Home > Delhi, Delhi Architecture, Delhi History, General > Historic Trail along North Ridge (Kamala Nehru Ridge), Delhi

Historic Trail along North Ridge (Kamala Nehru Ridge), Delhi

North Ridge (Kamala Nehru Ridge), Delhi

Historic Trail

Delhi Ridge, or simply The Ridge, is a an extension of the ancient Aravalli Range and runs through the heart of the National Capital Territory (NCR) of Delhi.

Kamala Nehru Ridge (Delhi Ridge) Map (click to enlarge)

Kamala Nehru Ridge (Delhi Ridge) Map (click to enlarge)

The Delhi Ridge covers a distance of about 35 km and refereed to as the green lung of Delhi and protects the city from the hot winds of the deserts of Rajasthan.

The Delhi Ridge is today divide into four zones:

  1. North Ridge or Kamala Nehru Ridge: Hilly area near the Delhi University. It was declared a Reserve Forest in 1915. It initially covered an area of 170 hectares but have now shrunk to 87 hectares.
  2. Central Ridge or New Delhi Ridge: Located in the heart of Delhi, it was declared a Reserve Forest in 1914. It covers an area of 864 hectares.
  3. South – Central Ridge or Mehrauli Ridge: Located near Jawaharlal Nehru University and centred round Sanjay Van, it covers an area of 633 hectares.
  4. Southern Ridge or Tughlaqabad Ridge: Covers an area of 6200 hectares and includes the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctury.
Mutiny Memorial, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

Mutiny Memorial, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

Ashokan Pillar, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

Ashokan Pillar, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

The North Ridge, located next to the Delhi University campus is the smallest segment of the Delhi Ridge. With rapid urbanization it is shrinking at an alarming rate.

The best way to start the historical trail of the Delhi’s North Ridge or Kamala Nehru Ridge is from the Pul Bangash Metro Station (Red Line).

Move northwards from the station and take Dr. Karnwal Road. The narrow road, with an even narrower footpath, passes through the centre of the ridge.

There is not much traffic but cars move fast, so do watch your step. A short walk along the Dr. Karnwal Road leads to the towering Mutiny Memorial, later rechristened as Ajitgarh. It is located on the left side of the road.

It is located at the site of Taylor’s Battery during the seige of Delhi in 1857. It was built in 1863. The Gothic styled red sand stone tapering tower rises from a two tired platform and looks totally out of place. William Dalrymple in his book City of Djinns describes the Mutiny Memorial as

A strange, displaced Gothic spire, illegitimate first cousin to the Albert Memorial, it still stands today above the swirl of domes,  rooftops and bazar sacks that is Old Delhi.

The memorial contains inscriptions in English, Urdu and Hindi commemorating the siege and capture of the city. Also included are statistical tables to commemorate the mutiny’s casualties.

In 1972, on the occasion of the 25th year of independence, the Indian government added a new plaque (in English, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi) to the Mutiny Memorial, converting it into a memorial for those martyrs who rose against the colonial rule in 1857.

About 200 meter north of the Mutiny Memorial and on the same side of the road, is the Ashokan Pillar. This pillar was shifted from Meerut by Feroz Shah Tughlaq (reign 1351 – 1388) and was placed at his hunting place. Incidental Delhi contains another Ashokan Pillar shifted by Feroz Shah Tughlaq from Topra and set up in Firoz Shah Kotla.

Pir Ghaib, Hindu Rao Hospital, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Delhi Ridge), Delhi

Pir Ghaib, Hindu Rao Hospital, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Delhi Ridge), Delhi

The pillar contains the Ashokan Edicts, I – V, partly or almost fully. Durng the reign of Farrukhsiyar (1713 – 19) the pillar was severely damaged and broken into five pieces. The pieces were shifted to Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata. In 1866 they were received back and were erected together in 1867.

Baoli inside Hindu Rao Hospital, Delhi

Baoli inside Hindu Rao Hospital, Delhi

Just ahead of the Ashokan pillar on the other side of the road is the Hindu Rao Hospital. Inside the hospital complex is Pir Ghaib.

Pir Ghaib was constructed by Feroz Shah Tughlaq and probably was part of a hunting lodge on the Delhi Ridge.

It later probably served as a mosque and even as a astronomical observatory. It also probably served as a residence of a Muslim saint, who disappeared mysteriously. No wonder Pir Ghaib literally translates into the vanished saint!!

A couple of yards away is a baoli (stepwell), which probaably provided water for the hunting parties. (Also see: Baolis of Delhi)

A long walk northwards leads to a enclosed park, a motor car free zone. It is an initiative of Delhi Development Authority  to turn the North Ridge or Kamala Nehru Ridge into a bio – diversity park. To the right of the park entrance is the Cahauburja Mosque.

Chauburja Mosque, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

Chauburja Mosque, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

It literally translates into a Mosque with four towers (or probably domes), sadly only the dome of the south – east corner survives to this day. The eastern side has three arched entrances and four bastions.

Southern Guard House, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

Southern Guard House, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

Chauburja Mosque was built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq and along with Pir Ghaib was part and parcel of the hunting lodge.

Walk northward along the well paved trail. The trail is lined with benches, where young couples are engaged in some extreme form of public display of affection (PDA).

A couple of yards to the left of the main walkway is the Southern Guard House. A small rectangular structure with a pedimented roof.

Built in the first part of the nineteenth century the Southern Guard House along with the nearby Flagstaff Tower, was part of the cantonment area of the armed forces of the British East India Company.

Just north of the Southern Guard House and the highest point of the North Ridge (Kamala Nehru Ridge) is the Flagstaff Tower. The stout, circular, one room  castellated tower was built around 1828 as a signal tower.

The Flagstaff Tower played a important role during the Sepoy Mutiny (Indian Rebellion of 1857). When the mutiny broke out on 11 May 1857 the Britishers took refuge in the Flagstaff Tower.

Flagstaff Tower, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

Flagstaff Tower, Kamala Nehru Ridge (North Ridge), Delhi

On 7 June, the Company army returned to capture Delhi, they faced stiff resistance from the sepoys at the Flagstaff Tower. A fierce battle followed which led to the killing and wounding of a great number of soldiers. However, by five in the evening the ridge had been recaptured and was under British control.

From the Flagstaff Tower the paved trail descends rapidly into the plains of Delhi and leads you to the exit of the bio diversity park on the North Ridge (Kamala Nehru Ridge). A short distance to the south is the Vishwa Vidyaalaya Metro Station (Yellow line), which marks the end of the Historic Trail along the North Ridge (Kamala Nehru Ridge).

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  1. June 29, 2017 at 1:57 PM

    This is why I loved Delhi so much! every brick tales a tell of days from yore.
    Great write up, very informative, never ventured to this part of the city.
    BTW, your background of the blogpost is so cool! Where is the click from?

    • July 16, 2017 at 10:48 AM

      Thanks Orange wayfarer for the comment. Delhi is an amazing city and has history scattered like pebbles. Please do explore the NorthRidge area of Delhi, it is an interesting mix of history and nature.

      Regarding the background of my blog, it is not a single photo. It is a collage of terracotta and stone panels from different temples of West Bengal and Orissa.

  2. Todd
    July 5, 2017 at 2:20 AM

    Thank you for this. I only spent a few days in Delhi but there was so much history there that I’ve been inspired to read more since then. I hope to return sometime soon.

    • July 16, 2017 at 10:50 AM

      Dear Tod, there is so much to see in Delhi that a life time may not be enough.

      • July 18, 2017 at 11:17 PM

        The more I read and see the more I’m beginning to feel that way. I hope to make it back soon. It may be an impossible task but I want to try anyway. 🙂

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