Heritage under your nose: Observations from Nathupur Village, Gurgaon

My first few visits to Nathupur village were way back in 2004-05 when we drove there all the way often to eat at Italiano’s. At the time, I recognized that this urban village adjacent to posh DLF Phase 3 had the potential to be for Gurgaon what Hauz Khas village is for Delhi today, a place full of boutique shops and eateries, an exotic locale with an earthy feel. I did not know then what lay inside.

In a few years, DLF Cyber City mushroomed in the vicinity. Along with the millions of square feet of office space, came a demand for residences for low-income workers who did not have the options of commuting from afar and Nathupur (along with Sikanderpur and Chakkarpur) became the default absorbers of this burgeoning population of migrants coming in to tap this new opportunity for work.

My later visits to Nathupur were more related to this new economic reality. At one point, we tried to look for office space here for Minerva in a bid to be located closer to some of our clients. At another point, I had a frustrating encounter with a placement agency for domestic help located here. I then perceived Nathupur as a messy warren of human habitation, dense and disorganized.

Today, as I explored Nathupur in the company of team members from Agrasar, an NGO working to assist migrants in Gurgaon, these disparate perceptions came together in a climactic realization of Nathupur as a hapless victim of rapid urbanization and changing realities. In the part of the village where we conducted our community interactions today, I saw strewn many stately old havelis, rock solid and beautiful. I saw proud villagers inhabit old homes fashioned in a colonial style. I also saw the old homes half knocked down, making way for higher builder-style construction that would house migrant families, shops and businesses. Amid the buffalo-ridden lanes of this clearly old village, change was evident. The few who are clinging on to their old life of open space and rural habits (we saw women drying grain in the sun, men smoking hookahs and chatting) would be eventually outnumbered. But for now, these older homes in the context of rapid change seem like moments snatched out of a tornado of sweeping transformation.

I am wondering if it would be possible to preserve some of this older lifestyle and architecture. Some sort of adaptive re-use perhaps?

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About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on March 1, 2013, in Travel & Experiences and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I hope these beautiful old homes are preserved… something like Hauz Khas Village sounds like a practical, possible solution.

    • Yes. But in the face of rapid urban expansion and a complete obsession for western aesthetics, glitz and glamor it’s hard to hope. Think DLF. Then try and think heritage conservation. You get my point I am sure!

  2. I remember Nathupur for Dee’s biryani’s n Italiano!! way back in 2000 when we were doing live project with Pepsico

  3. It’s always so sad when the old is thrown out to make way for the new, buildings and customs. I understand change is inevitable, but history is key as well.

  4. Those blue pillars, of those blue pillars.

    We Indians don’t really appreciate our heritage. I may sound cynical, but until you get a bunch of foreigners to write about preserving heritage and the potential of Nathupur as another Hauz Khas, nobody will be interested.

    • Cynical, yes. True, yes. Feel helpless…more importantly I think the villagers themselves cannot appreciate the heritage in the face of the sheer value of the land that they can leverage. I will interview someone I met who has refused to bring down his traditional home though, or take in tenants for that matter! Quite a case study!

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