Long home to the city’s elite residences, this eclectic enclave encircling the lush gardens of the same name is both a keepsake of bygone eras and a compelling contemporary destination.
You’ll find a cornucopia of greenery jostling for space alongside charming centuries-old Mughal ruins, notable post-independence structures, colourful street art, high-end boutiques and global flavours.
Exploring the area will take you from the fringes of Lutyens’ Delhi, named after the British colonial architect who designed the city’s administrative core, to the Sufi-infused lanes of Nizamuddin and India’s first public art district.
Flavour cauldron: Where to eat in the area and beyond, according to local writer Swati Rai
Having been around for over 80 years, Chidambaram’s New Madras Hotel Restaurant is a vegetarian spot managed by two brothers. Sample the signature podi dosa, a non-crispy thick rice pancake coated with spices (unlike the regular crisp and thin dosa).
Do also try some Mughlai food, which has its origins in Persia and Central Asia. A great place to find this is at Khan Chacha in Khan Market. Don’t come alone, though, as you’ll need help if you want to try all the dishes it’s known for, including its biryanis and tikkas (chunks of cottage cheese, vegetables or meat marinated in spices and dry-roasted in a clay oven).
One of India’s first Japanese eateries can be found in the neighbourhood, too. At Guppy, chef Vikram Khatri dishes up a range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian sushi. Try the Black Rice California Roll or the asparagus tempura roll.
A bit further afield, there’s the new NicoCaara at DLF’s The Chanakya that specialises in delectable small plates using seasonal local produce and organic ingredients. Try their take on a sticky toffee pudding with almond chikki (brittle) and jaggery ice cream made with unrefined sugar.
“From traditional bhel puri to modern canapés, all can be found in Lodhi, which makes the neighbourhood a must-visit culinary culture centre” — Swati Rai, writer
A perfect day
Ex-hotelier Gayatri Manchanda lays out an insider’s itinerary
Start your day with a yoga class at Lodhi Gardens followed by breakfast at The All American Diner at the India Habitat Centre (IHC). While at the IHC, check out one of the photo exhibitions. Nearby is the 16th-century arboretum Sunder Nursery.
Have lunch at Lodi – The Garden Restaurant, which specialises in Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine. Once you’re full, check out Tibet House, an art museum and library that features plenty of authentic artefacts.
Walk through Lodhi Art District or catch a show at IHC or India InternationalCentre (IIC) before dinner at Carnatic Café, which serves up the authentic flavours of Karnataka in southwest India.
Monumental history: Lodhi Gardens and its vicinity are home to well-preserved architectural wonders, including these centuries-old heritage buildings
Lodhi has blossomed into a hub for arts and culture. These are the places to visit
“The decades following India’s independence in 1947 saw a proliferation of creative spaces spring up around Lodhi Gardens. These brim with passionate art and theatre enthusiasts throughout the year,” says historian and heritage walks curator Vikramjit Singh Rooprai. “Street art has seen a steady growth lately, making this area even more beautiful.”
Rooprai recommends taking a look at the India International Centre (IIC). Completed in 1962 and designed by the modernist architect Joseph Allen Stein, it sports a sleek, quartzite stone façade overlaid with a stone lattice and extensive airy courtyards, and is widely used for workshops, cultural talks and symposiums, touching on topics from philosophy to issues of social justice.
Further additions to the neighbourhood’s cultural and art spaces include India Habitat Centre (IHC) that opened in 1993 and hosts musical recitals, international film screenings and art exhibitions, as well as the India Islamic Cultural Centre, which has been a popular venue for concerts, literary events, seminars and theatrical performances ever since it opened in June 2006.
As you wander through Lodhi Colony, keep a look out for the last residential buildings of the British Raj, whose walls have been transformed into fantastic, picturesque art canvases – including some with trampling elephants, fire-spitting dragons and vibrant birds with geometric patterned wings – by the not-for-profit St+art India Foundation.
“If you want to see Delhi as a microcosm, head down to Lodhi Gardens. As an experience, it will be priceless” — Arti Jain, award-winning filmmaker, storytelling coach and writer
Treasure hunting: Shop for traditional textiles and modern delights
“Of the many markets found throughout the alleyways of the neighbourhood, perhaps the most notable is Meherchand Market,” says journalist and writer Srishti Jha. “Here, you’ll glean off-beat restaurants, handicraft shops and boutiques with home décor.”
Shop at Ekmatra for home-spun khadi clothing and Anuradha Ramam for sarees and woven fabrics. If you need a break, make a stop at Elma’s Brasserie for a cup of calming rose tea.
In contrast, Khan Market is a popular destination for luxury shoppers, thanks to its many high-end boutiques by revered Indian labels. Try Label by Ritu Kumar, Raghavendra Rathore and Anokhi for unique contemporary wear strongly inspired by Indian prints and cuts.
For casual daytime needs, Zingrin has colourful, youthful garments as well as beautifully woven accessories.
“The stylish Meherchand Market has a perfect mix of traditional prints and contemporary trends [in textiles]” — Srishti Jha, journalist and writer
Singapore Airlines flies to New Delhi twice daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
SEE ALSO: Designer digs: 3 stylish retreats in New Delhi
This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine