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Ghosts of Beresford family & young lovers

Nicholson road, which converges on Kashmere Gate, has a notoriously haunted house known to the entire neighbourhood. Sarat C Das reports.
Hindustan Times | By Sarat C das, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 06, 2008 10:22 PM IST

Historically Kashmere Gate in the Old Delhi area has been an important road junction with several monuments within its outlying area. Situated near Red Fort, the gate is believed to be facing Kashmir, hence known as Kashmere Gate.

Others believe the gate obtained its name from the Kashmir-bound royal processions of Mughal emperors and queens through the gate.

The gate was heavily shelled during Sepoy Mutiny while British troops were attempting to storm through the gate to recapture Delhi. Kashmere Gate has two arched openings and several compartments on the side attached to the Gate. The whole area surrounding this historic gate abounds with spooky tales related victims of mutiny.

Nicholson road, which converges on Kashmere Gate, has a notoriously haunted house known to the entire neighbourhood. A pan-India newspaper reported about the sighting of two young lovers who were often seen on moonlit nights towards end of November.

"Supposed to be the 'month of the dead' in the Christian calendar, November, some said they had been murdered in their sleep and found it difficult to reconcile themselves to their tragic end," the newspaper reported.

Within the approach of Kashmere Gate is Chandni Chowk, the oldest and busiest market in central north Delhi. The story goes that on a moonlit night, the chowk complex and the pool lay shimmering; as a result, it acquired the name of Chandni Chowk: "the moonlit square".

When mughal emperor Shahjahan established the city of Shahjahanabad with a fortified Red Fort as his seat of power, Chandni Chowk was built as an accompaniment to the fort in 1650 AD. The chowk designed by Jahanara, the Shahjahan's favorite daughter, had a large chowk ("square") with a central pool. Around the chowk, an arcade of shops had been built in a half-moon shape which soon grew to a bustling trading center spreading along the wide road and branched into numerous bylanes in all directions.

Today the entire area is a labyrinth of narrow lanes crowded with shops selling books, gaudy clothes, shoes, cheap electronic and consumer goods. It was from Chandni Chowk the Persian emperor Nadir Shah watched the plunder of Delhi in 1739 when more than 30,000 people were killed. Some of these victims are reported to be sighted in and around this locality.

By the way, the Chandni Chowk neighbourhood is particularly used to the sightings of the Beresford family. The tales about the frequent visitations of the spirits of Beresford family is a part of many a local stories.

According to a newspaper report: "Beresford, manager of the Lahore Bank, and his wife and children were brutally killed by an armed mob of 'rebel sepoys' who had come from Meerut. Some think the mob comprised of local ruffians who had an eye on Beresford's daughters. But the girls were pretty young and probably their mother was the target."

Not far from Chandini Chowk, there used to be a sinister house opposite the Exchange Store in Civil Lines. Some years ago four journalists, who lived in that house, had some supernatural experiences. One of these journalists, who now lives in Lucknow, had confided his uncanny experience to a few people.

Spirits from previous ages haunting this large parcel of land always bring people close to history.

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