What immediately strikes you about New Delhi is that it is, in every sense, a capital city. Architecture and urban planning are all about scale, and this place is monumental. Visiting the main promenade, you can envision a procession of elephants, maharajas and queens. But the city is not about opulence—it’s about majesty and power. There are cows on the street, people hanging off buses. But there’s magic amid the chaos, just waiting to be discovered.
Hotel: Built in the mid-’60s, The Oberoi New Delhi was the city’s first and most important luxury hotel. My firm is doing a complete renovation—an upscale, original take on traditional Indian hospitality. Rooms start at $255; Dr. Zakir Hussain Marg; 800-562-3764; oberoihotels.com.
Food: Traditionally, the city’s finest dining has been found in hotels, so it’s no surprise that The Leela Palace New Delhi’s Le Cirque, an outpost of the New York classic, is one of the city’s best restaurants, featuring a wonderful mix of Italian and French cuisines. At The Leela Palace New Delhi, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri; 91-11/3933-1390; theleela.com.
Fashion: At Shaw Brothers, they know Kashmiri fabrics. And you can buy a superbly made hand-embroidered shawl for $300 that would cost thousands elsewhere. At D-36 Defence Colony; shawbrothersonline.com.
Art: Devi Art Foundation is a nonprofit at the forefront of an exciting, developing art scene, helping to foster regional talent. It’s a beautiful place, obviously a product of passion and love. At Sirpur House, Plot 39, Sector 44, Gurgaon; deviartfoundation.org.
Shopping: In a country known for its exquisite craftsmanship, the home furnishings store Sarita Handa sells the highest-quality bedding and cushions, featuring some incredibly intricate design work. At 16, 1st fl., Khan Market; saritahanda.com.
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Be sure to explore Hauz Khas Village, the hip shopping district, where you can browse Nappa Dori (shop no. 4; nappadori.com), a wonderful store that sells leather goods and canvas bags informed by a quirky pop sensibility, like the Bullman bag at left. While in the neighborhood, check out the gorgeous haute couture at Ogaan (H-2; ogaan.com), then stop for luscious sweets at Elma’s Bakery, Cakes and Tea Room (24/1, 1st fl.; 91-11/2652-1020). Finally, don’t miss having a meal at On the Waterfront, in the Aman New Delhi (Lodhi Rd.; 91-11/4363-3411; amanresorts.com), a fun contemporary restaurant where you can experience a cross-pollination of foods: Indian, Chinese and Japanese.