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The new Connaught Place

On the first day of 2011, we take you on a four-hour tour of the new landmarks of Delhi’s premier shopping district.

entertainment Updated: Jan 01, 2011 01:31 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi

This New Year, we show you new places in the rapidly changing Connaught Place, Delhi’s Colonial-era shopping district. Old landmarks are giving way to new. Under extensive renovation in 2010, it is now returning to normalcy. More restaurants are coming up. New subways have been opened. The character of the new CP is less formal than the older version. There are more places to hang out at. Since CP is very large, we’ll focus only on Janpath, Regal and the N-Block area. In this limited tour, we’ll limit ourselves to those places that came up in 2010 or were, at least, given a new look. Don’t be discouraged. We’ll still find opportunity to eat, drink, make music and even get our eyebrows done.

11.00 AM
Start with Blues Cafe and Bar. It’s newer than the New Year. To be officially launched on January 12, the cafe opened a few weeks ago. It came up where the south Indian restaurant Banana Leaf stood, though the same company owns both. The dim-lit cafe has artsy panels, a loungy setting, country music, and a menu that is traditional and varied: English Shepherd Pie (R375 plus taxes) and Moroccan spiced eggplant (R320 plus taxes); Manhattan cocktail (R350 plus taxes) and Irish coffee (R475 plus taxes). After January 12, the cafe will offer breakfast from 7am onwards.
Where: N-18, Connaught Place Time: Noon to 1 am
Tel: 47078855

11.45 AM
Take a walk in the N-Block corridor. Thanks to the Commonwealth Games, its thick rounded pillars were whitewashed. The underground subway, too, was built last year. It’s friendly to the physically challenged. Use it to head to the Regal Cinema building.

Noon
The oldest cinema in New Delhi, Regal, circa 1934, currently looks like one of CP’s newest buildings; thanks to the Games’ great whitewashing project. The cinema’s box-office area now has yellow panelling on its walls and blue arches on its roof. The cinema’s interiors are still comfortingly old. The grand staircase, the black and white portraits of film stars and the single screen, remain. A rare cinema hall with ‘boxes’ for a group of six, Regal is a lovely oddity in the world of multiplexes.
Where: Regal Building Currently playing: Tees Maar Khan Balcony ticket: R90 Tel: 22336-2245

12.30 PM
Elton John and Ravi Shankar have been here. Situated at the desolate end of the Regal Cinema building, A Godin & Co. piano shop underwent a complete makeover two months ago. In January 2010, the shop’s pianos — Grand and Upright — would be magnificently sprawled over half the showroom; their regal splendour and teakwood dignity infusing the shop with old-world elegance. In January 2011, the look is more modern. The stone floor has given way to imitation tiles, counters have been painted bright red, and most pianos have been pushed into an inner room where they lie draped in rich maroon velvet sheets. Yet, the showroom’s stately dignity isn’t lost. The centre space showcases a B. Steiner. Shoppers press their noses against the glass door to take a look at it.

The shop imports around 50 pianos each year from Stuttgart in Germany. With the Grand and Upright priced at around R1 lakh and R50, 000 respectively, pianos are also leased out to institutions and private homes (at R1,500 — R5,000). The showroom also has acoustic guitars (R2,000 — R12,000), synthesisers (R1,200 to R12,000), tabla sets (R1,500 to R5,000) and harmoniums (R3,500 to R35,000). To get a sitar as living room décor, get the ‘Sitar for show’, R1,000.
Where: 1, Regal Building, Parliament Street, Timings: 11am to 7pm (Sunday closed) Tel: 23362809

1.15 PM
Walk to Janpath … no, not for shopping in the flea market, but to get a haircut. Hair n Shanti unisex salon, which has outlets in Saket, South Ex I, Gurgaon and Punjabi Bagh, opened in Janpath in November last year. While CP has enough restaurants, cafes, showrooms, bargain shops and bookstores, it hadn’t many salons. In Hair n Shanti, a haircut comes for R350 (for women) and R250 (for men). Eyebrows are done for R30. Full hair colour is priced at R3,000.
Where: Shop No 21, Janpath Bhawan (Next to Depaul’s) Tel: 23320594, Timings: 10am to 8pm

2.00 PM
Cross the Janpath Road and ask for the legendary Delhi Photo Studio. You will never find it. In September last year, it shut down to make way for Fresc Co, a Mediterranean speciality restaurant. We recommend the lunch buffet (noon to 4pm), R450 plus taxes. There are two pizzas, two pastas, two soups, nine salads and 12 desserts, including the main course and the Spanish rice preparation, paella. Don’t forget to look at the wall, painted with an Andalusian dome against a backdrop of Mediterranean blue.
Where: 88, Janpath, Timings: 11am to 1am Tel: 43620222