Seventh City Gates in Delhi
The Gates of the Seventh City of Delhi named ‘Shahjahanabad’ were constructed by Emperor ShahJahan in 1649. The Walls of the Fort made of strong red coloured bricks encloses the city with 14 strong gates and another 16 smaller gates named ‘Khirki’ in the Urdu language encircled around it within a radius of 5 to 6 km with massive Bastions and designed for the Royal Families to enter and exit the city towards different directions.
The Kashmiri gate lies on the northern end of the city near ISBT [Inter State Bus Terminal] in Delhi and was built in 1835 by a British Major named Robert Smith. The gate has an entry point and exit point and it seen in the shape of a square that was enlarged and straightened by the British to defend the city from enemy attacks. The name was derived from the fact that the Emperors used this gate to exit for visits to the Northern region of India including Kashmir and return via it. Also, known by the locals as the ‘Truckman Gate’, it is well preserved heritage site that lies near ISBT and on the road to the Old Secretariat building. This gate also saw a bitter fight between the Indian Freedom fighters and the British Army in 1857 and the outpost of the gate was used to fire cannon balls at the British Army camping at Ludlow Castle. Today, this gate is seen surrounded with commercial centres after the British established the Civil Lines colony for residential purposes and is one of the busiest centres in Delhi.
The Dilli Darwaza or Delhi gate lies on the south-eastern end of the city near Daryaganj close to the Sunday Book Market in Delhi and built in 1638 by Emperor ShahJahan. It is a part of the high walled fort that encloses the city of Shahjahanabad in the shape of a polygon and square that commences from Daryaganj in Delhi on the ‘Thandi Sadak’ or ‘Cool Road’ that is fringed by a line of green shady trees that leads you right through to Kashmiri Gate. It is a large structure made of sandstone with two elephants carved out of stones on its side. Emperor ShahJahan used this gate to visit the Jama Masjid for his prayer sessions that lies on its left hand side while the Red Fort can be seen on its right hand side. Amazingly, this gate still retains its ancient wooden locking system which is not in use currently but is in perfect working condition and it deemed as a protected heritage site maintained and conserved by ASI.
The Ajmeri Gate lies on the south-western end of Shahjahanabad city and today is situated near the New Delhi Railway Station. It was constructed in 1644 with high arched openings and saw the first battle for independence of 1857 also known as the Sepoy Mutiny and is situated on a road that leads you to Ajmer in Rajasthan and hence the name evolved. The Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Bahadur’s Islamic School of Learning or the ‘Madrasa’ and the Anglo-Arabic School were situated nearby, however, unfortunately modernisation crept in and the fort walls were replaced by commercial and residential buildings keeping only the western side of the Gate intact. Currently, this gate has fortunately been restored and a beautifully maintained garden encircles the gate bringing back that rustic and old charm of the seventh city.
The Turkman Gate lies on the southern end of the medieval city of ShahJahan in Old Delhi near the famous Ram-Lila Ground and was constructed sometime in 1650. It was named in honour and after a holy Saint named Huzrat Shah Turkman Bayabani and his Tomb dating back to 1240 can be viewed on the eastern side of this gate. This gate also resembles the Ajmeri gate with high ceilings, an arched doorway and a square shaped plan. Razia Sultan’s Tomb and the Kalan Mosque are situated in close proximity. Today, this gate also lies amidst a very populated area and is mostly visited by many tourists.
Gates of Red Fort
The Gates of the Red Fort named Delhi Gate and Lahore Gate are one of the two well maintained gates of the seventh city established by ShahJahan. The Lahore gate is now seen as the Lahori Bazaar connecting with Chandni Chowk encircling them over 1.6 km in length. This gate derived its name due to the fact that it faces in the direction of Lahore in Pakistan. On the other hand the Delhi Gate was the main entry point of the Mughal Army who camped at the fort and links the Red Fort to the city, however, today entry via this gate is prohibited but the public still uses it. Some people state that the Huge Bastions at both the entrances of these gates have masked their beauty. Post 1980s, these gates including the windows of the Tower were strictly secured as the Prime Minister uses the ramparts of the Red Fort to hoist the National Flag and give a speech on the 15th of August every year and a lift was also added for the use of the Indian Prime Minister.
The Nigambodh Gate lies on the eastern end of the City of ShahJahan and is situated near the Yamuna Market on the main Ring Road of Delhi. The Gate was named after a burial ground near the Ghats here that was once close to the Yamuna River and the Salimgarh Fort but somehow has receded through these centuries. The name ‘Nigam’ which means ‘Ved’ and ‘Bodh’ which means ‘Knowledge’ was derived from a legend that states the Lord Brahma once took a bath in the Yamuna River at this very place and recovered his lost memory and the hiding place of his sacred books and hence, the gate got its name which means ‘Sacred Knowledge’.
The Khooni Darwaza also spelled as Khuni Darwaza which means ‘Bloody Gate’ is of historical significance as it had witnessed much bloodshed especially during the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. It is situated on the Bahadur Shah Zafar road and lies opposite Feroz Shah Kotla and was named as the ‘Kabuli Darwaza’ due to the fact that in olden days the road from this gate led to Kabul in Pakistan. This Gate also measures at the same height of a double storied building constructed by Sher Shah Suri. The name of this gate was also derived from facts that state that this was the venue where the two Princes and sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor were shot by the British Army and their dead bodies were displayed at this gate and Chandni Chowk for the public to view. Another incident states that Aurangzeb beheaded his brother Dara Shikoh and displayed it for public viewing at this gate. Even during the partition in 1947, numerous refugees who were also murdered at this very gate before they could reach the Old Fort for refuge. If you ever visit this place, you will hear stories that on monsoon seasons one can see blood dripping from the ceiling of this gate. However, a scientific explanation does claim that it the rust from the joints of the gate that drip when in contact with water reflecting a reddish colour that can be mistaken for blood.
Bahadur Shahi Gate
The Bahadur Shahi Gate was constructed between 1854 and 1855 by Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar as an entry point from the northern end of the Salimgarh Fort which is now a part of the Red Fort Complex and is mainly made from bricks with less usage of sandstone.