From witnessing the events of the 1857 revolt, sharing a neighborhood with the Maulana Azad Medical College to carrying the history of executions, the Khooni Darwaza is a key piece of the country’s history.
Located near the Delhi Gate, Khooni Darwaza is a gate built during the reign of Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century.
The gate gets its name from the murders that took place there during the Indian rebellion of 1857.
The architecture of Khooni Darwaza is a mix of Mughal and Afghan styles. The door is made of quartzite stone and has three floors. It has three arched entrances, the central one being the largest. The upper gate floors have balconies with jharokhas providing a view of the surrounding area.
It is around 50 feet tall and has different levels, which can be accessed by three different ladders. The gate has a large courtyard in front, which is believed by historians to have been used as a public gathering space in the past. The courtyard is surrounded by a high wall and there are several chambers and rooms inside the gate.
“Within the confines of the Old Fort, Sher Shah built the Quila Khuna Masjid, a jewel of an example of Afghan architecture, which was repaired by Lord Curzon during his viceroyalty. Sher Shah’s architectural technique is said to have been followed by Akbar when he built several buildings in the same style in Agra,’ wrote Ronald Vivian Smith in his book.’Delhi: Unknown tales of a city’. Smith further wrote: “Rain-damaged Lal Darwaza was one of the gates built by Sher Shah in his new city of Delhi, apart from Kabuli Darwaza, which was probably named after the caravans that passed through it on their way. to Kabul.”
The Lal Darwaza is now called the Khooni Darwaza and is said to have gotten its name after the sons and grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar were shot dead there by Lieutenant Hodson in 1857 when British forces had recaptured Delhi and the last emperor was had taken refuge in Humayun’s tomb. “Two sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar and a grandson were shot dead by Lieutenant Hodson. After 1857, when the rebellion was crushed, Bahadur Shah Zafar and his family had taken refuge in Humayun’s Tomb, the plan being that when things calmed down they would travel from there to Allahabad by boat and from there go to Nepal where all the rebel leaders had to meet. The only people who got there were her cousin and his mother; all the others were arrested along the way. Zafar and his family were betrayed and forced to surrender,” said writer Sohail Hashmi.
“Bahadur Shah Zafar and his wife were taken separately and their two sons and one grandson were dressed as ordinary peasants and made to ride on a bullock cart. As they were being taken to the old city of Shahjahanabad, a large number of people gathered,” he added.
There are other stories about the nomenclature of Khooni Darwaza. One of them is of criminals who would be hanged there and another is related to the capture and execution of Dara Shikoh by Aurangzeb, his younger brother.
During Independence, Khooni Darwaza saw a lot of bloodshed. It is here that thousands of refugees were mercilessly killed as they made their way to safety at Purana Qila.