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The tale of sweet success

Sardar Baghel Singh and his force conquered the Red Fort and celebrated his victory by distributing sweets from the Pul Mithai bridge. Nivedita Khandekar reports.

india Updated: Aug 11, 2013 01:45 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Near the Old Delhi railway station is a congested location with a quirky name. ‘Pul Mithai’ — a bridge with a sweet connection that goes back to the late 18th century.

Pul Mithai is the stretch on Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Marg from Pili Kothi to the junction where it meets Qutb Road and Azad Market road with two railway lines passing below it.

It was in 1783 that thousands of Sikhs led by Sardar Baghel Singh laid siege to the Red Fort during Shah Alam II’s reign. The Mughal emperor, through his court official Munshi Ram Dyal and Begum Samroo, sought a “settlement.’ In lieu of ‘returning’ the Red Fort, Baghel Singh would trace all the sites in Delhi connected with Sikh gurus and build gurdwaras there. He would stay for four years and get a cut from tax collected by Mughals for expenditure of his soldiers.

“You conquer a city and you celebrate. Baghel Singh distributed sweets from this bridge to poor people,” explains Dr Mohinder Singh of National Institute of Punjab Studies.

Today, retailers selling spices, dry fruits and grains from under temporary canopies occupy the stretch that is filthy and most of the times occupied by cars parked haphazardly.

Compared to four decades ago, the number of retailers has reduced but the clutter remains.

However, there is no explanation as to why there was a bridge here in 1783 when the first railway line came up only about in 1860s.