Beauty lies in the market

Beauty lies in the market

Staying in Sunder Nagar brings you closer to Indian heritage. At a stone throw’s away, there is Purana Quila and as you walk inside the locality, you will find more than a dozen shops selling handicrafts, jewels, artifacts, paintings and figurines.

This makes the ‘beautifully’ (literally) located residential area a little obscure shopping destination for Delhi’s shoppers but is undoubtedly a draw for hundreds of expats who visit it regularly to shop for a brush with Indian culture.

The L-shaped shopping complex moves along a colony park and there are only a few times when it bustles with a lot of people. But there is no denying the fact that it gets a fair amount of discerning buyers who have an eye for aesthetically right designs and a heart for Indian history and its and art.

 Ramesh Goel, 49-year-old veteran salesman in Sunder Nagar, spoke to Metrolife. While sharing his experiences spanning across more than 25 years, he says that the market became popular three decades ago because of two tea shops – Mittal and Regalia – which sell real green tea leaves. As you enter one of these stores, you will feel incredibly fresh with rejuvenating aroma of pure, unadulterated tea leaves. “We only sell tea leaves and not the CTC (crush twist and curl) variety which is used in regular households in north India,” said an attendant at Regalia (now known as Asia Tea House).

Goel tells that there are two kinds of customers in Sunder Nagar. First category of buyers shop for their personal use such as furniture and show pieces. There are other buyers especially the expats who are collectors of handicrafts and they buy only for the sake of collecting them. “The number of such buyers has reduced all these years,” rues Goel.

A single piece wooden chair in the market can cost you Rs 6,000 while a brass statue may loosen your purse strings by Rs 1.5 lakh.

There are much cheaper products as well. One can buy a souvenir for Rs 20 also at these shops. “Indians get fascinated by shiny products but expats only prefer handicrafts which may be dull or lacklustre,” said Goel.

As you visit houses in Sunder Nagar, you will not be surprised to see the same cultural flavour of handicrafts and showpieces inside the residential units. It will feel as if the products have spilled from shops into the houses. This may not be true for all, but for some of them like 10, Sunder Nagar, which is also listed in the prestigious Lonely Planet travel magazine for its reputable bed and breakfast unit called Devna.

“I have been staying in this area since I was nine. It is Sunder Nagar influence which fascinated me a lot about handicrafts and antique items. Now, my house is full of such products, many of which I bought from this market. There is an old--styled watch, radio, gramophone, dozens of half-a-century old posters, furniture and almost 25 paintings,” said Atul Khanna, owner of the property.   

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