Kotwara Initiatives, under the House of Kotwara brand, offers many unique experiences to travellers across Delhi, Lucknow and Kotwara, with a focus on showcasing and promoting the culture, crafts and cuisine of Awadh.
Kotwara Initiatives, under the House of Kotwara brand, offers many unique experiences to travellers across Delhi, Lucknow and Kotwara, with a focus on showcasing and promoting the culture, crafts and cuisine of Awadh. Muzaffar Ali, who is from the royal family of Kotwara, is a poet, filmmaker and also the head of Rumi Foundation, while his wife Meera Ali is an architect and designer. The House of Kotwara has a large number of interests which is contained in the brand. The five C’s of House of Kotwara are culture (of Lucknow), crafts (working among villagers promoting their crafts), couture line, cinema, and cuisine. All these five C’s are offered as an experience to travellers under the Kotwara Initiatives.
Kotwara Initiatives includes experiences, restaurants and accommodation in Delhi, Lucknow and Kotwara. “Kotwara Initiatives can be a singular experience which can just be a glimpse of its cuisine in Delhi, an intense mix of cuisine, culture, art and interaction at Kotwara House in Qaiser Bagh in Lucknow or together with Ahnalwara Palace can bring in elements of textiles and nature as a composite programme on Awadh,” says Shoba Mohan, MD, Rare – Destinations and Experiences, a company that markets small boutique ideas and concepts. Mohan has been engaged with the brand for two years now. Rare had also been involved with Muzaffar Ali’s Wajid Ali Shah Festival that promotes Lucknow to travellers.
The Awadhi dining experience, ‘Maashra’, is in Meera and Muzaffar Ali’s farmhouse in the outskirts of Delhi off the Faridabad-Gurgaon highway. The hand crafted tent that is decorated as their memorabilia and art can seat up to 30 people. Five course Awadhi cuisine, from the royal household of Kotwara, is served to guests in this sit down dining experience. “The dinners are spectacular, and they offer lunches as well,” says Mohan.
In Lucknow, three suites of Kotwara House, the family home, is given out as a homestay. “The conscious effort and decision to open up Kotwara House for discerning visitors ensued from the vision of connecting hospitality with grass root traditions and human resource,” states Meera Ali.
Private dinners and private high teas are organised for interested guests. Other activities include a Qaiserbagh Walk, that is a heritage trail of Qaiserbagh in Lucknow. Cooking demonstration of Awadhi cuisine can also be done for interested guests.
Kotwara is about 160 km from Lucknow, and is a gateway to the forests of Dudhwa and Kishanpur – one of the largest forest tracks in India. Ahnalwara Palace in Kotwara offers seven suites to guests. Village excursions, nature walks and picnics in nearby forests are some of the activities for travellers.
Guests can also interact with craftswomen in nearby villages. Meera and Muzaffar Ali run a non-proft programme called ‘Dwar Pe Rozi’, which literally means livelihood at the doorstep. They commission embroidery work to village women in the latter’s home. The dresses are designed, cut and then sent to these women, who after doing their household chores, do the embroidery work, and earn about US$ 100 a month.
Meera and Muzaffar Ali also run a school for children of the craftspeople. There are almost 600 children studying in the school presently. Along with formal education, the craftspeople’s children are also initiated into learning needlework from a young age.