History in blocks: 10 places crucial to our freedom
The struggle for independence can be known through books, videos of the leaders' speeches, music and movies. But more, by visiting these lesser-known monuments that narrate their muffled tales.
1. Bangalore Fort in Bengaluru, Karnataka:
Nicknamed as the 'Abode of Happiness', the Banglore Fort was built by Kempe Gowda in 1537 using only mud-mortar. This mud fort was enlarged during Chikkadeva Raya Wodeyar's rule between 1673 AD - 1704 AD.
Later, after the arrival of Hyder Ali, the structure was converted to stone-mortar, in 1761. With the arrival of Ali's son Tipu Sultan, the structure was further strengthened.
The Third Mysore war in March 1791, took place between the Kingdom of Mysore, and its army led by the Commandant Bahadur Khan, and the East India Company, along with their allies, the Maratha Empire and the Nizam of Hyderabad. The Bangalore Fort's Delhi Gate was breached and the British captured it.
Post their victory, the Fort was dismantled and the process was continued till the 1930s, and made space to construct colleges, schools, bus stands, and hospitals.
The Fort had new additions in 1911-12 - the St. Luke's Church, a cemetery and a school - in the Government allotted land in Chamrajpet.
2. Mangal Pandey Park in Barrackpore, West Bengal:
Known as the 'the first martyr', a 'great patriot' and 'religious zealot', Mangal Pandey, the revolutionary revolted against the British Lieutenant Baugh, starting the outbreak of the Indian mutiny of 1857, on March 29, that year, at Barrackpore.
The park also has a statue of the sepoy under the banyan tree where he was hanged by the British authorities.
The park, although under-maintained by the officials, is still significant in denoting the 'first spark of Independence'. (The park is not recognised as a heritage site or monument by ASI)
3. Residence of Sir Henry Lawrence:
To handle an insurrection of a native regiment near Lucknow following the first revolt for independence, Sir Henry Lawrence, the British-appointed Chief Commissioner of Oudh, arranged for a garrison of over 1400 Britishers and took refuge in a Residency there.
As he led a march towards Nawabgunj to confront some mutinous regiments he encountered 15,000 mutineers. An intense battle raged that went on for almost 60 days, with even supplies of food, water and medicines completely cut off. Outnumbered, Lawrence was forced into a retreat.
The Residency was soon besieged by the soldiers and the Siege of Lucknow commenced. A school, a post office, a jail, a graveyard of Lawrence and the soldiers near a church, and a stable, all deeply scarred with the marks of cannonballs and sniper bullets, are what remain of the Residence.
(This structure is recognised as a monument by the ASI)
4. Jhansi Rani ka Qila (Palace of Jhansi Rani) in Bangira, Uttar Pradesh:
Strategically located on Bangara Hill, the fort has 10 gates, and is spread over 20 hectares. The Fort was a stronghold of the Chandela Kings in Balwant Nagar from the 11th through the 17th century and Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, who led the 1857 revolt against the British, there.
As the British advanced towards her fort, Rani Lakshmi Bai tried to escape and proceed to capture the fort of Gwalior. But before she could reach, she succumbed to the battle with the British forces who took her Jhansi fort from her. The Fort withstood heavy bombardment by the British forces for 17 days before it fell. (This structure is recognised as a monument by the ASI)
5. Kala Pani (Blackwaters) or Cellular jail, in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
Kaala Pani, or Cellular jail, was built in the middle of the ocean, as a place of exile for political prisoners, including notable freedom fighters like Battukeshwar Dutt and V D Savarkar.
This eerie-looking Panopticon style jail has been converted into a museum which portrays the hardships the inmates had to endure, including displays of various means used for torture. (This structure is recognised as a monument by the ASI)
6. Aga Khan Palace in Pune, Maharashtra: