“Connaught Place was a beautiful place. I would sit under the lampposts with my father and fellow shopkeepers till 11pm,” says a nostalgic Surender Kumar Kohli, 74 years old.
This Connaught Place is nestled in the heart of Dehradun — and much like New Delhi’s famous Connaught Place, it is also a major commercial hub.
Dehradun has remained fascinated by Delhi. There is a Race Course, Curzon Road, Patel Nagar (east), Patel Nagar (west), Rajendra Nagar, Vasant Vihar, Defence Colony, Vasant Vihar, Saket, and an Ashok Vihar in the hilly town.
“I grew up in Doon and remember how many places shared names with their counterparts in Delhi even before Independence. I’m not sure if having similar names could be called an obsession... it is more of a coincidence,” author Ruskin Bond tells HT.
Local historian and heritage activist Lokesh Ohri feels that names similar to those in Delhi could be attributed to a combination of two factors.
“I think people got inspired by names of places in Delhi. This, coupled with a slight inferiority complex regarding local rustic names, led to many places having similar names,” he said.
Dehradun’s CP was built by Seth Mansa Ram, a banker who dabbled in real estate in the late 1930’s and early 40’s. It is a three-storeyed residential complex, with over a 100 flats and commercial spaces.
“Seth had taken a loan from the Bharat Insurance Company. But he defaulted and the insurer took over the complex,” says veteran journalist Raj Kanwar.
A few years later, the Rana brothers — Shanta Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana and Col. Shashi Shumsher JB Rana — built an equally majestic complex, with two new cinema halls as an added attraction. This was named New CP.
Currently, the old CP is in poor shape due to a legal dispute between the insurance company and the present tenants.