Monday, July 6, 2009

Kashmere Gate

“What’s there in a name”, they say. Nevertheless, it has something to do when it comes to Kashmere Gate as it has a deep meaning in itself. Yes, Kashmere Gate, the Mughal Architecture; got its name as the royal processions used to pass through it on their trips to Kashmir during summer. Also, it is said that it has been christened like that as it faces towards Kashmir, the Heaven on Earth. And it has a great historical importance as well.
Nowadays, Kashmere Gate is not just a historical monument but a locality too. It is a well-known place in North Delhi. In its ambit, there are places like the famous St. James Church, the oldest Inter -state bus terminal (ISBT), the recent metro station, General Post Office (GPO),Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, the Chief Electoral Office, the Chief Administrative Office of Northern Railways and so on and so forth.
Talking about the Kashmere Gate , the monument; it is said that it was constructed by Shah Jahan and it forms one of the four existing gates of his empire, the other three being Ajmere Gate, Delhi Gate and Turkman Gate. All of these gateways are in fragile condition. They need an immediate attention from the concerned authorities. The structure has been greatly damaged during 1857 Uprising, the British force stormed in Delhi through this gate and the cannon holes are still visible in the structure. It serves a major historical importance as it is the symbol of the Great Mughal Empire. And it is through this gate that the Mughals used to pass by and later on by the British too for their any trips.
However, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is looking into this site for conservation purpose. According to Mr. K K Mohammed, Superintendent Archaeologist ASI, Delhi; “Conservation and preservation work is in progress in Kashmere Gate. It has to be conserved and beautified so that tourist can relish the historical significance of this site. For this purpose, we are also developing a garden as a resting place in this hustle bustle locality. We have set up railings too all around the monument to protect it. Further, we are planning to develop antique and handicraft shops as well.”
As this locality is situated near Old Delhi, one can always enjoy the rich heritage of Delhi such as the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Sunheri Masjid, Hanuman Mandir and the like.
St. James Church or Skinner’s Church is one such site worth visiting which is located in the middle of Kashmere Gate. The religious structure was built in 1836 by Colonel James Skinner. When he was lying on a battlefield, he made a promise that he would build a church if he survived. On the north is the Skinner family's burial ground. At the rear, the Tomb of Thomas Metcalfe can be seen; Metcalfe was an Agent and Commissioner during the British rule. “This church is one of the fourteen important heritages of India. And keeping Commonwealth Games 2010 in mind, renovation work will be carried out as many Britishers will be heading towards it to offer prayers”, an official of the Church mentioned.
The oldest and one of the biggest inter-bus terminals of India lies in Kashmere Gate, it is called Maharana Pratap Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT). The bus service from here operates between Delhi and other nearby states like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and the like.
The place has also the privilege of not just having a metro station but a junction which serves the Red and Yellow lines. The Kashmere Gate metro station also serves as the Headquarter of Delhi Metro. With the advent of such a technologically advanced transport system, the commuters are heaving a sigh of relief for they are free from traffic jams and pollution.
General Post Office (GPO), the Chief Electoral Office and the Northern Railways Chief Administrative Office are the significant government offices that are located in this part of North Delhi. Also, Old Delhi Railway Station, the oldest railway station in Delhi city, is few metres away from this place.
Coming to the educational set-ups in this area, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU) is worth mentioning. Earlier known as Indraprastha University, it was set up in 1998 by Government of NCT, Delhi. It is standing tall in the building where once Delhi Engineering College used to house. Within a span of ten years, the University has been able to well-established itself as a productive State University. It is a professional University with more than 70 professional courses being imparted in various affiliated institutes and on the university campus as well. However, there is a talk doing the rounds on shifting of this campus to Dwarka as the current campus is a temporary one. And in its place, Ambedkar University is shifting in.
Besides, there is Indraprastha College of Delhi University, which is located just 2 km away from ISBT.
With a small market called Bada Bazaar just opposite to St. James Church, people residing in and near Kashmere Gate can get anything of their choice. For the hostellers of GGSIPU, it proves worthy for their immediate need. One can avail juice, fruits and vegetables, fast food, cosmetics, electronics, clothes and many more from this market. However, if one wants to indulge in western food; this place has the solution to it as well, for Parsvnath Mall in the metro station catering to such cuisines in their outlet of Nirula’s and Mc Donald.
Besides this, Ritz Cinema fulfils the need for entertainment to the workers and labourers residing in this locality.
Keeping in mind the security of women, the Delhi Police has set up its women’s wing, Kashmere Gate for providing safety to the female residents and hostellers putting up in this area.
Accommodation for the tourists is not at all a big issue as there are lots of cheap hotel and motel available around the place. And also, Municipal Corporation of Delhi is planning to build good budget hotels for catering to the people coming to the terminus.
Despite of all the aforesaid features, Kashmere Gate area has become susceptible to deterioration with encroachment, slums, pollution, traffic jam and the likes of problem. The monument itself has been under the vigil eye of Archaeological Survey of India for some years now. ASI is planning to bring greenery around the gate on the same lines as that of India Gate. With the development doing the round in all over Delhi, the concerned authorities should take up some measures to enhance this historically significant place without damaging the old structures.