With the wonderful aromas, spicy snacks and appetising meals of Chandigarh's only night food street attracting hundreds of people, the administration here has decided to open four other late night dining areas.
The city's first night food street, on the lines of the Gawal Mandi food street in Pakistan's Lahore city that is famous for its Punjabi and Mughlai dishes, was opened by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation in December last year.
"The first night food street was an experiment of the municipal corporation that proved successful. It meets the needs of hundreds of students and other food lovers. We have decided to open more such food streets at places that are thronged by people at night," Kamlesh Banarsi Das, mayor of Chandigarh, told IANS.
The food street, which is right next to Panjab University (PU) and the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The eight kiosks there offer an assortment of cuisines at very affordable prices, with tables and chairs lined up right outside the shops.
"The food street has also proved equally lucrative for the businessmen who had taken these food kiosks on rent from the municipal corporation as they are doing brisk business," said Kamlesh.
The new night food streets are being planned in Sector 43 near the Inter-State Bus Terminal (ISBT), in the city's commercial hub of Sector 17, in the city's industrial area where a number of call centres are located and another in one of the southern sectors.
"Concerned officials have already visited the potential locations and all the negotiations have been completed. There is a proposal of sanctioning of funds of over Rs.5 million for the upcoming night food streets," said a municipal corporation official.
The rush at the existing food street mainly constitutes students as there are six colleges in the vicinity. However, even families, and patients and their attendents from the nearby medical college can be seen savouring the delicacies.
"The night food street is a big help for us as now we can enjoy an assortment of cuisines even at midnight and that too at very affordable prices," said Pranay Thakur, a law student.
"This food street is just at a walking distance from the Panjab University campus. Now we do not have to go far in search of food during night after our hostel mess closes at 10 p.m.," said Aditya Sharma, a university student.
However, getting a place to sit in the night food street could take anything from 15 to 45 minutes. Car parking is another major hassle in the area.
"The overall business is going good here. Our peak business is from 7 p.m. till midnight. Many times we run out of stock and have to refuse the customers because of the rush," said Brijesh Negi, who works at one of the food kiosks.
The municipal corporation is now preparing to announce bids for kiosks at the new night food streets.
"Very soon bids will be invited for the allotment of kiosks in the new night food streets. Last time, the response was very good. We received over 50 bids for only eight kiosks from people who were ready to pay a monthly rental of over Rs.30,000 against the reserve amount of Rs.8,000. We are hoping for the same this time," said the municipal corporation official.