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SLICE OF HISTORY

Flagstaff Tower

Life&More August 12, 2016
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Rajkumari Sharma Tankha

Located on the highest part of the Northern Ridge, the Flagstaff Tower is one of the many historical monuments Delhi has.

It was constructed by the British around 1828. It is a cake -shaped building, about 150 m in height, with a low parapet running around the top, approached by a narrow winding staircase. It was here that British survivors took refuge during the 1857 war of Independence.

At the time when tower was built, the ridge was a barren piece of hilly tract without any vegetation. The green tract around the area was developed by the British after 1857.

The building appears is like a mini fort and the spiral staircase leads to the roof where there is an octagonal watch tower surmounted by a flag staff where the British flag was once hoisted. Today, though the entrance is locked and the building is out of bounds for visitors. One can admire its architectural beauty only from outside.

Once an impressive building, the Tower lies in utter neglect today. The condition of the room is shabby. Even the yellow plaster on the outside is peeling off and nothing has been done to make its condition better. Many an enthusiastic young lovers have inscribed their names on the outside.
These days, with all Mall Road-bound vehicles diverted through the ridge due to the ongoing Metro construction, the tower is further threatened due to pollution emanating from hundreds of thousands of vehicles that pass from near it. However, strange as it may seem, it is one of the “better” maintained ASI buildings in north of Delhi.

The area around is Kamla Nehru Ridge has thick vegetation and offers a lot of shade and cool. It is home to large number of simians and one can also spot varied kinds of birds too.

 

When the Indian soldiers of the British Bengal Army revolted against the Britishers and moved to Delhi in May 1857, the Flagstaff Tower was the general rendezvous for the non-combatants, and for the sick and wounded among the British Army, who were able to move about, as they could assemble there and hear the news from the front without, much risk of injury from the fire. The weather was very hot and several British soldiers died of heat stroke and malaria. Families of soldiers too had gathered at this place before being moved to Karnal.

 

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