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JANPATH

Clothes Street

Nicholls built in the 1930’s. The Janpath, formerly the Queensway terminates just at the main entry to this circular, horseshoe inspired shopping area. Though Janpath is the name of a street, but more often than not it is used to refer to the shopping area around it, especially the almost hidden clothes street. Though it is a small lane between the LIC building and the IOC building, one of the main reasons for its success is that is located on the pedestrian linkage between the two important streets, the Janpath, and the Parliament street. Since it falls in the Central Business District of Delhi, it sees a lot of footfalls from office goers, students and other commuters, apart from dedicated shoppers.

A Delhi map showing Janpath

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egends have it that Delhi was the mythical city of Indraprastha, ruled by the Pandavas, in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Ever since it has been a city, which has been ruled by several dynasties and then invaded on more than one occasion by raiders looking for the exotic opulence which the city was the doorway to. During the British Raj, Delhi soon became the center of the country, being the national capital, it was perhaps then that the rising political sensibility in the country decided to keep it so. Thus, paving way for the city to be a host for the hundreds of migrants who come to the city every day, in search for their livelihood. As the migrant population grew within the city, so did the several sub cultures, which the migrants brought to the city. The Janpath Market, in the heart of the capital of India, New Delhi is a perfect example of that cultural melting pot. New Delhi was the glorious Imperial capital that was envisaged as the centre of the British Empire in India. The city was planned on a grid of hexagons and equilateral triangles, with its connecting avenues and intersections being the highlight. Janpath, literally meaning ‘People’s Path’, is one of the main axes of the city, that bisects the primary pathway, Rajpath meaning ‘the royal path’, formerly called the Kingsway, which was planned as a ceremonial path originating at the Viceroy’s Palace, now the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The termination point of this important street is the famous shopping complex called the Connaught Place built by Robert Tor Russell in collaboration with WH

This market is though an export surplus garment market, but it will not be an exaggeration to say that it decides the fashion among the masses. Right from teenaged students to the young city crowd, housewives to foreign tourists can all be seen bargaining at the stalls of this ever popular shopping place. Apart from the few permanent shops, this fashion street, is mainly a temporary market that comes up every morning, and taken down at night. Stalls that come up on wicker and cane baskets, to shops on small boxes, hole-in-the-wall shops to clothes hanging from strings suspended on the compound wall of famous buildings can all be seen here. The voices of shopkeepers trying to outdo each other on decibel levels to reach the ears of their potential customers, marketing their wares, to the heated voices of shoppers trying to haggle to get a bargain on the prices is the flavour of the market. Talking of flavours, it is not just the auditory flavour that spices the life of this market. Right from breakfast, to light lunch through evening snack is available here, ensures that no shopper goes back home tired and hungry. People are constantly refuelling themselves to regain energy as they go from shop to shop trying to find the perfect piece for themselves. Clothes are just one of the things that one comes to shop for here. More than that, it is a popular haunt for every traveller to pick up souvenirs to take back home from their trip to India. One finds all sorts of Indian things among other items that include Junk Jewellery, Silver Jewellery, Footwear, Embellished Linen, Cotton Garments, paintings, Imitation Jewellery, Indian artefacts, Carpets, Decorative Items, Books , and Antiques (though some are genuine and more not).

The speciality of this market it that it offers a very personal and personalised shopping experience for everyone. Each shop one walks into, almost entirely engulfs you and overwhelms you with the sights and sounds. You have a one to one bargain with the shopkeeper and see all the products at arms length. The shop itself forms one layer of the cocoon in this shoppers paradise. The constant sounds of hawkers, the sound of the chaat-wallas deep frying their wares, the smell of spices, tinkling of bells, chatter of the people, footsteps of a hurried office goer, all mix into an enchanting potpourri. The entire market is overall encased by tall buildings, that frame this market space that adds to the cosiness of this experience. A space is defined by the people in it. Janpath area is a disticlty urban platform on an Imperial fabric. The colonnaded market and British era buildings have the aura of an elite space. But very few spaces in New Delhi could can be categorised into eras. The old and new co-exist. Janpath too is an amalgamation like that with ancient monuments and post modern buildings surrounding it. From the 18th century astromomical observatory to the 20th century modern and post modern buildings with the colonial structures all define this area called ‘Janpath’. A truly peoples place, the shopping street makes everyone feel comfortable without intimidating any person whether it be an elite on a luxury spending spree or a student on a shoestring shopping budget. From generations this place has attracted people from all over the city. But ironically this is one place where one finds more foreigners than locals. Apart from the clothes street, the shops on the sides are also ever popular. This place not only has been a trendsetter in terms of apparel fashion but has also been a place that gave the city many of its firsts. From famous bookstores, to music stores that was one of the few places in the city that stocked international chartbusters, to one the first coffee shops that got the city addicted to cold coffee have all had their beginnings from this humble market place. This small space truly captures the essence of Delhi as a city, and no visit to the capital can ever be complete without paying a visit to this place.


Constructing Atmospheres