The Lutyens’ bungalow zone, spread over 26 sq km, houses “the people who run our fair country,” as a bystander puts it.
Prithviraj Road, flanked by Amrita Shergill Marg on the one hand and Aurangzeb Road on the other, makes for a formidable trio in which history, power and money intermingle. Most properties here have been with their families for many years, so very few are on the market. Brokers’ estimates range from Rs 130 crore for 5,000 square yards to Rs 500 crore for a corner plot of 4000 square yards. And website 99acres.com lists two properties on Prithviraj Road priced between Rs 125 and Rs 170 crore, which works out to Rs 1,30,000 per sq ft. Shveta Jain, Associate director, residential, of Cushman and Wakefield, says her company pegs the rate even higher at Rs 2.5 to 3.75 lakh per sq ft!
Tree-lined avenues, spotless pavements and gleaming bus stops, multi-acre mansions and well-manicured lawns justify these prices. Despite the continuous rush of traffic these well-fortified compounds shield themselves from pollution, noise and prying eyes through endless driveways, multi-layered security and houses larger than country estates.
Sachin Gupta, the owner of the only shop on Prithviraj Road, beams as he says: “This is the best street in Delhi. No riff-raff here. Sachin’s shop has been in his family for the last three generations.
After independence the area has housed important government buildings such as the Jammu and Kashmir house, Bikaner House and the official residences of a number of cabinet ministers and politicians. Now we have the sprawling multi-acre mansions of industrialists like Atul Punj, Ravi Jaipuria, Navin Jindal, LN Mittal, the Modis and Birlas as well as a number of high-rise luxury apartment complexes that reputedly boast of private pools, gyms and underground parking housing executives and diplomats.
Tani Bhargava, a resident of Aurangzeb Road, however remarks that the beauty of the area lies in its historical significance, one that is steadily being lost to the ignorance of many of its current residents.