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Built By The British As A Signal Tower, Have You Noticed The Flagstaff Tower On Kamla Nehru Ridge?

Delhi Dweller 24 Sept 2017


The Kamla Nehru Ridge or Northern Ridge is a forested region in North Delhi and comprises a section of the larger Delhi Ridge. The Flagstaff Tower is a significant monument centred here. Morning walkers, yoga groups and cyclists may pass by it every day, some of them oblivious to the fact that this was a site where bloodshed had taken place in the past. The Flagstaff Tower also marks a time at the very beginning of the British rule in India. It’s now a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.

Purposes Served By The Tower

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This colonial tower was built in 1828 to serve the primary purpose of a signal tower as it was built on a higher elevation than the surrounding areas. It later became a place of refuge for women and children of British officials at the time of the Sepoy Mutiny, or the Revolt of 1857, as it is generally called. 

The inside of the tower, which is locked, is a circular room which has the capacity to hold a crowd of around a hundred people. It resembles a mini-fort, but doesn’t seem like a very safe place to hide in during a rebellion. In recent times, some facets of the tower have been ruined due to people having scribbled on its walls.

The Stories Behind It

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There seem to be several rumours surrounding this place; especially with the ‘Khooni Jheel’ (Bloody Lake) in the vicinity. It’s said that dead bodies of soldiers were dumped in it during the uprising. One may also come across a caretaker on more than one occasion who won’t hesitate to tell any tales and also warn you about thieves in the area. This is probably due to allowing unrestricted entry to the widespread ridge. People of all ages visit the ridge, the majority being students and couples, but it’s best not to wander alone here.

Where To Find The Tower

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The easiest way to reach the tower is to follow the straight path from the gate which is right opposite the gate of the Delhi University Vice Chancellor’s office. It’s just about a kilometre from the nearest metro station. Entry is allowed between sunrise and sunset. 

The entrance to the gate is crowded with fast food stalls selling momos & chole kulche etc. Then follow the slightly upward sloping, clean and green path, to find the monument straight ahead. The tower is at the centre of a circular path which has exits along four roads. 

It’s advisable to explore the ridge by taking any of the narrower streets on either side of the main path. The fragrance of flowers and plants inside is almost overwhelming. The ridge is home to monkeys and a number of bird species. The Mutiny Memorial related to this site is also nearby.  

The Flagstaff Tower is a notable place to visit for those seeking heritage along with some fresh air in North Delhi, so come swing by!

Location | The Flagstaff Tower - Kamla Nehru Ridge, Civil Lines