In this article, you’ll read my honest review about Champa Gali, Saket that some claim to be one of the best hangout places in Delhi NCR. Find out whether it’s actually worth a visit or just overhyped including how Champa Gali was discovered, why it became famous, where is it located, what are the best restaurants to eat in Champa Gali and what all can you shop here.
One ‘pawri ho rahi hai’ video is enough to make Dananeer Mobeen, a 19-year old teenage influencer, an overnight internet sensation. A 24-yeard old Yashraj Mukhate made ‘Rasode me kon tha’ video to kill his boredom, but it skyrocketed his musical career. And, who can forget the controversial transformation of ‘Baba Ka Dhaba’ overnight. We live in a world where people’s careers and lives are made or broken by just one tweet or one post. But are all viral trends worth the craze they generate? Not everyone can handle overnight success. The longevity of success depends on how well you can translate online success into an offline world. And, this is where most companies and people falter. Now coming to a specific example. In the last few years, whenever I would ask people the best hangout places in Delhi NCR ‘Champa Gali’ name would come up. Suddenly a less explored, hidden, quirky alley in South Delhi was called ‘the best-kept secret of Delhi‘, ‘hidden gem of the capital’, ‘a secret Parisian corridor‘, ‘the capital’s Parisian passageway‘ and a ‘hidden treasure of cultural and culinary delight’. Having seen the rise and fall of many cool places in Delhi, I decided to determine if Champa Gali Saket is actually one of the best hangout places in Delhi NCR or just overhyped?
Table of Contents
What and where is Champa Gali?
The not-so-little-known-anymore Champa Gali in south Delhi’s Saidulajab village near Saket is a quirky place promises to give you a fine blend of coffee, art and culture. The street is lined with cafés, restaurants, clothing stores, stationeries, home décor outlets, and shops for quirky knick-knacks. The articles on the internet say that there is no better place in the city to think, write and meet like-minded people, which I would vehemently disagree with. Those articles’ writers must be virtual travellers who would have never stepped out of their homes to see real good places. I have been to France number of times, and I don’t know how people could get the vibes of rural French streets lined with alternative cafes and shops in this little dingy lane that finishes before it starts. At best, it’s a lane with some average restaurants and stores.
Before reviewing Champa Gali in detail, let me share it’s history and claim to fame.
History: How was Champa Gali discovered?
Champa Gali was nothing like what it looks like today. It was a vacant poultry farm (murgi farm) where people would be scared to go after dark until seven years back. In 2013, Jiten Suchede, a product designer and a hobbyist carpenter, was looking for a place where his neighbours won’t have a problem with his continuous thak thak noise. So, he got in touch with Kuldeep Singh, 52, a bus contractor and driver who owned this vacant poultry farm.
Soon Suchede was making noise not just in the day but in the evening, too, as his space turned into a jamming venue for friends and up-and-coming artists. It was soon branded, quite aptly, as Bakheda. Te product designer also doubled as a chaiwallah, running Jugmug Thela, a pop-up artisanal tea and coffee shop on a thela, quite successfully. With Jugmug Thela’s growing success, Bakheda took a backseat and eventually folded up.
Then, in 2015, on Suchede’s recommendation Blue Tokai, a café chain with an on-site roastery, moved in. It became a turning point for the place, as Blue Tokai was already an established name. The café brought many Champa plants to decorate the street, lending the street its name—Champa Gali. Soon, hipsters and curious residents started pouring in.
What made Champa Gali famous?
The credit for Champa Gali’s overnight popularity goes to Imtiaz Ali and the Instagrammers. They painted an image of it being the coolest hangout places in Delhi. Although Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aajkal II (starring Sara Ali Khan and Kartik Aryan) tanked at the box office, it soon launched a frenzy amongst Delhites to visit the cool place shown in the movie. And, rest is history, as they say.
Places to visit in Champa Gali?
Popular restaurants in Champa Gali
- Jugmag Thela – They are famous for their masala chai and shakes but, please keep in mind the long wait period if you are going on a weekend. You can also try their Pesto Sandwich, Hot Chocolate, Pizza, Brownie, and Banana Cake.
- Blue Tokai Coffee – renowned for their freshly brewed coffee of varied flavours, they used to hold brewing sessions earlier, but now their roastery has moved to Gurgaon. You can try their Pasta, Peri Peri Fries, Sandwich, Croissant, and Pancakes in food.
- Four directions – A newly opened restaurant with a relaxed swing and window seat where you can enjoy their pizza and past. Coffee isn’t bad too.
- Social Street Café: this is the first café you’ll encounter as you enter the poorly paved Champa Gali. The quirky café has an instagrammable wall where you’ll always see people queuing up for photos. Try their Pasta, Pizza, Chocolate Shakes, Nachos, Mojito etc.
- The Green View Bistro and cafe: This place is terrific for Instagrammers as they have created a cute photo booth outside their café.
Shopping in Champa Gali
- Jugaad – a non-profit handicrafts shop where you can buy funky products ranging from chic kurtas to colourful stationery. Their paper products, boho accessories, bookmarks, wallets, diaries, scarves, jewellery, and hair accessories are useful gift items.
- Liberty Village – If you are a fan of garage sale and flea market shopping, you might like this place. However, when I visited them, they had stock issues, and there wasn’t much to choose from.
- Samant Chouhan – This is a relatively new store where you can shop for designer dresses, jumpsuits, belts, shoes, bag, accessories and more
My honest experience
After reading so much about Champa Gali and seeing it on the silver screen, I had high hopes, but I was disappointed. Firstly, I found the place rundown by college kids and wannabe content creators whose only purpose of visiting the street was to get Instagram-worthy pictures. No one was looking for enjoying gup-shup with some good food and music. The staff at most restaurants was rude, and the service took forever. I ordered a simple masala chai at Jugmug Thela, and it took half an hour for them to serve. Seems like they were growing tea in their backyard.
One most important thing – PLEASE DON’T CARRY A CAMERA WITH YOU. The moment they see you with a camera, thugs dressed as staff would come running at you for money. Jugmug Thella asked 20,000 INR to shoot in the alley (not even inside their cafe). A daylight robbery, and you can’t even argue with them. It’s a complete Gunda raj.
The total area is not even 200 metres long and is very poorly maintained. Avoid wearing heals as the parking lot is far away, and the kaccha road is uneven with potholes.
In the end all I can say is Champa Gali is definitely not one of the best hangout places in Delhi NCR. I feel there are better places with better restaurants and cordial staff. Avoid this place, if you can. Don’t fall for hearsay.
Here’s a video detailing my experience at Champa Gali.
Have you been to this place or any other place that didn’t live up to the hype? I would love to know more about it in the comments section below.