Braving the summer heat, a group of 30 odd enthusiasts turned up for this Sunday’s heritage walk at Kashmiri Gate. The neighbourhood is extremely busy, particularly for the ISBT being located here, and is constantly abuzz with crowds, anytime of the day. This heritage trail winds its way through the neighbourhood starting from Nicholson’s Cemetery, through the Kashmiri gate near opp. ISBT, the campus of Indraprastha University, and the Lothian Road were stands the grand old Kashmiri gate post office. We can trace some history and lives of personalities in 19th century Delhi in this heritage walk. Moreover, there are a number of sites and memorials associated with the events of the rebellion of 1857. These are built by the British in memory of their troops and commanders who died figting the rebels. However, we do find an attempt to provide an alternative view to this history by the Indian side as well. Each site has atleast two versions of the story. For instance, the first stop on our heritage walk is Nicholson’s Cemetery, named after Brig. Nicholson who died fighting the rebels. He is a hero for the British. At the same, it is well known that he was extrememly cruel and looked down upon the Indians as inferior beings. The Cemetery also has some contemporary Indian graves. The most prominent being that of Master Ramachandra of Delhi College. Next we walked into the Kashmiri gate itself; one of the surviving gates of the capital ciy of the Mughals, Shahjahanabad. This is the gate which gives the neighbourhood its name. Closeby is the 19th century market built by Lala Sultan Singh. The market boasts of a pretty little mosque called Fakhrul Masajid. It was built in the 18th century by a lady whose husband worked for Aurangzeb and died fighting. The same road has the old Hindu College and old St. Stephen’s College buildings. Across the road, St James’ Church stands imposing as ever. During 1857, the copper orb on top of the dome was used by rebels for target practice! The churchyard is quiet and pleasant, in great contrast to the increasing traffic outside. The churchyard has the burial ground of the Skinner family and grave of William Fraser as well. Ajacent to it is the Indraprastha University campus which has the famed library of Mughal prince, Dara Shukoh. It is believed that the British Residency was built on the remains of Dara Shukoh’s library. As one walks round the Residency, there are structures made of the red sandstone in a typically late-Mughal style. Near the entrance to the Residency, one can spot an island in the middle of the road. This has two of the most intersting monuments of 1857, the Telegraph Memorial and the remains of British Magazine. Our heritage trail ended at Lothian road cemetery at the end of the road.
(posted by Kanika Singh, team member, Delhi Heritage Walks)