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Hunting for history in New Delhi

May 10, 2007
As India celebrates 150 years of its First War of Independence, one of the key monuments of that era lies ignored, reduced to a urinal.

Kashmiri Gate in Old Delhi is a dilapidated structure, stripped of its importance in the events of 1857.

Then, it witnessed the British marching onto a freed capital and recapturing it; the fall of a dream, of an uprising against colonialism.

Now, it witnesses mostly rickshaw pullers, labourers, etc, answering nature's call.

"I have no idea about the importance of this place and why it is here," says Shafiq-ul-Islam, a labourer. "People come here to urinate and that's it."

'On 14th September 1857 the British forces stormed Delhi,' reads a marble stone engraved at the back of the Gate. 'It was after sunrise on that day that the undermentioned party totally destroyed and blew the right leaf of this gate thus opening a way for the assaulting column.'

The British remembered their heroes: 'The soldiers whose name has been engraved in remembrance of capturing this gate are Lieutenant Duncan Home, Philp Salkeld, Sergeant John Smith and A B Carmichael,' the stone reads.

Image: Kashmiri Gate

Text: Syed Firdaus Ashraf
Photographs: Dominic Xavier

Also see: The First War of Independence: Complete Coverage

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