Flagstaff Tower – A Heritage Structure Witnessing History

Why is it making Headlines?

As there is a constant push towards renovating and bringing forth the ancient monuments and rich heritage of India by the government, the Flagstaff Tower, a one-room circular castellated brick and plaster structure, built around 1828 as a signal tower, is now under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India and is maintained regularly.

A look at the Flagstaff Tower

Flagstaff Tower is a monument in the extension of the Aravalli Range on the Delhi Ridge, nestled among seven other monuments. The structure also has holes in the walls, which historians believe were used to place guns. The Flagstaff Tower played a significant role in the 1857 Revolt as it became a temporary refuge for the British during the Revolt. Several historians and writers have written at length about the Flagstaff Tower. According to Dr AK Singh, scientist in-charge of the Kamla Nehru Ridge, the tower is now under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India and is maintained regularly.

The Rich Historical Significance attached to the Monument

The tower has a rich heritage and history attached to it. Initially used for sending telegraph messages, it became a refuge house and home to a secret passage to the Red Fort. The capture of the tower resulted in massive casualties, and the bodies were dumped in the nearby lake, which turned it red, later named Khooni Jheel. The Flagstaff Tower was the sad spot where the ladies of the cantonment gathered with their children on the afternoon of 11th May and waited vainly for help from Meerut, or for something to be done, and from which they finally started in a sad disorganised flight towards Karnal.

The Flagstaff Tower also played a significant role in the 1857 Revolt. According to Henry George Keene and Edmund Albert Duncan, all the survivors, including officers, collected at this tower, which was defended by only two guns and a few sepoys whose loyalty was doubtful. The only serious resistance the British met was at the Flagstaff Tower, the scene of such confusion a month earlier. Here alone the sepoys held their ground and ‘met the Europeans with a withering volley which killed many and wounded a great number’. Late in the afternoon, there was also a belated attempt at a counter-attack up through the Sabzi Mandi.

The Flagstaff Tower stands witness to history and has several important milestones of the city’s history. Today, it is part of the Ridge and amidst several species of flora and fauna. It is an intriguing heritage structure that deserves more attention and recognition.