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Posted at: Jul 12, 2019, 7:22 AM; last updated: Jul 12, 2019, 7:22 AM (IST)

Baljees’ closure signals changing face of Mall

Baljees’ closure signals changing face of Mall
Around 50 per cent of the shops on The Mall, Shimla, have either been rented out to big brands or converted into food joints.

Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, July 11

The shutdown of 65-year-old Baljees restaurant on the historic Mall here not only marks the closure of an eating joint, but also the end of an era, signalling another change in the face of Mall Road.

There was no decent restaurant on The Mall when Baljees was opened in 1954. Today, there are a large number of restaurants, bakeries and fastfood joints. The posh shopping centre has transformed into a cluster of modern showrooms of big brands, dotted by banks, eating joints and gift shops as the third generation shopkeepers are winding up their traditional businesses.

As rents of shops on the congested The Mall are sky-rocketing and returns from the traditional business are on a decline, the younger generations prefer to lease the premises or give it on rent to commercial establishments.

Some big brand is sure to come up in place of Baljees as the four-storey building has four independent entrances and location is enviable. The face of Mall Road is changing everyday and with the shutdown of Baljees, another landmark of Shimla will be replaced, says Dobby Dabar, owner of Shimla Billiards which came up in 1956.

Around 50 per cent of the shops have either been rented out to big brands or converted into food joints as the rent is more than the income from business, says president, Veopar Mandal, Shimla, Inderjeet Singh, adding that the big brands were renting showrooms to register their presence on The Mall.

“Old hardworking shopkeepers are shifting to soft business and many more shops will be renovated and rented out,” says RD Lal, running Lal and Sons near lift for the past 58 years.

There are more than three dozen banks and ATMs on the road and every third shop is a showroom. A new trend has emerged with international food chains occupying the upper storey. A large number of shops, particularly the handmade Chinese shoes, photographers, dry cleaners, daily needs shops and pan shops, have either closed or switched over to other business.

Barring a few places like Indian Coffee House (a favourite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi), GD Khanna and Sons, Beekays, Munshi Ram Nanak Chand, Shimla Billiards, Minerva Book House, Diwan Chand Atma Ram, Trishul Bakery (place changed), Gainda Mal Hem Raj, Khadi Gramodyog, Radhamal Bishan Dass, Maria Brothers, Nathu Ram and Son, Duli Chand and Sons, Lal and Sons and Embassy which stand out in the shadows of the past, a large number of traditional businesses have wound up.

However, Thomas Cook travel agent at 1-Commercial building on the entry of the road has been converted into City Point, Spencer grocery shop now houses Devicos, Janki Das and Company, reconstructed after a major fire is now Tanishq showroom, Friends Dry Cleaners into Blackberry showroom and Stylco is now a Sketchers showroom.

However, the unique pedestrian culture of The Mall with ban on vehicles remains unchanged and it is still the most happening place for taking a stroll and meeting acquaintances.


Some big brand will come up in place of Baljees as the four-storey building has four independent entrances and location is enviable. The face of Mall Road is changing everyday and with the shutdown of Baljees, another landmark of Shimla will be replaced — Dobby Dabar, owner of Shimla Billiards, which came up in 1956. 

Renting out a better option

The new face of The Mall is attributed to shrinking profit margins, increasing cost of inputs, unhealthy business competition and cumbersome procedure of maintaining accounts while renting out the premises has no such burden and “high returns and no work” is the attractive option.

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