Mumbai wallah's curated guide to New Delhi
The sky in New Delhi seems as whitewashed as its bungalows, its sunsets are muted and its monuments silhouetted. But this façade is exactly what makes New Delhi a literary and imaginative experiment.
There is a haze that veils every surface: culturally, socially and topographically.
The first way to ride above or below the immediate surface is on the Metro. It glistens with the pride of a new house on Diwali, and makes up, in honesty and efficiency, for the disillusionment that came with the administration of the Commonwealth Games.
So Mumbaiwallahs in Dilli for the India Art Summit or on their way to the Jaipur Literature Festival, here's a ride through New Delhi's culture corners: Connaught Place, Lodhi Road and Hauz Khas Village.
More on CNNGo: Ultimate guide: The best of New Delhi
Area: Connaught Place (CP)
1. Anish Kapoor, art exhibition
Anish Kapoor’s endless wells of color and erudite play on reality, perception and scale leave your mind churning.
This London-based artist makes sculptures -- puzzles -- that dive into history and imagine futures where the fracture of the self or a fission in the landscape is a chance to look inward, and see the world inside out.
The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) building, inaugurated in 1954, and the permanent sculptures that adorn the gardens outside, are in stark contrast to the grey and red steely aesthetic of Kapoor’s work, setting the scene for the paradoxical nature of New Delhi itself.
Open Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., except Thursdays till 8 p.m. Closed on Mondays and National Holidays
2. Triveni Gallery and Café
Nearby, at 205 Tansen Marg, the Shridharani Gallery is one of the oldest in India, and is hosting a collection of artworks in glass in a show called "Of Shifting Natures." The title of the show implies shifting forms and new manners of thought.
Afterwards take in the misty winter sun at the Triveni Café. Order the shammi kebabs, chili paranthas and raita at this old meeting place of capital artists, musicians and actors.
Make sure you try the carrot cake, baked by Mina Singh, the first lady of the café. It’s home-cooked and humble, and you’ll leave inspired, with a happy stomach, at least.
Triveni Kala Sangam, 205 Tansen Marg, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 23718833. Open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
"Of Shifting Natures" on until January 21, followed by a group painting show including Vasundhara Tiwari from January 22-31.
3. Rabindra Bhavan
Down Copernicus road at The Lalit Kala Akademi in Rabindra Bhavan, Rakhi Sarkar curates an exhibition called ‘Yeh Image Mahaan - India Meets Bharat,’ exploring the relationship between contemporary and antique perceptions of the nation state.
Also here, Mumbai-based art historian Arshiya Lokhandwala, curator and founder of Lakeeren Art Gallery, curates a show called 'Against All Odds', featuring major artists such as Dayanita Singh, Vivan Sundaram and Surekha. It also introduces a critic, Geeta Kapur, as an artist of academia. This exhibit parodies the museum archiving process and layers of dust that succeed it.
If you’re headed to the Jaipur Literature Fest -- or not -- head upstairs to the Sahitya Akademi bookshop on the same premises, and pick up the academy’s exclusive publication of canonical Indian authors as well as emerging young ones.
The pricing of the books, starting at Rs 50 for an anthology of Kabir’s poems, reflects their philosophy of literature and learning above commerce and its means.
Rabindra Bhavan, 35 Feroz Shah Road, Connaught Place, New Delhi. Open 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Exhibit on till January 29.
4. National School of Drama Theatre Festival
On Bhagwan Dass road is The National School of Drama (NSD), whose 13th Annual Festival (on till January 22) puts on 80 plays over two weeks with troupes from all over the world.
The festival's nucleus is a hand-woven bamboo hut at the center of the campus, bustling with color, music, food, fires and theatrical conversation.
Eight stages come alive -- all in walking distance of each other -- from 4.30 p.m. until midnight.
Prepare yourself for the crumbling of the fourth wall and a day-long suspension of disbelief.
The National School of Drama, 1 Bhagwandas Road, Mandi House, Connaught Place, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 2338 2821; www.nsdtheatrefest.com
5. Raja Deen Dayal (1844–1905): The Studio Archives from the IGNCA Collection
Nineteenth-century photographer Raja Deen Dayal’s collection of digital prints made from glass plate negatives is a nostalgic look into a man, a time and a technical art form now obsolete.
"Curated by Dr Jyotindra Jain and Pramod Kumar, the exhibition begins with Deen Dayal’s open-air photography of moments, cities, temples, palaces and festivals, and ends with his famed studio portraits of Indian royalty and bourgeois during the early years of the British East India Company," writes journalist and artist Georgina Maddox.
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, C. V. Mess, Janpath, Connaught Place, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 2338 8341. Open 10.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. daily. www.ignca.nic.in
Exhibit on view till February 28.
Area: Khan Market and Lodhi Garden
A few kilometers away is Khan Market, where coffee, beer and books are freely available amongst the cluster of shops.
With with its colored walls and peeling pipelines, part-industrial and part-colonial in appearance, Khan Market invites designers and restaurants to cater to the chic aesthetic of luxury grunge.
6. Latitude, the Good Earth café
With a strong philosophy to support local communities and organic food, Latitude serves delicious teas and coffees, paninis, salads and freshly baked items. The goat cheese tart is recommended.
9 ABC Khan Market, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 2464 7175; www.goodearthindia.com
7. Khan Chacha's rolls
For an old favorite of Dilliwallahs, 'seekh' out Khan Chacha's for chicken tikka and seekh kebab rolls.
This used to be a small hole in the wall, and has recently been converted with wooden floors and bright views.
Anyone who's ever tried to give Khan Chacha a run for his money in the market, has failed.
Flat 50, First Floor, Middle Lane, Khan Market, New Delhi; +91 98106 71103, (0) 11 2463 3242. Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Route 04 for drinks
The upstairs terrace plays old music and serves beer and hookahs. A laid-back place to unwind after exploring the market.
4, Khan Market, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 494 22222, 9717590444. Open 10.30 a.m.-11.30 p.m.
9. A walk in Lodhi Gardens
Fifteenth-century tombs from the Lodhi Dynasty dot the park and appear almost as a stage set to the chattering families that come prepared with pressure cookers et all, mothers with their knitting, children with their cricket bats and fathers with their newspapers.
Yes, the park is a stereotype, but stereotypes are sometimes comforting, as this one is. If you sit around long enough, a chai wallah will most likely approach you with hot tea.
Khoj Marathon, art event
The Lodhi Garden Restaurant is a magical forest-like place amid trees and lanterns and delicious, fresh European and Mediterranean food with subtle Indian embellishments.
Here on Janaury 22, timed with the India Art Summit, The Khoj Marathon will take place. Featuring 'uber' art curator, Hans Ulbrich Obrist interviewing 26 of the most prominent contemporary artists in India.
The Khoj Marathon promises to be one of the cultural highlights of the coming weekend.
The Lodhi Garden Restaurant, Lodhi Road, New Delhi; +91 (0) 2465 5054
Area: Hauz Khas Village
Through narrow alleyways of cobbled-crumbling-streets, eclectic stores, cafés and restaurants -- Hauz Khas is an urban village that neighbors the Deer Park and a reservoir built in the 14th century.
The Islamic madrasa at the end of the road reminds you that New Delhi is a constant accumulation of dynasties, religions and empires.
For the bibliophile in pursuit of as-yet anonymous writers who’ve chosen an alternative route to publishing, Yodakin stores, both in form and content, offers unique books on diverse issues.
2, Haus Khas Village, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 2653 6283; www.yodakin.com
Open Wednesday to Monday 10.30 a.m.-8 p.m. and Tuesdays from 2.30-8 p.m
12. Gunpowder restaurant
Gunpowder is an unabashedly hip terrace hangout with a transparent kitchen that looks into cooks singing along to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The view from this perch is of the Hauz Khas reservoir and Deer Park, and the menu changes daily, but has its roots in the Andhra culinary tradition.
22, Haus Khas Village, third floor, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 2653 5700. www.gunpowder.co.in
13. TLR (The Living Room)
The Living Room Café & Kitchen, a restaurant and live music venue, is Brooklyn recreated in New Delhi. Live bands, artwork and a house punch promises laid back evenings and raging nights.
31, Haus Khaz Village, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 4608 0533/44, 98993 83899; www.tlrcafe.com
Open seven days a week, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
14. Kunzum Travel Café
This small rectangular café is the first of its kind in New Delhi to have an honesty box. You drink coffee and tea as you please (served with wheat thins) and can bring your own food in, browse through travel books, have long discussions, and simply leave a donation in lieu of payment on your way out.
T 49 Haus Khas Village, New Delhi; +91 (0) 11 2651 3949, 96507 02777; www.kunzum.com
Open 11am-7.30 pm, Tuesday to Sunday