City Monument – Kashmere Gate, North Delhi
A broken dignity.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Kashmere Gate looks like a boring business indeed when first viewed from the busy street.
But, take heart.
Passing through the gateway’s corridor to the other side is a scene suggesting a kind of melancholic poetry. Missing ramparts and a pock-marked damaged wall testify to gross violence during our first war of independence against the British in 1857.
Kashmere Gate, so named because it stands on the historic old route leading to fabled Kashmir itself, is one of only four surviving Mughal era gateways built in the 17th century to protect the city wall. And it was further buttressed by British engineers in the next century, and later, the Brits went on to ravage it to salvage their empire.
That was then. Nowadays one might spot a few labourers taking a nap on the back lawn, while the building itself seeps with the dignity of a defeated army. And peacefully sleeping in the 21st century. Hardly surprising that pigeons in the alcoves of the gateway aren’t exactly active either, barely stirring after 10 minutes. And perhaps wisely in the heat of the day. Even though a cool breeze does waft from the gateway’s shaded corridor.
Strangely, a large part of the stone structure is filled with bricks, most likely the result of various restorations following the 1857 carnage. An uprooted slab of stone testifies to the extent of destruction that Kashmere Gate has endured. Today, this souvenir of history just lies flung on one corner, by a busy road and barely noticed.
A corner of Kashmir