It was yet another lovely morning and excitement brewing as I was about to lead my third walk with the Delhi Heritage Walks. Kashmiri gate and neighborhood is area we would be visiting about. After waiting for few minutes longer than decided time, I proceeded with bunch of 10 people to Nicholson’s Cemetery. Since the last time I was here, it seemed that graveyard had freshly bathed with monsoon rains. Everybodywas simply delighted to be here: the graves surrounded by bright green grasslooked great..this site is one of the hidden beauties of Delhi. I was delighted to be surrounded by lot of photographers, who were part of our walk this time. From Nicholson’s to Kashmiri gate, as we moved across the road, it began drizzling.
We took shade under the Metro station and I tried filling the gap by explaining how Delhi was surrounded by the rebels in 1857. This walk covers some sites associated with some landmark events of 1857 rebellion. With the help of a map I showed how parts of walled city were controlled by rebels and how the British fought their way into the city defeating the rebels. The siege of Delhi and its subsequent capture by British was the turning point in favour of the British.
At Kashmiri gate, the destruction by cannon balls could clearly be seen. Some of the battlements too are missing from the top of the gate. It was exciting for everybody to climb atop the roof and look as far as St.James church while the modern metro rail line works like city wall demarcating the city controlled by the rebels and the ridge where the British were camped.
Moving ahead, we passed the Bengali Club (estb.1925) walked towards a market setup by Lala Sultan Singh. In the same complex, there stands an 18th century mosque called the Lal Masjid. It was built by Khaniz i Fatima in the memory of her husband.Next spot was my personal favorite as I am an alumnus of Hindu College, it was fascinating to see and explain history of the same.Built by the nationalists, the old Hindu college building stands at Kashmiri gate. It came up in response to St.Stephens College which was a British venture to promote western education. Both these buildings are now offices of MCD and Election Commission respectively.
St.James Church, our next spot is Delhi’s oldest church which came up in thanksgiving by a British mercenary, James Skinner. His regiment was the Skinner’s Horse which still is part of the Indian army. Later Skinner was interred in this church and the churchyard has his family burial ground.
As I explained all this, Delhi Heritage Walks experienced a “history” of its own. The heavy rain pour made us take shelter in St.James church and it was new experience to attend the prayer service on going at that time. We could closely look at the architecture of church and and observe their practices. We ended up interacting with the people who attended the service. The walk was extended for more than an hour…but it wasa new and worthwhile experience.It continued to pour outside so we decided to skip the British magazine, telegraph memorial and Dara Shikoh’s library and Residency building. I ended up explaining those in brief to everyone.
And hence concluded another heritage walk with about the hidden secrets of their OWN DILLI!
(posted by Chhavi Sharma & photos by Rajesh Ranjan, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)
1857 Uprising: Kashmiri Gate Heritage Walk