Walking Colonial North Delhi

Photo by Patrick Horton (Kashmere Gate after restoration)

Following in the footsteps of the British Raj in North Dehli

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See the history of Delhi’s British colonial past unfold through its built heritage on this fascinating  walk through North Delhi.  Starting from the Nicholson Cemetery off GT Karnal Rd/Lala Hardev Sahai Marg, it’s possible to link a number of interesting colonial-related sites into a 2km-walk.

On the way to Kashmere Gate

Leaving the cemetery turn left, cross the road and walk around behind the Kashmere Gate ISBT metro station. This brings you to Kashmere Gate; explore both sides of the gate and go up to the roof if it’s open.

Walk through the small park at the front of the gate, turn right onto Lothian Rd and walk through the colonnade. These shops were once the main shopping strip for the British until Connaught Place was built, but the properties are now in a very dilapidated condition.

Bear right down Ram Lai Chandhok Marg and you’re in the Kashmere Gate Market area. On the right is an 18th century mosque Fakr-ul Masjid built by the wife of one of Emperor Aurangzeb’s commanders.

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Forward to St James’ Church

Take the next left and you’re in front of the beautifully proportioned St James’ Church. Have a good look around inside and especially at the Fraser and Skinner graves. Down the road to the side of the church is a melon-coloured single-storey building with a small dome like half a lemon. This was once William Fraser’s Bungalow, home of the British civil servant who became a Mughal noble in the early 1800s.

Return to Lothian Road and turn left; on the opposite side of the road is St Stephen’s College built in a typical colonial architecture, and now used by the Delhi Electoral Commission.

Maybe a visit to Dara Sheikh’s Library

Continue down Lothian Rd and the next turning left is the entrance to the campus of Indraprastha University. Of interest here is Dara Shikoh’s Library. Dara Shikoh was the son of Shah Jahan but never succeeded him as he was murdered by his brother Aurangzeb. You may or may not be able to enter the grounds to see the library, it depends upon the whim of the security guards and your persuasiveness, but do ask.

Site of a big bang

The next site is completely accessible being on a median strip in the centre of the road. This is the British Magazine and Telegraph Monument. It was here that the British Arsenal was blown up to prevent the rebels gaining its arms, ammunition and gunpowder.

Past the delightful old Post Office and just before the railway bridge is the Lothian Cemetery. This predates the Uprising and for many years there was a Christian squatter village actually within the cemetery. This has now been shifted but the graves are in a near-nonexistent state and the gate is locked.

Metro: Kashmere Gate ISBT on Lines 1 & 2.

Also nearby: Red Fort, Chandni Chowk


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