by Mibu Minami
Located in the heart of Chanyakapuri adjacent to the very posh shopping mall The Chanakya, this market won’t make much of an impression at first with its grey concrete facade and street food stalls alongside the complex. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if people wondered why such a building still stands in this part of Delhi. Personally, I think this mix of old and new, posh and “not so posh” is what makes Delhi so interesting. Some have compared this building to a “Cold War era tunnel” or a movie set where action hero’s are dragged into blind folded and taken down to the basement “laboratory”…imaginations can run wild as the market is also known as the “Russian Market”.
All stereotypes aside, this complex houses a variety of shops selling high quality leather jackets, fur and jewelry at reasonable prices.
Yashwant Market began as a shopping complex mainly selling to Russian speaking customers (Hence the real reason for the nickname “Russian Market”), and for over 50 years, vendors within the market have grown and adapted through many economic and social changes. These days, along with Russian speaking customers, the shops are usually filled with clientele from many different countries. It is a popular shopping place for many expatriates of Delhi as well.
As many newcomers will experience, getting around in Delhi requires assessing info through “word of mouth” (and MangoliMag is trying to be that source!) . Our co-founder Carla Maraday, a veteran expat of Delhi and adventurer at heart, invited me for a walk around the market and introduced me to her favorite shop owners.
Like so many, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the shop owners here and at the time of our visit in September, there were far fewer people in and around the complex compared to pre-Covid days and few shops remain shut with the shutters down, perhaps closed for good?
(Photo: Carla and Sandeep of Gift Emporium Shop no. 111)
However, despite the drop of tourists and local customers, the open shops seemed to be bouncing back and ready to entice you with the latest products.
What began as just a “walk around” the market ended up with us trying on one…oops, rather a variety of leather jackets, and I ended up carrying several new jackets home.
Let’s just say after six months of lockdown, it seems I really needed some “retail therapy.” I can’t wait to wear them during the cooler months.
(Photo: M Ahmed Fur Store Shop no 41)
If fur is your thing, several respectable traders deal in fur coats, shawls, and hats, and you should take the time and stop at Shop number 41. It’s located at the bottom left of the ramp. Ahmed the owner, will greet you with a smile and show you all his fur collection. Most products are manufactured in India, and once again, the prices are also very reasonable.
How businesses will survive through these difficult times is uncertain but having survived over 50 years, we hope that Yashwant Place Market and its shop owners will remain as strong and resilient as their concrete-clad facade.
Yashwant Place Market
(Due to Covid-19, opening hours may vary)