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Lodhi Garden Delhi in the Winter

Over the years I left no stone unturned to voice my dislike for the winter and the cold weather. Winters were spent huddled by the heater, under several layers of clothing. I never believed in a winter wardrobe, mainly because I had no intention to step out of my duvet and live through another cold and drab winter day. Mercifully, as the winter months began decreasing by the year, they were replaced by a yearning for the warm winter sun, lazy afternoons on the terrace and warm clothes aired in the sun. This year we’re in the middle of a surprisingly warm #NoChillDecember, with no sign of the chilly (and somewhat notorious)  “Delhi Winter” in sight. No cancelled flights, no taping yellow paper to car headlights, and no laying clothes out to air in the sun.

The woollens are sitting tight in my wardrobe, and I’m beginning to miss the season of mittens and hot chocolate. In order to get the winter feels, I decided to go all-out in checking off the winter must-dos in Delhi. I tried it all and I have proof! Check out my video on the best of Delhi winter (and remember to subscribe while you’re there!) 

1. Late night drives and day-time picnics at India Gate:

It’s one of those things we end up doing inevitably; specially after a night out when someone randomly proclaims, “Let’s go to India Gate!” and everyone agrees immediately. It’s a lot more fun in the winter with the fog and ice cream vendors. India Gate is a charm during the day as well, and many people plan picnics on the weekends- though it’s usually barricaded from December all the way to Republic Day.

2. Kebabs at roadside food joints:

Sam Ki Khatri on Lodhi Road, Delhi

As the weather changes and the chill sets in, so do plenty outdoor restaurant cravings. Suddenly everyone’s asking about outdoor restaurants and food stalls, but the fun of sitting in a parked car beside a tiny food joint with coke in a glass bottle tops them all. Qureshi’s and Sab Ki Khatri in Lodhi Road are popular in South Delhi, and the latter has some seriously delicious Kakori Kebabs.

3. Dessert stops at Cakery:

Now open till midnight, Cakery is packed on winter evenings. This tiny dessert stop is enchanting, with the most beautiful desserts on display, from tarts to whoopee pies and macaroons.. they have it all, and the display is heart-warming.

4. Mulled Wine at Sakley’s:

Mulled Wine at Sakleys on Christmas

Little is said in praise of Sakley’s and there’s no other place in the entire city that can give you the cozy winter feels like Sakley’s can. Walking into Sakley’s is like zoning out from the world and warming up inside a happy place. It’s a mood uplifter, with it’s subtle and comfy decor, warm candle-lit evenings and classic music (sometimes live music as well). Just sitting there can make you forget the world outside. Their winter menu consists of “Winter Warmers” that include mulled wine and a long list of other warm alcoholic drinks. We tried a drink called the Red Red Wine, a mix of hot chocolate and red wine, and it’s one of the most unique drinks I ever tasted.

5. Old Monk and Rum at rooftop bars or garden restaurants:

There are so many places in CP to stop by for a drink on a chilly winter evening; just as there are garden restaurants like Fio, Tonino and Lodhi for a misty date, some candle light and a tiny personal bonfire to warm up by.

6. Weekend open-air bar crawls in CP:

Rosé Sangria pitcher at Fatty Bao Delhi

Bar-hopping is better in CP than anywhere else, and weekend sundowners are worth a try! You could start with Social, followed up Unplugged Courtyard, Junkyard Cafe, Open House or Warehouse, and end at Tamasha.

7. Toast marshmallows by the fireplace (or at the bonfire):

marshmallows toasted by the fireplace

Get your friends together, grab a bag of marshmallows and some skewers, and get toasting. They taste divine!

8. Kulhad chai and momos at Delhi Haat:

You could do this just about anywhere, but kulhad chai is everyone’s favourite. If you don’t want to travel all the way, you can get some at Chaayos too.

9. Sunday brunches:

Dimsums flatlay picture at Royal China Delhi

Come winter, everyone flocks to their favourite brunch spots for a soiree in the sun with friends and family. Some swear by Olive and others by Setz, but QLA is my go-t0 this winter. The lazy vibe, live music and a massive feast laid out in the form of live stations and fancy cheese spreads are enough to lure me back each time.

10. Lodhi Garden mornings (or evenings) followed by breakfast at All-American Diner:

Lodhi garden winter morning

I’m not a morning person but I prefer the silence of the mornings over the crowded winter evenings. I can spend hours watching the ducks by the pond under the bridge or petting the dogs as I wander around the garden. You can head to the All-American Diner later, though the quality of food they serve has gone down over the years. I would recommend stopping by at Elma’s instead for waffles and tea.

11. Late night parathas:

There’s nothing quite like a piping hot paratha that comes a rapidly melting chunk of butter, on a cold winter evening. There are so many paratha spots under the Moolchand flyover and around AIIMS, that serve fresh parathas (including chicken and keema parathas) to gorge on.

12. Holiday season Starbucks:

Something about those red cups feels so festive! It always reminds me of mittens, warm caps and hot chocolate. Remember to ask for their special marshmallow flavoured whipped cream with your coffee!

13. Post-dinner waffles at Wafflesome:

Wafflesome nutella waffles

It’s the cutest hole-in-the-wall waffle stop in South Delhi, with only 3 tables and 3 staff members working to bring you the best waffles in town. Flavours include strawberry, Nutella, blueberry, dark chocolate, white chocolate and apple-cinnamon waffles (among plenty others) that left us fighting over dibs on the last bite.

Nikita Butalia is a solo 20-something traveler who documents her experiences around India and the rest of the world in witty narratives and travel tales that are best read curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate on a winter evening.

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