City Landmark – Loke Nath & Co, Connaught Place
CP’s early draft.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Once upon a time, it was a bustling tailoring establishment. Today, Loke Nath & Co is one of the most haunting showrooms in the colonial-era Connaught Place (CP). Entering the dimly lit store is like stepping into a different time.
The oddly situated staircase in the centre of the shop is particularly striking. It looks pregnant with some dramatic moment—as if Anna Karenina might come running down any moment now in great anguish.
This afternoon, the showroom, however, is sans any shopper. Some shelves are stacked with bundles of fabrics; others are bare. The handful staffers are huddled quietly towards the back wall.
With its tasteful interiors looking dream-like in semi-darkness, the shop exists like the souvenir of an earlier CP, which probably had more distinct character than its current version of coffee shop chains and branded outlets. Indeed, that old world can be sensed in the shop’s far corner. Black and white photographs of the shop’s pioneers hang above a poster of ‘Loke Nath & Co. General Drapers’—the flagship store founded in the hill-town of Shimla in the 1890s. The Delhi store opened in 1937.
Unused stamp seals are piled up picturesquely on a table, beside an old Godrej tijori.
As one of the rare surviving CP destinations that came due during the early days of the shopping district, Loke Nath used to be manned with a team of dedicated tailors. Politicians and bureaucrats had their clothes measured here. The uniform of the commissioner of Delhi Police would be ordered from this shop. In her book Climbing The Mango Trees: A Memoir Of Childhood In India, New York-based food writer Madhur Jaffrey talks of a “pale-blue herringbone-patterned woollen overcoat” she got from Loke Nath. The A Block landmark opens daily, but is closed on Sunday.
The past’s showroom