This walk covers sites associated with colonial life in 19th century Delhi & the rebellion of 1857. We start at Nicholson Cemetery, named after one of the most revered British heroes of the ‘mutiny’. Brigadier Gen. John Nicholson was fatally injured while storming the Lahori Gate of Shahjahanabad. All through the summer of 1857 the rebels were inside the walled city & the British has taken position on the Northern Ridge & there was bitter fighting between the two sides. For Delhi the battle was pretty much decided in the favour of the British after breaching the city walls. Nicholson Cemetery has graves of many Europeans & some Indians as well. One notable personality buried here is Master Ramachandra of the Delhi College fame. However life was not good for him in 1857. His conversion to Christianity made him a traitor in the eyes of the locals & he remained a ‘black’ for the English. The Cemetery also has his wife’s grave. The Delhi College too suffered massively in the revolt. The next stop in the heritage walk is the Kashmiri Gate of Shahjahanabad, the Mughal capital. This monument gives the neighbourhood its name. Now the Gate houses an office of the Archaeological Survey of India, a British memorial & scars of 1857, in the same order of importance. The city wall is largely gone, but Kashmiri Gate & the bus terminus has a few portions still standing. The walls mostly serve as urinals for the thousands of travelers going through Kashmiri Gate. The road outside the Kashmiri Gate leads us to the Bengali Club, Nicholson Road & Bada Bazaar. This area was developed in 1890s by an Indian merchant Lala Sultan Singh. If you look carefully at the buildings, remains of colonial architecture peep through the business hoardings. The Bada Bazaar also has a small mosque, the Fakhr ul Masajid, built by a Khaniz I Fatima, wife of a Mughal commander. Close by stand the buildings of old St Stephens College & old Hindu College. They have dutifully carried their rivalry over the century into the new campuses at Delhi University! Just across the road from old St Stephens College stands the oldest church in Delhi, St James Church. Some of the high & mighty of 19th century Delhi are buried here: British Residents William Frazer (the good guy for some) & Thomas Metcalfe (the bad guy for most). James Skinner, the builder of the Church, lies buried near the altar. The churchyard also has Skinner family’s burial ground. Just behind the church near the madrasa road, stands the bungalow of William Fraser. This is the one mentioned by William Dalrymple in City of Djinns as the railway office with basement rooms. The railway office & the tehkhana are still there & so is the officialdom which prevents us from going into the building. Still, the exterior is one of the better preserved colonial buildings in Delhi. Close by is the British Residency which became closely associated with colourful exploits of its occupant, David Ochterlony, the British Resident. They called him ‘Loony Akhtar’! The Residency is built on the remains of the library of Dara Shukoh, the Mughal Prince. He was the favourite son of Emperor Shahjahan & the heir to the throne, before he was defeated in a war of succession by his brother Prince Aurangzeb. The latter is blamed for pretty much everything we don’t like about modern India. The last leg of the heritage walk takes us to Lothian Road which has two British memorials of significance. The Telegraph Memorial as well as the remains of the British Magazine tell saga of bravery of British officials in the face of death at the hands of the rebels. There has been some attempt to get in the other side of the story as well. The Indian Govt. put up an inscription on the Magazine which tells us that the rebels were not mutineers giving their barbaric selves a good time as they have been made out to be, but actually fighting against colonial rule. Another important site is near Kauriya Pul, the railway bridge at the end of Lothian Road. The Lothian Road cemetery is the oldest one around Delhi. However it has suffered a great deal of vandalism & many inscriptions are now lost.
Thanks for being part of our walk.
(posted by Niti Deoliya & Awadhesh Tripathi, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)