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Shadikhampur : Neighbourhood Museum

About 6 km. from Connaught Place, with the Pusa Institute on the south, Patel Nagar in the north, Rajinder Nagar in the east and Moti Nagar in the west, this neighbourhood is actually at least four different localities: Shadipur, Khampur, New Ranjit Nagar and Guru Nanak Nagar. Add to these Guru Arjun Nagar on one side and Ranjit Nagar on the other, you have a mini India.

Here, you can hear many languages and dialects; you can see many communities and castes; you will find people from different parts of the country – and beyond. Some settlements are clearly demarcated clusters organized around caste and religion. Over the past two decades, many settlements have become heterogeneous and mixed, with migrants coming to Delhi from all corners of the country.

The entire neighbourhood bustles with economic activity. Many buildings house small to medium businesses of various kinds – shops selling everything from utensils to clothes to knick knacks, grocers, eateries, paan shops, hair cutting saloons, doctors and dental clinics, tuition centres, scrap dealers, repair and service centres, production workshops, godowns, tailoring units, and, of course, the ubiquitous property agents! Then there are the cycle rickshaw walas, who ferry people and goods around, negotiating the narrow lanes adroitly.

Stories of Origin

Some residents claim lineage from the clan of the 12th-century Rajput king Prithviraj Chauhan. Some claim that Khampur dates back to the early 17th century. Some claim the ancestors of the early settlers were from around Lahore. Some claim to have migrated from Haryana and Rajasthan. The earliest settlement was probably during Shahjehan’s time by people from Shahjehanabad. They were allowed to live here after their work was finished. The initial land rights were informal (kachchi amaldari). In 1908 the British formalised the holdings in the names of the residents (jamaabandi).

In the early years of the 20th century, this area was largely forest and scrub land. The early settlements grew around the more fertile lands, in what is today Khampur, Shadipur and Pusa. The typical land holdings were small to medium of the hundred odd families who worked on their own land. Most families had cattle as well. The village land holdings extended up to the Ridge and Regharpura.

Both villages, Shadipur and Khampur, have Jats and Rajputs, as well as Yadavs and some Brahmins. There were four lower-caste clusters in Khampur. The Valmikis, who did menial work, often in return for payment in kind; the leather artisans; the Jhangars (or Jhangri), the carpenters who made farm implements and did the woodwork in houses; and the potters (kumhars) who made earthenware vessels.

Four villages – Dasghara, Todapur, Shadipur and Khampur – had a common panchayat.

It is said that the Khampur villagers got people from the nearby settlements to establish Shadipur village, for security reasons. Locals name the colourful, legendary woman dacoit Bhuli Bhatiyarin as having been the scourge of Khampur. You can visit the ruins where she is said to have resided in the forest opposite Springdales School.

One of the Khampur settlements was renamed as Guru Nanak Nagar in the 1960s possibly by some religious leaders from Nanaksar gurudwara who performed kirtan for renaming. The prominent communities were Jat Sikhs and Ramgarhias (carpenters). The area was surrounded by agricultural land. There was also a cremation ground nearby. Today, there are five gurdwaras within a 750-meter radius of Studio Safdar.

Land touts started developing interests in this neighbourhood after Partition, when people started giving land to them on lease for extra income.

The older generation worked on the land and earned rent from tenants who were service people (some were from the biradari; some were Bagris and Sains).

In the early days people went to the fields to relieve themselves. Later dry latrines were built, which were cleaned by manual scavengers from the village. To date there are separate and fixed areas for garbage collection. The sewage system with drainage came in the early 1970s, and many residents credit the then MCD councillor Bhagwandass Verma for this.

There was a surge in the education and employment levels of the villagers after Partition. There was a municipal primary school in Khampur and the nearby private schools canvassed for students from both villages. The Bharat Vikas Parishad ran a school from the Khampur village chaupal. Many businesses and shops were often started by people who were not from the village.

Land Acquisitions

The Indian Agricultural Institute was originally set up in 1905 in the village Pusa, district Samsatipur, Bihar. It was relocated to Delhi after the Bihar earthquake of 1934 on land acquired from the villagers of Shadipur and Khampur at Rs 250 per acre. The name Pusa, though, continued.

The first land acquisition, though, had occurred even earlier – during the First World War, when what is now Anand Parbat was acquired by the military. This acquisition was in two lots – in 1914, at Rs 40 per acre, and in 1919, at Rs 50 per acre.

The third major acquisition occurred around 1947-48, after Partition, when refugees were settled in what are now Patel Nagar and Baljit Nagar.

The DDA flats of New Ranjit Nagar (on your right as you approach Studio Safdar) were built on agricultural lands acquired in the mid-1960s. These were leased to people who were relocated from Paharganj and Old Delhi. There was a clustering of specific communities in each block – Dalit, Jatav, Gihara, Khatik, Valmiki, safai karamcharis, plumbers, painters and other artisans. Later the flats were made freehold, resold, and now many residents are not the original allotees. Today, people from many communities live here – Punjabis, Malayalis, and others.

The State as Employer

The State provided employment to residents of Shadipur and Khampur through several large institutions. The Pusa Institute (IARI) came up in the 1930s. The Delhi Transport Undertaking (later Corporation, after 1971) established its depot at Shadipur on 4.4 acres of land in 1956. The Delhi Milk Scheme was established in 1959.The water supply plant came up around the same time. Several private banks set up branches in Patel Nagar and adjoining areas through the 1950s and later. Many of these banks offered jobs to people who made large deposits. Since many residents of Shadipur and Khampur had got compensation for the lands acquired by the government (especially for Pusa), many of them were able to avail of this offer. After the nationalization of banks in 1969, these became government jobs.

When the State Turns Aggressor

The Turkman Gate Firing

The (unofficial) parking lot just outside Studio Safdar is called ‘biyaasi number’. And thereby hangs a tale.

The Emergency is remembered for many atrocities, among them the effort to ‘clean up’ Delhi. Perhaps the most notorious incident of that time is the Turkman Gate firing of April 18, 1976. The Muslim population that was thus displaced was relocated to what are now known as the XYZ blocks. These were small one or one and a half room flats. The earliest residents were working people of humble means, who remained connected to Old Delhi through myriad links – employment, education, business, family, social networks, etc. The DTC route number 82 that plied between Jama Masjid and New Ranjit Nagar was begun to cater to their needs. The bus doesn’t ply any more, but the name remains.

Many flats of XYZ block have been resold. In many instances two or more adjacent flats have been bought by the same person and converted into bigger apartments.

The 1984 riots

Guru Nanak Nagar is a Sikh-dominated locality. There was some violence against Sikhs in this area in 1984, though no one was killed. Residents claim that subsequently, some families moved out. Walls and gates around Guru Nanak Nagar also came up at this time.


There has been a steady change in the manner and extent of how festivals have been observed. Eid remains the main festival for the Muslims, and some also observe Muharram.

Among Hindus, some festivals like Bhai Dooj and Karva Chauth have been adopted as an imitation of other communities and regions. Some residents feel that in the old days different communities celebrated festivals separately, but now there is more togetherness. Earlier, festivals were simple affairs, since people didn’t have so much money.

Holi was an important festival. In Khampur the nagada played for a whole month before the burning of Holika. There was singing and swaang performed by the village youth. The boundary of the village was marked with gangajal and milk. In Shadipur, the nagada, jhanjh and ghantis were sounded to gather people for Holi at the badi (big) and chhoti (small) chaupal. An old man, Dada Sube, would beat the nagada to gather people. One of the chaupals has a banyan tree which, locals claim, is 200 years old.

Colour was used only after 1950s. Earlier people played with mud, cowdung, ash.

Teej had more playfulness and participation. There were many more swings. Now, this festival has declined in importance.

For Dussehra, in the old days, people went to Regharpura or Ramlila Maidan. Now there are many places where the locals put up effigies of Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhkarna.

Some communities worship goddess Durga (Sanjhi Mai) during navratras. Traditionally the Sanjhi figurine was made by moulding stars, face, hands, feet and ornaments with clay which were fixed on the wall with cow dung. Young girls went to each house, sang songs of worship and were given money and savouries. This practice has changed now. Girls do not go to each other’s houses and the Sanjhi is made of paper.

Weddings and Marriages

There is no intermarriage within Khampur or within Shadipur. Marriages were usually arranged through the barber, who would have knowledge of the entire biradari. The match (rishta) was fixed for one rupee. In the old days, brides did not dress up ostentatiously, nor did they wear the mangalsutra or use sindoor or bindi. The bride would have her hands hennaed and haldi paste put on the body. The sign of a married woman was a hasuli around her neck and bangles on her wrists and purda till the chest. Today, purda means covering the head.

Shadipur has a small shrine called the Bhumiya, dedicated to a figure that appears to be a village god. At Hindu weddings, seeking blessings from Baba Bhumiya is still common. Jat families distribute wedding laddoos in a brass plate called the ‘badi paraat’.

Many families still worship the plough during weddings.


In the days before Partition there were many big and small wells used by different communities. Nearly all the wells have been filled in or built over. Some had sweet clean water and were called ‘bharnakua’. Shadipur had at least four big sweet water wells which, according to some, was the reason why this place was chosen for the IARI. The one that survives has been covered with an iron grill after someone committed suicide in it. This well is still worshipped at weddings and the birth of a male child.

There were some wells in the fields and some in the village itself, which were used for irrigation and washing. Across Patel Road, behind the present Punjab National Bank, was a joharh near a pipal tree, which still stands. That area was non-arable land. The hard, brackish water was used for cattle. The Valmiki community used this water as they were not allowed to climb the steps of the village sweet water well.

The watering well (panghat) of Khampur is located behind what is now the police station, and water was drawn using bullocks. There were wells of brackish water (used for watering) in the fields. These have been filled and closed now.

For drinking water, like in most of Delhi, hand pumps gradually replaced wells. The municipal water supply came in the 1960s.

Dress, Utensils, Jewellery and Ornaments

In Shadipur and Khampur, women traditionally wore ghaghra and kurti, which changed to saris and salwar kameez. The men usually wore dhoti and shirt.

Many families still have bronze and brass utensils. Some have old wooden boxes and brass tanks that hold up to 100 kilos of wheat, as well as agricultural implements and tools like geti (pickaxe), phawda and hasiya (sickle).

Women have traditional jewellery passed down for generations. Nevari,chalkade,tul-hasaliandkanthi are some of them. One woman has the ghaghra she wore with tulals (silver ornaments worn in the feet). These, however, were heavy and made walking difficult.

Places that No Longer Exist

Music workshop

Raj Musicals, a shop in Khampur on Patel Road, selling a variety of instruments, opened 8 years ago. About fifty years ago, the founder of the shop ran a workshop in the Chaupalwali Gali, where sitars and sarods were made. The older residents remember the big dried pumpkins that came in tempos. This workshop probably supplied instruments to Rikhiram and Sons, the old music shop in Connaught Place.

Pandit ki chai ki dukan (Parmeshvari Halvai)

A corner halvai cum tea shop opened in the mid-1950, run by one Parmeshvari Das, from the village Rai Mehatpur from erstwhile Punjab, now Himachal Pradesh. It did brisk business, serving tea and snacks, and was especially famous for its bread pakoras and samosas. The shop also sold barfi, laddu, lassi and Campa Cola. There were stools and a ‘thada’. The halvai sat in front of the kadhai holding a hanging chain from the ceiling. The old owner sold it and went back to Punjab.

Prabhu Pandit Kirana

A shop near Khampur Chaupal, it was a provision store owned by Pandit Prabhu Dayal. After the death of his married daughter, he adopted his brother’s elder son, Kailash. This building no longer exists. A new structure has come up in its place. Interestingly, the new building also has a provision store, as well as a small printing press.

Gainda ki Dukan

At the corner of the Chaupal Wali Gali in Khampur, this was a tea shop. The owner, Gainda Mal, also supplied milk to people’s homes. The shop was close to an MCD compound (or ‘phatak’, as it was locally known) for stray animals. The MCD office exists today, but not the phatak.

Mehenga Ram ki Dukan

This was the lone vegetable shop in Khampur, owned by Mehenga Ram. A man utterly untrue to his name, Mehenga Ram is remembered as a generous, large hearted person, who would often give away more than the customer had paid for. His wife Satya, who managed the shop with him, was more business-like. The building no longer exists; a couple of beauty parlours now run where Mehenga Ram once sold his wares.

Langde ki Dukan

Owned by Ram Prasad who used a crutch to walk, the shop was in the Mandir Wali Gali. His family now own a number of shops and establishments in the Mandir Wali Gali, which is now the wholesale market for neighbouring colonies. Earlier, the Shadipur Main Bazar (on the road parallel to Mandir Wali Gali) was the primary market for the area.

Buildings crumble and turn to ruins. Plants and trees sprout up through walls, untended and unregulated, and become monuments of a different kind!

Relaxation and Entertainment

In the old days, leisure was rare, entertainment a luxury. People worked in their spare time, and in the agricultural lean season. Men wove charpais and chaukis, women spun the wheel. The raw ‘saani’ and cotton were bought from Regharpura and the sorting, twisting done by hand at home. Women spun yarn and weavers came to collect yarn to make rough sheets, khes.

As Tirupati Devi, put it: ‘In the morning men went to the fields. Later, women would follow and take food for men. Women too worked in the fields and come back after collecting fodder for the cattle. Men came back in the afternoon, to eat, and rest. Towards evening they would again go to the fields. Later, men would sit in the chaupal, weaving charpais. This was followed by dinner and sleep.’ Leisure too had to be productive – except, of course, smoking a hukka!

Children, of course, found ways to entertain themselves – they played ‘attha changey’, marbles, ‘chhuppan-chhuppai’, dhappa, and ball games.

The Tapestry of Lives

Joginder Singh Rohilla’s (64 yrs) grandfather and father were agriculturists. They are a Rajput family, claiming descent from Prithviraj Chauhan’s grandfather. They had extensive lands around Khampur, which were acquired by the government over time. His father, Chowdhary Bhanwar Singh, was orphaned young, so he worked in the fields. He was brought up by an older woman in the family, and later became a Nambardar. One of Mr Rohilla’s uncles was employed in DTC and another in a nationalized bank. Mr Rohilla was in UCO bank and took voluntary retirement ten years ago. His grandfather made the Arya Samaj Mandir where Mr Rohilla now runs a school. He remembers that the village had a kumhar (potter) who got clay from the fields. One of them still sells his wares near the temple. There were no shops in Khampur. Men walked to Regharpura to buy household supplies and groceries. Shops opened in this area only after Partition. The first shop, Gaba Tent House, has long since shifted premises.

Tirupati Devi (about 85 yrs), Joginder Singh Rohilla’s mother, is from Soojra village near Baghpat. Married at 15, she came to the village a year later. As her parents-in-law had expired before her marriage, she looked after her husband’s younger brothers. She helped in the farming, cutting crops and winnowing. Wheat was the main crop. The cow in their house was milked three times a day. Her husband took great pains in getting fodder for the cow and caring for her. In the morning he worshipped the cow and touched her feet.

As in her paternal village, in Khampur, jaggery, bura and shakkar were eaten regularly. Sweets like khoye ke laddu and Khampur’s speciality ganne ki kheer were made at home. Choorma made by her was a favourite. Jalebi was made on special occasions. Till 1976 food was cooked on fire using cow dung cakes and wood. In 1980 when her granddaughter was born they took a gas connection because the government had put a restriction on cattle rearing. However, she says, ‘Gas ka khana kha ke gas bane hai’ (‘Food cooked on gas produces gas in the stomach’).

She saw a film 25-30 ago with her brother-in-law and his wife at Natraj cinema.

Raj Kumar Gautam’s (62 yrs) grandfather was originally from Jalalpur, Bulandshahr. He came to Delhi about 85 years ago, and began to ply the hand riksha in Turkman Gate. Mr Gautam’s father was active in the Republican Party of India and rose to leadership position. He took part in the jail bharo andolan of the RPI in 1964. He was ill for many years, so Mr Gautam could not study beyond class 9 and brought up his five younger siblings. Later his father had a handmade chappal factory in the house in which the family worked. Owing to lack of space in their house, Mr Gautam came to New Ranjeet Nagar in 1979 and shifted to Shadipur in 1987. He set up a handmade chappal factory, a craft he had learnt from his father. He made his own designs that resembled the Kolhapuri chappal. Except the heel, the chappal was made of pure leather, procured from Karol Bagh. The artisans were given raw material as well as the design. These were contract workers who lived and worked at his factory. They come from Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand as young children, and were taught by Mr Gautam. Typically, it took two years for them to master the craft and start earning enough to send back home. His workers often left for better prospects as handwork gets paid less.

Mr Gautam’s wife was a homemaker, who passed away a few years ago. He has two sons and two daughters, who are all college educated. He is an activist of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Dr Tauzeehuddin Siddiqui (56 yrs) started the Bharat Ekta Manch to inspire the youth to spread awareness. He feels that there is a need to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. His wife Khushnuma Begum (44) contested an election a year back. Though she lost, neither are disheartened and take pride that they did not use unfair means to win. He is campaigning against liquor shops and wants to ban all the shops in this area.

His clinic has a small medical store next to his room; a small dental clinic, a big room for meetings; and a small library. ‘I can very proudly say that I am the cheapest doctor available today, I charge only Rs 20 from my patients and sometimes I don’t take any money at all.’

Qamar Khan (52 yrs) spent his childhood doing hard work. He had to drop out of school due to financial constraints, but resolved to provide good education to his children and let them live their own way. Today, his three daughters are well educated and have good jobs. He doesn’t believe in giving or taking dowry. ‘I don’t force my daughters to cover their head and never tell them what to wear and what not to’ he says. His daughters have continued working after marriage.

Aleem Akhtar (48 yrs) is from a cultured family which gave importance to education.His uncle was the editor of Dawat Akhbar, which played an important role during the freedom struggle. His uncle was editor of Madeena printed by his father. Sir Saiyyad Ahmed Khan, Munshi Premchand and Saadat Hasan Manto wrote for this paper.

Mr Akhtar worked in the day to support his evening college and graduated from Zakir Hussain College. He promoted education from his student days and taught people without any charge, since taleem (education), according to him, is critical. Today he looks after the administration of the local madarsa where elementary or modern education is provided to children and even adults. He speaks with passion about today’s education system. ‘There are many flaws and corruption in our education system. Grade system is not a good idea. You can’t fail any child till 8th standard; this way we are actually making it difficult for the student to pursue studies further. Today, it has become worse. Coaching system, tuition culture all this have spoiled students. Teachers do not take initiative.’

Mesro Devi (about 90 yrs) lives in the Valmiki Basti of Khampur. Her paternal family is originally from Narela. Her father was in the British service as ‘jharu ka kaam’ and posted in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, where she grew up but did not learn Marathi. Her brother is settled there. She was married at 12 in the early 1940s and her gauna when she was 16 or 17. She has five sons and three daughters and many grandchildren. Her children went to the local MCD school, which was in tents. He sons got scholarship (vazifa) of Rs 25 per month. All her sons and their wives are safai karmacharis in various government institutions.

When she came to the village as a young bride, there were only jhonpris (huts), no pucca houses. The basti was ‘chaar ghar, dangar, dhor, phatak’. The village had only a couple of small shops. ‘Dil nahi lagta tha. Shehar se aayi thi dil kya lagega? Baljit Nagar meni murda jaltaa tha. Kali pahari thi’ (‘I didn’t feel at home. I was from a city, how could I feel at home here? Corpses were burnt in Baljeet Nagar. There was a black hillock here’). She walked to Regharpura for clothes, groceries, etc. Wheat was 20 kilos for a rupee. It took her a while to get used to the chulha, which used wood or cowdung in the summer and coal in the winter. Earlier, they used kerosene lamps for light. Electricity came in 1970. Her husband worked in Pusa at Rs. 4 per month. Her in-laws worked in people’s homes. She also worked in Ramjas School, where she had a room. This was possibly after her husband’s death, about 45 years ago, which left her inconsolable.

In the late 1960s Mesro remembers going on a pleasure trip to Bombay with her cousins.

Kartari Devi (about 76 yrs)is from Naraina village. Married around 1950-51 at 12-13 years, she had her gouna at 17. She worked in the fields, tended to cattle, getting water from the ‘dogarh’, did housework and brought up children. The men worked in the fields. Kartari cooked on a chulha and took food to the fields for lunch. They had one servant, Sobey, a Muslim from western UP. His utensils were separate.

The family made one kilo of ghee daily which was kept in a big martabaan. They did not sell ghee or milk. Her mother-in-law used the tarazu to weigh the wheat from the harvest at home. She did purda in her father’s house and after marriage. Now women only cover their heads with a dupatta.

There were very few shops in Khampur: Prabhu Pandit Kirana; Parmeshvari Halvai (a Punjabi ‘outsider’) who sold all sorts of things; Gainda ki Dukan; Mehenga Ram ki Dukan. The nearest doctor was in Patel Nagar. Her husband went to the Regharpura for household supplies once a week. Itinerant cloth sellers came to the village. Theirs was the first house in the village to get a water connection. They also had proper a bathroom and latrines. They got a telephone connection (no. 58554) in the early 1960s. They had a radio, which the villagers would come to listen to. The TV came in the late 1970s, on which she would watch Chitrahaar. She rarely went out in the family car, and she has never travelled by train.

She remembers Jawaralal Nehru and Indira Gandhi coming to Moti Nagar. Her husband, Phool Singh Chauhan, was in the Jan Sangh and had met Dr Zakir Hussain. She says, ‘Ve to shoukeen thei sab cheezon ke. Bahar ghumte, hammara number ghumney ka aata nahin tha. Coffee peene CP jaate thei.’ (‘He was fond of the good things in life. He was always out, but never took me. He would go to Connaught Place to drink coffee.’) He would get ice-cream for the kids at midnight. He rarely fought with anyone. Her children went to Springdales School, Pusa Road.

Kehar Singh (77 yrs) came to Guru Nanak Nagar in 1958, when it was known as Khampur ki Abadi. Originally from Nawanshahr (now Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar) in Punjab, he lived in Feroz Manzil (Rohthak Road). His father worked in the municipal corporation. Kehar Singh worked in the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and retired in 1994. He rode a bicycle to his office in Bikaner House. If the whole family had to travel, they used public transport.

His four brothers were employed in government services. Their children are either into business or are settled outside India. He has two sons. The elder son is working in France (but his wife and children live with Kehar Singh). The younger son stays with him and is into business.

His family got the land on lease. The one-room mud house with a veranda was home to seven family members. There was a small public well near their house (kuee), but they used their own hand pump. Their family was among the first to get electricity and a water connection. They had one buffalo till 1978. There was no sewage system. Manual scavenging was common. Tarred roads were built in 1962.

Their house was affected in the 1984 riots. His younger son cut his hair; the elder one, in Germany, had done so earlier. Many Sikhs left the area, and walls and gates came up.

Chanderbhan (74 yrs) was born in Shadipur, studied in the school in the ‘badi chaupal’ and worked in the accounts department of the Delhi Milk Scheme. His son Sushil Yadav now runs the DMS booth opposite May Day.

Chanderbhan’s grandfather was from Chandpur, Ulheri, Rajasthan and worked in the British PWD. He came to the temporary settlement near a ‘pucca hauz’ (now Rajinder Nagar R block) about 150 years ago. That settlement moved to what is now Shadipur. His grandfather did not own any land. Shadipur had five or six broad streets (galis) which have become narrow when houses were built in the 1950s. The village temple (Kale Pahar ka Mandir) was in the forests (present-day Patel Nagar) that belonged to the village. It was nearly bulldozed, but has been re-built by the residents of Patel Nagar.

Shanti Devi belongs to the gihara community (‘ghar+hara’: without homes). They originally worked for the king in Nasirabad near Ajmer as house painters, cooks and household workers. With the expansion of the empire there were many invasions and battles. To escape this insecurity they fled to other regions. Many came and settled in what are now Paharganj, Uttam Nagar and Inderpuri. Traditionally, they are house painters. Many continue this profession, but many like her sons have moved into diverse jobs.

Shanti Devi’s family shifted from Paharganj to B block New Ranjeet Nagar in 1973, along with 150 other gihara families. Her parents’ home is in Indore. Her husband is from Nasirabad.

In the early 1970s this area was semi-rural. There was one public water tap for all. There were few shops and no health services. Houses had electricity, but no street lighting, so people rarely went out after dark. There was a DMS booth, a government school and a subzi mandi, which was demolished by the MCD. People went to Sadar Bazaar for household shopping. The weekly Saturday market existed, but has expanded in the past few years. The influx of different communities has impacted on the kinds of goods and vegetables being sold – now green drumsticks are sold to cater to those from south India.

Giharas have a community panchayat. Shanti Devi’s husband’s elder brother was the sarpanch. After his death her son became the sarpanch. The Gihara Samaj Shobha Yatra was begun in Jawaharlal Nehru’s time. The yatra originates at Allahabad and goes through Paharganj, Shadipur, Inderpuri, Uttam Nagar, Palam, etc., and ends in Raghubir Nagar.

Pradeep Bhuiyan is from Nadafpur, Cuttak, Odisha, and has been in Delhi for 2 or 3 years. He manages Jagannath Hotel along with his younger brother. This eatery in Khampur is a verandah converted into a room. It seats 12, with a kitchen on one side. Pradeep’s brother-in-law, who is in service, began the eatery a decade ago. It caters to Oriya people – families and bachelors – and others. The materials are bought from a wholesale shop. Over the years the menu has not changed. The workers are usually from Odisha.

New Residents, New Homes

Over the past two decades, people from several parts of India have moved into this neighbourhood. Some have made Delhi their permanent home. Amongst them are, for instance, many Malayalis and Oriyas, who are employed in private and government offices, banks, hospitals, etc. Many young men also share rooms while they prepare for competitive examinations, or move from job to job in the health and service sectors.

Then there are the poorer migrants, among them cycle rickshaw drivers and domestic workers. Very few of them are natives of Delhi. Most rickshaw walas who stand outside Studio Safdar are from Uttar Pradesh, and many are from a cluster of villages around Lucknow, Rai Bareli and Behraich, some are from Bihar, and one is even from Maharashtra. Typically, they go home once a year. Many of them do not take rooms on rent in Delhi, saving that bit of precious money. Some have bank accounts, which their families back home can access. Others use informal channels (friends, relatives) to transfer money.

Landmarks Old and New

Perhaps the best known landmark associated with Shadipur is the DTC depot, which dates to the mid-1950s.

Over the past few years, new landmarks have come up. The old Satyam Cinema at Patel Nagar (opened in the 1980s) became a 4-screen multiplex in 2002. The Shadipur station on the blue line of the Delhi Metro was opened on December 31, 2005.


These are excerpts from the 2012-13 Shadi Khampur Neighbourhood Museum exhibition.

A collaborative project of Jana Natya Manch and Ambedkar University, Centre for Community Knowledge, the exhibition brought to the fore complex and layered histories of the our city through fascinating narratives, everyday objects, photographic prints, artefacts, audio playback, video recordings, and provocative stories from this West Delhi colony that emerged through a myriad of events in the past and continues to grow. The exhibition was curated by Surajit Sarkar (Ambedkar University) and Sundhanva Deshpande (Jana Natya Manch) and designed by Prachi Mittal.

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