This heritage walk covers the modern neighbourhood of Kashmiri Gate near ISBT. Most of the sites here relate to first half of 19th century and some specific events associated with the revolt of 1857. In the 17th century this area was part of the Mughal capital of Shahjahanabad, what is today old Delhi. Kashmiri gate has mansions of some important personalities associated with the Mughal court like, Ali Mardan Khan, the noble who was instrumental in building canals which brought water to the city and Dara Shukoh, Shahjahan’s son. Later, the British started living in this neighbourhood. It is their buildings which mostly survive now.
We started the heritage walk from Nicholson’s cemetery. John Nicholson was a British general, instrumental in breaching the defenses of rebels who were controlling Delhi, and in the process lost his life. The cemetery is named after him, but there are other important people buried here as well. Master Ramachandra, the Professor of Mathematics associated with the Delhi College is buried here. Next stop was the Kashmiri gate. It is one of the surviving city gates which give the neighbourhood its name. There are some city walls which can be seen in the area, but they are mostly hidden by modern buildings. A little ahead is the Lal Masjid, also known as the Fakhr ul Masajid, built by a lady in memory of her husband who was a general under Emperor Aurangzeb and died in a battle. It is an 18th century structure. The market on this road has some traces of colonial architecture which are only visible if one looks carefully among the shop hoardings. The old St. Stephen’s college & old Hindu college buildings stand adjacent to each other on the same road. Across the road is St. James’ Church, the oldest church in Delhi, built by James Skinner of Skinner’s Horse fame. It is a well maintained complex which has the family burial ground of the Skinners & William Fraser’s grave. The church suffered severe damage in 1857 fighting.
The Residency building, built on what is traditionally believed to be Dara Shukoh’s library was to the next stop. It is now part of Indraprastha University’s campus. Many might have noticed an island on the busy Lothian Road, right in front of Kashmiri Gate post office. This patch of land houses the Telegraph Memorial and remains of the British Magazine. At the end of road is the Lothian road cemetery the oldest British cemetery in the city.
(posted by Kanika Singh, team member, Delhi Heritage Walks)