In the late nineteenth century, a revolution was brewing inside an unlikely place—a temple in the town of Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. The British had just introduced new rifle cartridges in the armed forces. To remove the seals on these cartridges, soldiers had to use their teeth. This act was met by retaliation by Indian soldiers as it was believed that the seal was made of pig and cow fat. Thus began the clamour for rebellion against the East India Company. The brick walls of the Augarnath Temple in Meerut witnessed the conversations that first sparked the Revolt of 1857.
Thousands of kilometres away in Hyderabad, a soldier, passionate to free the state, decided to revolt. As soon as the news of the uprising in Meerut reached Hyderabad, Turrebaz Khan mobilised 600 people to attack the British Residency. Posters sprung up and announcements were made on the streets and inside places of worship, encouraging the nizam to support the soldiers’ rebellion. Unfortunately, the nizam adopted a pro-British stance and Turrebaz Khan died in the war.
Around two months later, the British Residency in Indore was attacked by Indian soldiers carrying artillery guns provided by Holkar Maharaja. The cry for freedom had spread throughout the subcontinent, and this rage continued until August 15, 1947, when India gained independence. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries were marked by uprisings in different regions and states and were spearheaded by leaders of different communities, whose collective efforts led to India becoming a free country.
We are all set to celebrate this treasure trove of stories and the heritage associated with India’s struggle for freedom. A series of walks will be held in various Indian towns leading up to August 15, 2019, marking 72 years of Indian independence. Organised by Sahapedia and its outreach programme ‘India Heritage Walks’, these walks will recount how regional and local movements for independence proved significant to the ethos of the country.
In the pre-Independence era, India was comprised of presidencies and smaller kingdoms that had different historical narratives and identities. This defined their political stance as well. In politics, regionalism may be defined as an ideology that focuses on the national or normative interests of a particular region. At the time, this was the norm as the idea of a unified ‘India’ had not been formed.
Each region in the subcontinent revolted in its own way to gain freedom from the colonial powers. This regionalism continued post-Independence as well and resulted in the linguistic division of states.
We will discuss and debate these ideologies as we explore monuments, bazaars, streets and memorials that marked the freedom struggle, and try to understand the relevance of regionalism in gaining freedom. These experiences will cover a variety of themes—from the story of Tipu Sultan and the British conquest of Bangalore to the heroes of the freedom struggle at Nana Rao Park in Kanpur and the landmarks of independence in Ahmedabad.
These heritage walks will be led by experienced walk leaders and prolific storytellers with backgrounds in history, tourism, sociology, political science, etc. So mark your calendars for August 10–11 and dive into your region’s legacy of the struggle for freedom.
These guided tours are free.
For the complete calendar and registration, click here.
To know more about India’s freedom struggle on Sahapedia, click here.