Pragati Maidan

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Pragati Maidan, Delhi Overview

The Pragati Maidan, on the Mathura Road in New Delhi, is a huge complex-cum-exhibition centre with a total exhibit area of 150 acres. Equipped with well-paved roads, lawns, gardens and eating outlets; Pragati Maidan, which literally means 'progress grounds', houses 16 vast and spacious halls in all and is the biggest exhibition centre that Delhi boasts of. The place hosts about 70 national and international exhibitions and conventions each year. 

The Pragati Maidan, which was built to celebrate 25 years of India's independence, technological progress and indigenous talent, is a living embodiment of the ‘Make In India’ concept and is undoubtedly an iconic structure. One of the most sought-after of these events is the Indian International Trade Fair (IITF), which also happens to be the largest event here, with an estimated footfall of 10,000 exhibitors and 30,00,000 visitors each year. Other prominent events that are held here include the World Book Fair, Delhi Book and Stationery Fair, Auto Expo, and the Delhi Jewellery and Gem Fair.

Other than the well developed and fully equipped complex, the Pragati Maidan also boasts of many attractions, such as The Son of India Pavilion, Defence Pavilion and a movie theatre named Shakuntalam. This and much more make the Pragati Maidan a famous tourist attraction. So the next time you visit Delhi, do not forget to check out the fantastic and informative exhibitions going on here.

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Of the prominent events held at Pragati Maidan, the most reputed ones are the Indian International Trade Fair, World Book Fair, Delhi Book and Stationery Fair, Auto Expo, AAHAR- International Food and Hospitality Fair, International Food and Drink Expo, and the Delhi Jewellery and Gem Fair.

The New Delhi World Book Fair that is hosted at Pragati Maidan is India's second oldest book fair. This annual event takes place in winters and is organised by the National Book Trust in association with ITPO. This book fair is a major event that attracts around 1 million visitors, including those from foreign countries such as USA, Bangladesh, France, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Germany. The Book Fair is not a mere exhibition of books but also includes other activities like book reviews, author interactions and book releases.

The IITF is a major tourist attraction that is visited by lakhs of people each year. This annual event, which takes place at Pragati Maidan from 14- 27 November, provides a common platform for manufacturers, traders, exporters and importers. A wide range of products and services, such as automobiles, garments, household appliances, kitchen appliances, cosmetics, toys, body care and health products are displayed during this fair.

Pragati Maidan has quite a few eateries spread all over the area to cater to the needs of the thousands of people who visit the complex at the time of events and exhibitions. The central food court inside the Pragati Maidan serves the usual snacks, other than favourite food items from all corners of India. Hyderabadi Biryani, Pav Bhaji, Bhel Puri, Gatta Roti and South Indian dishes are available in their authentic flavours. Another plus point is the indoor seating facility that is available here. However, in many cases, the prices of these items are high.

In case you do not wish to eat in the food court, a lot of local vendors also put up their stalls during times of events and serve food items like pizzas, sandwiches, ice creams and North Indian cuisines. Another option to eat here is to step out from the main complex and indulge in the lip-smacking street food, such as Chhole-Kulche and sweet corn. However, take note that once you have stepped out, you cannot go back into the premises again using the same ticket.

Host to a string of national and international events throughout the year, the Pragati Maidan is a massive complex with well-planned and executed architecture. The entire area is spread over about 72,000 square metres and constitutes various halls and lawns. The 16 large halls are spread over an area of 61,290 square metres, while the open area spreads across the remaining 10,000 square metres. The complex houses many pavilions like the Defence Pavilion, the Indira Pavilion, and the Son of India Pavilion. The buildings are constructed in various shapes and sizes. A movie theatre called Shakuntalam can also be found here. This movie theatre is especially popular amongst college kids for its cheaply priced tickets.

Other than this, the premise houses several other buildings, performance spaces, compounds and eateries. The headquarters of the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) is also located here. Other places include a conference room, an air-conditioned auditorium where Rock shows and plays are frequently held, a business information centre and a press lounge. A number of post offices and banks are also a part of this complex. The premise has four key entrances, and an internal shuttle service is available for those who do not want to walk around.

The overall layout of the entire complex was designed by the reputed architect Raj Rewal, who has also designed other key buildings, such as the Hall of Nations. The exhibition hall was inaugurated on 3 November 1972 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, on the eve of the International Trade Fair known as Asia 72. Both the Pragati Maidan and the fair were meant to commemorate 25 years of India's independence. This massive complex overlooked the Old Fort or Purana Qila, and also once housed India's first ever theme park- the Appu Ghar.

Sadly, after much political chaos and tussle, the iconic Hall of Nations that the Pragati Maidan formerly housed was demolished in April 2017 under the orders of the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), who want to develop the Pragati Maidan to a state-of-the-art convention and exhibition space. The other main attractions that were demolished in the process include the Nehru Pavilion and Industries Complex.

Events held at Pragati Maidan are major international events and tickets for these are easily available. You can buy them at the time of entry from the offices that are very close to the entrance gate. However, buying them from the nearby metro station, such as Pragati Maidan Metro Station is a good idea, as it will prevent you from standing in long queues.

1. Keep checking for the events at the complex regularly.
2. During the popular exhibitions like Trade Fair, make sure to keep a check of your belongings.
3. Book or buy your tickets in advance, however, they are also available at the sight as well.
4. You may also want to check out the eateries, performance spaces, buildings and compounds within its vicinity.

Located at the Mathura Road, the place is just 3.9 kilometres away from the New Delhi Railway Station and can be reached from there via a cab or an auto. The Kashmere Gate Inter State Bus Terminal is 13 kilometres away, so in case you are travelling by bus, you can get down here and then take an auto.

The best way to reach Pragati Maidan is through metro, which saves you the hassle of parking. The nearest metro station is the Pragati Maidan Metro Station on the blue line, and the premise is just a short walk away from here.

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