G.B. Road (full name Garstin Bastion Road) is a road from Ajmeri Gate to Lahori Gate in Delhi, India, parallel to the railway lines. It is lined with two or three-storey buildings that have shops on ground floor. About twenty of these buildings have about 100 brothels on the first floor that comes alive at night after the shops at ground level close. It is the biggest red light area in Delhi. The road's name was officially changed to Swami Shradhanand Marg in 1966.
Red Light Area
The shops close and the lit corridors in front of the shops turn dark. The sex workers locally known as "kothewalis" doll up in attractive sarees and other dresses. Some of them come down to walk the street. However, most of them stand in the balcony and gesture to men on the road to attract the clients. Pimps on the road try to persuade the clients to come up. The stairs are narrow and dimly lit. Some girls are taken to hotels. The brothels are not high class and the clientele are generally not rich. People from all strata of society come to this place.
It is reported that there are about 4,000 sex workers in more than 100 brothels on the road. Most of them are tricked by boyfriends or others, brought here by deceit, sold into prostitution and held against their will. Once they are broken in, many of them accept their fate and do not attempt to run away. The police raid the brothels many times to free kidnapped girls or harass those brothel-keepers who fail to pay the bribes regularly.
With increasing use of mobile phones and internet, independent brothels, massage parlours and escort services have become increasingly available in other parts of the city and the number of persons visiting the brothels on G.B. Road has considerably reduced.
It has been said that the women, the kotha owners, the youngsters and even the pimps, everyone dreams of escaping the shackles of GB Road. But in the end, deep in their hearts, they all seem to know that "GB Road is a quicksand. Once you get into a red light, it is very difficult to get out."
According to reports, the price for sex charged by the women prostitutes in G.B. road is around US $2.
At night, the road is a dangerous place for the uninitiated. Mugging, snatching of wallets, watches and phones and other crimes happen quite often. A policeman on duty was stabbed to death by muggers just after midnight in September 2012 when a posse of policemen tried to save a man from a gang of criminals who had waylaid him on the road and stabbed him while he was going home from work.
The old city of Delhi, Shahjahanabad, was surrounded by a wall. The wall had many gates and bastions. A bastion is an angular structure projecting outward from the curtain wall of an artillery fortification. It is called "Burj" in Hindi and Urdu. One such burj or bastion was named after a British officer of East India Company.
The history of G.B. Road can be dated back to Mughal era. It is said that there were total five red light areas or kothas (brothels) in Delhi at that time. Then came the British Raj, when a British collector consolidated all the five kothas in one area on this road. The road has about 100 brothels now.
The road is famous as a market for machinery, automobile parts, hardware and tools and is the largest market for these items in the National Capital Region. The road is crowded with vehicles and persons during the day as it is a commercial area.
The segment of the road starting form the Ajmeri Gate in the south until the small intersection with a street leading up to Farash Khana in the north has shops on the ground floor and kothas or brothels on the first and second floors.
The streets and houses at the back of the road are residential areas.
G B Road in 2018
The information above needs some slight updating, as the situation in 2018 has changed a bit.
Action still starts as soon as it gets dark. If you enter GB Road, then expect to be approached by pimps and girls. There will also be many people sleeping in and on the street. Just ignore them, they're harmless. The pimps first will try to convince you to join them to their private buildings where girls are waiting. Many reports of scams, where as soon as you enter such a building not girls await but extortion instead, exist, so proceed at your own risk.
The girls outside usually look awful. It is reported that over half of them have AIDS, and some women in the street really look sick. The women in the street seem to have no real place to stay either. Hygiene in the street is lacking. Expect encounters with rats and roaches and tons of garbage piled up. The brothels are usually just slightly better.
All the action takes place when you climb the stairs of the houses. If you see a light burning in a staircase, then you can be sure that is where the action is. Feel free to climb the stairs and look around. It is not uncommon to have 4 or more brothels in one building: the left and right side on the second floor, and the same on the third floor. You will not only see girls, but also a lot of men. These are not customers, but rather helping hands or pimps. You can just talk to the girls directly, if you see one that you actually like. Prices for foreigners start from 500 Rupees ($6) although most will charge you 1000 Rupees ($12). Sometimes they want 20 Rupees extra for the condom. All will claim this is a fixed price and all want to be paid in advance. Deal with it or find another place.
By far most girls there are in their twenties or older. Despite what you may have read about the place, it seems that anything younger is gone. A lot of girls also look like they've given birth at least once. None of the girls will be motivated to work for their money: almost none will approach you to buy their services. None look like they enjoy life just a little bit.
If you decide to proceed then you will be taken to a tiny room with a wooden floor, a fan and a light bulb for at most 5 to 10 minutes of 'fun'. If you don't bring your own condoms, then you will have to deal with the regular Indian ones, which are made to fit tiny peckers and will be very uncomfortable if you have a normal or large size. Count on that the girl will want to change condom halfway, after a minute or two, as the Indian ones also lack proper lubrication. Also count on the girl not having any attention for you. She might just shout a conversation with the other girls, look at her phone or do something else. And after a minute she's start asking when you're done. As soon as you're done, you leave. Give a tip if she was good, but it's not mandatory.
Now for safety, it seems safe nowadays for Delhi at night. There is a lot of traffic and market stall sales in the street, even in the middle of the night, so it's easy to grab a tuktuk and get out. There's also a large police post, just in case. Police seems to tolerate everything, probably as long as they get bribes. Of course, it really helps to be a bit streetwise and use common sense to stay safe.
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