With its stately mansions set around gently undulating rocky terrain, Banjara Hills is one of the most coveted residential areas in Hyderabad. About a century ago, however, this entire district was a vast stretch of wilderness, filled with huge boulders and inhabited by a nomadic tribe, the Banjaras, after whom it was named. But in the 1930s, wealthy families started moving in, transforming the area into prime real estate.
Today, the main street, Banjara Hills Road Number 10, is flanked by trendy boutiques, restaurants and galleries, drawing the city’s affluent set as well as art lovers and creatives.
The brainchild of an avid art collector, Prshant Lahoti, and his wife Rekha, a fashion designer, this gallery began nearly 20 years ago to provide a platform for young contemporary artists alongside internationally renowned masters. With new shows every month, the gallery plays host to large-scale installations, performance and digital art as well as more conventional painting and sculpture exhibitions. This June, the gallery welcomes a month-long group show featuring 30 artists from around India.
This cultural centre features a children’s book store, an open-air amphitheatre and a comprehensive digital collection of South Indian classical music. From recitals, traditional folk dances and theatre performances to book launches and panel discussions on the arts or social issues, most events hosted here are open to the public. The first Sunday of every month is earmarked for the Organic Earth Mela, where organic farm produce, handcrafted fabrics, as well as upcycled products are available for sale.
Inspired by design stores across Europe that feature work by local artisans, Hyderabad natives Supriya Lahoti and Madhulika Jhawar teamed up to open Creatif in September 2018.
Through products that incorporate artwork by famous artists, the pair hopes to make art more accessible to more consumers. Items include wearable art collections “Vermillion” and “Golden Parrot”, which showcase motifs inspired by celebrated artist Thota Vaikuntam’s paintings, and crockery by Mumbai-based ceramic artist Khushboo Madnani.
Started in the ’90s by law graduate Elahe Hiptoola, this is one of the city’s first top-end multi-label boutiques. Today, it’s being run by retail power couple, Smita and Rajiv Shroff. This spacious boutique sprawls across two floors, and is filled with exquisite apparel from India’s best-known fashion labels like Anamika Khanna, Raw Mango and Sabyasachi. While Elahé stocks only haute couture, its recent outlet, Elahé Urban, located just around the corner, focuses on a more contemporary prêt line. Both stores offer personalised shopping experiences where clients can request for changes in colours, size and design.
Eclectic art, comfort food and pared-down interiors make this a popular local hangout. Every month, the walls display new creations from emerging Indian artists, while the furniture features artworks by well-known painters. On Wednesday nights, the dais is open to local performers who stage theatre, stand-up comedy or book readings to an encouraging audience. The cosy café offers a variety of vegetarian fare such as spaghetti cooked with spicy Madras curry powder, and corn and spinach sandwiches. Wash it down with a hot cup of Kashmiri kahwa – green tea infused with spices and almonds.
This article was originally published in the May 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine