Chandni Chowk- A town square colored by blood

Delhi, the capital of India , has had a gory past but quite a lively present. But, today as the world mourns #ParisAttacks , I would like to share some grisly attacks on Delhi in the past.

When you visit India, the first place that you land up in India is Delhi but your India travel plans are incomplete without Chandni Chowk.

The bustling malls, the Metro shuttle service, the young that throng the public places of Delhi and the wide, open avenues that house the various foreign embassies don’t give a clue at all if the murder and mayhem that the city has witnessed.

The famous town square of the Old Delhi also called as Chandni Chowk is one of the most bustling places in the city. Cloth merchants jostle for space with shops selling sweets and old gramophones.

When the weather is more favorable, one can see European and American travellers exploring this place.

But do you know, this place is witness to some of the most horrific massacres of the world?

The Gurudwara Sisganj (picture below) was the site where one of the Gurus of Sikhs and Hindus was tortured to death by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb

Close by, there is a fountain, that supposedly was the site where three of his followers were also tortured to death for refusing to accept Islam.

And, sitting cheek by jowl, with the Gurudwara is a mosque, Sunehari Masjid. Way back in the 1700s, an Iranian invader Nadir Shah  had ransacked Delhi and sitting inside this mosque had given orders for a general massacre of its citizens.

Reportedly, more than 30,000 people had been murdered!

Sometimes I wonder, what makes people murder each other? I get no answers.

Meanwhile, life goes on.

Top Picture; Sunehri Masjid

Bottom Picture; Gurudwara Sisganj
                                                                Sunehri Masjid, Chandni Chowk

The Sunehri Masjid (Golden Mosque) was constructed by Roshan-ud-Dawla Zafar Khan in the year 1721.It is so named because of its golden coloured domes.History tells us that the invader, Nader Shah had camped himself in this mosque and given orders for the general massacre of the people of Delhi.The killings lasted the entire day.Not many visitors are aware of the grisly past of this mosque.

This mosque was constructed during the reign of the Mughal Emperor, Mohammad Shah “Rangila”. The epithet “Rangila” refers to the colourful life of the lecherous king.

In his book on Nader Shah, noted British author Michael Axworthy describes the murderous event as such;  “On the morning of 22 March, Nader mounted his horse and rode from the palace to the Roshan-od-Dowala mosque (the former name of Sunehri Masjid). As he arrived there with his men about him, some people threw stones from balconies and windows around the mosque, and a shot was fired, killing an officer beside him. He had already made up his mind, but this final insult may have added fury to Nader’s frustration. He went to the roof of the mosque and stood by the golden domes, looking out over the houses, shops and roof of the Chandni Chowk district. He ordered that no one should be left alive in any part where any of his soldiers had been killed, and then drew his sword as a signal that the massacre should begin.”

This mosque was repaired by the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar.By the way, celebrated British author cum historian William Dalrymple has written an interesting book on the Last Mughal.
                                                                             Gurudwara Sisganj

Now we come to Gurudwara Sisganj.

Guru Tegh Bahadur, was one of the last Gurus of the Sikhs. He resisted the cruel acts of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb , who had him imprisoned and brought before the Emperor in Red Fort, Delhi.

The Emperor demanded that the Guru embrace Islam but, the Guru flatly refused.For this refusal, he along with his three disciples was sentenced to death.One of his followers, Bhai Mati Das was sawn alive, the second and the third ones were boiled in hot oil and set on fire, respectively.The Guru was beheaded on the orders of the Emperor.

Three centuries later, as you soak in the exuberance and the energy of Chandni Chowk, it would be impossible for you to accept the savage history of this place.

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