Chandni Chowk has always been famous for its Paranthewali Gali, Meena Bazaar, mutton korma at Karim’s and the kebabs near Jama Masjid. Naturally then, when you start hunting for coffee shops in the old city, expectations are low. But as usual, the old city springs a surprise.
Delhi’s 100th Café Coffee Day, located some 100 metres from Red Fort, is one such example. Part of a renovated 200 year-old building, the façade of the two-storey CCD bears testimony to the Mughal era and creates a modern-day fusion. It’s popular with both foreigners and locals, and you may find it difficult to find a place to sit here on weekends, when, the staff claim, the outlet is packed. Indeed, 2 pm-8 pm is even called ‘rush hour’.
Inevitably, rather than the regular couches with purple-and-pink cushions which have become a trademark of this café chain, one can enjoy one’s latte or cappuccino sitting on a Mughal gaddi beside a jharokha, relaxing on the small, zardozi-work headrests.
The lighting is elaborate. The chandeliers and brass lamps give the whole place a royal look. And the merchandise section is fitted with ornate vessels. With low-lying couches, diya lamps, copper liquor-pourers, Mughal artefacts and a wooden door, the flavour of Mughal architecture is certainly very prominent.
For those who have misgivings about a café in the heart of ‘Mughal Delhi’, it has to be said that this particular outlet seems very much in sync with the local culture. Moreover, ‘haveli cafés’ like these are a pleasant break from the usual Chandni Chowk in terms of what they offer, both on the platter as well as in terms of ambience.