There is a fascinating story about how the famous Hauz-Khas Village in the heart of chic New Delhi was discovered. Apparently a leading Indian fashion designer had stumbled upon this quaint rural oasis buttressed by upper crust South Delhi neighborhoods like Green Park and Safdrajung Enclave. The Hauz Khas Village was situated near the site of a major 13th century settlement pertaining to the Muslim Sultanate that held sway in the area. The centerpiece of this settlement was a huge man-made lake, which doubled up as the water reservoir, and some grand buildings which among other things made up a madrassa, an Islamic seminary and a mosque. The lake and most of these structures stand to this day lending the place a most pleasing and almost ethereal ambiance.
The fashion designer in question liked the place so much that she decided to open a boutique there notwithstanding the fact that this was a ramshackle village, complete with loose hanging electrical cables, buffaloes meandering wherever they pleased, and traditionally dressed village elders lounged around on charpoys smoking hookahs. Wonder of wonders she sparked off a trend, and pretty soon most of the major Indian dress designers set up shop there. Today it is a cultural hot spot of Delhi and a must visit on every tourist’s itinerary.
The loose hanging cables are still there as are the narrow lanes and old traditional houses. What is different is that the most exquisitely attired models, backpackers and corporate executives rub shoulders with art lovers, artists and of course the villagers. Today the Hauz Khas Village is home not just to boutiques; it also houses some of the most chic and elegant restaurants and watering holes in town. And of course the presence of the lake and the monuments looms large over the place, inexorably drawing people to come and soak in the serene environment of the historical complex.
I visited the place recently a couple of times in connection with some business meetings and took some pictures of the hustle and bustle of the main street, and the grand majesty and quietude of the lake and monuments. Like always I found the Village to be throbbing with all the energy of a cosmopolitan ethos transplanted to a rural milieu. The fact that it is kept free of traffic adds to its charm. The lake and the monuments are under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India and are well looked after, making them a popular haunt for youngsters. As it was winter the waters of the lake had a lot of migratory birds, and I could spot a couple of serious bird watchers training their binoculars on them. Truly Hauz Khas Village is serendipity at its best.
The next time one happens to visit Delhi, it might be a good idea to explore this gem of a place. Right at the entry of this complex you will find the famous Deer Park home to, as the name denotes, different species of deer. It also houses a very famous restaurant renowned for its Tandoori cuisine. Venture a little further and Hauz Khas Village swallows you, in all its eccentricity.