Delhi doesn’t have a large number of antique stores but the few that exist have several gems worth taking home. From rare Indian miniature paintings to centuries-old tools used by local tribes, there’s a signature piece just waiting to be discovered.
A visit to The Carpet Cellar is a must for those who appreciate fine craftsmanship and old-world aesthetics. Their valuable collection of antique carpets have been sourced from the Maharajas of India as well as countries such as Tibet, Turkey, China, Egypt, Mongolia, Afghanistan and Morocco. Some of the rare carpets found here have previously been exhibited at museums both in India and abroad, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The store is planning on taking things a step further by opening its very own Carpet and Textile Museum, which will display antique pieces dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Owned by the affable Arvind Bhalla, who has a world of knowledge about Indian antiques, Vintage Gully has been sourcing antique furniture from across the country, including the states of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. They also customise their products according to demand should you want a personalised touch to your purchase. Vintage Gully’s prized possession at the moment is a jharoka (medieval balcony) of an old haveli (mansion) from Saurashtra in Gujarat. Made of Burma teak wood, this precious antique was handmade by Indian artisans and is a fine example of impeccable indigenous craftsmanship.
For years, many diplomats in Delhi have turned to Country Collection to buy antiques for their homes in the capital. According to the owners, these foreign officials have been instrumental in spreading the word about the store to friends abroad. For this reason, they’re constantly shipping antiques to a large customer base outside of India. One of the oldest treasures in the store is a two centuries old one-piece wood pounder from the north-east Indian state of Nagaland. They also have beautifully restored coffee tables and benches made out of old gypsy and pony carts.
A well-known antique store located in the upscale Meherchand Market in Lodhi Colony, Karigiri sources its antiques from different parts of India but their most treasured items are usually from South India and Nagaland. One of the store’s most valuable antiques was an elegant bed made out of a single log of wood, which is said to have belonged to a village headman back in the state of Nagaland. The inimitable craftsmanship on this 200-year-old piece of furniture, which was sold two years ago, added immeasurable value to their line of furniture. Currently, the oldest item at Karigari is a beautiful old palatial teakwood door.
Established in the late 19th century, Indian Arts Palace is not only the oldest, but also one of the most respected antique stores in the country. This 150-year-old family-run business has an enviable collection of rare Indian miniature paintings, bespoke jewellery, silver artefacts, marble figures and other collectables such as lithographs and oleographs. Academy Award-winning filmmaker and Indian miniature painting enthusiast James Ivory is one of the many prominent names to have visited the Indian Arts Palace in Connaught Place. The owners’ knowledge about Indian antiques is second to none, which explains why they’re respected by connoisseurs and experts around the world.
If you’re specifically looking for European artefacts in Delhi, then Old Channel is the place to visit. Located in the posh Defence Colony, this antique store houses elegant home decor pieces from porcelain figures to table clocks, paintings, jewellery, carpets and marble statues. The place has been in business for over three decades, sourcing antiques from private collectors from both India and abroad. Besides European antiques, Old Channel also has an excellent collection of colonial furniture.
While Old Channel appeases your need for European antiques, Asian Treasures is the go-to place for unique collectibles from Asia. The store has an eclectic selection of oriental arts and crafts including Buddha statues, furniture, brassware, bronzeware, lamps and mirrors. These pieces have all been sourced from countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Burma. Among the list of elegant pieces at the store are their intricately carved cabinets, which make for a great addition to any modern living room.
As the name suggests, Amar Colony is not a standalone shop but an entire neighbourhood. However, it merits being named on the list because Delhi’s most popular vintage furniture market is located in the area. Navigate through narrow bylanes to reach the store where spaces are compact and furniture kept in disarray. Once you find something that you like, you’ll have to spend quite some time bargaining with the shopkeeper. So why go through all this trouble? That’s because you won’t find antique furniture and decor pieces at a more affordable price anywhere else in the city.