The last citadel of south Delhi snobbery is about to fall. Khan Market (KM), where the city’s rich go to see and be seen, is getting a metro station. “The Humayun Road metro stop is opening in September,” says Anuj Dayal, spokesperson, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
Humayun Road is a two-minute walk from Khan Market. Till now, the market was reachable only in a private vehicle, or public mode of transport such as a cab, auto, or the city buses. Not the best-connected place in the Capital, there are no straight buses to Khan Market from, say, Punjabi Bagh.
With the coming of the Metro, a lot will change about this place, which one author described as 'Delhi’s steel bubble'.
“Khan Market’s demographic will become pedestrian,” says a KM regular Vaishnavi Bhagat, an interior designer. “The market will resemble a mall, where all kinds of people come from all over Delhi to ogle at girls in skirts.”
Named after the freedom fighter, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s elder brother, the market, circa 1951, evolved from being a sleepy neighbourhood bazaar into an upscale shopping area, favoured by foreign diplomats from the vicinity. In its second transition, it became a hangout for the writer types.
Author Khushwant Singh walked here in the evenings. Once, Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez was spotted on the Front Lane. In its current avatar, the market is a haven of fashionable cafes and high-end showrooms, and is frequented mostly by the extremely well-heeled.
“I’m happy,” says Jagdamba Prasad Badoni of JP Sweets whose samosas, priced at R 5 each, are perhaps KM’s only cheap eatables. “I sell 300 samosas daily. With the metro, it should go up to 400.”
Enjoying a glass of iced peach tea in the Middle Lane’s Café Turtle, Qurratulain Rizwi, an accessory design student in National Institute of Fashion Technology, says, “The metro will make KM a less-segregated place.” Her classmate Kavita Aggarwal agrees.
“The latest infrastructure will affect only the elite. We, cash-starved students come here for Big Chill’s cakes and Khan Chacha’s kebabs. Now, we’ll not have to spend a fortune in autos.” “The change and development of city landmarks are a normal part of growth,” says Gopa Majumdar, associate professor of sociology in Lady Sri Ram College.
“KM is attracting three times the larger clientele than it did 30 years ago. The Metro will make it a better place.”
IT Professional Sumanta Roy comes to KM every week to buy imported cheese. “While I’m happy that travelling to KM will become easier,” he says, “I hope that a larger spectrum of people will not dilute the high benchmark of style that the market has set for itself.”
The shopkeepers of KM are optimistic. “Finally, we’ll get rid of the parking problems,” says Rajni Malhotra of Bahrisons Booksellers. “Since Humayun Road will be connected to the Vishwavidyalaya stop, we’ll get the university crowd.” Malhotra also welcomes the market’s inevitable democratisation. “As KM becomes more accessible, the chic Khan Market style will rub on to more Delhiites.”