Khooni Darwaza, Dehli
THE KHOONI Darwaza. was not one of the 14 gates built by Shah Jahan in the city of Shahjahanabad but a building of Sher Shah Suri’s time. Then it was known as the Kabuli Darwaza because caravans to Afghanistan passed through this the northern gate of Suri’s capital city which had the Purana Qila as its central citadel, says the book on elgi monuments compiled by Maulvi Zafar Hasan in the 1920s.
Situated opposite the Ferozeshah Kotla, this gateway is 15.5 metres high, built of Delhi quartzite stone, with three staircases leading to different levels of the gate. The staircase leading to the terrace was used by the three rapists to push the medico of Maulana Azad Medical College to the topmost part of the gate where the criminal assault took place.
Khooni Darwaza means ‘bloodied gateway’ and legend has it that blood drips from its ceilings during the monsoon.Built by Sher Shah Suri in 1540 it is in the in the middle of the four-lane Bahadurshah Zafar Marg connecting New and Old Delhi.
It was originally named Kabuli Darwaza, when Kabul-bound caravans left the city through its arched entrance. The gateway, 15.5 m high, took its present name after the Mughals started displaying the heads of executed criminals from its battlements. Soon it became a popular place to hang the body parts of unwanted princes.
Emperor Aurangzeb displayed his brother Dara Shikoh’s head at the gate. Prince Dara was to succeed Shahjahan as the ruler of Mughal India.
After the British crushed the 1857 uprising, they killed the sons of the last Mughal Bahadur Shah Zafar at this gateway. It is believed that the restless spirits of Zafar’s sons still float around in the ruin.
The Khooni Darwaza is said to be haunted because of the gory incidents connected with it. Folklore says it’s in the realm of spirits and djinns and that blood stains can still be seen on its walls. These are actually the worn-out stones of the gateway which have acquired a reddish hue. Hence some also call it Lal Darwaza, though there are at least two other gateways known by that name — one opposite the Delhi Zoo built by Sher Shah and the other opposite Bazar Sita Ram in the Walled City built by Mirza Mughal Beg Khan as the gateway to his house during the decadent years of the Moghul Empire in the early 19th or late 18th Century.
The Khooni Darwaza was the venue of a unique cultural meet two years ago. It would be in the fitness of things if more such functions are held there or a library or office of the Archaeological Survey are housed in it. If that’s not feasible then at least a police post can be set up to prevent further mischief as the gateway is used for illegal activities by criminals, vagabonds and drug addicts. Homosexuals and prostitutes have also operated there. Time to end the nuisance at this wicked gate.
But snooping around this ghoulish ruin is not so easy. The staircases reaching to three different levels within the gate are closed to visitors. Good luck with your ghost spotting.