Best of Desi Deco in Shahjahanabad (Excluding Daryaganj)

The building stock in Old Delhi that we see along the streets and lanes throughout the old city, if it hasn’t been altered in recent decades, is mostly from the late-19th c and early-20th c. Among the buildings constructed in the early-20th c, there is an interesting variety of architectural styles used in the design of the buildings. Some use versions of colonial neoclassicism, some use a  hybrid form that mixes colonial architecture with elements from local haveli designs and late-Mughal architecture.

From the 1930s into the 1950s, among the popular styles employed were versions of  Art Deco architecture, which I am calling “Desi Deco”. Buildings in this style used Art Deco and/or Deco elements and modified them to suit their architectural needs, to create designs and motifsthat are indisputably Art Deco, but with modifications and changes from what could be considered “canonical” art deco, as seen in the famous deco residential buildings of Bombay (what itself is sometimes termed Indo-Deco) and Miami Beach, and very far from and in a completely different context from the iconic skyscraper deco of cities such as New York. It is to distinguish these altered and modified versions of Art Deco, altered not just in physical style and elements but also in their venue, scale, purpose and meaning, that I have labeled it Desi Deco, to highlight the “indigenized” nature of it.

While this Desi Deco style was used outside the walled city of Shahjahanabad as well during the 1930s-50s, specifically in the “western suburbs” of Old Delhi such as Sadar Bazaar and Karol Bagh, in this post I’m highlighting some of the examples I came across while exploring the different neighborhoods of Old Delhi. These are examples of buildings in the old city that were modified in the 1940s and 50s using desi deco. I have excluded the area of Daryaganj from this post, since there are too many examples of desi deco in the Daryaganj area, which I have covered separately. Enjoy!

The general sequence of examples goes from the northern areas of Old Delhi to the southern areas.

 

Along Nicholson Road, Kashmiri Gate Area

 

I’m starting with an example that could barely be labeled desi deco, but this is a good example of a “round cornered” building in Old Delhi

01 01 nicholson

01 02 nicholson

A legitimate desi deco example from Nicholson road

01 03 nicholson

01 04 nicholson

01 05 nicholson

A plain “regular” building from the period, with deco elements

01 06 nicholson

01 07 nicholson

01 08 nicholson

Deco elements and motifs mixed with plain colonial-style columns

01 09 nicholson

 

Along Ram Lal Chandhok Marg, Kashmiri Gate Area

 

02 01 kashmiri

02 02 kashmiri

02 03 kashmiri

02 04 kashmiri

 

Along Hamilton Road, Kashmiri Gate Area

 

03 01 hamilton

03 02 hamilton

03 03 hamilton

03 04 hamilton

03 05 hamilton

 

Along Chandni Chowk

 

I didn’t want to put this one up because it is proof of the horror that is having a multinational fast food chain outlet on Chandni Chowk road (there’s now one in Daryaganj too), but this cinema hall is an example of more “canonical” art deco on Chandni Chowk, the most important commercial road in Old Delhi

04 01 chandni

Commercial building along Chandni Chowk

04 02 chandni

04 03 chandni

04 04 chandni

I couldn’t resist putting this photo up, even though the only deco bit is the design on the door panels!

04 05 chandni

 

Town Hall Area

 

Deco motifs on the balconies

05 01 town hall

05 02 town hall

 

Katra Neel Area

 

This could be filed under the crazy desi deco decoration category!

06 01 katra neel

06 02 katra neel

I’m not sure that this example comes under deco, but the curved balconies are great!

06 03 katra neel

06 04 katra neel

 

Khari Baoli Area

 

06 05 khari

06 06 khari

06 07 khari

06 08 khari

06 09 khari

06 10 khari

06 11 khari

06 12 khari

More crazy desi deco decorations like in Katra Neel, above a more “traditional” haveli entrance

06 13 khari

06 14 khari

06 15 khari

 

Lal Kuan Area

 

07 01 lal kuan

07 02 lal kuan

07 03 lal kuan

07 04 lal kuan

07 05 lal kuan

07 06 lal kuan

07 07 lal kuan

07 08 lal kuan

07 09 lal kuan

07 10 lal kuan

07 11 lal kuan

07 12 lal kuan

07 13 lal kuanA more staid deco/modernist style along Lal Kuan Bazaar road

lal kuan deco extra

 

Ballimaran Area

 

The first photo is from 2009, and when I revisited the building in 2015 the screens had been removed

08 01 ballimaran

08 02 ballimaran

08 03 ballimaran

08 04 ballimaran

08 05 ballimaran

Deco elements and neo-Gothic arches

08 06 ballimaran

08 07 ballimaran

08 08 ballimaran

08 09 ballimaranAlong Ballimaran Gali

08 10 ballimaran

08 11 ballimaranA mosque with deco motifs in mosaic on the columns

08 12 ballimaran

 

Roshanpura Area

 

09 11 roshanpura

09 12 roshanpura

More crazy desi deco!

09 01 roshanpura

09 02 roshanpura

09 03 roshanpura

09 04 roshanpura

09 05 roshanpura

09 06 roshanpura

09 07 roshanpura

09 08 roshanpura

 

Dharampura Area

 

09 09 roshanpura

09 10 roshanpura

 

Along Esplanade Road

 

10 01 esplanade

10 02 esplanade

 

Along Chawri Bazaar Road

 

A commercial building named Raghu Ganj

11 01 chawri

11 02 chawri

11 03 chawri

11 04 chawri

11 05 chawri

11 06 chawri

11 07 chawri

11 08 chawri

 

Sita Ram Bazaar Road Area

 

12 01 sita ram

Deco elements on a doorway

12 02 sita ram

12 03 sita ram

12 04 sita ramDeco balconies

12 05 sita ram

12 06 sita ram

 

Churiwalan Gali Area

 

13 01 churiwalan

There are a lot of doorways in this style with deco motifs in mosaic

13 02 churiwalan

13 03 churiwalan

13 04 churiwalan

13 05 churiwalan

13 06 churiwalan

13 07 churiwalan

13 08 churiwalan

13 09 churiwalan

13 10 churiwalan

13 11 churiwalan

13 12 churiwalan

13 13 churiwalan

13 14 churiwalan

13 15 churiwalan

13 16 churiwalan

13 17 churiwalan

13 18 churiwalan

13 19 churiwalan

13 20 churiwalan

13 21 churiwalan

13 22 churiwalan

13 23 churiwalan

 

Around Jami Masjid

 

There are a few budget hotels around Jami Masjid that I feel are representative of a “post-deco” style that continued into the 1960s, which used heavily-altered deco elements and motifs in various innovative ways

13 24 churiwalan

13 25 churiwalan

13 26 churiwalan

13 27 churiwalan

 

Chitli Qabar Bazaar Road Area

 

Another “post-deco” example

14 01 chitli

More regular desi deco

14 02 chitli

14 03 chitli

14 04 chitliDeco door

14 05 chitli

14 06 chitli

4 thoughts on “Best of Desi Deco in Shahjahanabad (Excluding Daryaganj)

  1. Pingback: Daryaganj IV: South-East of Ansari Road | Sarson ke Khet

  2. Pingback: Daryaganj V: South-West of Ansari Road | Sarson ke Khet

  3. Pingback: Daryaganj VI: West of Ansari Road | Sarson ke Khet

  4. Pingback: Daryaganj III: North-East of Ansari Road | Sarson ke Khet

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