What comes to your mind when I say Kashmere Gate?
The metro station right? ISBT bus adda? One of Delhi's largest Durga Puja celebrations? An intersection of red, yellow, and violet?
Have you ever wondered why the Kashmere Gate Metro Station is known by that name? Okay, maybe that's a no-brainer. It's obviously named after the monument in the Old Delhi area.
But why is the monument called Kashmere Gate? Who got it built? Why is it in ruins?
Bet you didn't know all of this, huh? Okay, read on.
The Kashmere Gate was built by a ruler named Mirza Shahab-ud-Din Baig Muhammad Khan Khurram. Oh, wait, perhaps you know him by the name of Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor and son of Mirza Nur-ud-Din Baig Muhammad Khan Salim (Jahangir).
Anyway, so Shah Jahan fortified Delhi with 14 gates leading to different regions of the country. You can google all of them, but the five that are still standing are:
The north facing gate was named as Kashmere Gate because the road from here led to, well, Kashmir. But there is more. This gate stands witness to India's First Struggle of Independence, that is, the Revolt of 1857.
Delhi had fallen to rebel sepoys who had mutinied in Meerut on 10 May. The Indian sepoys were on one side of the Kashmiri Gate and the British troops on the other side, positioned at the ridge. After 4 months of heavy bombardment, the British blew open the right bay, breached the gate and entered Delhi on 14 September 1857.
After 6 days of street fighting and the British finally reached the Red Fort and captured Delhi. The surrender of Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar, a symbolic rallying figure of the revolt marked the collapse of the Sepoy Mutiny.
By the way, this broken and battered condition of the Kashmiri Gate is not a product of time and lack of care. It was preserved in this ruined state as a symbol of the Mutiny.
Across the road from Kashmiri Gate, one of Delhi's oldest church, St. James, was also damaged during the mutiny.
This church was actually a mango grove of Shah Jahan's firstborn, Dara Shikoh. Much like his dad, he was also really into architecture and built a beautiful mansion nearby with his personal library, now converted into 1957 partition museum within the Ambedkar University.
But hey, are you also wondering what India's history would have been like if Aurangzeb didn't kill Dara Shikoh (wait, what) and he became the ruler instead?
Script & Video Edit: Zijah Sherwani