Monuments in Delhi

Ahinsa Sthal (Metcalfe Battery House)

Ahinsa Sthal also popularly known earlier as Metcalfe Battery House is situated atop a small hill which lies at the confluence of Mehrauli-Badarpur Road and Aurobindo Marg and approximately 14 km from Connaught Place in Central Delhi. It is reachable by local taxis, auto rickshaws and metro rail with Central Secretariat as the nearest Metro link.

Ahinsa Sthal which means 'Place of non-violence' or 'Place of Peace' was derived from a huge 14 metres tall holy statue of Lord Mahavir that was established in mid 1980 and considered of religious significance to all the devotees and followers of Jainism. In order to create a tranquil and sacred ambience, the area around the statue was developed into a beautiful well trimmed lush garden.

Other than being of religious importance, this place was also historically famous for a lighthouse that was built by Sir Thomas Metcalfe and officially named as the 'Metcalfe Battery House' erected sometime during the 19th Century AD. Sir Theophilus Metcalfe, 4th Baronet was born on 2nd January 1795 in London to Sir Theophilus Metcalfe the 1st Baronet who was also the Director of the East India Company. In 1813, he came to Delhi to live with his elder brother, Sir Charles Metcalfe, the 1st Baron and 3rd Baronet, who was then a resident of the Mughal Court and also served as a provisional Governor of Bengal from 1835 to 1836 and on 7th June 1815, Thomas married Grace Clark.

Later, on 13th July 1826, Metcalfe married Felicite Anne Browne and settled in Delhi. In 1830, he acquired a large land from a few Gujjar Villagers and constructed the 'Metcalfe House' lying on the outskirts of Delhi which he beautifully designed filled with a rare collection of 20,000 Books, Manuscripts, Paintings and relics of Napoleon which was unfortunately looted by the Gujjars during the Uprising of 1857. His servants and chefs called it the Matka Kothi as they found the name of the house very tongue twisting.

In 1835, Thomas Metcalfe was announced as the British Agent to service the Governor of India of the East India Company at the Royal Courts of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar-II due to the untimely demise and murder of Sir William Fraser. He then succeeded as the 4th Baronet after his elder brother in 1844 and became a very distinguished figure in the Capital City of Delhi.

Between 1842 and 1844, Sir Thomas Metcalfe ordered Mazhar Ali Khan, an artist to collect a series of photographs of all the Monuments, Palaces and Shrines that were built in Delhi and compiled all of them including 130 paintings made by Indian artists under one album named 'Reminiscences of Imperial India' which he gifted to his daughter, Emily Ann Theophila Metcalfe when she had visited Delhi. This album was later acquired by the British Library.

Felicite Metcalfe died and was buried on 26th September 1842 in Shimla where she had stayed for a while and Sir Metcalfe was murdered by poisoning on 3rd November 1853 which was believed to be the work of Zeenat Mahal, the Empress wife of Emperor Zafar-II and buried beside the Skinner family in the St. James Church Cemetery ground that lies near Kashmiri Gate. He was succeeded by his son, Sir Theophilus John Metcalfe the 5th Baronet who also served in the Indian Civil Service.

At present, Ahinsa Sthal offers a great place and atmosphere for relaxing due to its peaceful ambience and lush greenery along with a view of Metcalfe's Lighthouse. It can be visited on all the days from morning up till late evenings with no entry fee as it is a religious place.

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