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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

SECTOR SCAN 37: Perfect for people

A COSY CORNER The homely market, pocket-friendly eateries and the warm vibe make this sector a place most welcoming

punjab Updated: Jun 05, 2018 21:26 IST
Vidhya Narayanan
Vidhya Narayanan
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Developed in the 1970s in the second phase of Chandigarh’s development, Sector 37 has small, clustered multi-layered houses.
Developed in the 1970s in the second phase of Chandigarh’s development, Sector 37 has small, clustered multi-layered houses.(Ravi Kumar/HT )

The first thing you notice about Sector 37 is how it’s always brimming with activity. Perhaps it’s because of the number of schools that dot it or because of the vibrant market that it houses. While the mornings and afternoons are filled with the hustle and bustle of schoolchildren, the evenings come alive as people descend on its colourful shops.

This market is a treasure trove filled as it is with everything you may need. Be it clothes, jewellery, shoes, mobile phones, sporting accessories, grocery items, stationery items, you name it and they have it.

It won’t be wrong to say that markets tell a lot about the people who live around it. And who better than those who run the shops to tell you about the sector and its people.


Sunil Khurana, who runs a handloom store here, says, “You will see people from all sections of the society shopping here. Unlike the malls, which cater to only the rich population, this market attracts people from all economic sections.”

Just like the people thronging this market, the sector too is a mixed bag of people from different walks of life.

Developed in the 1970s in the second phase of the city’s development, Sector 37 has small, clustered multi-layered houses, unlike those in the first phase with huge residential plots ranging running into several kanals. In fact, the biggest house in this Sector is 633.75 square yards (a little over 1 kanal).

The need for smaller houses was felt because by the time the second phase of development began, Chandigarh had become the seat of three governments and gained in size and stature due to its central location in the region. This led to a burgeoning administrative workforce that brought more families and created a market for supporting jobs, initiating a population boom.

While the size of the dwelling units came down, the area under commercial usage grew as compared to the sectors developed in Phase 1.

Now, besides private residential houses, Sector 37 is home to officials of the Customs and Central Excise department and postal department (Meghdoot postal colony). Few years ago, flats for the economically weaker sections were also set here.

MP Kirron Kher inaugurated the state-of-the-art community centre in Sector 37 last year. Spread on 15,370 square ft, it was built at a cost of Rs 5crore.
MP Kirron Kher inaugurated the state-of-the-art community centre in Sector 37 last year. Spread on 15,370 square ft, it was built at a cost of Rs 5crore.


Reminiscing about the past, Manoj Kumar, who runs Meenu Provisions, one of the first shops set up in this market, says, “We set up our shops in 1977. Back then, the sector and its nearby areas were not developed. From our shop, we could see as far as what is now the Sector 38 D market. In between barren land. So you can see how much the city has developed now.”

Amit Kapoor, who runs a jewellery store with his father in this market, says he has seen the sector grow by leaps and bounds. “Back in the 1990s, when I was in school, there weren’t many cars here. In fact, you could spot barely 10 cars in your immediate locality. Now, there are so many that residents have to park on the roads.”

He also remembers how most houses in the sector were single-storey buildings. “But eventually, people started building the first and second floors of their houses and renting it out,” he said, adding, “We find a lot of college crowd here due to its proximity to Sector 36, which has the famous MCM DAV College for girls. The university in Sector 14 and affiliated colleges along the Madhya Marg are also not too far away.”

About the market, Amit says, “For a long time, Sector 37 was well known for its jewellery stores. At one point this sector had more than seven jewellery stores. But now, it is developing into a hub for shoes and dental clinics. Just recently, a Bata store has also come up in this market.”

The sector is also a big hit with foodies, who come from all over to savour its soya delights at the 100% vegetarian Soya Hub, an eatery opened by youngsters from Muktsar. Vivek Kumar, a local, is all praise for the three bakery shops, and the slew of joints selling ‘gol-gappas’ and ‘chaat’. “The Krishna Chaat Bhandaar is amongst the oldest food joints here. The best part about eating out in this sector is that it is both wholesome and pocket-friendly,” he grins.



The sector also houses a number of important establishments, working for the welfare of people.

If one drives along the Dakshin Marg, from Doordarshan Chowk to the 37/38/24/25 light point, one can see the offices of the Doordarshan Kendra, Ambedkar Study Circle, State Consumer Redressal Commission, Punjab and Haryana Bar Council, DRDO’s Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, and the Rotary and Blood Bank Society Resource Centre.

The Rotary and Blood Bank Society Resource Centre, a joint venture of the Rotary Club of Chandigarh and Blood Bank Society, which started in June 2004, provides blood and blood components to patients admitted in government and private hospitals in Chandigarh and the adjoining states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

“Our centre runs on the concept of 100% voluntary blood donation. Besides, facilitating walk-in blood donations, we also conduct several outdoor camps in collaboration with schools, colleges, religious bodies and other institutes of the region,” says Dr Manish Rai, the centre’s director.


The sector is also home to snow and avalanche studies establishment (SASE), a research and development centre of the defence and research development organization (DRDO). Set up here in 1996, its main purpose is to conduct research and develop technology to facilitate high operational mobility for troops in snow-bound regions of the Himalayas. While the headquarters is based in Manali, the need for a wing in Chandigarh was felt after the flash floods in Manali in 1995, a spokesperson of SASE said.


LOOK BACK — Batra Theatre

Of 3 km-long queues for tickets

Once a hit among residents, Batra Theatre was one of the most popular single-screen theatres of the city. Speaking about its popularity, Varinder Datta, who grew up Sector 37 before moving to Ludhiana says, “The queues at Batra were so long that getting a ticket felt like an achievement.”

But with the advent of multiplexes, the collections came down and these single-screens had to ultimately bring their curtains down. Set up in the 1980s, Swayamvar was the first movie to be screened here. Naresh Batra, the owner of the theatre, recounts, “Back then we were the most popular cinema halls in the city. We attracted a lot of college going crowd. Whenever there was a movie starring Amitabh or Jeetendra, the crowd would be extra excited.”

“We would see queues as long as 3 kilometres outside the theatre waiting for tickets,” he says, adding, “Our first show was at 11am but people would start queuing up at 7.30 in the morning itself.”

Recounting the black-marketing of tickets that went hand in hand with the popularity of the theatre, he says, “To deal with it, we started issuing only two tickets per person. But then people who wanted to sell tickets in black would come in large groups posing as a family and buy the tickets.”

He even remembers seeing the black marketers making special food arrangements for people who they made to stand in queues.

Batra Theatre was one of the most popular single-screen theatres of the city.
Batra Theatre was one of the most popular single-screen theatres of the city.

Recounting another experience, Batra says, he once saw a man in the queue who was hurt. “When I asked my staff to give him first-aid, he told me he didn’t need first-aid, he just wanted a ticket.”

Batra recalls the time when a movie would run continuously for over 25 weeks. People don’t have the kind of time they had back then, he sighs. “Most youngsters prefer watching the movie on their mobile phones and computers at a time and place of their convenience,” he says.