Since times immemorial, Delhi has been the seat of foreign conquests and empire. We’ve seen a glimpse of this when Sher Shah Suri, the Mughals and the other Muslim invaders came and ruled over India from Delhi. These emperors had built a wall around Delhi, now Old Delhi, to mark their establishment as also to save their kingdom from foreign conquests. Initially the walled city of Delhi had around 14 gates, of which only five are standing still, but tall. Let’s have a look at them one by one—
5. The Kashmiri Gate
The Kashmiri Gate or Kashmere Gate, the northern most gate of the walled city of Delhi, was built in 1835 by the military engineer Robert Smith. Although built for the purpose of repairing and protecting the historical monuments, the Kashmiri Gate protected the British from the Indian mutineers and their attacks during the Revolt of 1857. The interesting fact about this place, which most of us aren’t aware about, is that before the creation of New Delhi, in 1931, this place used to be the most “happening” commercial and “haute couture” are! Besides hosting the oldest Durga Puja in Delhi, this area also housed the famous St. Stephen’s College before it moved to its present location in 1941. Apparently, the Kashmiri Gate faces the road that leads to Kashmir!
4. The Ajmeri Gate
Built during the Mughal era, in 1644, the Ajmeri Gate, with its high arched opening, exemplifies high Mughal art though it’s in its ruin now. The gate apparently faces towards Ajmer. Legend has it that this gate was built to facilitate the pilgrims to locate the direction towards Ajmer, the city in Rajasthan which houses the famous Muslim pilgrimage, Ajmer Sharif. This place also housed the Delhi College, one of the integral colleges of the present Delhi University. The gate has witnessed numerous ups and downs of India, and though the wall is long gone, it still stands to witness the mirth of time. The gate stands in the south-western area of Shahajanabad.
3. Lahori Gate
If you have travelled around Delhi, you wouldn’t have missed this gate. Also known as Lahori Darwaza, it is the main entrance to the Lal Quila or the Red Fort. The gate is situated in the western part of the fort which apparently faces another important city of the Mughal era, Lahore. During the reign of Aurungzeb, the gate was installed with a 10.5 meter high barbican, though this decision was severely criticized by his father, Shahjahan. Although eons have passed from the building of this gate, the gate hasn’t lost its glory and every year, the National Flag is hoisted by the Prime Minister on the Indian Independence Day. It is one of the most well maintained monuments of India, and the only one Gate in Delhi, with a modern elevator.
2. Delhi Gate
More renowned as the Dilli Darwaza, this gate is another entrance to the famous Red Fort or Lal Quila and lies on the southern most fringes of the fort. The gate was constructed during the reign of Shahjahan and much to his detestation, a 10.5 meter high barbican was provided by Aurungzeb during his reign. Apparently, this gate faced towards the main city during those days, and it is this which provided for its nomenclature. It was to the right of this gate that Bahadur Shah Zaffar was imprisoned after the infamous Revolt of 1857. To locate the direction of Delhi from Lahore, a similar Delhi Gate was constructed within the walled city of Lahore.
1. Turkman Gate
Located to the south of Shahajahanabad, the Turkman Gate is identified after the Sufi Saint, Hazrat Shah Turkman Bayabani. The gate was erected in the later part of the 1650s and overlooks the dargah or shrine of Hazrat Shah Turkman, which is also the oldest shrine in Delhi and was built in the 13th century. The gate came under came under brutal attacks and firing during the Emergency period in 1976 due to which many parts were damaged.