For­got­ten mem­o­ries and gated colonies

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Harini Sri­ram

As you drive down Shal­i­mar Bagh, you are greeted by broad roads flanked by large parks. True to its name, the area was once a beau­ti­ful gar­den, dat­ing back to the Mughal pe­riod. Built by Shah Ja­han, the gar­den also had a palace right at its cen­tre.

Driv­ing past the neigh­bour­hood to­day, one can hardly imag­ine what it would have looked like in the 1600s. All you can see now is a steady stream of ve­hi­cles clog­ging the roads and crowded mar­ket places – a far cry from its glo­ri­ous ori­gins.

For an el­derly res­i­dent who has been liv­ing here for the last 30 years, “The area has so much his­tory, yet people have lit­tle re­gard for its past. The Sheesh Ma­hal (the palace built by Shah Ja­han), for in­stance, is in a di­lap­i­dated con­di­tion and noth­ing has been done to re­vive it.”

That s aid, t he area has evolved into a posh res­i­den­tial colony over the years. Thanks to its his­tory of gar­dens, one can still find traces of it in the form of parks with man­i­cured lawns and plenty of trees. DDA (Delhi De­vel­op­ment Author­ity) laid the foun­da­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of this so­ci­ety some­time around 1978 to ’79. “It all started with the set­ting up of a Mother Dairy out­let near what is now known as AB Block. This trig­gered a slew of de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties,” says a real es­tate bro­ker based in the area.

The lo­cal­ity is pre­dom­i­nantly res­i­den­tial, and like most DDA so­ci­eties, it has its own lo­cal mar­kets and other fa­cil­i­ties. The area is di­vided into a num­ber of res­i­den­tial blocks – AA, AB, BP and so on – spread out on ei­ther side of the road. There are a to­tal of about 25 to 30 such blocks in Shal­i­mar Bagh, and each block has a mix of builder floors, apart­ments and bungalow- type in­de­pen­dent res­i­dences.

The property prices here dif­fer slightly with ev­ery few blocks. Some blocks, like BW or BP, have op­tions in the ` 3 crore to ` 4 crore cat­e­gory, while some like AB Block, for in­stance, have prop­er­ties priced in the ` 1 crore bracket. One can even buy a small 1 BHK or 2 BHK in the old DDA apart­ments from ` 40 lakh on­wards.

As a real es­tate agent points out, “The dif­fer­ence in prices can be linked to var­i­ous fac­tors, in­clud­ing size, qual­ity of con­struc­tion, ex­act lo­ca­tion, prox­im­ity to parks, mar­kets, malls or metro sta­tions. This has re­sulted in some blocks grow­ing into exclusive high­pro­file neigh­bour­hoods, and some be­ing con­gested, crowded and dirty.”

There are enough rental op­tions in the area rang­ing from one-room sets at ` 8,000 a month to around ` 25,000 to ` 30,000 for a newly con­structed three bed­room apart­ment. Rent for a twobed­room unit is around ` 15,000 per month.

One of the big­gest ad­van­tages of Shal­i­mar Bagh is its lo­ca­tion. Not only is it close to the city cen­tre, it is also well-con­nected to the rest of the city through a net­work of buses, and of course, the Delhi Metro. “The area is ser­viced by two metro sta­tions, Azad­pur and Pi­ta­m­pura, both of which are close by,” says Sheetal Me­hta, a res­i­dent, “Work has be­gun on the Shal­i­mar Bagh Metro sta­tion and hope­fully, it should be ready soon.”

Me­hta works at Pi­ta­m­pura and it takes her less than 15 to 20 min­utes to drive down from her home. “Park­ing , how­ever, is a prob­lem. There is no des­ig­nated park­ing space, and we have to park in our re­spec­tive blocks. Ev­ery time you try to park your car or take it out, it causes con­ges­tion,” she adds. This is, how­ever, a prob­lem across Delhi and most parts of the coun­try, in gen­eral.

Apart from the lo­cal DDA mar­kets, Shal­i­mar Bagh also has a few swanky malls in the vicin­ity, in­clud­ing DLF City Cen­tre and Shop-in Park. DT Cin­e­mas in the City Cen­tre mall is a pop­u­lar op­tion for movie­go­ers in the area.

Be­sides, the area has its own club, Shal­i­mar Club, which of­fers fa­cil­i­ties such as restaurants, in­door sports, swim­ming, party halls, meet­ing rooms, and so on. “The club is about 12 to 13 years old, and a life mem­ber­ship here can cost any­where around ` 2 lakh,” says a res­i­dent.

The neigh­bour­hood is fairly se­cure too, say res­i­dents. Me­hta adds, “Al­most all so­ci­eties here are gated colonies, and most of them have a se­cu­rity guard posted all day and night. Of course, petty thefts do hap­pen, but over­all, it is a safe neigh­bour­hood.”

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