Once Upon An Icon…
Basant Lok market, located in the heart of South Delhi’s Vasant Vihar, in the middle of Vasant Kunj and Vasant Vihar is an open air shopping plaza that doesn’t just have a history but a special place in our hearts. This iconic market and has seen many firsts. India’s first McDonald’s opened here in 1996, as did the first and most iconic TGIF (Alas, now closed). The legendary Priya cinema that screened English movies in the old days is now the flagship property of PVR Cinemas, India’s first multiplex chain. When vodka was first served in a golgappa, it also happened here, at the one-of-its-kind Punjabi by Nature restaurant (Another feather cut off, sigh!).
Popular not just with Delhites but also people visiting from other cities, a trip to this market, the TGIF here or taking the bachas to Mc Donald’s was a must. This market was once the only hub for any kind of hangout in Delhi. Some of us would be able to describe every nook and corner of this complex also known as Priya Market, a name that the market complex got from the famous Priya Cinema.
It was later refurbished by PVR cinema and now it’s Priya PVR; everything changed after that but somehow people couldn’t forget that era, the era of newly formed acquaintanceship with McDonalds and other western brands.
Basant Lok Market That Is
Dry fountain, broken benches, shoe shine boys, doped beggars, stray cows and dogs, and palmists making suspicious predictions. Don’t judge Basant Lok Market by its rundown look. While its sheen has paled by the coming of the malls, Basant Lok Market retains its importance, and continues to have many footfalls.
In this age of multiplexes, PVR Priya as a single-screen theatre, hasn’t lost its charm. It still is a class apart from its counterparts, such as Odeon, Regal or Rivoli in Connaught Place. The tickets are way reasonable as compared to the multiplexes and you’d find college goers-enjoying a fun flick with friends. Parking woes in the malls also leads a lot op people in this direction. The theatre doesn’t allow bags inside, and the cigarette-selling kiosk just opposite the theatre makes quick buck out of this — you can deposit your bag here for Rs 10.
One of Delhi’s most eclectic bookstores, Fact & Fiction, is situated in Basant Lok Market, just opposite Priya’s box office. So does Om Book Store, a favorite with readers. This is the area’s most popular book store. This well stocked store has books by varied authors from different genres
The Benetton showroom has four levels, and quite a few takers. City Shoppe which stocks multi brands for men, women and kids, is quite the go-to family shop. Apart from the big labels, there are street shops selling equally fashionable items. Two shops, just opposite Mc Donalds offer surplus garments at cheap rates. Then there are kiosks selling Sarojini Nagar like stuff, ladies clothes, belts, shoes, everything. Bargain all the way!
Vasant Vihar being home to a lot of expacts, this market has a lot many grocery stores. Modern Bazaar, the well-stocked supermarket that has presumably every exotic ingredient sold in the western hemisphere. Le Marche is another favorite. Natures Basket was a part of the Basant Lok family too till some months ago, but bid adieu recently.
As you approach the complex, a long line of pan shops welcome you. Apart from the regular stuff, common at most pan shops, here you can find the special chocolate pan. At just Rs. 20, huge chunks of chocolate along with the gooey pan mixture, wrapped in a betel leaf, melt in your mouth.
The popular oriental restaurant with terrace Kylin recently shut shop and moved to the swanky neighbouring malls in a whole different avatar. Be it a quick meal at McDonalds, the smoking hot crispy pizzas at Pizza Hut or Domino’s the yummy noodles at Yo China, moist donuts at Dunkin Donuts, there are a lot of options. Sartoria restaurant has good pizzas and risottos, and a long wine list. Then there are shawarma stalls and Chinjabi kiosks selling gobhi manchurian and vegetable chowmein, along with spicy momos and thupkas. RPM, the discotheque, is popular amongst the young lot and sees a lot of action during the day. Unlike the other discs, in RPM, you would find loud music playing even in the afternoon. In the evening, a huge crowd gathers around the stairs. Also equally popular among the young lot is Hash.
Barista, Costa Coffee and Cafe Coffee Day are all a part of the Basant Lok Family and are popular with moms waiting after dropping kids for after school sports, teenagers catching over coffee etc.
Affinity is a popular name with the well heeled residents. So is good old Madonna (the staff here is so old that they know people by names and vice versa) which has its loyalists coming to the market and making a beeline for just the salon because they choose to stick to some trusted stylists here. It’s fun watch the special camaraderie and connect. VLCC spa and Oxford Cut are some other popular names.
Talwalkars, Three Graces, Muscle Hardcore Gym and Ab Initio are the famous gyms here, catering to the fitness enthusiasts of this posh area. The fitness buffs are indeed spoilt for choice.