Civil Lines and the Northern Ridge

The northern end of the Delhi Ridge and the Delhi University today dominate this relatively laid-back area that first came into prominence when the British defeated the Marathas led by the Scindias at the Battle of Patparganj in 1803 and took over the territory around Delhi. A closer inspection reveals that some ancient buildings already existed here as it was on the outskirts of Firoz Shah’s city Firozabad. This was the location of Firoz Shah’s hunting lodge in the forest, the Kushak-i-shikar, containing the Pir Ghaib, probably an observatory, a baoli (step-well), and a transplanted third century Ashoka pillar, all located in close proximity to each other. Also located nearby is the Chauburja Mosque, originally built as a mausoleum but later converted into a mosque. The Mughals undertook massive garden building projects here, of which the little that remains of the Qudsia Bagh, once a massive riverside enclosed garden, is a perfect example. Amidst this backdrop of ancient ruins, the British added several military buildings that were part of the cantonment they established here, including ammunition stores, guard houses, signal towers, etc. After the Revolt of 1857 a series of buildings commemorating the revolt were built. The Mutiny Memorial, a gothic © The British Library Board. (Add.Or.P913) edifice, was built in the memory of those who had lost their lives in the revolt, while the Nicholson Cemetery houses many of their graves and cenotaphs. Many Indian and British aristocrats also built houses here and some, such as Hindu Rao’s House and Sir Thomas Metcalfe’s House were so large that they have been put to institutional use today. Development was also brought to the Kashmiri Gate and Civil lines areas, to the south and east of the ridge respectively. These were the centres of administrative power during the early East India Company days and even after the Revolt of 1857. Both areas are home to a number of early colonial buildings built for administrative purposes; many of these such as the Old Secretariat continue to be in similar use till date. The Delhi University was established in the early twentieth century to the west of the ridge and contains some exceptionally beautiful and well-maintained educational buildings such as the St Stephen’s College and its chapel. The original Vice Regal Lodge is today used as the university Vice Chancellor’s Office. The area, both charming and intriguing, with its many hidden surprises beckons the visitor

Open PDF