A Street at the back of Jumma Masjid.

Illustrated London News

November 28, 1857

"D elhi, or as the Mohammedans name it, Shahjehanabad, was once the capital of the Mogul empire, which extended from Lahore to Bengal, and from the Himalayas to the Deccan. The city lies upon the right bank of the Jumna, at the northern extremity of that range of hills, which runs up throughh the Alwar country past Ferozpore and Tinjari to Sona, &c., disappearing on its arrival in the neighbourhood of Delhi. The fortifications of Delhi, as lately existing, although not technically strong, were very complete, and in perfect repair. A long curtain-wall, flanked by numerous bastions capable of sustaining heavy guns, with a deep ditch and regular glacis [?], might well defy an attack from all the irregular hordes of Asia; and such, in fact, was the extent of security originally contemplated. But the defences against which the Pindarees and Maharattas were powerless, embraced within their circle such military material as Akbar and Aurangzebe never dreamed of. In short, until a very recent period, this same city of Delhi enclosed within its red granite ramparts the only arsenal and expense magazine that could have been made available for current military requirements on the north-west frontier.
"The walls of the city are nearly seven miles about; and there are seven principal gates - viz. the Lahore, the Ajmere, the Turkoman, the Delhi, the Mohur, the Cabul, and the Cashmere. Delhi contains many handsome private residences, belonging to the ancient nobility of the Mogul Court; and a considerable number of English and Eurasian families, the officers attachhed to the magazine, shopkeepers, and pensioners, lived here in perfect security up to the hour when the insurrection broke out. The King's palace and the Jumma Masjid are amongst the most remarkable of the ancient public buildings.
"About ten miles to the south of Delhi stands that wonderful column called the Kootub Minar, of red stone, about 270 feet high, and broken into four stories by solid-looking little balconies of the same material. There is a magnificent bird's-eye view of the surrounding country frommthe top of the column, to which access is gained by a spiral staircase of stone, several feet broad at the bottom, but just sufficient for a single person to pass when approaching the summit. The gigantic tomb of one Adum Khan is another object of great interest in this neighbourhood."


© Harappa 1997