Fact 1: Narrow, winding lanes. Houses with rooms opening into more rooms. Vendors on sidewalks selling spicy treats.
Fact 2: Swanky car count. Scores of Mecedes Benz and BMWs ruling the city roads.
Fact 3: A haven for retailers.
Ludhiana is a city of contrasting styles.
Once you are in the city, the small and the insignificant catches your attention.
But then Ludhiana, which was Mir Hota village some five centuries back, does not lend itself to easy categorisation.
Nestling on the banks of the Sutlej River that is said to have changed its course in 1785, the city is a major centre for the hosiery and woollen industry, bicycles (Avon Cycles, Hero Cycles Ltd), auto parts, machine tools, sewing machines, generators, diesel engines, tyres and tubes.
Yet, a good part of the big business of textiles, garments and hosiery flows from its small-scale industries.
“There are about 43,000 registered small-scale industrial units in Ludhiana,” said S C Ralhan, regional chairman of the Engineering Export Promotion Council, India.
The city that is connected to Delhi by the Grand Trunk Road and bordered by seven districts of Punjab has lots in store for every class.
Just when you think that the city has an inbuilt affinity for minimalism, you are led to its swanky malls, multiplexes and magnificent houses.
Then there are the cars whizzing past the roads.
“Ludhiana has the highest per capita population of Mercedes. People here are passionate about cars, especially Mercedes Benz, which has a strong brand presence in the city,” said Manjit Singh Bala, MD, Taipan Traders Limited.
The city reveals itself in bits and parts. There is the restrained sophistication of the affluent business class on the one hand and the exhibitionism of the neo-rich elites on the other.
The aspirational lifestyle of the ever-burgeoning middle-class that is offset by the influence of the NRIs is also evident.
What unfolds is the unique culture of Ludhiana steeped in the spirit of entrepreneurship.
“The city also has a strong business network and people here are good at taking calculative risks,” said Trident Group CEO Rajinder Gupta.
“The air here is definitely friendly. Hard work comes naturally to people. Most of those in the business are self-made. They don’t mind soiling their hands with grime and dirt. And they know their work inside out. To top it, they are excellent at improvising,” Onkar Singh Pahwa, chairman and MD, Avon Cycles, said.
What started as the hobby of a food enthusiast three decades ago is today a noted food product company with an annual turnover of Rs 500 crore. That’s the story of Rajni Bector of the Cremica Group of Companies.
With the support of her family, she started a small hand-churned ice-cream production unit. From then, there was no looking back.
Her business kept expanding and the company diversified its product range while having a series of tie-ups with top MNCs. Her maxim: “Never compromise on quality.”