THIS LANDMARK, from where the Mughals would set off to spend their summers in Kashmir, resonates with memories of the Mutiny of 1857. The short stretch between Kashmiri Gate and the Old Delhi General. Post Office (GPO) witnessed bitter fighting, as the city of Delhi lay under siege by the British. A final assault led to the blasting of the Gate, and a plaque on its western side honours “the engineers and miners who died while clearing the gate for British forces on September 14, 1857″. In the 1920s, this area was also a favourite haunt of the British residents living in nearby Civil Lines.
The historic St James’s Church, Delhi’s oldest, is the most striking sight in the vicinity. It was consecrated in 1836 by Colonel James Skinner. A flamboyant adventurer of mixed parentage who was rejected by the British Army, Skinner raised his own cavalry regiment which proceeded to fight with great distinction. The church was erected in fufillment of a vow Skinner made on the battlefield. An unusual structure, the church is in the shape of a Greek cross, surmounted by an imposing eight-leafed dome. Its two stained-glass windows were installed in the 1860s. A in front of them altar marks Skinner’s simple grave.