Growing up in Nagpur, I was always fascinated with the kind of history and heritage Pune and Mumbai had. The stories about Shivaji’s forts and exploits or the history of Mumbai’s mill culture always intrigued me. I also felt bad in a way, that Nagpur did not have a similar heritage. So, I too, like many others from my generation, grew up cribbing how Nagpur had nothing. A few days ago, however, I realised that, all these years, I just didn’t know where to look.
Nagpur’s history and heritage were just across the Lohapul and there is a reason for the Puliya aar ka Nagpur and Puliya paar ka Nagpur.
In this Explore Nagpur series, we will take you for a walk down our city’s history, quite literally.
So, let us begin our heritage walk from a place that we might have passed through a thousand times without realising its historical significance. I am talking about Mahal’s Gandhi Gate.
Nagpur, as we know was the ruling seat of the later Bhonsle rulers, and Gandhi Gate or Shukrawar darwaza or Jumma darwaza, as it was previously called, was the main entrance to the fortification of the Bhonsle Palace.
Originally known as the Jumma darwaza or the Shukrawar darwaza, this gate was re-named as Gandhi gate after independence.
This towering stone structure, built in a combination of Mughal and Maratha styles of architectures, is literally the gateway to Nagpur’s unexplored history.
Walking through this giant stone structure, one understands the grandeur and the stature of the Bhonsle empire.
Built in the 18th century, the Gandhi gate was made out of stone, limestone, jaggery, and sand. The combination of limestone, jaggery, and sand acted as a binding agent.
From being the symbol of the Bhonsle power, the Gandhi gate went on to become the symbol of autocracy during the British rule. During the Revolt of 1857, the British had hanged 9 soldiers who supported the mutiny, at the Gandhi gate. Their bodies were left hanging at the gate for a few days, as a lesson for people to learn from.
A few years ago, the local authorities tried to restore the structure. But in doing so, they actually ruined the original structure slightly, by using cement and paint, instead of restoring it the old way.
The Gandhi gate today, stands as a witness of our city’s past, present, and future. Next time if you are taking that route, stop by and soak a little into history!