Just a few kilometres away from Delhi University’s sprawling North Campus is a string of lesser-known monuments that stand testimony to not just the capital’s but the sub-continent’s rich history.
One of them is the building which houses one of the biggest municipal hospitals in the capital — Hindu Rao. The building dates back to the 19th century. According to records, parts of the building served as the British headquarters during the Revolt of 1857.
Even as the hospital premises lends a rich historical legacy to the area, a derelict building adjacent to the Hindu Rao staff quarters hardly attracts visitors. While some believe it was the hunting lodge, Kushak-i-shikar, of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, historians think the building could have been used as an observatory.
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An INTACH document states, “The architectural features of the building, as well as the fact that it is located at the highest point on the ridge, hint that it was probably an observatory. But historians sometimes describe it variously as a hunting lodge or even a palace. Historical sources tell us that the building was built by Firoz Shah in order to assuage his grief at the death of his favourite son, Fateh Khan in 1373…”
Today, the building lies in ruins. Locals call it ‘Pir Ghaib’ and claim it has the presence of supernatural forces.
In an enclosure near the hospital stands the remnants of a broken sandstone pillar, with inscriptions of the edicts of Mauryan ruler Ashoka in Brahmi script. The pillar was damaged in the 18th century when it had broken into five pieces. These were put back together in 1866.
Brought from Meerut in the 14th century by Firoz Shah Tughlaq and installed near Kushak-i-shikar, the pillar bears inscriptions of Ashoka’s policy of Dhamma.
As the road winds towards the left, a Gothic red sandstone structure – believed to be a church by locals – stands less than 300 metres from the pillar.
Built in 1864, the Mutiny Memorial has a tapering tower over 25mt high while its facade bears names of the soldiers who lost their lives in the revolt. Officers who died between May 30 and September 29, 1857 have been named on plaques around the tower which bears a marble crucifix.