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Flagstaff Tower – Northern Ridge, Delhi

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This fenced-in park with the surrounding greenery and tarred pathways, families of monkeys and families of evening walkers its regulars, is the same stretch of the Delhi Ridge which historian Percival Spear described as ‘bare, a stony furnace in the hot weather, and a mirror of heat for civilians and soldiers on either side’. Factors like low-level, sparse vegetation were the contributing factors that made it a perfect site to locate a signal tower that is, Flagstaff Tower.

Many historians have argued that the Flagstaff, firmly planted at the top of the most difficult terrain in the region, was a concrete symbol of British determination to remain in possession of Delhi. It has been associated with the Sepoy Mutiny also known as the Revolt of 1857.

During the course of the fateful day of May 11, 1857, it had become the gathering point for all the British families that had managed to escape from the cantonment and Civil Lines. After the indefensible escape, the British were forced to move to Karnal and Panipat to take a refuge, they returned to the Ridge a month later, and soon the Ridge was in their hands, and thought they were partly succeeded.

Not having the numbers to actually capture the city, the British had no option but to remain where they were and until such time as relief came. Apart from the daily bombardment from the city, conditions on the Ridge were terrible water was scarce, sewage arrangements minimal, and the rotting corpses of men and animals led to an epidemic of flies.

On the morning of September 11, the British marched down from the Ridge and advanced on the city in four separate columns. The Kashmiri Gate was the site of the first successful breach in the city walls, and thus became the emblem of the British takeover of Delhi.

Apart from the Flagstaff tower there is the Khooni Jheel (bloody lake) which gets its name from the fact that its water was red with blood from bodies of Europeans and rebels dumped there. Close by is the Chauburja mosque. Originally a mosque built during the reign of Firuz Shah Tughluq, it was badly damaged in 1857. Nearby stands a baoli or stepwell, which was constantly under attack by the rebel forces and earned the name of ‘Alley of Death’ by the British.

Nearby attractions include the famous Kamla Nehru Ridge for nature lovers, Chauburja, Pir Galib, Bara Hindu Rao, Ashoka Pillar, Mutiny Memorial, Coronation Durbar Memorial, Metcalfe House, Kashmiri Gate and Qudsia Bagh.

How to reach there

By Air: It is approximately 27 km away from the international airport and 20 km from the domestic.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is Old Delhi Railway Station.
By Road: The nearest is Interstate Bus Terminal, Kashmeere Gate, four km away.

Where to stay

You can stay at Sham Nath Villa, 12 Sham Nath Marg, Civil Lines Delhi which is 5-7 minutes walk away from the tower.