The Indian capital is a massive city that’s impossible to see in a single visit—or even in several. If you’re short on time while visiting Delhi and don’t know how to balance competing desires to sightsee, eat well shop in the city’s best shops, then head straight to Hauz Khas Village in South Delhi. This small urban enclave has it all, and will keep you occupied for hours.
Hauz Khas Village is centred around the Hauz Khas, or ‘royal tank’, a large pond dating back to the 13th century. Above the pond are an impressive collection of ruins of a seminary, mosque and tombs. Delhi is a city full of atmospheric old ruins from the Mughal period and earlier, hinting at the city’s many centuries of history and layered civilisations. The ruins at Hauz Khas are some of the best in the city, and are free to enter. It’s a peaceful place, even when filled with smooching students hiding between the pillars. Information boards dotted around are as informative and detailed as any museum’s. There is also the pretty Deer Park adjacent to the pond, where you can stroll through the dense woods. If you’ve just passing through Delhi, sightseeing in Hauz Khas Village will give you a great introduction to the city’s atmosphere and appeal.
Hauz Khas Village has developed rapidly over the past few years from a quiet suburb into one of the city’s trendiest shopping hubs. This means that a lot of shops (as well as restaurants and bars) come and go quickly. There are dozens of boutiques selling ready-to-wear designer and everyday wear. All are worth a browse and many are worth spending up large in.
But for a shopping experience that has been part of the Hauz Khas landscape for almost thirty years, head to Tana-Bana, run by the friendly and knowledgeable Mohammed Azam. Take your shoes off at the entrance and settle in for a delightful Indian shopping experience. Tana-Bana stocks all second-hand, many rare and antique, Indian textiles. There are walls full of silk and cotton saris representing all of India’s major weaving traditions. Mohammed Azam will be able to explain to you the difference between a Banarasi and a Gujarati ikat sari. As well as wearable pieces, Tana-Bana sells off-cuts and damaged saris that can be repurposed by crafty hands (think, bags, skirts, scarves). I bought two antique silk ikhat saris from Tana-Bana, one blue the other pink, and am still looking for an opportunity to wear them!
The address of Tana-Bana is 1 Hauz Khas Village. That won’t really help you much. To find the shop, head down the lane around the back of Naivedyam Restaurant and Blossom Kochhar, and keep going. It’s a small shop on the left, without a noticeable sign. He is open afternoons and evenings.
There are no five star hotels in Hauz Khas Village, so no ultra-chic spas. But, there is the Blossom Kocchar shop, salon and spa. This Indian skincare and beauty brand focuses on aromatherapy. The shop downstairs sells the goods, and the onsite salon and spa uses them. There’s even a tearoom on the third floor, which makes delicious rose lassis.
Eating and drinking
Like many of the shops, restaurants and bars come and go quickly in Hauz Khas Village, a result of the rapid growth of the area. But one place that is an institution is Naivedyam, a South Indian restaurant. Look for the black Nanda (bull) statue outside, sprinkled with rose and marigold petals. Inside, the atmosphere is authentically South Indian, with Kerala-style temple murals on the walls, and waitstaff in crisp white lungis. All of the vegetarian Southern staples are served—such as dosas, idlis, sambhar—at very reasonable prices. This place is great for lunch.
If you fancy a more modern, less vegetarian Southern Indian menu, head to Coast instead. (Or better yet, go to Naivedyam for lunch and Coast for dinner!) The light, modern restaurant on two floors overlooking the Deer Park serves Goan seafood curries and other coastal Southern Indian specialties. They do an excellent iced coffee, peanut butter and chocolate drink, too.
Hauz Khas Village is one of Delhi’s few late-night party spots (this city isn’t known for its raucous drinking scene) so is popular with students. If you still have any energy left then there are many bars throughout Hauz Khas Village, playing loud music and displaying flashing neon lights. But after such great sightseeing, shopping, pampering and eating, you may just want some beauty sleep. Or to catch an onward flight.
How to get to Hauz Khas Village
Hauz Khas Village is in South Delhi, where many of the middle and upper-class suburbs are located. There aren’t very many hotels in this part of town, although there are many great Air BnB rentals, should you wish to stay in South Delhi.
Hauz Khas Village is closest to the Green Park metro stop, on the Yellow Line. There is also a metro stration called Hauz Khas, but the Village itself is further from this. From outside the Green Park metro station, take an autorickshaw the remaining couple of kilometres to the Village. This should cost Rs 50.
A different version of this post originally appeared on Style, Body & Soul in 2016.