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Delhiwale: A walk through Regal Cinema’s ‘backside’

This lane brings together an odd mix of businesses, spiral stairways, old buildings and windows that have never been shut

delhi Updated: Oct 10, 2017 12:46 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
A pair of spiral metal staircases lend the lane its quaint charm.
A pair of spiral metal staircases lend the lane its quaint charm.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

This has to be the craziest ‘walk’ in Delhi, though it is just a lane hidden behind the Regal cinema building in Connaught Place. You might be inclined to run away as soon as you enter it because it stinks so much. But be brave and venture forth, for this lane is a treasure trove for aesthetes who like to explore the derelict underbelly of inner cities.

Before you dive in, stuff yourself with Delhi’s best, and arguably greasiest, chhole bhature at Kwality restaurant in the Regal cinema building. Now walk past a blood-testing lab, which, until recently, was the historic A Godin & Co. piano shop. Now turn towards the back to enter the lane we have been bragging about.

To the right is a travel agent’s office — you can always spot a few foreign tourists and Indian guides hanging outside. A giant black plastic water tank stands next to it.

The upper floors are a jumble of overhanging cables and humming air conditioners. Make sure to notice a pair of spiral metal staircases. Feel free to climb if you aren’t scared of the surrounding monkeys.

The setting becomes more derelict as you walk further, amid blocks of old, crumbling buildings with paint peeling off. This lane is home to a mix of businesses. There are a number of courier offices, and a shop named Cottage Industry. A wine and beer shop adjoins the office of a vaastu consultant and numerologist. And just around the corner is the very respectable India Coffee Centre, which supplies freshly ground coffee from south India to Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Before you decide to end the walk by buying coffee, look out for another set of spiral staircases across the lane. That’s Rivoli, the old single-screen theatre taken over by a multiplex in 2004. The other single-screen cinema in the victinity was, of course, Regal. It closed down early this year — its last screening was an old Raj Kapoor film.