|The entrance to Patna Market and (above) Bihar Tailoring Co., one of the old shops that has stood the test of time, at the market. Pictures by Jai Prakash
Patna, Jan. 6: Patna Market, once the favourite destination of city shoppers, today receives limited visitors, thanks to the mall boom in the state capital.
The old-world charm of the market is intact and so are some of the famous shops, which used to be bustling with shoppers barely a decade ago. Only the crowd is gone, drawn to swanky malls, shopping complexes and supermarkets, which offer variety and comfort at affordable cost.
The old-timers, who once were a fixture at the Patna Market, too, admit that it hardly caters to their new-age demands.
Nostalgia grips 60-year-old Sambhu Saran Shrivastava, a retired bank employee, as he remembers the days he spent in Patna Market with his friends. “In our youth (the late-60s), we only had the Patna Market. Neither was the city so congested nor was Patna a concrete jungle. The city had a lot more greenery. We could get everything we needed on that one long stretch of Ashok Rajpath.”
With changing times, needs have changed too. “Now, we get everything at our doorstep and we hardly miss shopping in Patna Market. Our lifestyle has changed and the shops in Patna Market are hardly able to meet our demands,” Shrivastava added.
Rajendra Prasad, a retired government teacher and BN College alumnus, has seen several popular joints at Patna Market close down over the past few years. He fondly remembers the crowd at Bharat Coffee House and Pinto Restaurant at a time when pizzas and chowmein held no ground. “Patna Market was the proud owner of the only dosa shop in entire Bihar — Bharat Coffee House — where you could get dosas for 12 anna. At Pinto, we got rasgullas for 1 anna. They were famous not only in the state but across the country. However, these shops could not keep pace with time and lost out to Chinese food and pizzas which flooded the market in the late 90s. People’s taste changed and these food joints closed down.”
Of Bharat Coffee House, Pustak Mahal Book Store, Trivedy Studio, Pinto Restaurant, Dresco Tailor, Novelty and Co. book store and Bihar Tailoring Co. — the landmarks of Patna in the 60s and 70s — only the last two have managed to stand their ground.
The owners of these shops said the ability to change with time saved them from obscurity. Sixty-nine-year-old Ranjeet Kumar is a second-generation owner of Bihar Tailoring Co. He said: “We made clothes for politicians, bureaucrats and judges in the 60s when this was the only market in the city. We were regarded as one of the best as we excelled in stitching the same designs which were popular in the metropolitan cities.”
Admitting that their business suffered with time, Ranjeet said: “The city began to expand and the roads started to become narrower. Life became so fast that people no more had any leisure time. Now, residents prefer readymade products and prefer malls than coming to Patna Market manoeuvring chaotic lanes.”