This heritage walk explores the history of the city of Shahjahanabad, today, old Delhi or Purani Dilli. The trail focuses on the street of Chandni Chowk which was the main boulevard of the 17th century city, and still remains so. Over a period of 400 years the city has seen many changes, but two events have most prominently shaped it: the suppression of the rebellion of 1857, and the Partition of 1947. Delhi was one of the major centres of the Revolt of 1857. The rebellion was crushed and the Mughal dynasty came to an end. India became a British colony. The British occupied the Red Fort and the city and large parts of the city were flattened. A clearing was created outside Red Fort to provide for firing range, in case of another rebellion; prominent public buildings like Fatehpuri Masjid were razed in this clearance of settlements; the Mughal buildings inside the Fort were pulled down and barracks for British soldiers created. The physical fabric of the city was drastically altered. 1947 saw a massive migration of people across the newly created border. A number of refugee colonies came up to settle the people displaced by Partition. Many of these were built on lands which were part of garden estates of the nobility in Shahjahanabad. Both 1857 & 1947 have had a tremendous impact on the life of the city and as it appears to us today. We also have to keep in mind that in old Delhi many site will have historical associations but the buildings identifying the sites could be fairly recent. This is because it is an area of continuous settlement; people who have lived here have built, repaired and rebuilt on older sites.
Posts Tagged ‘Shahjahanabad’
Old Delhi is a fantastic location to trace different phases of Indian history. This Sunday our heritage walk focused on exploring Chandni Chowk, the main street of the city of Shahjahanabad, to understands the ups & downs, changes in Mughal rule & the arrival of British. We started near the mouth of Chandni Chowk, near Red Fort. The first stop is two old temples: Digambar Jain Lal Mandir and Gauri Shankar Temple. Former is a Jain temple of the Digambar sect while ltater is a Shaiva temple dedicated to main Hindu deity Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati or Gauri.
Our next stop is the State Bank of India building whose large façade, round arches, Roman pillars and high ceilings are typical of colonial architecture. However, it is interesting to note that it is built over an estate of Kashmiri dancing girl-Begum Samru who was very influential in the eighteenth century. Her palace still exists and is part of Bhagirath Place which is Asia’s biggest electronic market today. A few steps ahead is Dariba Kalan which is a popular street for jewellery. The market has some traditional businesses which manufacture &s sell itra, i.e perfumes or essence. (more…)
Walk through Kashmiri Gate today & the place is a thriving market for automobile parts, old shops selling all kinds of hardware, including guns! It is hard to imagine how it would have looked three centuries ago. I study in the same neighbourhood & every time I walk through it I wonder about its evolution. The traces of the past are everywhere to see: old lodges with colonial architecture, shops with English names, remains of some Mughal monuments. Our heritage walk this Sunday, gave me an opportunity to share my thoughts & questions with an enthusiastic audience. (more…)
Following our previous article on 1857 in Delhi, we move our narrative forward to Kashmiri Gate.
After visit the Nicholson Cemetery, use the metro subway to cross the road. Walk through the park on your left (the park has a huge statue of Maharaja Agrasen), towards the parking near gate no. 2 of Kashmiri Gate metro station. Keep walking in the direction of ISBT till you reach gate no. 1 of the metro station which will be on your left. (more…)
Remember ‘khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali rani thi’ or ‘do gaz zameen bhi na mili kue yaar mein’? Rani Laxmi Bhai of Jhansi, her companion Jhalkari Bai, Tantia Tope, Mangal Pandey & Bahadur Shah Zafar: these are people from Indian history we have most often read about, their poetry of defiance or of despair, were all part of the experience of 1857. (more…)