Yesterday I had to meet one of my friends near Saket so I invited him to Champa Gali. And he was like – ‘What kind of a name is that? Is that even a place?’
What’s in a name? Let us find out…
I am guessing people reading this post also are perplexed because it sounds weird and for Delhi, it is too abnormal a name for a hangout place compared to fancy names like Hauz Khas Village. Even the locals living in neighborhood are clueless about its existence. With the idea of creating something quirky and desi, this street was named as Champa Gali by co-owners because the place brought in a lot Champa plants (Plumeria or Frangipani). It is surprising to know how an unused piece of land; Khasra No. 258 at Lane 3 in Saiyadulajaib village of South Delhi can be transformed into a street full of life.
I reached there on my curiosity wanting to discover one of the best kept secrets of country capital. As you walk over the rustic pebble pathway, you will witness snippets of rural France in an alley. Art, Culture, Handmade goodness, Design Studio, Reading room, Chai & Coffee and Vietnamese Food all together at one place are no less than a mini dream world. It is a fabulous blend of Indian and French culture. The striking part about Champa Gali is that is a completely non-alcoholic place and yet is able to attract a class of youngsters and oldies who appreciate the drinking culture of all time classic beverages – coffee and chai.
The first and the newest place you will come across is Pho King Awesome – an Asian menu of flavours and cuisines by Chef Mukul who owes his cuisine inspirations to his Vietnamese wife Mong Thu Tran. And that’s why the name starts with Pho meaning Rice in Vietnamese.
Folowing that is Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters, a beautiful cafe offering a live roasting room that holds brewing sessions and a must visit for the coffee-drinkers. The coffee comes directly from the best farms and is roasted on order.
In case you are already drooled over the Koffee Hamper at Koffee with Karan, then let me tell you that Blue Tokai Coffee is one of the things that goes into the much desired hamper.
They also serve savories & chocolates and host art exhibitions and poetry evenings. They have an open backyard, radiating good vibes and an ideal place to sit with your loved ones and spend a day with a cup of aromatic coffee.
Next on the lane is People Tree, the tree that grew into a shop. The studio cum shop is a breeding ground of design & art with a hint of madness.
There is a display of unique forms of artistic expression – magnets, story books, clay models, cloth pieces, diaries, wall hangings, pouches, jewelry, skin care products and so on. They have another store near Connaught Place.
Opposite People Tree is another art store Renu Rekha and you are lucky enough if you find it open.
As you move ahead, you will finally arrive at Jugmug Thela, the most talked about place at Champa Gali. There’s an open seating area across the street and one in the backyard. The thela is basically a pop-up tea stall offering a range of tea, coffee, sandwiches, desserts and ice-pops. The soulful music adds another dimension to the place.
There is also a Reading Room opposite the counter where one can sit for hours and spend time with all kinds of books.
The last on the passageway is Jugaad, a non-profit organisation that deals in all sorts of handcrafted goodness. This place is all about creating an alternative lifestyle where waste is turned into something useful, creative and innovative.
Jugaad employs young adults and women from rural areas to create products from recycled material and market their products. It gives them skills training and promotes entrepreneurship.
As I settled on a wooden bench outside the tea stall and sipped my masala chai, I felt the serenity of a mountain village. The spirit of green from the canopy and hanging trees was well preserved along with vibrant colors of art popping from the stores. It was fascinating to see the fusion of cultures.
All you need is a camera, a sketchbook or a diary and some peace of mind and this place will do a magic to you!
How to reach?
Address: Champa Gali, Khasra 258, Lane 3, Westend Marg, Saiyadulajab, Saket.
Nearest Metro Station: Saket, Gate No. 2
(If coming by your own vehicle, safe parking slots are available near the metro station. Champa Gali is hardly a 400 meters walk from the station.)
Since the locals don’t know about Champa Gali, just ask them directions for Lane 3.
Photography By: Nikita Kothari
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