Daastan-e-Khas: A Peek into the Evolution of Hauz Khas Village

By Prerna Mehta - Apr 2015

In many Indian cities there are certain areas that have a long and rich cultural heritage. However, in the process of urbanisation, these areas often get encroached upon by modern development, and lose their essence. Historically, the primary focus of any city’s development has been creating new areas, modern facilities, and advanced infrastructure, Often, in this process, traditional areas are either left out or receive less attention towards urban development. Additionally, the advent of private vehicles has plagued the otherwise pedestrian friendly areas. This photo-essay is an attempt towards highlighting the potential of these distinctive areas and to showcase how a balance of tradition and modernity can be achieved.

Publish Date: 
Friday, April 10, 2015
  • Location: Hauz Khas Village, popularly known as HKV is located admist approximately 400 acres of lush green are
    Location: Hauz Khas Village, popularly known as HKV is located admist approximately 400 acres of lush green area. This green area houses a Deer Park, a District Park, with the ancient Hauz Khas lake, and a Rose Garden – which together form one of the largest green areas in Delhi, often referred to as Delhi’s “lungs”. The area is a historic habitation dating to well before the establishment of New Delhi as a city. Unlike other urban villages, by virtue of its setting, this village does not have a “phirni” (meaning peripheral road) demarcating the extended abadi (meaning habitation) area. The village is not in direct physical contact with any of the existing developments by virtue of its surroundings. Image Source – Google Earth
  • Connectivity: Presently, 18 mts sector road running east of the village connects to Sri Aurobindo Marg crossing
    Connectivity: Presently, 18 mts sector road running east of the village connects to Sri Aurobindo Marg crossing between Bhim Nagari, Hauz Khas enclave and Green Park Block K, L and M. The road connectivity within the village is good. The central spine of the village is tarred and other internal village roads are either concretised or paved. The existing street width varies from 0.6 mtrs to 10 mtrs and is sufficient for the movement of motorized vehicles. Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
  • History: Recorded history reveals that Hauz Khas, or the great (Khas) water tank (Hauz)was built by Ala-ud-Din-
    History: Recorded history reveals that Hauz Khas, or the great (Khas) water tank (Hauz)was built by Ala-ud-Din-Khilji at the end of the 13th century in order to provide water for his nearby Siri Fort. The village derives its name from this tank. In the 14th century, Emperor Firoz Shah Tughlaq repaired the damaged tank and built alongside it a series of buildings that were used as madrasas. These vast constructions had led to the displacement of a small community of Muslims, Jats and Harijans, who later returned to their original inhabitation after the fall of the sultanate. By the early 20th century, there were approximately 100 families, of which two-thirds were Muslim, living in these ancient monuments and earning their living by farming the surrounding lands. In 1913, the Archeological Survey of India, then under British rule, declared the monuments worthy of protection and forced the inhabitants to move outside the original walls of the complex. As compensation, they were given gold with which they built themselves a new village that is today known as Hauz Khas Village. Hence, the village construction, though a century old, is relatively quite new. Image Source – Google Earth
  • Urban Development: In 1986, the village housed a small population of 1500 inhabitants, spreading over 160 house
    Urban Development: In 1986, the village housed a small population of 1500 inhabitants, spreading over 160 houses, of which, more than half were kacha or semi-kacha. The people were engaged in agricultural activity. The area that is present day Deer Park right up to upto R.K. Puram Sector 3 was all farmland, where wheat and gram were cultivated in winter and bajra was cultivated in the summer. In the late 50s and 60s, the Delhi administration was buying up vast tracts of land in and around the city in order to cater to the massive influx of migrants into the city. The agricultural land was acquired by the Delhi Development Authority for planned development between 1960 up to the late 1980s, reducing the economic activity of the area to a printing press, a small manufacturing unit for washing machines, two export garment units and a marble godown. In addition, there were a few tea stalls, two small grocery shops, pan sellers, a flourmill and a washerman’s stand (source: Clothing matters: dress and identity of India, Emma Tarlo). Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
  • Gentrification: In the mid-1980s, Bina Ramani, a fashion designer stumbled upon this area in her quest for an a
    Gentrification: In the mid-1980s, Bina Ramani, a fashion designer stumbled upon this area in her quest for an affordable space for her workshop. This paved the way for other entreprenerus in the fashion industry to set up shops in the area, effecting a new era of gentrification. By virtue of its location, evolution, and gentrification, the Hauz Khas Village has today become one of the finest business hubs in the city. Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
  • Transformation: Bina Ramani brought with her a cohort of designers, artists, and others and, for about a decade
    Transformation: Bina Ramani brought with her a cohort of designers, artists, and others and, for about a decade and a half, it was this fraternity that defined the market. With turn of the millennium, a number of smaller artists and designers were pushed out by the rapid proliferation of art galleries, high-value curio shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes. This made Hauz Khas Village a popular place to hang out for people from various walks of life. Photo Credit - Alokeparna Sengupta
  • Marking a presence: In recent times, theme restaurants have become very popular and it became important for own
    Marking a presence: In recent times, theme restaurants have become very popular and it became important for owners to create strong identities to set themselves apart from the others. Elements became the most important aspect of declaring identity. Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
  • Identity through Murals: Wall murals are a common sight in HKV.
    Identity through Murals: Wall murals are a common sight in HKV. A great attempt at keeping the darkest corners of the village alive and vibrant. Photo Credit - Alokeparna Sengupta & Prerna Mehta
  • Rising real estate value: Limited land availability, coupled with increased development in and around the area,
    Rising real estate value: Limited land availability, coupled with increased development in and around the area, property prices began to soar. For the property owners, rental income was on a significant rise, prompting some owners to even quit their jobs! Their lifestyles began to change, they invested in swanky cars, better education and more property. The village saw a vertical development trend as well. The trend of living on rental incomes continues till date. Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
  • Motorisation: Vehicle ownership is now is very high in the village, and has brought with it the issue of parkin
    Motorisation: Vehicle ownership is now is very high in the village, and has brought with it the issue of parking. The organic setting of the village could admit two-wheelers deep inside the village, however, four-wheeler entry has restricted access. To overcome this issue, common parking lots were carved out for parking owners’ vehicles. Further, due to the extensive commercialisation of the village over the last few decades, these parking lots served the requirement for additional vehicles coming in to the village. Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
  • Pedestrianisation: Under an initiative by the tourism department, in partnership with the local government aut
    Pedestrianisation: Under an initiative by the tourism department, in partnership with the local government authorities and residents, the village was pedestrianised. Vehicles belonging to visitors are restricted entry into the village, and have to park outside. It is an excellent example of an entire village being converted into a pedestrian-only area. Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
  • Parking: The visitors parking lot at the entry of Hauz Khas Village. Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
    Parking: The visitors parking lot at the entry of Hauz Khas Village. Photo Credit - Prerna Mehta
  • Urban Village: Amidst a busy city, HKV is a calm urban village with unrestricted access to pedestrians.
    Urban Village: Amidst a busy city, HKV is a calm urban village with unrestricted access to pedestrians. Photo Credit – Kanika Jindal & Prerna Mehta
  • The Hauz Khas: The view of the Hauz Khas lake from one of the upper storeys of a building in the transformed ur
    The Hauz Khas: The view of the Hauz Khas lake from one of the upper storeys of a building in the transformed urban village. Photo Credit - Kanika Jindal

Subscribe to our mailing list

Register to receive news and announcements from WRI Cities Hub

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.