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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Gurgaon

Gurgaon, a town on the southwest fringe of Delhi, was modestly famous in the 1920s, when a British civil servant named Brayne developed a rural-development program known as the Gurgaon Experiment. Today, Gurgaon is booming, but not because of rural development. The town is on the far side of Delhi's airport and has become an industrial and corporate center.

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The agent of change is probably the Delhi Land and Finance Company, controlled primarily by K.P. Singh and known simply as DLF.  Here's its Gateway Tower.

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Here's its less-than-deftly-named Square Tower.  Lessees, however, are plenty deft: they include Nestle, Lucent, IBM, Deutsche Bank, and Citibank.

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Here's Plaza Tower; lessees include British Air, EDS, GlaxoSmithKline, IMB, Dupont, and McKinsey.

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Highrise apartments have moved to Gurgaon, too.  DLF has built some, but this group is Essel Towers, a project of the phenomenally successful Zee TV.

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Here's a low-rise apartment project built by Unitech; it's called Heritage City, although "heritage" here means as little as it does in the patter of promoters anywhere.

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There are single-family houses, too.

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Consumer demand is strong and attracts the usual players.

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This is DLF's Central Arcade--not up to global standards but glitzy by national ones.

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On the periphery, Gurgaon has developments with a more typically Indian--which is to say chaotic--look.

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Construction methods remain fiercely traditional.

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Scaffolding, too.

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Still, those methods work. Don't believe us? Stop by and see us.

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Does anyone think that Old Gurgoan survives? It does, sort of. Here's the old town-center park.

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It faces a street that's wide but not up to the town's new image.

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Informal shops settle in where they can.

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Behind a wall, a British-era bungalow survives, probably housing a government officer. Not bad, eh?

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A bungalow from circa 1960, as if to prove that things don't necessarily get better with the passage of time.

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Here, in the old British administrative district, is the Church of the Epiphany, consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta in 1866.

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The interior is surprisingly shy of the plaques on which the British typically allowed themselves a bit of emotion.

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Yes, indeed: clubs weren't just for British India's big cities.

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It's closed at the moment. Sorry.

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What else is old? How about some old private homes?

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Real-estate pressure is so intense that some have been subdivided and put into commercial use.

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Anyway, you can see for yourself. Take the Metro from Delhi right to Gurgaon. Here's the terminal station, looking like it's ready for interstellar travel.

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Once you get there, book an auto-rickshaw and take off.


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