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Spirits fail to mar Delhi Gate's glory

Delhi Gate, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan from rubble and red sandstone, is still an imposing gateway. However, people believe that the peepul tree near the gate is haunted by the spirits of a British soldier and his woman victim from Raj period. Sarat C Das tells us more. See the video
Hindustan Times | By Sarat C Das
UPDATED ON MAY 17, 2008 04:58 PM IST

Delhi Gate, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1639-48, was the southeast gate of the walled city of Shahjahanabad. Built of random rubble and red sandstone, Delhi Gate is still an imposing gateway. In a moonlight, its appearance can be compared to the ruins of a haunted gothic mansion.

Delhi Gate was used by the emperor when he proceeded towards the Jama Masjid for the prayer. It was so named because the road from this gate led to the previous cities of Delhi and its massive necropolis.

The area near the gate is a historical place, in which a number of old buildings, havelis and markets are located. The gate is now the starting point of the popular Daryaganj old book market held every Sunday. The road was popularly called thandi sarak (cool road), because the thoroughfare was lined with trees and provided enough shade to keep the scorching sun away. However, people usually miss the sight of a few centuries old peepul tree adjoining the Gate. The tree, which ensconces a pathway deity, is worshipped with offerings. An array of fetishes is found in this place: earthen lamp in a trunk hole, pennants, votary clothes and a shallow pit for water appearing like a sinkhole. These fetishes make the place look quite quaint.

Many people recount the old story of a British soldier shooting a woman sweeper at Delhi Gate. It was a cold-blooded killing. The soldier, haunted by the spectre of the deceased lady, committed suicide in 1910. However, the British soldier continued his evil ways after death.

A lot of souls of previous ages are sighted at Delhi Gate including that of the British soldier and his woman victim. Situated near Daryaganj Police Station and Ambedkar Ground, the sordid narratives about these supernaturals have become a part of Old Delhi's folklore. Two old pavement dwellers at Delhi Gate concurred with the tales associated with Delhi Gate and peepul tree. "They are definitely true," a pavement dweller asserted.

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