MAGIC CHARM OF MALLS
fnbworld Bureau/Jaya Verma
All photos by the author/Copyright: RIM Inc.
Gone are the days when we would hunt around for various shopping markets and fancy boutiques from one place in the city to the other far end. Times have changed rapidly and almost all our needs to shop, eat, relax, watch movies and meet friends – are now catered under one roof. Welcome to the era of malls.
Just like street bazaars, malls are modern indoor version of a marketplace with cleaner environment, good ambience and a lot of shopping options. As said by Bill Bryson - “We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls.” It is true that shopping malls are becoming the new temple for people. There are a myriad malls and shopping complexes proliferating in every nook and cranny of the city making it difficult for people to decide where to go. I decided to visit two leading shopping malls in the NCR - Ambience, Gurgaon and Select Citywalk, Saket and compared them in most ways to get a new perspective. What sets these malls apart are the new luxurious options made available to the visitors.
Located on the NH-8 Highway right at the Delhi-Gurgaon border, the Ambience Mall is said to be the largest mall in India, covering approximately 1 km radius. The mall was established in April, 2008 and it gained tremendous popularity in a short span of time due to its location in Gurgaon - being an IT hub for professionals from all over the country.
On the other hand, Select Citywalk is located in the heart of South Delhi. It is a comparatively smaller shopping mall than Ambience but has 4 acres of green area, an open-air plaza consisting of an amphitheatre, water features and trees! It opened to public in October, 2007 and within just a few years of its inception it has reached to a point of idolization.
Present day shopping malls are all escalatored, elevatored or both so there is not much walking to do. They don’t just cater to the shoppers per se; they, instead, seek out the choice of great restaurants, bakeries, entertainment, lounges and obviously branded showrooms of every imaginable commodity.
As I walked inside Ambience – a seven-storeyed mall, I was flabbergasted to see the plush interiors, the wide hallway and perfect use of lights. As the name suggests, it exudes a very pleasing aura that attracts a large number of people despite its far off location from Delhi. The mall’s proximity with international airport has paved a way for international brands like Marks & Spencer, Nautica, Armani, Next, Esprit, Diesel, Guess, Zara, Sephora etc. Ambience is a splendid mall which offers PVR Gold Class, a bowling alley- bu-O and has a newly built ice-skating rink called 'I-Skate' which has become a run-away hit among teens.
Select Citywalk, on the contrary, is built in a grand compound, housing two other malls. The view is breathtaking with such serenity. However, the mall's interior are quite congested with different activities going on in the hallway and the shops in between. One plus point about Select Citywalk is that it is compact even though it has three floors. Among the many brands it houses are: Forever 21, which is very famous among young girls. This mall is basically perfect for all the shopaholics. It too has PVR Gold Class but does not have any other permanent arrangements for entertainment as Ambience does. Air-conditioning in both the malls is just average and not very effective. When asked about the rental information of shops, shopkeepers were reluctant to share any information.
For people who have refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages, there are ample restaurants. From quick to fun to trendy to truly fine dining, one will definitely find something to tempt the palate. Some of the fine restaurants and cafes in Ambience include Indijoe, Punjab Grill, Asia 7, Fresco, Café Delhi Heights, Pot Pourri etc. Move over to bars, they have the excellent Underdogs Sports Bar and The Beer café. Also, their food court enthralls a handful of options such as Dosa Plaza, China Wall, Subway, Wok Express, Sbarro and so on. As far as Citywalk is concerned, their food court has lesser eating options. Other than that they cater at Geoffrey’s, where one can enjoy a lavish meal admist European interiors, Johnny Rockets, the famous burger joint, Mamagoto, a fusion food restaurants which offers mouth watering delicacies and many more. For the sweet tooth, there is a selection of confectioners and patisseries including Choko La and L’Opera. Both the malls have the best American global coffee house, Starbucks, for the coffee lovers.
For having child like fun, Ambience offers ‘Fun City’ with the greatest rides where children can hop, skip and jump where as Select Citywalk has ‘Hang Out’ for kids, which is a unique rainforest themed family entertainment center and café. Furthermore, foe people fond of books, there is Om Book Store and Reliance Timeout in Ambience and Crossword and Half Prize Book Store in Citywalk. Recently, adding to their specialties, Citywalk has come up with the concept of “hands-free shopping” where one can shop and the staff carries your bags for Rs. 60 an hour. Also, the mall presents Flea@Night from 4 -11pm on Wednesdays, which is more like a street-side shopping experience with great bargains. Ambience, on the other side, facilitates the Golf Cart service for travelling inside the big mall.
A visit to both the malls will leave you spellbound as there is so much to see and explore but they both are definitely in the ‘not-to-be-missed’ list if you happen to be in Delhi. The first time visitors will be left awestruck just by the sheer concept and uniqueness. So go ahead and enjoy these modern shopping havens and yet after hours of shopping return home almost fresh!