Gole Market without a market are you serious?

Gole Market without a market are you serious?

Heritage site

Gole market, one of the many iconic British-era structures in Delhi, is set to be renovated and could possibly be converted into a museum! NDMC – the authority responsible for this ‘brilliant’ (sarcasm intended) idea is busy removing shopkeepers from this two-floor octagonal market and restoring it to its Victorian-era glory.

However, these shopkeepers who have been trading from Gole Market for deca­d­es, ask if ‘it is only the building which is heritage?’ Is the market not a part of ‘heritage’? When this beautiful structure was conceived as a market, can the building and its utilitarian aspect be separated today because of the ignorance of a chosen few? Can Gole Market ever become Gole Museum? Wouldn’t that be disturbing the heritage part of it?

The Gole Market is said to be the only one-of-its-kind in Asia which is located on a traffic roundabout. The architect of Delhi – Edwin Lutyens, who had a strange fetish for octagonal structures, built this market in 1921 as a part of his plan for British empire’s new capital - Delhi. This was a decade before Connaught Place was conceived and developed.

Raj Kishore Bansal, 70-year old owner of Royal Stores, one of the oldest shops located here, says, “My father Prabhu Dayal Bansal got this shop on rent in 1923. The Parliament, President’s House – all these structures came up before his eyes. As the empire shifted from Calcutta to New Delhi, their officers required a market to purchase groceries, and remember at that time CP had not come up; so Gole Market was envisaged as a groceries supply market for officers.

“When I was young, I used to see officers come and purchase things from our shop and my father was always helpful. There are memories attached to this place. In fact, you see that banyan tree over there. It was planted by my father. It has grown with me,” he adds with a catch in his voice.

Galina Restaurant is also one of landmarks in Gole Market. It came up in 1960 and is famous for its non-vegetarian food. Gopal Krishna Deep –another septuagenarian set up this eatery and is now helped by his son, Anupam. He shares, “The names Galina Restaurant and Gole Market are inseparable. People stop at this traffic roundabout just to savour our food. A lot of tourists visit us and take back the taste of Gole Market’s Galina with them. The truth is that if Galina is shut down, people will not stop at this roundabout.”

Farid Qureshi, owner of the neighbouring Sagar Restaurant (set up in 1964) says, “The authorities are just not sure what they want to do with it. Sometimes they say they will make a library, sometimes they say community centre, and the latest talk is that of a museum. The excuse is the traffic at the Gole Market roundabout. But is their no other cure to the traffic problem? If your head is aching, do you cut off the head itself or look for a solution?”

“Gole Market is historic for being a British-era market. Let us not waste it by converting it into anything else.”

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