Apart from Jallianwala Bagh and Kakori, there are quite a few places people talk about when India’s freedom struggle is discussed. However, while some of these names may sound new to you, others will only surprise you since they have been hiding in plain sight in the disguise of architectural brilliance but without the requiem of a compulsory history lesson in its tow. Here is a list of places that were the epicenter of historically significant incidents that played a key role in India’s freedom struggle.
1. Barrackpore, Kolkata: It all started from here. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 or the Revolt of 1857 as it is fondly known began from here. The oldest cantonment in India, it is where Sepoy Mangal Pandey marched on with a rebellion against the introduction of paper cartridges in the 1953 Enfield Rifles.
A bust of Mangal Pandey lies at the spot, immortalizing the iconic hero.
Distance from Delhi: 1,500.5 km
2. Jhansi, the City of Rani Laxmi Bai: Another spot which led to the Sepoy mutiny reached and later turned into war zone. When the Britishers annexed the princely state of Jhansi with their much-revered Doctrine of Lapse, by means of which they also refused to accept the adopted son of Rani as an heir to the throne, the city became the centre of rebellion. The freedom fighter Rani Lakshmi Bai was successful in saving the kingdom from the British loyalist armies, but was defeated by the Company forces under the command of Sir Hugh Rose.
Rani Lakshmi Bai’s Samadhi has been decorated with a statue of her in action and comes replete with its own museum which has a good collection of old guns, pictures, swords and knives and many more things used by Jhansi’s Queen.
Distance from Delhi: 477.4 km
3. Lucknow Residency: A structure that was built in 1800, it became the center-stage for the most dramatic events of the 1857 First War of Independence. Called the Siege of Lucknow, the 147-day siege claimed the lives of thousands of people, innocent and otherwise. The compound remains untouched ever since the bloodshed that ensued, along with the walls bearing the pockmarks from bullets and cannon balls. The ruins of the residency is in the vicinity of other monuments like Shaheed Smarak, Tehri Kothi and High Court Building.
Distance from Delhi: 549.1 km
4. Cellular Jail, Port Blair: The colonial jail that was formerly known as Kala Paani has perhaps the darkest history. Many notable freedom fighters like Batukeshwar Dutt, Veer Sarvarkar and Vinayak Damodar Sarvarkar were detained here in the most horrid cells that were used a prison in the immediate aftermath of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Two of the seven wings of the jail was demolished after India’s Independence but former prisoners protested that it was an attempt to erase the evidence of their persecution and the remaining three wings and the central tower was converted into a National Memorial in 1969. A light-and-sound show narrating the horrific events as felt by the inmates can be witnessed on a trip to the place.
Distance from Delhi: 2,481 km
5. Gorakhpur– A frenzied mob set a police station on fire with 23 people inside. Even though this occurred during Gandhiji’s non-cooperation, the incident which occurred on Feb 4, 1922, sparked a huge wave of dissent. The British police had open fired at peaceful demonstrators, killing several people, which was the main reason behind the mob’s anger. The incident made Mahatma Gandhi call off the Non-cooperation movement because he thought that the movement had lost its non-violent nature. To commemorate the incident a Chauri Chaura Shahid Samarak has been established at the location with the names of those hanged engraved. The Indian Railways has also introduced 2 trains to honour the martyrs.
Distance from Delhi: 200.5 km
6. Kakori, Lucknow: The place in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh has been famous for the Kakori Train Dacoity which took place on August 9, 1920. From Ram Prasad Bismil, Chandrashekhar Azad to Ashfaqulla were some of the revolutionaries associated with the incident where freedom fighters gathered to stop and loot a train carrying money of the British government. The train was looted of the treasury by the revolutionaries who needed the money to run the freedom struggle.
In remembrance of the martyred, a Karkori Smarak Nidhi has been erected with the names and stories of the martyrs.
7. Chittagong, Bangladesh: Located in what is now Bangladesh, this place is well-known for the Chittagong Armoury Raid. On 18 April 1930, led by the revolutionary Surya Sen, who planned a siege in police armories with a group of other young revolutionaries. Surya Sen was successful in capturing the police armory with his troops and also managed to hoist the National Flag from it.
The Chittagong Commonwealth War Cemetery is a reminder of the siege.
Distance from Delhi: 2,131.8 km
8. Champaran, Bihar: It wasn’t until the year 1917 that Gandhiji actually began his active involvement in India’s politics. And it was in Champaran in Bihar that it all started. The farmers of Champaran were forced to grow indigo which was a non-lucrative venture that yielded the blue dye. It was here that Gandhiji used the tool of non-violence for the first time, he toured the villages and compelled the government to pass the Champaran Agraria Law in 1918.
The Gandhi Memorial Pillar has now become a tourist spot for many to visit.
Distance from Delhi: 1,265.0 km
9. Dandi, Gujarat: A tiny hamlet off the coast of Arabian Sea became the battleground where Gandhiji led the famous Dandi March from Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad to Dandi. On 12 March 1930, they began the march, which concluded 24 days later on 06 April 1930. Salt was used to protest against the tax imposed on the household commodity by the British. The incident also marked the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement and has been known as the Salt Satyagraha.
Distance from Delhi: 1,166.2 km
So, have you ever visited any of these historically significant places which were witness to the harbingers of revolution in the country’s freedom struggle?