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A dynamic cultural scene forms on the edge of Delhi

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“Delhi is a city of soldiers, a city of politicians, a city of journalists, a city of diplomats. A Jean Morris wrote half a century ago.

“Delhi’s only culture is agriculture,” another commented.

But art and culture have followed money, and Delhi has undergone a sea change in the last 20 years. Thanks in large part to the real estate boom and the rise of tech suburb Gurgaon, Delhi is booming, with the number of wealthy people doubling in his five years, building a subway system comparable in size to New York City. raised a population of cosmopolitan class.

To find this creative crowd hopping through galleries, shops and other places to chill, go south. Emerging districts such as Hauz Khas Village, Lado Sarai and Mehrauli’s ‘Style Mile’ are at the edge of Delhi’s Outer Ring Road, roughly equidistant from Gurgaon’s call centers and the downtown ziggurat and domes.

“It’s a very dynamic place,” said Bhim Bachchan, who returned to Delhi after a career in US investment banking. He runs Ramola Bachchan, an e-commerce studio and resort wear store, in his SoHo-inspired Hauz Khas Village. “A new class of hip, young and often wealthy people from both the suburbs and central Delhi are flocking around these hotspots on the edge of town. They’ve been trapped during Covid. Now they are out.”

Built in the 13th century, the 238-foot-tall Qutub Minar towers above these areas. It’s a fluted sandstone tower that lights up after dark, like an epic lighthouse for navigating winding streets. Here and there, medieval ruins stick like dinosaur bones through modern development.

Visitors arriving by taxi to Hauz Khas village (the most northern and established village of these districts) can be parked in a car park a few meters from the village’s three main streets. The parking lot is next to the reservoir and deer park where the Sultan used to hunt. Now, while his teens in his heavy metal t-shirts munching on his food, Golgappa (puffballs with syrup), Muslim scholars once learned It sits astride the broken dome of the madrasah, with bars and galleries flanking weathered walls and terraces. Hauz Khas, whose name means ‘royal water tank’ in Urdu, surrounds the village like sentinels against the smog and commotion of the city beyond the deer park.

Strolling through the alleyways of Hauz Khas, you’ll come across little treasures like Bana Studio. Bana Studio sells one-of-a-kind vintage tribal jewelry in framed photographs from previous clients, including George Harrison. Or All Arts, Aladdin’s Cave for Bollywood movie posters and lobby cards. In search of much-needed tranquility, we headed to Blossom Kochar Spa, Café, Natural Beauty Boutique, Nirvana for exclusive Flower Children, amazing Aromatherapy Massage followed by Masala His Tea and Scone.

At night, move upstairs where popular bars and nightclubs vie for Delhi’s grunge-chic youth. Right now, Social, with its industrial scrap-metal aesthetic, and Imperfect, a rooftop drowning in sangria and rum, are the winners’ spots.

Hauz Khas is teeming with tiny art studios owned by the Lokayata Art Gallery, whose roof is adorned with a bath-sized fiberglass iguana, while the more cutting-edge contemporary art scene is thriving in the Qutub Minar. Blooming surrounded by tire shops on the block east. A hardware joint in the Rad Saray district.

“This is like the East Village of Delhi,” says Shaji Punchathu, founder of Gallery 1000A in the heart of Lad Saray, referring to New York’s historically edgy downtown district. . According to him, the area is now home to the largest concentration of contemporary art galleries in the city ever.

On a recent summer afternoon, Mr. Puncattu and his assistants were busy preparing for the multimedia exhibition Molecules. The exhibition presents works by five Indian artists. It contains illuminated, icon-like sculptures of what appear to be mutant cells. A work by Delhi-based artist Amit Das. His prints are so rare that I don’t know how they were produced. “It’s a novel method he developed that uses a needle to embed the ink into the paper,” said Puncattu. “Our artists often use local craftsmanship that is not well known in the West.”

I went across the street to the Latitude 28. This was his one of the pioneering galleries that underpinned Radsaray more than a decade ago, and far from the city centre, rent was still much cheaper. “Since then, they have caught up,” Puncattu said. The gallery was hosting a multimedia show called “The World Awaits You Like a Garden.” Five artists celebrated the often overlooked backdrop of fuel-packed Delhi as a lush, flower-scented city. Some of the most impressive works are by Gurgaon-based artist Gopa Trivedi, who draw highly detailed illustrations of exotic plants based on Mughal court miniatures.

Bhavna Kakar, Director of Latitude 28 said: Kakar is also Editor-in-Chief of Take on Art magazine, one of Asia’s most prestigious contemporary art magazines, published by the gallery. “People are spending a lot of time at home and want something good on their walls.

Having had breakfast with a Parisian worthy croissant and coffee at Miam Patisserie on the St, I was looking for lunch and found Lad Saray’s big weakness here. “We have many of the best galleries in Asia, but only French patisseries feed us,” he said.

Just a 15 minute walk down Kalka das Marg, which loops around the foot of the Minar in what the Kognocenti of India called the ‘style mile’, was great food. Like many spots in Delhi, you have to scratch the surface to find anything shiny, and at first glance Kalkadas Marg looks like an unattractive street. But a wander through the alleys between the dirty buildings will lead you to a modern courtyard with great shops and restaurants. Descending his one of such paths, I discovered the whitewashed Cubist pavilion of the Ambawatta One complex. There, I gazed at the high-end fashion stores, cafes, and galleries that hit me like the Delhi version of Rodeo Drive. Unlike Mumbai, which has only one tropical season, Delhi has multiple seasons, so you’ll find a diverse array of high fashion, with designers like Rohit Bal, Ritu Kumar and Tarun Tahiliani peering out of their shop windows. can be Delhi high fashionistas such as Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg are in New York.

The Style Mile is especially attractive at sunset. The chirping of the birds in the surrounding parks overtakes the traffic noise, and the glorious sunset across the city gradually replaces the illuminated Qutb he minar, which rises like a celestial chandelier.

One of the hardest places to get dinner reservations in Delhi is Rooh on the Style Mile. At night, young, bejeweled lads risk scratching Bentleys and Range Rovers in the narrow parking lots of Calca das Marg. From there, they step onto the rooftop dining he terrace (I know insiders shouldn’t opt ​​for the restaurant’s less scenic interior).

Large servings of zucchini spaghetti with tomato dam sauce or tandoori portobello with black garlic butter pao were accompanied by an impressive wine list and an even more impressive bartender. Nestled between gnarled treetops, colorful lanterns, the vast ruins of the former Sultanate below, and the surreal Qutub Minar set against a starry sky, the Latitude 28 exhibition celebrates the fantasy. I finally felt the garden city. During the languid nights, bright sarees and dark suits, incessantly ringing spectacles, and formidable gold jewelry provided a uniquely glamorous sense of the city’s newfound wealth and confidence.