With Delhi being hit by pre-monsoon showers this week, we suggest places to hang out for the real monsoon, which is not far now. The idea is to be out of the house, watch the rains and still not be drenched.
One of the best destinations in the Capital to enjoy the rains is the 14th century Hauz Khas monument complex. A network of interconnected chambers and balconies, the ruins have hardly any walls to block the view that looks into the Deer Park and the lake, which is forever alive with the sounds of quacking ducks. While in the locality, try the coastal cuisine at the Gunpowder restaurant (22, 3rd Floor, Hauz Khas Village; Ph 26535700). Its terrace looks onto the lake.
Delhi Metro’s blue line journey from Indraprastha to Yamuna Bank is short, but scenic under a drizzling sky. As the Metro crosses over the Yamuna, the raindrops falling into the river makes for a magical sight. And yes, this is perhaps the only time in the year when Yamuna looks wide enough to be called a river.
The terrace canteen at Triveni Art Gallery (Mandi House; Ph 23718833) offers decent food along with a view of the amphitheatre. Dig into their pakoras, or better still, shammi kebabs as the spray of shower wets your shirt sleeves.
A short drive away is Teen Murti Bhawan museum (Teen Murti Marg), once former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s official residence. As the overcast sky outside turns darker, it is like being in a dream while climbing the museum’s stately stairs, walking past its wooden shelves stuffed with old, musty, flick-able books and peeking into the elegant drawing rooms where history happened.
Later, you may like to step into Teen Murti’s lovely canteen. If it is just drizzling, sit in the outhouse where the giant trees overhead would prevent raindrops from falling into your teacup. If you are lucky, you may even spot one of the many peacocks that live on these grounds cockily dancing in the rain.
If the sky is just gurgling, not bursting, then you may as well like to sit on the open-air terrace of the landmark Indian Coffee House (Ph 23342994) on Baba Kharag Singh Marg, Connaught Place. The crowd here may have more grey-haired newspaper-readers, but it is they who make this place so charming.
The Inner Circle corridor in Connaught Place has rainy views, fancy showrooms, street snacks and fine restaurants; and it offers a healthy walk, too. So what if some of the lanes have been dug up for renovation’s sake.
Rains or not, excursions in the Walled City are always thrilling. Sadly, its narrow streets, clogged drains and chaotic traffic grow trickier to manoeuvre during the monsoon. Still, sitting in the Jama Masjid balcony and looking out into the lightning-hit Old Delhi skyline is a delight that must not be missed.
Talking of old neighbourhoods, the Urs Mahal, next to Mirza Ghalib’s Tomb in Nizamuddin Basti, is the right place to read a book and watch the showers outside. Basically an airy assembly hall used for hosting qawwalis during festive occasions, the open courtyard next to it has Basti boys playing cricket in the worst of rains.
Then there are always the pricey cafés of Khan Market. Almost all are on first or second floor; almost all have a covered terrace. Even if it is raining like hell, not a drop will fall on your designer clothes.
However, if you wish to throw away all caution, including your shirt, and decide to be wicked and wet, head straight to the India Gate maidan. There is greenery, ponds, open skies and no shelter. Happy monsoon.