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Map of Delhi in 1857

Mirza Firuz Shah
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
Stacked Wooden Logs


Delhi, the capital of India was historically known by different names - Indraprastha, Lal Kot, Siri, Tughlakabad, and Shahjahanabad. The city famously developed and settled eight times by various rulers is in its modern incarnation at New Delhi, built by British architect Lutyens in 1911, and the seat of the current Indian government. The remains of the other cities are scattered at various areas of the New-Delhi city.

In the mid 17th century the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan built the seventh city of Delhi, on the banks of the river Yamuna, north of the previous settlement of the Delhi Sultanate of the 14th century. The notable landmarks which he built in this walled city, also called Shajahanabad, were the impressive Red-Fort or Lal-Qila and the Jama Masjid. The city was laid out in blocks with wide streets and a canal ran through the center of the tree lined main street called the Chandnee Chowk. Today the city is called the Old Delhi and Chananee Chowk is now Chandni Chowk. The walled city had a number of gates or entry points -Ajmeri, Moree, Cashmere or Kashmiri, Toorkman, and Lahore (so called because it faced Lahore, now in Pakistan). Many of these gates are still standing.

In 1638 Shah Jahan shifted the capital of the Mughal Empire from Agra to Delhi and it remained so for the later Mughals such as Aurangzeb and Bahadur Shah Zafar, though their power rapidly declined with the coming of the British. The British added various buildings to the city such as the Governor General's Agent Sir T Metcalf's house in the present Civil Lines, St James Church near Kashmiri gate, and the cantonment in the ridge on the outskirts of the walled city.

Landmarks of Old Delhi

The massive red sand stone building of the Red Fort took nine years to build and was completed in 1648. A two-kilometer long wall surrounded it. The Yamuna flowed next to the fort though the river has now moved eastwards. Red Fort is today a protected monument and the place from where the prime minister of independent India addresses the public.

Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, was built in 1656 and is set on a high platform on a low hill, close to the Red fort. Fatehpuri Masjid, built in 1650 by Shahjahan's wife, stands opposite to the Red Fort. The main street Chandni Chowk ran from the Lahore gate of the Red Fort to the Fatehpuri-Masjid. The old wholesale markets of Daryaganj, Chawri Bazaar, and Khari Baoli were established within the walled city around 1840. The markets exist till today though the area is now very congested.

Delhi In 1857

In 1857 Delhi was under British rule, though, the last in the line of Mughal emperors' Bahadur Shah Zafar still lived at the Red Fort. In 1857 a sepoy mutiny against the East India Company in Meerut developed into a full blown pan Indian resistance to the British rule. Delhi and its emperor, whose authority the British did not accept, became a symbol of the first Indian revolt.

During the revolt rebel forces comprising of Indian sepoys of the British army marched to the walled city of Delhi. They entered the city through the Lahore gate and captured the city from the British forces garrisoned there. The rebels then went to the Red Fort and Bahadur Shah Zafar was proclaimed the emperor of India from the ramparts of the Fort. The British ultimately suppressed and crushed the revolt. However, many parts of the old city were damaged in the fight and the siege of Delhi which followed.

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Very good information.

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Shah Sharaf Barlas


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