For a small trek through Delhi’s landscapes, try Northern Ridge, in the winters. Throw in exploration of some of the sites of 1857 which played out in this area, and it is a day well spent. Our heritage walk in Northern Ridge traces a route connecting a few landmarks of 1857 in the Kamla Nehru Northern Ridge. We start at Delhi University Vice Chancellor’s office, which is a notable example of colonial building style. It used to be the Vice Regal Lodge when the new city of Delhi was under construction. One piece of gossip about this building is that it was in the Registrar’s office here that Lord Mountbatten (last Viceroy of India) proposed to Edwina. To complete the triangle & the irony, we now have a bust of Nehru looking wistfully towards the building!!
The rebellion of 1857 is well known in Indian history. 1857 was the largest uprising anywhere against the British and Indians call it the first war of Independence, the Uprising or the simply the rebellion. For the other side, the British, it remains the Mutiny. After suppressing the rebellion, India was brought directly under the rule of the British Crown. Delhi was one of the biggest centers of the 1857 rebellion and our heritage walk in the northern ridge explores some of the sites where events of 1857 unfolded.
The first stop on our heritage trail is the Flagstaff tower. A look out space, it would have been one of the highest points on the ridge. This is where European men, women and children took shelter when they escaped the city of Shahjahanabad, away from the attacking rebels. They waited for help and when none came they moved further to Karnal. Now the area is surrounded by trees but photographs of 1858 show this land to be barren, with the Flagstaff tower standing lonely at this height. There was a photographer, Felice Beato who travelled around the country photographing the sites of the rebellion in the year 1858. His photos are a telling account of the situation then, and help us imagine it as we see those very sites today.
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The walk of the month for January was themed on 1857 uprising and its landmarks on the northern ridge. The ridge is an exciting place to explore any time of the year. And this Sunday morning was a perfect day to plan the walk. We started at the Flagstaff Tower, near Delhi University VC’s office. British residents from cantonment of Delhi assembled here after the rebellion broke out in Delhi. They waited for help but none came their way and they fled to Punjab. Nearby is an enclosure which was the burial place of four British officers commanding native infantry stationed in Delhi, and were killed by the rebels. The graves do not exist anymore but the enclosure stands. From here we entered the narrow walking trails within the ridge and reached the Khooni Jheel. This water body is named so because bodies of British killed by the rebels and then then the rebels killed by the British were dumped here. Continue Reading This Post