Delhi 101: #21 The Gates of Delhi – These Don’t Lead Anywhere Now

Kashmiri Gate in Old Delhi
Kashmiri Gate in Old Delhi

The city of Shahjahanabad, now old Delhi, was fortified by walls running all around, with 14 heavily guarded gates to allow passage of people and goods. Some of these gates remain, and are addresses and landmarks in themselves. How about a journey in time through them?

AJMERI GATE
Located a few minutes from the New Delhi Railway Station, this was the south-western gate of the city, and opened on the road to Ajmer (hence the name). It stands at the junction of the wholesale markets of Hauz Qazi and G.B. Road (also infamous for being the Red Light district).

Delhi 101: Cover image of book by Ajay JainThis post has been taken from Delhi 101, a book written by Ajay Jain. It is about 101 surprising ways to discover Delhi, one of the most amazing cities in the world for travelers. To know more about the book and to order one, click here.

TURKMAN GATE
Named after the Muslim saint Hazrat Shah Turkman Bayabani, who is said to have lived in this area as a recluse long before emperor Shahjahan chose this site for his new city. It was all wilderness here at one time. It is flanked by the shiny new building of the Delhi Stock Exchange on one side, and the Haj Manzil on the other; the latter is the place for Muslims to get their documentation done for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Horse carts (yes, Delhi still has some) had their stables nearb y, but are gradually being removed by the government. Walk around (you can’t go through) the gate into the market street and you will come across scores of shops selling beads, gems, necklaces and other handicrafts.

During the Emergency imposed by the-then prime minister Indira Gandhi, the Turkman gate demolition and firing on 18 April 1976 was the infamous case of political oppression and police brutality when the people protesting against demolitions of their houses were fired at and killed by the police.

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DELHI GATE
This gate marks the boundary of old Delhi and New Delhi, and was built to lead to the earlier cities of Delhi. It stands at the junction of present day Asaf Ali Road, Darya Ganj and Ambedkar Stadium. If you go straight north along what was called Thandi Sadak (a cool street, so called because it was lined with trees), you will reach Kashmiri Gate.

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KASHMIRI GATE
This gate opened into the highways leading to the paradise of Kashmir in the Himalayas, and summer home to Mughal royals. It was the only gate with two arches. During the Great Revolt of 1857, this was the site of significant battles between Indian and British forces before the tide turned in favour of the latter. While you are here, drop in at the St. James Church and the Nicholson’s Cemetry.

Where are the other gates? Let us just say, people broke ‘em!

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Delhi Gate near Darya Ganj
Delhi Gate near Darya Ganj
Turkman Gate in Old Delhi
Turkman Gate in Old Delhi
Ajmeri Gate in Old Delhi
Ajmeri Gate in Old Delhi

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