Shopping in Delhi
Heritage meets haute couture in an upscale shopping and dining precinct adjacent to the Qutub Minar. In the historic Delhi district of Mehrauli, India’s leading designers display traditional wear in glittering, palatial stores. Century-old haveli mansions are now home to labels such as Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi, where shopping amidst the velvet curtains, vintage carpets and Tanjore paintings is an experience in and of itself. Designer labels include Falguni & Shane Peacock, Anita Dongre and Tarun Tahiliani, among others, and stores are spread across the One Style Mile, Qutub Garden and Ambawatta One complexes. The area is a one-stop destination for high-on-the-bling-quotient Indian wedding wear: shimmering lehenga skirts, flowy anarkali kurtas and menswear too. Expect extravagant Indian designs with price tags to match all throughout.
Where: Connaught Place
Bringing together handicrafts from across Indian states in one neat row of curio-crammed stores, the State Emporia Complex is where Delhiites take their out-of-town friends to hunt down the best souvenirs. Here you’ll find regional art, handloom fabrics and unique crafts. For delicate marble inlay work, Taj Mahal replicas and breezy chikan fabric, head to the Uttar Pradesh emporium, Gangotri. Browse state-specialty textiles, such as striking red and black hand-woven Naga shawls; soft Kashmiri Pashminas; colourful, mirror-studded Kutchi fabrics from Gujarat; and lush Chanderi silk saris from Madhya Pradesh. Art fiends might want to indulge in Madhubani paintings at the Bihar emporium and Rajasthani miniatures at Rajasthali.
At Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters, you can buy your coffee and drink it too. The brand’s cafés set out to redefine Delhi’s coffee culture and, in the bargain, gave the city’s caffeine conscious easy access to fresh roasts from South India’s coffee-producing belt. While much of India’s Arabica beans are exported around the world, Blue Tokai sources these single-estate coffees directly from the hillside plantations of Chikmagalur, Coorg and Tamil Nadu. Small batches are regularly roasted in-house. Packaged in brown paper bags bearing a peacock motif, these medium and dark roasts fly off the shelves and into the hands of a loyal, local coffee-guzzling customer base.
Where: Khan Market
Inspired by lush landscapes and royal history, Good Earth’s eclectic range of homeware is covet-worthy, to say the least. Delicate dinnerware sets are embellished with motifs of Mysore’s architecture and Malabar’s elephants. Luxe silk cushions, pastel-hued bedspreads reminiscent of floral gardens and hand block printed chanderi curtains rely heavily on traditional patterns, reimagined for the modern day. Offering both classic and contemporary designs, the brand is a top choice for wedding or house warming gifts, appreciated by those with a discerning eye.
Where: Shahpur Jat
Selling easy, breezy clothing suited for the sultry Delhi summer, Lila is an under-the-radar shop in Delhi’s indie fashion circuit. Hidden away in the alleys of the hip Shahpur Jat shopping district, where Indian bling dominates the scene, Lila’s design aesthetic is minimalistic, fuss-free and, most importantly, functional. Structured silhouettes in hand-woven and breathable natural fabrics like cotton and linen blend classic Indian designs with contemporary styles. Think geometric ikat patterned cotton trousers, hand embroidered blouses and colour-blocked, flowy dresses with pockets.
Where: Connaught Place
A blink-and-miss storefront in Connaught Place leads to a tiny space crammed with handcrafted jewellery, kitschy T-shirts and quirky fashion. An independent design collective with a focus on natural, sustainable materials and India’s rich design heritage, People Tree has served as a hub for alternative and ethical fashion since the ‘90s. Tucked away behind the racks of block-printed cottons and beaded accessories is a tiny but impressive bookstore. The collection is far from mainstream and it’s easy to get caught up browsing through graphic novels, poetry collections and titles on art, history, travel and counterculture.
Where: Mahadev Road
A government-run initiative to empower India’s various tribal communities, Tribes India stores across the city showcase handmade crafts and jewellery sourced directly from indigenous artisans. Besides making for great gifts, handcrafted products such as metallic sculptures, intricate wall art and cane furniture provide a fascinating insight into the customs and culture of indigenous groups. Craftspeople draw inspiration from their surroundings, creating artworks and textiles that are adorned with motifs of nature and rural life and painted with natural colours. Unique homeware finds include Dokra wire figurines from the Bastar region of Central India, woven bamboo lamps from Northeast India, blue pottery from Rajasthan’s tribal belt, and Warli tribal art from Maharashtra.
Where: Hauz Khas
While the urban village has been through several iterations in the last decade, it remains a tried and tested haunt for vintage memorabilia. Sandwiched between the thumping bars and clothing stores, tiny antique shops like All Arts and Khazana are stocked with retro Bollywood posters from the ‘70s, old black-and-white photos and well-thumbed books. The collections evoke curiosity and nostalgia, and you might very well find yourself coming away with dated maps or art prints of old-school Indian advertisements.
Where: Khan Market
Natural beauty loyalists, make a beeline for the Ayurvedic wellness brand’s flagship store. Kama’s line of skin and hair care products relies on natural herbal and plant-based ingredients that wouldn’t be out of place in our kitchens or gardens. Cinnamon, turmeric and apricot are common ingredients in the lush organic scrubs, body butters, face mists and masks found here. Remember: if something is good enough to eat, it’s good enough to slather on. The handmade soaps and essential oils make for great presents: everyone could do with some chemical-free indulgence in their beauty regime.
Where: Chandni Chowk
An unassuming store in Old Delhi’s historic Khari Baoli spice market, this century-old institution is known for selling excellent spices, teas and dry fruits. Apart from kitchen staple spices such as turmeric and coriander powder, choose from whole varieties like cardamom, whole black pepper and cloves, or specially ground masalas for vindaloo and tandoori dishes. There are heaps of walnuts, dried dates and almonds to stock up on, but the tea offerings are a real treat, ranging from a masala chai mix to a delicate Darjeeling first flush.