By Srishti Kochhar

When LBBD’s Suchita asked me if I’d visited Santushti, I had to take a minute to figure out who this Santushti person was. When I said no, she said in her usual super excited way, “You will absolutely looouve it!”, and like {almost} always, she was right.

Started by the AFWWA, a welfare organization formed by Air Force Officers’ Wives, to assist families of the Air Forcers officers who lost their lives in war, the Santushti Shopping Complex has a calm, exclusive, and tasteful air about it. Nestled in the diplomatic enclaves of Chanakyapuri, it provided me with a great {and much-needed} antithesis to the chatter and chaos that is Khan Market and Emporio. I stuck around till the evening and found that its manicured lawns are visited by peacocks in the evenings, who casually roam the lawns, while a dominantly expatriate crowd sits around watching them. The boutiques, in terracotta-roofed bungalows, provide a plethora of contemporary Indian clothing, jewellery and home décor. And just like the calm and serene exterior, the interiors of the stores are simple and earthy, with the focus on the products for sale.

All in all, my trip to Santushti was an eye opener, even though I didn’t loosen my purse strings. In random order, here’s a list of what I thought were the 12 most interesting spaces in Santushti.

# 12 Tack |

The be-all-and-end-all of all leather stores, Tack is a one-stop shop for all leather goods. When I say one stop, I mean it – they do everything from bags, to wallets, to belts, to wine holders, to couches, to…{you get the gist!}. The best part is that they do customized leather goods as well, and in the charming store-owner’s words, if there’s an expensive bag or wallet you’ve been eyeing, head to them with a picture, and they can produce an exact replica!

Where | Store #22

# 11 Kastros |

casa-castro-300x224 12 Things to do in Santushti

With a massive collection of over 75 types of cigars, including Montecristos, Cubans, and Cohiba and Behike {their most expensive brand – a box of 10 cigars for Rs 54,000}, and an ambience that screams “The Godfather”, this cigar lounge is one of its kind, and claims to have the largest cigar collection in the country. They also have beautifully crafted accessories, including cigar ashtrays and humidors.

Where | Store #15

# 10 San-Cha |

I sipped on their refreshing Blue Mountain Iced Tea, as I took in this cute tea store and its extensive collection –  Darjeeling, Assam, Green, Black, Nilgiri and White teas, along with many other natural flavours. They even served me chai samples to make my purchase a well-informed one. They have some beautiful hand-printed tea gift boxes, and kulhars, which I thought would make for nice Diwali gifts.

Where | Store #30

# 9 Mandira |

Probably the cutest kids store I’ve been to, Mandira retails Indian clothes for children in silk, brocade, chanderi, etc. They also make customized clothing for both women and kids. This is the perfect store to visit if a wedding is on the cards and the kids need a wardrobe revamp. Get to it – because last I checked, they had a 50% sale on!

Where | Store #25

# 8 Noor Jehan  |

The first thing I did when I entered Noor Jehan was smile – this adorable and super colorful home décor store is really upbeat and has some great stuff from cushion covers, to rugs, to bed covers, to paper mâché artifacts, to plates and trays, to bathroom slippers, and everything in between. Their stuff can breathe life into anyone’s house.

Where | Store #23

# 7 The Traditional Store |

the-traditional-store-267x300 12 Things to do in Santushti

What’s most interesting about this quaint and earthy store is their extensive antique collection, ranging from cars, to plates, to gorgeous bottles, to chests of drawers… Also, as the name suggests, they have garments in traditional handicrafts from all over India, including Phulkari from Punjab, mirror work from Gujarat, and Kanta from Bengal; alongside cotton-khadi and linen-silk textiles.

Where | Store #14

# 6 Picturesque |

This store has been around since 1987, which is basically when Santushti opened. Famous for their gorgeous frames for paintings and pictures, they also do home décor, and have done the interiors for most 5-star hotels. Their exquisite frames come in gold leaf, silver leaf, different types of wood and metals, and they can also do customized interior decoration for homes!

Where | Store #2

# 5 Amaya |

Run by ladies who love Amitabh Bachchan, what I found most unique about Amaya was their beautiful and authentic Pakistani wear, all the way from Lahore. I loved their collection of pretty Indo-western brocade blouses; it turns out they can do customized Pakistani, Indian and Western wear on order.

Where | Store #13

# 4 Lotus Eaters |

A charming little store with gold and silver artifacts, which I found to be neither too contemporary, nor too conventional. Their jewellery is extremely delicate, and they also have silver cutlery. My favorite was their super cool collection of silver hip-flasks, which would be great to get engraved for a special someone!

Where | Store #16

# 3 Art Indus |

The only Art store in Santushti, Art Indus is currently housing sculptures and paintings from SH Raza, Jamin Roy, Abani Sen and KS Kulkarni, among others. They also host exhibitions, which we will keep you updated on, so keep watching this space!

Where | Store #37

# 2 Image |

Super classy and very extravagant, this furniture store has products in teak wood, and silver coatings. They do customized decor as well, so for anyone looking for something snazzy for their casa, head here and tell the interior designers what you’re looking for, and they say they’ll put it together in about a month’s time.

Where | Store #3

# 1 Basil & Thyme |

After my long day at Santushti, I dropped by Basil & Thyme to grab a bite at Santushti’s solitary, and very cozy café. Seated alongside Delhi’s ladies and gentlemen, a table by the window offered a view of the landscaped gardens that Santushti is famous for. They serve Italian, and I especially liked their quiches.

Where | Store #11

{Image courtesy:}

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