Monday, June 29, 2009

Emporiums at Baba Kharak Singh Marg

The emporium complex at Baba Kharak Singh Marg was designed to showcase the craft, culture, cuisine and tourism of the various states. So Emporium or Baba Kharak Singh Marg is a favourite haunt for many as nearly all states of India and Union territories have their respective showrooms. Recent additions have been Goa, Uttaranchal, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Mizoram all on the top floor of the Rajiv Gandhi Handicraft Bhawan. Their showrooms are just taking off, though there is a plethora of craft items in them. The emporiums are all run by the various state Governments and not by private individuals. Thus the products are genuine as most emporiums source it from artisans or craftsmen groups. The Emporiums traditionally sold craft items from their particular state. Though now it is not uncommon to find Kashmiri shawls in a non shawl producing state or jewellery from Rajasthan in another state. There was a time earlier, when the states vied with each other for the offering, now though this has considerably declined. However, one can still pick up some genuine and beautiful pieces from the respective state and Union territories. Each of the state has its tourism information centre above the emporium. The Delhi state emporia has an interesting array of toys, Kerala – bell metal works, The Andhra Pradesh Emporium good fabrics…. There is an array of interesting products.

Location – Located in Connaught Place, Opposite Regal Cinema & Hanuman Mandir.

Timings – The Emporiums open at 10:00 am and close by 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm. Parking is available at the back of the complex and the front side. Alternatively park in Connaught Place inner circle and walk it. It is fun.

Highlight – It is possible to see the offerings from various states in one place. The Emporiums are mines of information of products made in each of the state.

Insider Tip – It is best to avoid the place in the afternoon when all Emporiums close for an hour’s lunch. Especially the time between 1:00 – 2:00 pm. The prices of some products are very very reasonable while some exceedingly high. The festival season sale – Diwali or year end is an ideal time to pick up bargain buys. Some items can be discounted at more than 50%. Earlier the shops were highly bureaucratic and staid a reflection of the Government running. But now there is a definitive change and the employees are friendly and genuinely want to sell. Most emporiums keep getting new stock through out the year, one can ferret out interesting products. Try the Rajdhani restaurant or Bikanervala for good food after a shopping binge!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Buying South Indian filter coffee powder in Delhi

The South Indian coffee aka filter coffee or kapi – is a die hard South Indian addiction, not easily given up even when kilometers away from homeland. For South Indian filter coffee fans, each has its pet style and theory for brewing the heavenly decoction. Of course, there are plenty of places to drink (which will be a part of another log), there are some excellent joints to buy filter coffee powder and brew it in style to your taste at home. The easiest way to get to a filter coffee powder shop is by using one’s powers of smell. And it does beckon when coffee beans – Peaberry, Arabia or Robusta is roasted slowly to perfection – light, medium or dark.

Some old traditional joints include:

1. Coffee Board outlet – Behind Scindia House – in Janpath Lane. Just follow your nose to the smell of fresh coffee powder being ground. They also have other outlets.

2. Devans South Indian Coffee & Tea (P) Ltd, a little shop tucked into a corner market at Lodhi Road market in New Delhi. They offer customized grinding. One can give the combination of coffee powder to chicory, roast and of course the beans.

3. Veeramali near Lajpat Nagar who is used to sell roasted beans which can be ground at home. I am not sure if the shop is still around.

4. Nearly all South Indian stores – Rama Stores, Cochin Stores, number of them in Karol Bagh who stock filter coffee powder from South – Cothas, Narasu, Udhayam…

Highlight – Do visit these shops for at least the experience of smelling the invigorating smell of coffee, if making filter coffee is cumbersome.

Insider Tip – Learn to brew coffee from Devans. He also has a huge collection of quaint coffee brewing accessories on display. The right way to make coffee I am told is to heat the milk, sugar, water decoction to boiling point, pour in the filter coffee decoction, full flame, near first boil and turn off the heat. The trick not to heat or boil the decoction – it does work well for us!

Monday, June 15, 2009

St. James Church

St. James Church was the first church to be built in Delhi and has been witness to history unfold. A symbol of Thanksgiving built by James Skinner it is a beautiful example of early 19th century architecture, a harmonious blend of the colonial and Mughal styles. The building of the church was a fulfillment of a vow made by Skinner when he and his men lay wounded in the battle fought for the Karolee Raja against the Onreah Raja in 1800. Suffering in pain, he is supposed to have made a vow that if he were to survive this wreck, he would build a church. He was saved and fulfilled his vow. The work on the Church is supposed to have begun in 1823. In 1836 Bishop Daniel Wilson consecrated it naming it after St. James. Skinner’s Horse, a force he created is still a part of the Indian Army.

Location – At the busy crossroad of Kashmiri Gate. Down the Daryaganj Road at the far end. Approximately 8 – 9 kms from Connaught Place.

Timings – Open for Prayers Sunday morning. Otherwise one has to speak to the caretaker or the authorities to be allowed inside.

Highlight – Recent has been the restoration work by INTACH of the dome, parts of the building and the stained glass windows. Ratish Nanda, conservation architect has been instrumental in the project. The cracks in the dome with iron rods which had rusted were replaced bit by bit, with fabricated steel rods. Also over time cement had been used to seal the cracks, all of which was removed and replaced with lime plaster.

Insider Tip – Go there on Sunday mornings. The entire area is very quite, peaceful, no traffic and there is absolute calm. Inside the church the stained glass windows are breathtakingly beautiful, they were also part of the restoration process. The ones flanking the altar depict, the Crucifixion and Ascension, while the third terrified soldiers at Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The sight that greets one on entering the church is a picture of serene tranquility - of the beautifully carved altar with two magnificent stained glass windows flanking it, the dome shaped ceiling supported by huge pillars, the old organ, the lectern and the pulpit.
There on eat at the paranthewala gali – read the post on it in Eating out
&
browse at Darya Ganj Sunday book market – read the post on it in Shopping in Delhi