akbar, and Anarkali is probably a tale that every person from the subcontinent knows. In short Anarkali was a dancer who used to dance in the court of emperor Akbar for the entertainment of the courts men. Prince Saleem , the son of Emperor Akbar fell in love with her and wanted to marry her, Emperor Akbar found this bond unacceptable and ordered Anarkali to be burried alive. Many contoversies suuround this story, some say she was provided a secret passage to Afghanistan , others say she was put behind a wall and bricks were laid thus hiding her from the world's view forever. Whatever the story behind it, Prince Saleem and Anarkali have been a subject of great fascination and this restaurant makes good use of it.

The dressed up Prince Saleem
Here's a song which shows the story of Anarkali and Prince Saleem. The conversation that you'll hear in the start and in between of the song is in Persian, the official language of the Moghal courts. I'm sorry I couldn't find a subbed version of this song, but I think you'll understand the nevertheless. This song has been sung from Anarkali's point of view who cries and sings for her love.


  1. If I ever go to Pakistan I will definitely have to make a stop here! It looks like so much fun! :]

  2. yesh, it is realli awesome =]
    you're good at reviewing, do it often =p


  3. It looks beautiful and you described it so well :).

  4. @ JayMay - You'll be my guest :)

    @ Sidrah - It is na ? :) and thanks :)

    @ Harini - Thanks Harini, and I'm definitely taking you there if you ever come to Pakistan :)