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Travel
August 07, 2014

Delhi Top 10

Text by Nisha Jhangiani. Illustration by Wyanet Vaz

Verve’s fashion director and intrepid shopper scouts the coolest places to find stuff you can never imagine. Get in on her secret shopping and travel diary

Vivid memories of convent schooling in Delhi have inculcated in me a general sense of geography, although I am still very dependent on drivers and friends to navigate me around. Nowadays, my Delhi sojourns are relegated to bi-annual fashion weeks where I catch up for lunches with friends I have now known for decades. But essentially, it’s a frantic frenzy and as exhausting as these five-day trips are, they are equally fun and action-packed; it does help to have friends in the fashion industry! Here’s what I somehow fit in on almost every visit:

1. Some must-do stores. The Second Floor Studio at Shahpur Jat. Punit Jasuja, the owner, is an entertaining and enthusiastic guide as he takes you through many of the eclectic home, lifestyle and fashion finds that he retails. I always overstay my time limit, always buy more than I need and am always more than happy with the end result. Chanel is another boutique I make time for as it’s their only fashion flagship in India; more often than not, I end up adding my name on some wait-list as most of their key items are regularly sold out. Even though Dior has a presence in Mumbai, I prefer to visit their Delhi store – more variety and a fabulous menswear section that takes care of every gifting need possible. Cartier is my stop for eye candy – best window shopping ever. And of course, most of the Indian fashion fraternity’s offerings can be found somewhere in the city, which makes Delhi a very convenient hub for a shopping marathon.

2. Mehar Chand Market seems to be the capital’s latest blue-eyed baby, and whenever I have a morning free, I get myself to this area for a great blow-dry at one of their local salons, some interesting leather knick-knacks at Nappa Dori and a light, delicious lunch at Chez Nini.

3. Delhi is the acknowledged Mecca of food, street stalls and luxury establishments alike. Designer Anand Bhushan is my willing partner when it comes to the former haunts. Butter chicken from Pandara Road, chaat from Bengali Sweet Market (although I still miss my favourite, but now-shut-down chaat house in Sunder Nagar Market), Kakori kebabs from Al Kakori at SDA Market – the list goes on. I also can’t resist the tried and tested hot chocolate fudge sundae from Nirula’s as well as the entire dessert menu from Big Chill.

4. When it’s an elegant sit-down meal, my absolute go-to’s include Spice Route at The Imperial – superlative Pan Asian cuisine. 360 at The Oberoi is a fabulous stop for lunch – this bright and airy restaurant’s appeal hasn’t dimmed over the years and I am constantly debating between their sushi menu, pizzas and the lush lunch buffet. A Japanese feast at Megu at The Leela is fast becoming another must-do.

5. For evening drinks, I love Olive at The Qutub. The Mediterranean ambiance coupled with nearby views of the Minar give it an individualistic charm, to say the least. Cherie, which is close by, is generally followed up after Olive, and there have been a few nights that have been spent enjoying a mean cocktail at The Blue Bar, at The Taj Palace Hotel. I’m not much of a nightclub person but there are times when a post-show calls for some serious dancing at Kitty Su and The Lap or private parties at Aqua, The Park Hotel.

6. Delhi is an amazing hub for gallery viewings, there always seems to be some exhibit that one must try and catch whilst there. Tarun Tahiliani dragged me for an impromptu visit on one trip and I’ve been hooked since. Dior’s Kalyani Chawla and designer Rohit Gandhi are the ones to ask so they can veer you to the very best there is to see.

7. This I haven’t done as yet but it’s on my list every time – a midnight qawwali at the Nizammudin Dargah. Designer Arjun Saluja has raved about the same and I’m hoping to sneak in with him the next time around.

8. There is no comparable feeling of peace and quiet for me in Delhi as that I find at the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara.

9. Knowing the right people can never count as much as it does in this city – whether it’s socialite and lawyer Niamat Bakshi’s elaborate home-cooked spreads and champagne parties at her lavish house, Kalyani Chawla and Rohit Aggarwal’s elegant soirees highlighted by the latter’s gourmet-heaven catering or designer Rahul Khanna’s impromptu-but-riotous after-parties in his chic apartment, Delhi’s top bracket definitely knows how to throw the best dos.

10. If you do manage all the above, then, like me, it’s imperative to stagger to The Dusit Devarana and check in to one of their pool rooms. A couple of days spent being pampered in their spa is all you need to get back to real life good as new!

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