Khan Market, in New Delhi, was started, in 1951, by Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan, brother of freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ġaffar Khan (also known as Frontier Gandhi). Today, it ranks as one of the costliest retail high street markets of the world. There are 154 shops and 74 flats. The idea behind the market was to help the immigrants settle in India during partition. The market caters to specific needs of the politicians, diplomats and others of the elite club. Till eighties, ground floor had shops and first floors served as the residence but the paucity of space made residents move out. The rentals are steep and space within is crammed. Archana takes us through the historical market, which is now a swanky place, exclusively for Different Truths.
Sky is low, the clouds are mean
A traveling flake of rain
Across a house or through a street
Debates if it will go.
These lines by Emily Dickinson had been on my mind since morning. Looking at the colours of sky, I was indecisive whether to step out of the house or not. Then decided to take a plunge outside and frequent the bye-lanes of Khan Market. A nagging pain and stiff muscles could not deter my feet to move forward. Though decided to take Ola ride instead of metro for comfort.
I can’t resist the temptation of a metro ride as there are so many stories to see all around. The iconic bookstores Fakirchand & Sons, Bahri Sons always greet with their wonderful display of books. I am always stuck there for an hour at least browsing the books dotting the shelves. Wish they have some sitting arrangements. There are some attractive, cute, trendy stuff on display outside the shop on 50% discount. Outlook Traveller magazine was my pick from the stand, I being a travel enthusiast.
Was soon joined by a college friend and the old college time came alive, all pain and aches happily forgotten. We rushed to a store Cottons of Jaipur, which has an excellent collection of cotton kurtas, skirts, pants and other stuff. We bought an indigo dress that fitted my friend perfectly. No chances spared, the opinion of the sales girl was also sought to finalise the buying decision. The second item that caught our fancy was a wrought iron bicycle planter. But I decided against buying as it was expensive. Ishatvam, Good Earth were our next halt. The tasteful collection and their display always demands a visit. Not to forget about the opportunity of a close brush with a celebrity. Kama Ayurveda sells best products related to skin care and health. Anokhi is an important store and delight for cotton dress lovers. Amrapali Jewellers has an ethnic old wooden door, which is a visual delight. The collection inside is equally impressive.
The gastronomical pangs led to the quest for an ideal place to sit and eat. Soda Bottle Opener Wala, the name itself brought the smile as we climbed up the stairs. The place had a simple yet aesthetic décor, which promised of a good experience. This was our first tryst with Parsi cuisine. We ordered Shikanjbe, a little complex version of our humble desi shikanji. The main course had Dhansak, which was a combination of caramalised rice, lentils cooked with mutton, kachumber. We were greedily eyeing orders on other tables, which looked more tempting. Their range of paos is so amazing. We hurriedly gulped down the delicious food. There was lot of bonhomie spirit around.
There are many interesting eateries in Khan Market. Few to mention are Out of the Box, Town Hall, Khan Chacha, China Fare, and Cafe Turtle, among others. There are many branded outlets like Nike, Adidas, Vera Moḍa, W, etc. The list is endless. A shop sells exotic macaroons, the display in glass shelves was so inviting and mouth-watering.
Who knew that this market, which was started, in 1951, by Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan, brother of freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ġaffar Khan (also known as Frontier Gandhi) would rank one day as the costliest retail high street market of the world. All together there are 154 shops and 74 flats. The idea behind the market was to help the immigrants settle in India during partition. The market caters to specific needs of the politicians, diplomats and others of the elite club. Till eighties, the ground floor had shops and first floors served as the residence but the paucity of space made residents move out. The rentals are steep and space within is crammed. The market has many famous neighbours to boast of, prominent among them being Late Khushwant Singh.
Khan Market has still retained its past glory and the wares displayed in the shops are excellent. You see the elite alighting from their cars and absolutely sure to get what and from where. The grace, demeanour of the people frequenting the market speaks of élan. It is classy and quirky.
The recent headlines of making Delhi a smart city and convert Khan Market into a no vehicle zone surely will give the silent green sentinels of the area a reason to rejoice. How feasible this plan is that hangs in the smoggy polluted air is a thing to be seen.
Pix from the author and the net.
Archana’s resume speaks of a career in HR, armed with a Management Degree, and a career which spanned for more than 15 years. Now, she is following her heart’s pursuit on a journey from being a writer in closet to a published writer. Publications include articles in leading national newspapers and online blogs. An avid traveller seeking refuge and solace amidst Himalayan magnificence and sublimity.