“Ye sheher nahi mehfil hai”
While I’ll always be a Bombay-lover, I’ve been intrigued by the love the people have for Delhi. I’d viewed Delhi as being a very narrow cultural space, as compared to Bombay’s cosmopolitanism. Since I’d seen most of the popular monuments in Delhi, I was confused as to what to do when I visited Delhi not once but 3 times this year, once for 36 hours and twice for less than a day!
My sister and I love breakfast and so that was the first thing we planned on getting on my first trip. I found this place called C’est La Vie in Sector 50, Gurgaon. We called for grilled pesto vegetables, pancakes, a chocolate banana shake and a latte, all of which were perfect.
After we’d checked into our hotel and relaxed, we went to Manhattan Brewery, which is in Gurgaon itself. While it’s not a must-visit, USP of this place is that they have a stock market system which also includes craft beers. I got a Blonde Ale for INR 150 so I was quite delighted.
The next day, we channelized our inner Kabir Thapar(Bunny from YJHD) since we had to catch an evening flight and had just 8-9 hours to spend in the main city. We first took a metro to Hauz Khas Village, walked around the fort complex and the lake, which was much better than my expectations. Post that, we visited Hauz Khas Social since we loved Tamasha. To be completely honest, I felt that HKV Social was hyped and I’d prefer Colaba Social over it, any day.
We went to Le Bistro Du Parc for lunch. It’s a quaint French restaurant in Moolchand Market. It has delicious cocktails and the food is supremely comforting. It’s on the expensive side but I’d definitely recommend it for its authenticity.
Post the hearty lunch, we headed to Janpath, near Connaught Place for some street shopping. They have very reasonably priced tops, t-shirts, palazzos and skirts. We wrapped up a satisfying shopping session as quickly as we could and headed to the airport.
My next 2 visits to Delhi were both very short and they were with my friends. We were travelling to Parvati Valley, so while going and while coming back, Delhi was our stop.
On our first visit, we went to the famous “parathe-waali galli” in Chandni Chowk. Now a word of caution- Chandni Chowk is really crowded and in order to find the most authentic places, you need to either have done a lot of research or know a local who knows the area, both of which we weren’t. The parathas we ended up eating were quite average and definitely not worth it. I hope to someday revisit it with more research and with a local in order to try the famous parathas and chhole-kulche.
We then went to the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, which, I believe was the highlight of the trip. It was beautiful and extremely well-maintained. Despite being an agnostic, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the immense faith with which people come to this Gurudwara.
Lunch was at Farzi Cafe, since I’d been to the Bombay one and loved it. Now Farzi is known for serving Modern Indian food and is only good for people who want to experiment and since my friends didn’t feel like experimenting at that time, they didn’t think it was that great. The last thing we did was visit United Coffee House, a posh coffee house in Connaught Place. Their coffee menu is very elaborate and it will instantly remind you of a coffee house from the movies, with its dim lighting, high ceiling and huge chandeliers.
My 3rd visit to Delhi was the shortest. We reached Delhi at 7am and had a train at 3pm. Since my friends hadn’t been to Hauz Khas before, it was the only thing on our agenda for that day. We left our hotel at 10 am and since we were super-hungry, we first went to Elma’s in Hauz Khas. They have an elaborate breakfast menu with lots of waffles, sandwiches, egg dishes, amazing coffee and the best desserts!
After a quick walk through the HKV fort complex, we again went to Hauz Khas Social because my friends wanted to visit it, but they were also let down. At this point, we were accompanied by a couple of people we’d befriended on our trip and made an impromptu plan to go to this pub called Vapour. It was a bar with a stock exchange and the service was pretty quick. It wasn’t extraordinary, but the pricing was on point.
In short, my favourites that I’d recommend on a 12/24/36 hour trip to Delhi are:
To see: The HKV fort complex and the lake if you’re in the area, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib; but if you haven’t visited the Red Fort, Jantar Mantar, Rajghat, India Gate and all those places, visit those first!
To eat/drink: C’est la vie(Gurgaon), United Coffee House, Le Bistro Du Parc, Elma’s, Farzi Cafe, Big Chill(Because it’s a Delhi must-do) and this stall called Lotan ke chhole in Chandni Chowk(go with proper research and directions)
To stay: The Visaya in Delhi, The Fern in Gurgaon and if you’re looking for cheap options, there’s a line of hotels outside New Delhi railway station.
Delhi, like any other metro city is a place where you’ll be spoilt for choice. There’s so much to do in this city and not enough time, so my advice would be to plan well in advance and try things that are unique to the city. Eat that ice-cream from one of the stalls in CP right after you buy a super-cheap book from a street vendor, eat spicy street food in the crowded gallis of old Delhi and end your evening by pub-crawling through Hauz Khas Village. After all, यह दिल्ली है, मेरे यार.