Forgotten memories and gated colonies
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.”