If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll remember me hinting at a possible collaboration with Arshi from Words, Whimsy and Wanderlust. It took us a while to make a concrete plan and set it in motion but we’re finally ready to unveil our series. Our common love for writing, exploring and dining (food for me, beverages for Arshi) has culminated into Finders Eaters. While most finders keep, we’re the kind who eat. This series takes you to restaurants and cafes in Delhi and its vicinity through our eyes (also, stomachs). We flag this off with our first experience at Kunzum Travel Cafe, Hauz Khas Village, Delhi.
Anyone who has ever lived in Delhi can tell you how cruel its summer is. Seeing as how it’s June currently and temperatures are unbearably high, wise people would advise you against wandering around aimlessly in Connaught Place and then Hauz Khas for hours under the sun. So of course we went ahead and did exactly that (not our most brilliant idea, mind you).
It was the aftermath of this wanderlust that left us exhausted, thirsty and a little sun-burnt till we stumbled upon Kunzum Travel Cafe in one of the many lanes of Hauz Khas Village. Eager to escape the sweltering heat, we immediately decided to check it out (meaning checking out its air conditioning). Within five minutes of being inside, we realised that we had stumbled upon something special, a place that we could finally write about. So we decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth and set about gathering information and clicking pictures. We interviewed the only officials present there, Pooja Kapoor and Shivam Tomar, who are both long-term friends of the owner Ajay Jain.
We learned that the place was actually started in 2007 by Ajay Jain–who is a renowned traveller, author, photographer and blogger–whilst on a road trip and is named after the famous Kunzum Pass in Manali. It connects the Kullu Valley and Lahaul Valley with the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India.
It actually began as a private gallery to display Ajay Jain’s travel photography and gradually turned into a meeting place for the travel community. Knowing that not everyone likes to display their stories on global social media platforms, Kunzum is a place where people can come together and talk to others about where they’ve been and where they wish to go. It’s travel sharing at its most intimate.
A strong love for travel radiates throughout the cafe. The walls are lined with photographs clicked by visitors and by Ajay Jain himself (we’re assuming). There’s a bookshelf that patrons are free to peruse which is filled with–you guessed it–travel guides. Along one wall is a shelf decked with magazines from all over the world, vintage editions from what we could tell. The overall decor of the cafe is kitschy yet chic as can be seen through the exquisite wooden trunks that serve as tables and cane chairs & jute ‘moodas’ (low-height settees) on which visitors perch. There was a huge hand-held bell on our table which we were tempted to ring (don’t worry, we resisted).
While most who visit Hauz Khas Village might walk past this idyllic cafe without realising the wonder that lies within, Kunzum is a major draw for global audience and dedicated travellers. Most of the people who visit Kunzum Travel Cafe have heard about it from someone and visit to satiate their curiosity. Due to the close-knit nature of the travel community, Kunzum’s exclusivity, edgy decor and peaceful environs make it a very popular destination among travellers. It has been featured on popular news sites like the Huffington Post and the Washington Post, among numerous blogs run by people all over the world. It’s founder, Ajay Jain has been a speaker at events held by organisations such as NASSCOM, IBM, Intel and ITB Berlin, the European Travel Fair.
As we glanced around, one of us had a sudden craving for coffee (hint: it’s the coffee-addict) and we ordered one steaming cuppa which came with the most delicious cookies. Kunzum Travel cafe has the Finders Eaters stamp of approval when it comes to coffee, according to our in-house coffee-expert (hint: still the coffee-addict).
Besides being a regular haunt of travellers from the world over, Kunzum Travel Cafe also boasts of hosting monthly workshops related to three major areas – Travel Photography, Travel Filmmaking and Travel Blogging. These, they claim, are all the basic skills you need to become the kind of traveller who gets paid to travel while nursing your serious case of wanderlust. Kunzum also has yoga sessions and regular music gigs in its vast repertoire of events and salsa sessions will be added pretty soon.
As if all this wasn’t enough, they also provide free WiFi, tea, coffee and cookies to anyone who enters their doors. Shivam Tomar doesn’t mind being quoted when he says, “This is the only cafe in India where you don’t have to pay anything as there is no menu. If you’ve had a good time and wish to pay then you can.”
On hearing this, we couldn’t help but ask if someone had actually left without paying anything. “All the time,” Pooja responded as she laughed at our shocked expressions. In case you’re wondering, yes, we did pay for the coffee and cookies we had and it was marvelous.
If you are intrigued by Kunzum Travel Cafe or just passing through Hauz Khas Village and want to rest your feet and revel in good company, this might just be the place you are looking for.
We will be presenting our take on some more hidden gems of Delhi-NCR over the next few months. Posts will go up alternatively on our blogs i.e. since this post went up on my blog, the next one will go up on Arshi’s blog and so on. You can expect a new post every two weeks. Be sure to check out and follow Arshi’s blog for the next installment of Finders Eaters.
Comment below and let me know what you think of this series, Kunzum Travel Cafe and ‘Dilli ki garmi’. Did you figure out who the coffee-expert is?