Home > Delhi, Delhi Architecture, Delhi History, General > Khooni Darwaza (Bloody Gate), Delhi

Khooni Darwaza (Bloody Gate), Delhi

Khooni Darwaza (Bloody Gate)

A Tale of a Notorious Gate of Delhi

…… close to the walls of Delhi, and near an archway known ever after as the Khuni Darwaza, or Bloody Gate, ……………Stopping the cart, he (William Hodson) ordered the princes (Mirzs Mughal, Khizr Sultan and Abu Bakr) to get out, and strip naked. Then taking a Colt revolver, he shot them dead, in cold blood and at point blank range, one after another.

William Dalrymple, The Last Mughal

On 22 September 1857, as a retaliation of Sepoy Mutiny, General Hodson, shot dead the three Mughal princes in cold blood in front of the towering arched gateway, which later came on to be known as the Khooni Darwaza.

The three princes Mirza Mughal (fifth son of Bahadur Shah Zafar II), Khizr Sultan (ninth son of Bahadur Shah Zafar II)and Abu Bakr (grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar II), fought along with the mutineers and were finally over powered and surrendered at the Humayun’s Tomb.

Khooni Darwaza, Delhi

Khooni Darwaza, Delhi

Hodson, who was escorting the three princes to his superiors at the Red Fort, when a crowd of about 3000 men started following them. Hodson assumed that the crowd was there to free the princes and panicked. He asked them to strip their garments in order to prove how powerless they were but even then when the crowd did not thin. Hodson panicked more and shot them in cold blood at point blank range. Such was the dejection of the public that, to Hodson’s surprise, not a person stirred or protested against the cold-blooded killing.

Today the notorious Khooni Darwaza stands on a traffic divider opposite the Feroze Shah Kotla, the fifth city of Delhi and a marble plaque in Hindi of Archaeological survey of India (ASI), with almost obliterate inscription, narrates the sad tale of the cold blooded murder of the last of the Mughal princes.

This gate was part of the several gateways, built by Sher Shah (Reign: 1540 -45), that punctured the massive walls that surrounded, Purana Qila or the Old Fort, the sixth city of Delhi.

ASI plaque at Khooni Darwaza

ASI plaque at Khooni Darwaza

The mighty wall, along with a few of the gates, have long vanished but few others have survived the test of time and stands to this day.

The gates were named after the cities they faced and it is quiet likely that the Khooni Darwaza was known as the Kabuli Darwaza, as it faced the city of Kabul. During the time of Sher Shah Afghanistan bound caravans passed through this gateway.

The 15.5 meter double storied structure is made of Delhi quartzite stone and is topped with battlements. The windows and the archways have red sandstone ornamentation. Three are three different sets of stairways leading to different levels of the gateway, but these are kept under lock & key.

The cold blooded murder of the last of the Mughal princes was not the first incidence of blood shed in the notorious Khooni Darwaza. According to legends, even during the time of Sher Shah, the gate served as a execution chamber and the heads of those executed were put on public display, at the gate, as a warning to future criminals and traitors. But there are no historical records of the chamber being used as a execution chamber.

The first recorded bloodshed at the Kabuli Gate (later Khooni Darwaza) happened during the reign of Jahangir (1605 – 27) when he executed the two sons of Abdul Rahim Khan – i Khanan (Also see: Abdul Rahim Khan – i Khanan’s Tomb).

Abdul Rahim Khan, who one of the nine jewels of Akbar’s court, was against Salim’s (Jahangir) accession to the throne. So when Jahangir took revenge after his accession to the throne. Abdul Rahim was stripped of his powers, and his two sons murdered, and their bodies left to rot in the infamous Khooni Darwaza, near Purana Qila (Old Fort).

Khooni Darwaza, from another side

Khooni Darwaza, from another side

Again in 1658 Aurangzeb (Reign: 1658 0 1707) had his father Shahajahan (Reign: 1628 – 58) imprisoned and beheaded his elder brother Dara Shukho. The head was presented to Shahajahan as a gift before being displayed at the prominent location of Kabuli Gate or Khooni Darwaza. Dara’s body was later buried in Humayun’s Tomb, but it not known whether his head ever got a respectful burial or not.

In 1739 Delhi was plundered by the Persian invader Nadir Shah and again Kabuli Gate was the centre of bloodshed. However some historians opine that the massacre actually took place at another gateway with the same name in Chadni Chowk. It was followed by the notorious killing of 1857, after which the gate came to be known as Khooni Darwaza.

Again in 1947 during the time of independence and partition the Khooni Darwaza again witnessed bloodshed when a group of refugees heading towards the camp in Purana Qila (Old Fort), were massacred near the gateway.

In recent times, in 2002, Khooni Daewaza was again in the news for the wrong reason. A young girl was brutally raped inside the Khooni Darwaza. After incident the staircase leading inside the gate were locked up by the authorities, thus preventing curious visitors from exploring the interiors of one of Delhi’s most notorious gateways.


  1. September 6, 2017 at 12:33 AM

    Khooni Darwaza witnessed yet another murder — murder of modesty of a woman. Very sad!

    • September 8, 2017 at 8:26 AM

      Its true Indrajit, in recent times the murder of modesty of a woman has been a common feature in Delhi, hope things will change.

  2. September 6, 2017 at 5:26 PM

    Thanks on your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it,I appreciate it.

  3. October 3, 2017 at 7:54 AM

    The post brings in to me the important piece of history. Thanks a ton.

  4. October 12, 2017 at 11:14 PM

    Have been in Delhi for almost 4 years but didn’t know about this khooni darwaza

  5. October 16, 2017 at 2:04 PM

    You add a whole new delight in your blog with the title. I actually couldn’t resist myself from reading the blog which is surely well written after the title. Thanks for sharing the blog, it really is interesting.

    • October 28, 2017 at 10:11 AM

      Thanks Laura for the comment, keep reading my blog

  6. December 5, 2017 at 1:02 PM

    like your travelogue on Delhi. its a beautiful city with rich history and you have managed to capture i beautifully !! suhaskatti

    • December 23, 2017 at 9:26 AM

      Thanks Suhas, Delhi is an amazing city and it has the highest concentration of heritage monuments in the world.

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