One of the many places that are associated with ghost and scary stories is Delhi’s “Khooni Darwaza”, literally meaning the “Bloody gate”. It is an ancient monument made of quartzite stone, 15.5 meters high and has three staircases leading to different levels of the gate. Like several others historical places, this gate has long been associated with supernatural presence and ghost sightings. This one particular ghost however that haunts “Khooni Darwaza” is a little different than the other ghosts because it is believed to haunt only foreigners, white people in particular.
Khooni Darwaza initially known as Lal Darwaza was built by Emperor Sher Shah Suri in 1540s. For a long time it continued to be known by that name but it was during and after the reign of Jahangir that this gate became the centre of a series of violent and unfortunate events which earned it its current and most famous name of Khooni Darwaza.
Some historians believe that it was even during the time of Sher Shah Suri that this gate was used as an outpost and a place where heads of beheaded criminals were exhibited however there is no certain evidence to support this belief. It was Emperor Jahangir however who first contributed to the gate’s long history of gore and violence when he ordered the killings of two sons of Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan accusing them of being traitors. Rahim Khan was the son of Bairam Khan who helped and acted as Akbar’s regent after Humayun’s death. Upon Bairam Khan’s assassination, Akbar married Bairam Khan’s widow and assigned Rahim Khan an important place in his court as one of his Navratnas. So Rahim Khan was also Akbar’s step-son and Jahangir’s step-brother. He was a towering figure of Mughal Empire and is believed to have held more respect than Jahangir himself who had once marched upon his own father Akbar. Some even considered Rahim Khan to have an equal claim to throne due to which Jahangir always had a certain disliking towards him. To add to all this, After Akbar’s death, Rahim Khan supported Jahangir’s eldest son Khusrau’s claim to the throne and was able to get support of several others important figures of the court like Mirza Raja Man Singh and Mirza Aziz Kokaltash, son of Akbar’s wet-nurse, Ji Ji Anga. Jahangir however still became the emperor of India and in order to get back at Rahim Khan, he had both his sons executed at Khooni Darwaza, then known as Lal Darwaza. After execution, both the bodies were left hanging at the gate to rot and be eaten by birds and hence this gate earned its name of Khooni Darwaza.
But it did not just stop here. After Aurangzeb defeated and imprisoned his father Shah Jahan in Agra’s fort, the first thing he did upon becoming the emperor was to have his elder brother Dara Shikoh, who was leading the Royal Army, beheaded and displayed his head at the gate. Dara was paraded through the streets of Shahjahanabad before being taken for execution. His body is said to have been buried in the vault at Humayan’s Tomb but the head was initially displayed then later thrown at the gate for dogs and birds to eat.
History then repeated itself in 1857. Once a Mughal emperor had sons of an innocent man beheaded at the gate but during the mutiny of 1857, it was the two sons of a Mughal Emperor who got beheaded here. A British soldier by the name of Captain William Hudson had arrested Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s sons, Mirza Mughal and Mirza Khizr Sultan and grandson Mirza Abu Bekar on on September 22, 1857. Hudson who had already obtained the surrender of the emperor demanded that the three princes also surrender unconditionally which they did at Humayun’s Tomb. Hudson also arrested 13 other members of Royal Family and was transporting them in a carriage accompanied by a platoon of 100 mounted soldiers. Upon reaching the Khooni Darwaza, he got surrounded by an approximately 3000 Muslims. Hudson however still had the audacity of shooting the three princes in cold blood, in front of thousands of people at point blank range. He later stripped the dead bodies naked and put them up for public display in front of Chandni Chowk Kotwali. Nemesis caught up with Hudson in Lucknow, where he was shot dead at point blank range by an Indian soldier of British Indian Army.
During the partition riots of 1947, hundreds of refugees were murdered at Khooni Darwaza while they were proceeding towards the refugee camp at Purana Qila.
Another instance of blood-shed at this gate, to which there is no historical support however, is from year 1739 when Nadir Shah of Persia attacked and ransacked Delhi. It is believed that he massacred thousands of innocent people right at Khooni Darwaza.
In recent times, a girl of Maulana Azad Medical College was gang-raped in broad day light inside Khooni Darwaza, in the year 2002. After this incident, the staircases of the gate were locked by authorities. Apart from this unfortunate event, this gate has long been used by anti-social elements for illegal activities. Drugs addicts and prostitutes have often been found operating here. More than often, you will find homosexuals standing here looking for some company.
Such is the bloody history of a gate which was fondly and beautifully built by an emperor once. Now this gate is believed to be haunted by the spirits of people who were once killed here. Some people also claim it to be a realm of Jinns but the most popular story is that the ghosts of Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khizr Sultan and Mirza Abu Bekar who were killed by an English Captain haunt this area. As per the folklore, they do not disturb or cause any nuisance to an Indian however watching a foreigner near the gate highly upsets them. There are stories of foreign tourists often getting slapped, pushed and even attacked by an invisible force but these are all just stories. There is no recorded proof of any such incident. Some people still claim to have seen blood stains on the walls of the gate which I of course could not find.
Ghost or no ghost, there is no denying that it is yet another monument in our country that is completely ignored by authorities. There is not even a guard posted at this gate despite the well know illegal activities that happen here. You will not find many tourists here and the only people who come to see it are the ones who heard the haunting stories and are curious about it. Unlike Bhangarh, where the haunting stories were created solely for the purpose of attracting tourists, Khooni Darwaza gets its share of horror from people looking for a good enough gossip.