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Our guide to Delhi

 

Where modern life clashes with the old world, sometimes gently sometimes not quite. Forever evolving. A city with which I have a love-hate relationship but one that I return to every year. Because it is home. It is where family and friends are. It is where my most precious memories were made and fiercest battles fought. 

Delhi- A Lai curation: 
 
SHOP: 
Utsav (our favourite for sarees and yardage from across India. Look out for their annual sale in Aga Khan Hall.)
Kamayani (run by Kamayani Jalan, of Delhi Crafts Council- her position to get 1st dibs on the work of the weavers working with DCC coupled with her excellent eye, ensures one of the best textile curation in Delhi.)  
Kamala (another favourite. Find the best curation in contemporary Indian craft-based design and textiles at this beautiful store. Run by Delhi Crafts Council, look out for their bi-annual textile exhibitions, 'Kari' and 'Sarees of India', in March and October respectively.)
State Emporiums (Lonely Planet said it best: "Handily in a row are these regional treasure-filled emporiums. They may have the air of torpor that often afflicts governmental enterprises, but shopping here is like travelling around India".)
The Shop (for block prints, well stitched garments and Pondicherry pottery. Preferably go to their Regal Building, CP shop. And do drop in at Khadi Gryam Udyog Bhavan next door!)
Shades of India (gorgeous and fabulously textured clothes and accessories.)
Anokhi (what would our wardrobes be without their signature block prints and well cut clothes? Not to mention the softest Jaipuri quilts!)
Good Earth (perhaps the best example of restrained Indian maximalism- be it clothes or home decor. The cafe is no less enticing – with fabulous decor and veranda seating.) 
Fabindia (yes, it has changed and yes we complain but it still delivers as a one stop shop for craft based contemporary home goods, clothes and more. For a complete Fabindia experience go to their flagship store cluster in N-Block market, GK)
Delhi Haat (ruined by corruption and bureaucracy, the soul and authenticity that made Delhi Haat the fabulous place it was seems to very much be a lost cause. Still, go there for some chance discoveries, regional food (we are firmly team Maharashtra Food Stall) and occasional folk performances. Look out for their Master Weavers, National Awardee and Dastakari Haat Samiti events.)
Craft Museum Shop (run by HHEC, it has a wonderful curation of Indian crafts and textiles plus an interesting selection of vintage/antique items)
Sunder Nagar Market (leisurely shop hop for handicrafts, antiques, replicas and jewellery. Special mention: Bharany's)
Lajpat Bhawan (for freshly ground masalas, papads and more. Join their Library, if you can frequent this place- it will warm your heart every single time. Browse and buy used books at their Book Shop and finish off with a glass of freshly squeezed juice at their juice counter. All for a good cause.)
Santushti Shopping Complex (this grassy, leafy complex, run by Indian Airfare Wives Association, is a great place for an unhurried shopping experience in Delhi. Hit our favourites: Ogaan, Tulsi by Neeru Kumar, Anokhi and Lotus Eaters.)

EAT: 
Cafe Lota (a Lai favourite! Still dreaming about their jackfruit biryani, chicken ghee roast and bhapa-doi cheesecake....)
The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe (totally worth the never ending climb up the stairs for it's back-to-the-roots earthiness and home cooked Bihari (regional Indian) cuisine.)
Spice route (an all around unforgettable experience. Another Lai favorite!)
Patiala Peg and 1911 (our two favourite bars housed in an Art Deco classic, the Imperial Hotel.) 
Bukhara (a legend not without reason.)
Indian Accent (when you pick it as the venue to introduce then boyfriend, now husband to your parents, you know its a special place! Despite its move from Manor to The Lodhi, this place is a must do on every India trip. Opt for the six-course tasting menu for a memorable culinary experience.)
SodaBottleOpenerWala (go there for a taste of Mumbai and it's inimitable Iranian cafes.)
Chor Bizaare (finger licking Indian food in a setting that will floor every vintage lover. Go there super hungry or share the Wazwan!)
Cafe Latitude°28 (unwind in a modern day Maharaja maximalism meets brooding Parisian chic setting that is signature Good Earth.)
 
HANG OUT:
Crafts Museum (lets just say we are happy to spend every extra minute in Delhi in this serene Charles Correa designed Museum. Lots of changes every year, some we are not too happy about but the recent addition of Cafe Lota and Lota Shop are two of their better ideas!) 
India Habitat Centre (swing by for a leisurely meal at their non-member's food court, Eatopia, or The All American Diner. Walk around soaking in the brilliance of this Joseph Stein building and catching up the exhibitions at Visual Arts and Open Palm Court Gallery or any cultural event in their open air amphitheater. Highly recommended: membership to their Film Club.)
National Museum (if you can tone down your exceptions, you'll find your self being amazed at 5000 years of our cultural heritage stored here. Big, serene, though old fashioned- still, our happy place!)
Lodi Gardens (a Lai favourite. An urban oasis with a good deal of history thrown in. Opposite India Habitat Center- kill two birds with one stone!)
Hauz Khas and Deer Park (if we weren't in the NIFT campus, this is where we were! A great place to shop, look around and eat. Leave some time to explore its medieval madrasa, tombs, mosque and the lake. A quintessential Delhi experience that is a mix of urban and rural.)
Triveni Kala Sangam (another Lai favourite- visit this gem by architect Joseph Stein for it's architecture, art exhibitions + performances, plant and pot shopping, yum homemade food + masala chai at it's Terrace Cafe and those old school vibes.)
National Gallery of Modern Art (Housed in the stately 'Jaipur House', the only place you'll get to see stalwarts of contemporary Indian art like Amrita Shergill, Souza, Raza, Jamini Roy, Rabindranath Tagore and M F Hussain all in one place. Bonus for the sculptures, Miniature paintings, Tanjores and the Kalighats!)
Qutub Complex/Mehrauli Archaeological Park (for ruins, history, open spaces and the beauty of them all together. The only area in Delhi known for 1,000 years of continuous occupation- includes ruins from various dynasties- the Tomars, the Sultanates, Mughal and the British. Or just go for the Qutab. Don't miss the annual 'Qutub Festival', held in November-December. 
Connaught Place (too many reasons to list....)  
Lutyens' Delhi/ India Gate: (at night, with ice cream from one of the cart vendors.) 

READ:
City of Jinns, William Dalrymple
Delhi: A Novel, Khushwant Singh
Twilight in Delhi, Ahmed Ali

WATCH:
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