Nearly 70-year-old Polo View market, a fashionable shopping center for tourists and locals alike in the heart of the city, wears an unbelievably new look ahead of the G 20 meeting being held here next week.
Its paved roads, Chinar trees wrapped around with electric strands that illuminate at night and the Europe-like look has made it a center of attraction for the locals. The market located close to the Dal Lake and several important buildings like AIR, Doordarshan Kendra, Museum, etc, and lined with the high-end crafts shops and chic cafes is now an exclusively pedestrian market.
This market falls on the way to the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC), venue of the G 20 meeting of the Tourism working group. The meeting will finalize the agenda for the G-20 summit to be held in November in New Delhi.
The renovated Polo View Market has turned into a “selfie-point” with young and the old coming to relax here and click selfies for posting on social media.
Lt Governor Manoj Singh while inaugurating the market on Friday said: “Polo View in the heart of Srinagar has been transformed into a pedestrian-oriented high street that will attract more footfall, increase in retail sale, improve experience of visitors and it will make the area more liveable.”
Athar Aamir Khan, Commissioner of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and CEO of Srinagar Smart City, posted these pictures of the market on Twitter:
PoloView High Street-First completely pedestrian & wire free market in #Srinagar, getting ready to welcome you. Universal access, separate undergrnd sewerage & drainage networks,Underground electricity &comm. lines,facade improvmnt of buildings, public convenience all part of it. pic.twitter.com/mi4D7ScXTW— Athar Aamir Khan (@AtharAamirKhan) May 8, 2023
Sinha said it was “just the beginning,” and Srinagar will see more such measures that are part of the plan “to create facilities at par with other big cities of the country.”
“In coming days, Srinagar Smart City is developing similar markets in areas like Residency Road, Lal Chowk, and the old city,” he added.
Polo View has been renovated into an exclusively pedestrian market with due care taken of the iconic Chinar trees. An alternative road link has been developed on the rear side of the market along the Polo Ground. The completion of work and throwing open the market has brought much relief to the shopkeepers and ease to the customers.
“What I liked at the refurbished Polo View is that the base of the Chinars and other trees has not been covered”, wrote Yusuf Jameel, a senior journalist in his post on the Facebook. He pointed out that “covering at the base of a tree leads to its slow death”, a practice that had been followed in several cases earlier.
The post has received more than a hundred likes and dozens of comments. Responding to the post, Abdul Rahman Wani, another netizen stated: “Unfortunately all previous plans were ill-conceived, motivated by financial interests and hence short-lived. People generally have no good impression of various engineering works undertaken by the concerned departments because of very poor and sub-standard material used and very ordinary workmanship during the last so many decades”.
Though the reconstruction process since early last year has been troublesome for the business community, the shopkeepers have welcomed the face-lifting of the market.
“The new look has been liked by the locals and we are getting a positive response from the tourists”, said a shopkeeper in the market. “The footfall of local shoppers has increased and we are hopeful that the footfall of tourists and other shoppers will increase further during the coming months”, said another shopkeeper.
“We are happy that this market has got a new face….it is nice and people are happy”, said a senior shopkeeper hoping that the issue of parking facilities for the market would be addressed soon.
Like Delhi’s Connaught Place or Chandni Chowk markets, the majestic Polo View market in the heart of Srinagar city has earned its name and fame, particularly among the tourists to the valley. The market with 35 shops had been carved out of the Polo Ground in 1954, under a rehabilitation plan after a number of shops in the nearby Lambert Lane on Residency Road were damaged in a fire incident. The number of shops has grown to over 50, which fall on the two sides of the Polo View Lane, which include many retail shops of Kashmir arts.
The SKICC, venue of the forthcoming event on the banks of Dal lake, a well-maintained complex is undergoing final touches to match the international standards for the event The authorities had already set a deadline of May 15 for completion of the works and beautification on roads from the airport, leading to the SKICC, adjoining Mughal Gardens of tourist importance, Dal lake surroundings and the tourist destination of Gulmarg, 50 kms North of Srinagar. Earlier the deadline for completion of these works was April 15, which was later extended in view of the previous winter, slowing down the pace of work and subsequent erratic weather during the past two months.
The venue is getting a festive look with polishing of the interior surfaces and the tracks along the lawns in the backyard of the complex overlooking the Dal lake. The shikaras and houseboats, vital constituents of the lake around, are also to add to the colour of the event, with at least 160 shikaras to be illuminated on the occasion.
About 15 km-long road from Sheikh-ul Alam International Airport to the SKICC has also been decked with black topping on its major portion, replacement of old cement electric poles by fresh silver colour metallic poles, illuminated with glittering colourful lights during nights.
The footpaths along the road have been refurbished and different walls and space under the flyovers at by-pass Hyderpora and Jehangir Chowk have been painted afresh. The police and security forces have also been taking extra measures to ensure smooth and un hindered movement of traffic on the road.