Fine Arts in Delhi

Ananya Rama Balakrishnan

One of the particular delights about living in a city as large and populous as New Delhi is that you can find essentially everything– and this includes opportunities to indulge in the fine arts. There’s no better way to appreciate the culture of the country that we live in than to immerse ourselves in music, art, and theater; this is especially true considering the wealth of cultural diversity that India has to offer. There’s something for everyone in this city, from jazz aficionados to those who can’t get enough of art.

Music is something that truly indicates how deep the heterogeneity of a place is; New Delhi, being composed of not only those who appreciate – cling to, even – the traditional but also younger people more and more influenced by Western culture, is no different. The Piano Man Jazz Café is a location that many young Delhiites enjoy, where bands from across Delhi and across the world play every night. It’s a small, slightly dark space, the atmosphere elegant enough to please anybody (and if the atmosphere isn’t enough to please you, the food certainly will be). While it’s slightly difficult to get seats on some nights, it’s so worth it– be it music that one enjoys from the seats with a plate of fries or music that results in everyone dancing, it’s a perfect place to revel in the glory of. For those wanting to experience something more traditionally Indian, the India Habitat Center has frequent concerts. The IHC is a multipurpose center that also has restaurants and galleries, and is the site for many meetings and conferences. The concerts that they host are primarily classical music, and occur almost every weekend. The harmonious instrumentals of Carnatic and Hindustani music are, admittedly, an acquired taste, but they’re undeniably beautiful. They’re such a clear part of Indian culture that it’s the perfect way to expose yourself to something so genuine for just a couple of hours.

As far as visual arts goes, there’s nothing more exquisite than the annual India Art Fair. Though it’s only on for a weekend every year, it’s the most incredible collection of artwork from artists across the world. The emotions and stories expressed in the works are so unique every year because the curators are constantly changing, and due to the vastness of the fair, there’s something that speaks to everyone. If one has the option to go, this is not something to pass up. A less ephemeral option is the National Gallery of Modern Art, which was founded in 1954. It boasts collections of paintings, sculptures, and photography, and the comprehensive collection of the NGMA and its regional centers is upwards of 17,000. Notable Indian artists, such as Rabindranath Tagore and Amrita Sher-Gil are featured there, as well as a host of foreign artists. The art there is more indicative of Indian culture, so it’s worth a visit not only because of that but because of the beautiful pieces on show.

The fine arts are things that are so unequivocally necessary in our lives, and if we can experience them for just a little bit once in a while, that gives us some semblance of balance in our very tumultuous lives. Try to find time to go to some of these places in Delhi; your life will be richer for it.