Mughal prison now an office | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Mughal prison now an office

Delhi has several heritage structures representing Mughal architecture and several others showcasing Victorian design. But in an obscure lane next to Ritz cinema at Kashmere Gate is a building that has a combination of Mughal and British architecture.

delhi Updated: Sep 23, 2012 00:10 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Delhi has several heritage structures representing Mughal architecture and several others showcasing Victorian design. But in an obscure lane next to Ritz cinema at Kashmere Gate is a building that has a combination of Mughal and British architecture.

Originally built in the 1650s, the domed building was possibly the palace of Ali Mardan Khan of Shah Jahan’s era. Below the building stands a tykhana (dungeon) believed to be a Mughal prison. It became the residence of William Fraser, the

deputy resident of the British in 1803.

A stone plaque in front of the building reads: “The construction is in Lakhori bricks in the ‘Mughal Tykhana’ and brick walls plastered in the structure above. The flooring is terrazzo. Water channel had been provided from Yamuna up to the tykhana with dead ends for air-cooling during summer. Three tunnels originated from the tykhana.”

One of the tunnel leads to the Yamuna river, another towards Red Fort and yet another towards St James Church. Tunnels still exist but the entrances were sealed a few years ago as snakes crept up to the building from the Yamuna side.

Since February 1969, this has been a Northern Railway office. Said Dharam Singh, CEO (construction) of Northern Railway, “We have annual maintenance schedule following traditional methods. We open the basement for heritage lovers only upon requests.”

Wonder what would be the next stop on the journey of this building from the Mughal dungeon prison to British officer’s residence and now to an Indian Railway office?