What brings us to this part of the Meerut Cantonment, however, is a palatial mansion named Mustafa Castle. Mustafa Castle is the house Mohammad Ishak Khan built here in Meerut and named for his father. It now stands opposite the large white-and-blue water tank (which looks rather like a miniature Coliseum) of the Meerut Electrical Supply, at West End Road in the Meerut Cantonment. The gate of the Mustafa Castle is of carved stone, a peachy-pink affair with an inscription at the top listing the name of the house, the name of the man who built it, and the year it was completed—1899.
Past the gate, a driveway leads down to a central garden. Two stone lions stand guard at the gate-ward end of the lawns; beyond are gardens, overlooked by trees and creepers. At the far end looms the double-storeyed ‘castle’ itself. Like the gate, it’s painted a sort of peachy pink, with a band of intricate patterns in blue. What is especially interesting about the building is the architecture, which is a quaintly charming blend of several different styles. The curved roof of the central pavilion crowning the mansion is a ‘Bangalda’ (whaleback) roof; the oriel windows and the little domed pavilions all across the facade are of Rajasthani origin; some of the windows and balconies have traces of the Mughal about them; and the ‘port holes’ and some of the arches are certainly colonial.
The descendants of Mustafa Khan ‘Shefta’ and Mohammad Ishak Khan still live in Mustafa Castle, so it’s not as if this is a tourist destination that you can just go marching into. Fortunately, however, they’ve leased part of the mansion grounds to a caterer and organiser of events, who have cordoned off a section they’ve named Castle View. It’s a popular venue for wedding receptions, so nobody’s going to raise any eyebrows if you walk down the driveway and look your fill at the facade of the mansion. Do, if you can—it’s an intriguing bit of history, and an even more intriguing bit of architecture. No entry fee is charged.
New Delhi, India
April 16, 2012
From journal The Town of The First War of Independence