Northern Ridge: Delhi Heritage Walk

How many of you know that the area of North Delhi Ridge houses several historical structures? It is a good place for Delhi heritage walk and when I received invitation from Vipin Gaur I couldn’t resist the temptation.

Having lived near the North Delhi Ridge – for close to 8 years – and having trodden those road which I took once again after a long hiatus, I was amazed to realize what I had been missing.

We have all know about the Revolt of 1857 – also referred to as Sepoy Mutiny or the first war of Indian Independence depending upon whose version you are reading – from our history books, movies and folklores.

But not many of us are aware that some of the most significant structures dating back to the period of Revolt of 1857 are located near Kamla Nehru Ridge Area near the North Campus of Delhi University.

The Flagstaff tower just opposite the Vice Chancellor’s office of Delhi University is one of those important landmarks and so are the Gumtis, Chauburja, Khooni Jheel, Hindu Rao Hospital, and the Mutiny Memorial.

To my delight, this heritage walk in North Delhi Ridge also involved visiting some structures dating back to Tughlaq era. The Tughlaq era building include the Kushak-i-Shikar, a crumbling baoli and and one of the two Ashokan Rock Edict dating back to 3rd century BC that Firuz Shah Tughlaq moved to Delhi.

Reason enough that I so love my city 🙂

So here’s a short photolog of the memorials of Revolt of 1857:

Flagstaff Tower - Delhi Ridge Heritage Walk photo by Nikhil Chandra

It was at the Flagstaff Tower that the British and Indian Christian assembled after the rioting and murder ensued in the wake of Sepoy mutiny.

Built in 1857, the flagstaff tower is the highest point of the North Delhi (Kamla Nehru) Ridge and was a focal point of the mutiny of 1857. The British officials were waiting for reinforcement from Karnal that never came and once the news of spreading violence, rioting and murder reached, they entire gathering left Flagstaff Tower and fled towards Karnal and Ambala on foot.

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A Grave Site, North Delhi Ridge

A Gumti which is supposedly the the grave site for dead British officers during 1857 uprising

Pir Ghaib, North Delhi Ridge

Kushal-i-Shikar or the Pir Gayab is a Tughlaq period building in North Delhi Ridge and is so named after a Pir saint (Pir) who vanished (Ghayab) while living inside this hunting lodge

Kushk-i-Shikar also referred to as the Pir Ghaib is one of the most interesting structures in North Delhi Ridge. The origin of this building could be traced to the reign of Sultan Mohammad Bin Tughlaq and Firuz Shah Tughlaq, who founded 4th and the 5th city of Delhi respectively.

The purpose of the construction of Pir Ghaib is still debatable while some saying that it served the purpose of hunting lodge of Firuz Shah Tughlaq, others claim that it would have been an astronomical tower as Mohammad bin Tughlaq has keen interest in astronomy.

Both sides have their own arguments to prove their point but that will be forthcoming in my next updates on North Ridge Delhi Heritage Walk.

 

Baoli near Hindu Rao Hospital, North Delhi Ridge

The stairs leading down to the crumbling baoli which was supposedly part of Kushk-i-Shikar

Baoli at North Delhi RIdge

The arched niches at the lower level of baoli at North Delhi RIdge

Chauburja, North Delhi Ridge Road

The Chauburja Mosque, located in a park on the main Ridge Road, is so called because of the four-domed corner turrets which once stood upon the raised platform.

Chauburja is yet another important memorial of 1857 uprising but it dates back to the reign of Firuz Shah Tughlag. Built as a mausoleum, Chauburja was later expanded and modified during the reign of Mughals.

Chauburji, a two storey structure, is so named because once upon a time there were four (Char) burjas (domes) on the four upper corners of this mosque. It is build entirely using rubble masonry just as the boali and Kush-i-Shikar are built.

Now only one out of four turret remains and some parts have deteriorated drastically. During the Revolt Chauburja was supposedly used as a refuge by British Forces during the siege of Delhi and later a scene of heavy fighting when they returned to retake Delhi.

Mutiny Memorial, North Delhi Ridge

Mutiny Memorial is an important colonial building related to the 1857 uprising in Delhi.

Atop Pir Ghaib - Delhi Ridge Heritage Walk photo by Nikhil Chandra

The conical structure atop Pir Ghaib which has led to speculation that it was an astronomical tower

Mutiny Memorial

Mutiny Memorial was constructed to commemorate both British and Native soldiers who laid their life during the uprising of 1857

Mutiny Memorial, Noth Delhi Ridge

Mutiny Memorial of the Ajitgarh, North Delhi Ridge

Ashokan Pillar, North Delhi Ridge

Ashokan Pillar, North Delhi Ridge was brought to Delhi during the reign of Firuz Shah Tughlaq from Meerut

Firuz Shah is considered to be the earliest conservationist in India. Not only he built several monuments in and around Delhi, he also undertook the restoration of many crumbling structures in Delhi most notable of among them being the Hauz Khas Complex and the Qutb Minar.

The Ashokan Pillar or the Rocjk Edict preaching Buddha’s message of Dharma was brought from Meerut and set here near his Kushak-i-Shikar. He had already bought yet another of Ashokan Rock Edict which he mounted atop the Pyramidal Structure inside his Kotla which is now referred to as the Kolta of Firuz Shah.

For more, you may read this coverage on Kotla Firuz Shah.

So if you are itching to go, here’s some things to keep in mind:

Distance : about 3 kms

Duration : approx. 3 hrs

Time : best between sunrise & sunset

How to get there :

Metro: The nearest metro station in ‘Vishwavidyalaya’

Bus: All buses on route to Delhi University North Campus

Auto/Cab: Get dropped off at Delhi University, North Campus

Parking : Parking facility available at the metro station and in Delhi University.

So friends, do let me know what you think of this yet another Delhi heritage walk which I took across North Delhi Ridge. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences if you have been to any of these relics of our history and repository of our heritage.

In this post I have tried my best to be brief and I have in my mind a separate post for each of these monuments and memorials that I have included in this post. So do watch out for more and keep looking at this space.

Till then, I’d be honored to have your bouquets and brickbats!

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3 thoughts on “Northern Ridge: Delhi Heritage Walk

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