Azhar Paan Wala

Akbari Gate, Chowk

Azhar is originally from Shahjahanpur. When he was 15, in the 1970s, he came to Lucknow. There used to be Naseem’s paan shop right in front of Mubeen’s famous shop. He got a job there. He worked for Naseem for 10 years as apprentice and learnt the trade. Then, with his master’s permission, started his own shop. The Lucknow Mahotsav festival used to be held in the Begum Hazrat Mahal Park since 1980. Azhar found the opportunity to set up a stall in this fair. Those Lucknowites who usually don’t visit the Chowk now got to taste his paan and acknowledged its superiority. By now the tag-line “Azhar bhai’s paan is Lucknow’s pride” is famous from Lucknow to Dubai. Azhar sources betel leaves from Mahoba through his own sources. He has little faith in the wholesale dealers of Paan Dariba. He uses various herbs and spices to make wonderful flavours of paan—Wajid Ali gilouri, biryani paan, paan for sores in mouth, sweet and sour paan, gunpowder paan, royal sweet paan, backbreaker paan, begum’s delight, digestive paan, heartburn paan, paan for cough and colds, paan for backache and the mischievous bed breaker paan. He smiles and says that all of these are meant for those who are unsophisticated. The connoisseur simply asks for a paan, and that’s what we are famous for.