Around Town / India / Travel

“Hiking” at Hauz Khas

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It’s been a bit of a nutty week around here.   Probably much like yours has been.

I haven’t sat down alone for more than a few minutes in what feels like days but whenever I do, all of the thoughts on life, on India, on parenting currently percolating in my brain suddenly leap to the forefront, demanding attention and a few precious minutes alone with our laptop.

I’m still eagerly awaiting the opportunity to string together more than 10 minutes of alone time in a row to get some real writing done (this is not, sadly, much of a hyperbole) but until then I thought I’d finally share our Labor Day “hike” photos at Hauz Khas.

I think perhaps I read Roxaboxen too many times as a child or maybe I imagined that Hauz Khas would be a little like Hampi, a place I loved exploring my first time in India.

In any case, I chose to ignore all of the raise eyebrows and quizzical looks when I said we were going “hiking” at Hauz Khas and so, last Monday morning we piled into a cab, told the driver we wanted to go to “Hauz Khas” and away we went.

After a few unexpected detours, we ended up in Hauz Khas Village.  From the outside it looks like a jumbled, rundown, ramshackle mess of 3 story buildings connected to one another thick rat nest knots of tangled wires and giant signs advertising Frankie’s Kati rolls.  Once you get off the main road though, it’s one of the hippest, artiest enclaves in New Delhi, or maybe in all of South Asia.

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But you need to know where you are going to find the actual ruins of Hauz Khas, located on the other side of the enclave.  As we wandered past art galleries and a chic baby boutique catering to all of my greatest design weaknesses (elephant mobile? kitschy auto rickshaw pillows anyone?) I began to get anxious, worried that perhaps we’d spend all of our “Will’s happy adventure” time poking our heads into dress stores instead of “hiking” or seeing the ruins we came for.

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We finally found the ruins, though not with enough time left in our happy-kid-fuel tank to really appreciate them.  There’s a lake to be walked around, a beautiful park to see and lots of interesting details in the 14th century mosque and surrounding pavilions and tombs to be absorbed.  We’ll try again another day.

Haus Khas is unlike anywhere else I’ve been to, in India or anywhere else.  There’s a store selling gorgeous “upcycled” home furnishings for goodness sake, a quarter of a mile down a winding alleyway from amazing 14th century Indian-Islamic hybrid architecture and the foundations of the fifth city of Delhi.   It may be a bit trendy but I don’t know how it could not be.  It’s a very cool place.

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The winding alleyway, tiny balconies overhead, indie bookshops, and whiff of real India and real art amidst all of the trendiness make the place instantly likable.  Gentrified and upper-class this area may be, but there’s also an unmistakable pulse of authenticity and a beautiful, rough-around-the-edges aesthetic to the enclave that makes it irresistible to expats and upwardly-mobile young Indians alike. It’s sort of as if you could plop Brooklyn down around Stonehenge–only far more interesting and a little less hipster.

I’d like to go back sometime when I’m not Will-chasing to really get into the history of the place, but it was a good first, if a bit quick, visit.

On our way out we tried to feign coolness by stopping for lunch at TLR, a popular bar/restaurant/music venue/hangout in the village.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  Chris tried a ginger drink, Will downed half a glass of pomegranate juice and we paid our bill and left.

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Three doors down at a furniture store where Will’s Nai Nai was buying drawer knobs, Will spewed the so-very-purple pomegranate contents of his stomach all over me.  I’ve never been so glad to be completely covered in baby vomit though.  It would have been rather unfortunate to instead have had to pick our family heirloom furniture pieces based on which expensive-looking cabinets and chairs our son covered in puke.

Luckily, the shopkeeper was very kind and we left with just the Anthropologie-but-10%-of-the-retail-price-drawer-knobs Nai Nai came for.

Not ten steps later, Will was asleep in my arms.  Ancient ruins and a little too much pomegranate juice will do that to a kid.

A few more pictures.

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8 thoughts on ““Hiking” at Hauz Khas

  1. Oh cool. That looks like such a fun place. Now you’ve done your “exploratory trip” you’ll be all ready to take it on again. (Or maybe that’s just us. Seems like we often have a short, crazy time that we first see a place and then we often end up going back later to really explore once we have a better idea of what we’re doing.) It looks like an awesome place to spend some time!

  2. Amazing that those gorgeous ruins are among a hip and upcoming neighborhood. I would like to stroll through all the shops. It sound wonderful. I really like the photos. I especially like the black and white photo

    • Isn’t it so cool? I keep going around Delhi and thinking “there is no way this would exist in China, or anywhere else for that matter.” A fun place to explore.

  3. Fun fun fun! I am reminded again of how amazing it must be to live in a place where there are interesting things to do!!! And you’re allowed to do them!!! Without an embassy appointed entourage!!! Enjoy this time. Absolutely loving your posts.

    • Thanks Eve! Soo excited for you guys to get out in a few months!!! What a tour you guys are having. Which would you rate as more painful? Childbirth or your first tour? 🙂

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