Revolt of 1857 in pictures 

The First war of Independence or revolt of 1857 CE. that was fought against British east India Company at several cities towns and villages  by various sections of Indian society is an important landmark in India's history. It marked the beginning of country's struggle for freedom after a century's British rule. The violent outbreak of the sepoys at Meerut on the evening of 10th may 1857 was not a mutiny similar to the ones that had occurred earlier in the British Indian army to vent out the local grievances. The soldiers had realized that their religion is in grave danger under a foreign power and it was therefore necessary to establish an indigenous ruler(Mughals) in the country by replacing the company's rule. The uprising spread like a wild fire and soon engulfed almost whole of north and central India. The rebel soldiers in their cause were soon joined by ex-local rulers, petty taluqdars and reminiscences of Mughal aristocracy .The aim of all the leaders who fought against British in this war was to throw away the British rule by defeating them militarily and throw them out of the Hindustan. The following account is a pictorial representation of 1857 rising that shows progressively how a revolt that started by a few soldiers of Bengal native infantry became a full scale uprising within a few months and at one time almost drove away the British army from their major power centers in north and central India.

It all started with the Revolt at Barrackpore

Sepoys of Bengal Army  who were the first to revolt against the use of greased Cartridges
 The palace at Delhi from the river side
This was the home of titular King of Delhi, a lineal descendant of the Great Mughals. Ever since their advent in Delhi,in 1803,the British had gradually usurped all his ruling powers; but in1857 he was still the legal sovereign and the East India Company governed in his name. The palace naturally became the rallying point of the rebels from all parts of the country.

Calcutta from chowringhee, 1857Seat of East India company's Government in India

Sepoys at rifle practice - Use of greased cartridges in newly inducted en-field rifles made soldiers to question the intention of company and many of them perceived this step as an open attempt by company authorities to convert them in Christianity.

Barrackpur- The first violent outbreak connected with the rising of 1857 took place at barrackpur near calcutta. The greased cartridges had excited misapprehensions in the minds of the Sepoys and they regarded their introduction as an open attack on their castes and religion. On 29th march 1857 Mangal Pande, a sepoy of the 34th Bengal Native infantry,stationed at Barrackpur attacked European officers. After a brief rounds of firing and scuffle. He was arrested, court martialled and hanged. Ishwari pande, Jamadar of the Guard on duty,who had not apprehended Mangal Pande,was also hanged. The Sepoys of many regiments of the Bengal army were disarmed and disbanded.

Disarming of Sepoys at Barrakpur- The growing discontent among Bengal army soldiers after Barrakpur incident was quite visible and British east India company officials realized this so before the Indian soldiers could revolt the company authorities ordered for the disarming of  Bengal native infantry.

Disarming of 11th irregular cavalry - The regiment was disarmed by Col. Campbell on 1st august 1857

Revolt at Meerut- Sketch represents the open revolt of soldiers at meerut cantonment on 10th may 1857. They were enraged when their 84 comrades who previously had refused to use the en-field rifles were put inside prison by the Company's officials. The soldiers took control of prison freed their 84 comrades, took hold of ammunition from magazine inside Meerut cantonment and marched towards Delhi.

A sketch City of Delhi(Shahjahanabad) before Siege of 1857- On the left side is shown the bridge of boats over which the Meerut Sepoys crossed the river Jamuna on the morning of 11th May 1857 and entered Delhi.

View of Delhi from Palace gates of Red fort, Jama masjid is visible.

Zinat Mahal - Queen of last Mughal emperor Bahadur shah zafar.She played a leading role in the affairs of the state in 1857.

Bahadur shah II -The last mughal Emperor , he was virtually a pensioner of east India company.His authority was limited to his palace and was proclaimed as the emperor of Hindustan by the rebel soldiers when they reached Delhi.

Palace of Bahadur shah II inside the Red fort.

Salimgarh- The old fort on the river bank of yamuna was a sight of fierce fighting. This famous sketch shows Salimgarh connected by a bridge with Red fort.

Chandni chowk- Principal street of Delhi in front of Red fort .

The Imperial bank- This was captured by the sepoys in 1857. This sketch was made before the rebellion took place.

Gate of Magazines of Delhi- The Magazine was attacked by the sepoys on the first day of revolt in delhi. The position was captured with a huge loss of lives as the English defenders exploded the ammunition inside leading to  heavy casualties among rebel sepoys.

An Inside view of a camp of Indian rebel sepoys

British army camp laid siege before Delhi seen here from the left rear.

Bara Hindu rao- This was initially used as right most picket of ridge by Indian sepoys but this place was captured by British soldiers on 8th june 1857. Due to its critical position near the walls of delhi the Indian soldiers conducted several sorties to reclaim this position but failed.

Flagstaff tower- This place was used as  left most picket of ridge by the Indian sepoys and was captured by British soldiers on 8th june 1857.

Storming of Indian batteries at Badli ki sarai- Indian sepoys gave a tough fight here heavy losses incurred by British forces in this action.The adjutant General Col. Chester was killed in action here.

Advance of siege train- The fortification of delhi proved to be too strong for the Guns that accompanied british force during siege. Therefore a siege train consisting of nearly fifty pieces of heavy ordinances was brought to Delhi. It was accompanied by innumerable carts loaded with ammunition and extended over seven miles.The siege train arrived in Delhi on 3rd September 1857.

Assault of Delhi-  on 14th september 1857 the british forces launched their final assault on delhi for which preparations had been made by them for nearly three months. The sketch represents fierce fighting of that day. The indian troops fought with courage and did not yield an inch without struggle. They, however failed to keep the foreigners away from the imperial city. The english victory was secured at very heavy losses.

Storming of Delhi - Another sketch of the fighting on 14 september 1857.

Kashmir Gate- The photograph shows the battered condition of the Kashmir gate which was the scene of the fierce fighting on 14 September. The gate was blown up by the men of the assaulting column led by Colonel Campbell.

Humayun's tomb, Delhi where Bahadur shah zafar accompanied by Begum zinat mahal and royal princes took shelter after the breach of Delhi walls by British forces.

Surrender of Bahadur shah zafar taken by Captain Hudson.

Capture and deaths of shahzadas of delhi- On 22nd September 1857 Captain Hudson secured at Humayun's tomb the unconditional surrender of three princes, Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khizr sultan, and Mirza Abu bakar. They were placed in a bullock cart and brought into the city. When the part came near the delhi gate Hundson shot the princes with his own hand. This cruel act was the prelude to the indiscriminate killings in Delhi by British troops.

Red fort Diwan-i-Khas - After the capture of Delhi by British forces.

Prize agents extracting treasure-  Prize agents were appointed with the occupation of Delhi by the British forces and they forcibly extracted money from the citizens to augment their funds the sketch depicts one such incident that occured.

Fort of peshawar-  The repercussion of revolt at meerut and delhi were soon felt at Peshawar in north west frontier of India.

The purbiyah soldiers at Peshawar were suspected of disloyalty and were disarmed and executed. The above sketch depicts Execution of rebel sepoys at Peshawar.

Blowing of rebel soldiers from guns at Peshawar.

Blowing of rebel sepoys from guns at ferozepur. - The ten soldiers of Bengal Native infantry that openly revolted against British east Indian company's govt were blown up in full public view. According to eye witnesses the soldiers showed no sign of fear before their execution.

Attack on Sialkot sepoys Nisholson's regular cavalry- The soldiers in sialkot rose in revolt on 9th july 1857 and set off for delhi. They were intercepted by Nicholson's irregular cavalry near trimmu ghat on the Ravi,Ten miles from gurdaspur.After some fierce fighting the Sialkot brigade was completely destroyed.

The fort at Agra from the river- Where the European and Christian population took refuge. The city was relieved by Colonel Greathead after the fall of Delhi.

Allahabad Fort- The sepoys of the 6th Native infantry posted at Allahabad broke into open rebellion on 6th june 1857,but the garrison in the fort remained loyal.The leadership of the rebels were assumed Maulvi Liakat ali,a man of humble origin but of great ability Colonel Neil reached Allahabad on 11th June and by the 17th city was reoccupied by the English.

Court House and Gallows at Allahabad- The rebel had to pay Haevily for their Crime and many of them were executed

Khusrau Bagh Allahabad- Maulvi Liakat ali had established his headquarters here when he assumed the government of the city.

Nana Dhodu Pant- Nana Saheb of  Bithur became the leader of the rebellion at Kanpur and proclaimed himself  as Peshwa . He was the rebel leader most hated by British. Nana saheb's Ishtihar showing concern about the use of greased cartridges in the British east India company's army as an attempt convert native people into Christianity. 

Nana Saheb with his escorts leaving Lucknow

Jwala Prasad- He was the commandent of Nana saheb's troop at Bithur and was raised to the rank of brigadier when Nana's government was established at Kanpur. Jwala prasad was captured in 1859 and was hanged at Kanpur on 3rd May 1860.

Azimullah Khan - He was Nana Saheb's principal adviser and is believed to have taken a leading part in organizing the struggle of 1857 . He died at Bhutwal,in 1859, in Nepal.

Tika SIngh- He was asubedar of 2nd Bengal native infantry and was promoted to the rank of General by Nana Saheb.

The entrenchment at Kanpur- The Sketch represents the entrenchment which was chosen by Sir Hugh wheeler as a place for the defense for the English at Kanpur. The rebellion broke out there on 4th June 1857 and the attack on entrenchment began on 6th June. The english held out until 26th june when they capitulated on condition of safe passage for Allahabad.

The Entrenchment after the fall of Kanpur- The photograph taken after British reoccupation of the city, shows the battered condition of the building in the entrenchment.

Sati Chaura ghat ,Kanpur - The place is associated with the massacre of Europeans on 27th june 1857 when they had come to the Ghat to take boats for Allahabad. The massacre followed Neil's killings at Benaras and Allahabad.

British advance towards Kanpur- Indian Cavalry charging on British infantry troops  in the battle of Kanpur ,15th July 1857.

The town of fatehpur- Situated 48 miles east of Kanpur on the G.T.Road, was the scene of a serious encounter, on 12 July 1857,between Nana Saheb’s troops and the British force under the command of henry Havelock. The revolt had earlier broken out there on 9th June.

General Havelock’s attack on Nana Saheb at fatehpur- In the sketch has shown the action of 12th july. Nana’s troops disputed the road to Kanpur with determination but failed in their object.

Attack on Gwalior contingent by windham’s force- In November 1857, when Sir Colin Campbell was busy in the relief of lucknow Residency. Tatya Tope advanced on Kanpur at the head of the Gwalior contingent of which he had assumed commandant kalpi. General Windham who had been left at Kanpur for the defense of the city attacked Tatya Tope’s force on 26th November. Next day the Maratha leader routed windham’s force and on 28 November the English commander was obliged to take shelter in the entrenchment.

Pursuit of the Gwalior Contingent by Sir Colin Campbell- Tatya Tope’s success at Kanpur was short-lived as Sir Colin Campbell soon returned to the city. On 6th December the English commander-in-chief attacked and defeated Tatya’s troops and they fled towards Kalpi pursued by Sir Colin’s force.

Ghat at Bithur- Nana Sheb’s Bithhur met with a dire fate after defeat. Its palaces  and temples were destroyed by the victorious British Army. The main building in the photograph is Sarasteshwar, the Samadhi of Saraswati Bai, wife of Baji Rao II.

Ruins of Nana’s palace at Bithur.

Ejectment of Indians from a burning village Kanpur District.

Hanging of two rebels- This was the price which many Indians paid for their struggle for independence in 1857.

City of Lucknow- Lucknow was one of the foremost centres of the Indian struggle in 1857-58 . It was a city of great beauty,with its many gardens,splendid palaces and mosque.

River view of Buildings at Lucknow – The sketch represents some important buildings on the south bank of the gomti river. These are (from the left) Qadam Rasul, Shah Najaf,Moti Mahal and Chhattar manzil. All these figured prominently in the events of 1857-58.

Begam Hazrat Mahal- Hazrat Mahal, first wife of the deposed king of Oudh, was a lady of outstanding ability and played a leading rolein the struggle for independence. She acted as regent for her minor son,Birjis Qader, whom she declared as the successor of his father. She actively participitated in the defense of Lucknow and was often seen moving among her troops . When oudh was reconquered by the English she sought asylum in Nepal and refused to renounce the claims of her son.

Birjis Qadr with his attendants- He was declared wali of Lucknow and was formally crowned on 6th August 1857.

The Residency , Lucknow- This illustration shows the Residency building as seen before the rising of 1857. It was an imposing three storied building standing on a plateau.The place was selected by Sir Henry Lawrence for defense and after the outbreak of the revolt he transferred his head-quarters there. The residency was besieged by the Indian troops in large numbers but it was ably defended by the British garrison until relieved by Sir Colin Campbell in November 1857.

Ruins of the Lucknow residency

Interior of the Residency- Billiards  Room- The room was in third story of the  Residency building and shells fired rebel guns enetred it from both sides.The sketch shows its dilapidated condition during the siege.

Bailey guard gate and hospital Residency ,Lucknow- This position was one of the main targets of attack by the Oudh troops during the siege.

Interior of Alam Bagh- Alam bagh was a fortified garden at a distance of about two miles from lucknow on the Kanpur road. The Sepoy’s put up a stiff fight here on 23 September 1857to contest the advance of General Outram’s forcefor the relief of Lucknow. In November when Sir Colin Campbell decided to withdraw from lucknow he left Outram here with a force of over four thousand men to keep open the road to Kanpur.

Gate of Alam Bagh.

Dilkusha Palace,Lucknow – The palace was built by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan as a hunting residence and there was a large park around it. This position was held by the sepoys for many months. Sir Colin Campbell’s force captured iton  14th november 1857; but the Sepoys regained it on Sir Collin ‘s withdrawl from Lucknow. It was finally taken by the British troops on 3rd march 1858.

The Martiniere, Lucknow- Claude Martin, an Italian adventurer in Oudh service,built this imposing edifice and endowed it for a college. Like the dilkusha Palace this position was held by the Sepoys and was lost to the English troops on 14th November 1857.

Shah Najaf,Lucknow- This tomb of Ghazi-ud-din haider, The king of Oudh , was one of the strong positions of the oudh troops in lucknow. On 16th November they defended it with great determinationagainst heavy firingfrom the English guns. The British troops ultimately succeeded in capturing it by effecting an entrance through a small opening at the back. Shah Najaf was again occupied by the English on 11th March 1858.

Sikandar Bagh,Lucknow- Sikandar Bagh,built by Wajid ali Shah was a high walled enclosure of strong masonry ,120 yards square, carefully loopholed all around. The Sepoys who held it in great strength offered resolute resistance here on 16 November 1857. The invading British force captured the place by assault and all the Sepoys defending the garden nearly 2,000 men were slaughtered by the victorious army.

Interior of Sikandar Bagh- This contemporary photograph shows the place after it fell into the hands of the English.

Moti Mahal, Lucknow- Saadat Ali Khan built Moti Mahal on the southern bank of the Gomti. This place was the scene of heavy fighting during 1857-58. It was captured by Sir Collin Campbell’s force on 17th November 1857 and was again taken on 14th March 1858.

Moti Mahal, Lucknow- Saadat Ali Khan built Moti Mahal on the southern bank of the Gomti. This place was the scene of heavy fighting during 1857-58. It was captured by Sir Collin Campbell’s force on 17th November 1857 and was again taken on 14th March 1858.

Chakkar Kothi, Lucknow – This place was the key to the rebel position on the left bank of the Gomti. The Sepoys offered courageous resistance here to check  the advance of the British troops on the city. It was taken by assault on 9th March 1858 by a column of Sir Colin’s force.

Musa Bagh- Musa Bagh, situated on the right bank of the river about four miles to the north-west ,was the last stronghold of the rebels in lucknow.After the fall of the city this position was defended by nearly 9000 men led by begam hazrat mahal and the maulvi of Faizabad. Sir James outram captured it on 19th march  1858;but the rebels were able to make good their escape.

The Times correspondent looking at the sacking of the Kaiser Bagh- Lucknow, after its recapture by the British, witnessed scene of wanton destruction and indiscriminate plunder. William Howard Russell,the special correspondent of the times, was then present in the city and has given an elaborate eye-witness account of the sacking of Kaiser Baghon 15th march 1858. In the sketch is depicted one of the many exciting incidents of the day. A soldier is asking. Ïs this string of little white stones worth anything, gentlemen?

Conflict with the Ghazis before Bareilly- In the battle of bareilly(5th May 1858) a body Ghazis charged down on the 42nd highlanders. They were ill-armed and were no match for their opponents.In a swift action they were all bayoneted,and all the bodies of 133 Ghazis were left on the battle-field.

Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur- In Bihar,the Revolt was led by Babu Kunwar Singh an old Rajput Chieftain of Jagdishpur,in Shahabad district. He placed himself at the head of the danapur sepoys who had revolted on 25th july 1857. In spite of military reverses he remained undaunted and continued to defy the foreign rulers. He fought honorably and bravely and ultimately died a victor in his village of Jagdishpur.

Kunwar singh on a hunting expedition.

Kachahry of Kunwar Singh at Jagdishpur – when Jagdishpur was captured by Major Vincent Eyre in August 1857,its palace,temple,and other buildings were destroyed. The building of Kunwar Singh’s Kachahry, which has survived,has now been acquired by the Government of Bihar.

Boyle’s House at Arrah- When the Danapur Sepoys entered Arrah on 27th July 1857 the European and Eurasian residents of the town took refuge in Mr. Boyle’s house which had already been put in a state of defense. The siege lasted till 3rd August when Arrah was relieved by Major Vincent Eyre.

Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi- Lakshmi Bai was one of the most resoluteand patrioticleaders of the revolt of 1857. Her Struggle against the alien Government was courageous and consistent and she inspired her followers with unbounded enthusiasm and Zeal for her cause. When she took over the Govt. of Jhansi, in June 1857, she was hardly twenty-two; but she proved to be a capable organizer and an ideal leader. She reorganized the administration of the state ,raised troops and strengthened the defences of Jhansi . She fought with undaunted courage the force led by Sir Hugh Rose and when Jhansi fell she successfully made her escape to kalpito continue the struggle on 17th june 1958, she finally met with a marty’s death at Gwalior. In the words of Sir Hugh Rose “She was the bravest and the best man on the side of the mutineers. “

Autograph letter of Rani of Jhansi –This is the facsimile of a Modi letter written by Rani Lakshmi Bai on 8 Fagun (19th February 1858) to Nana’s nephew, Rao Saheb, who had made Kalpi his HQs. In February 1858 the Rani felt urgent need for military assistance from the Peshwa in view of the advance of the British forces towards Jhansi and appealed to Rao Saheb for such help. The last two words in the letter,HeVindyapana(This is my request) are written in the Rani’s hand.
The letter was received at Kalpi on 10th Falgun and was found amon the papers of the Indian Leaders captured there by the British authorities . It is now in the national archives of India.

Fort of Jhansi- The great fortress of Jhansi,built on an elevation rising out of the plains, defied the attack of the British forces for many days. The siege began on 22nd march 1858 and in spite of the superior artillery of the British force they could not occupy it until 4th april . The defenders resisted gallantly . Among them were many women and children.

Kark Bijli Gun- This was one of the Guns employed in the defence of the fortress .

Rani Lakshmi Bai on Battle-field- An Indian artist’s impression of the Rani fighting the British forces at Jhansi.

Rani Mahal, Jhansi- Rani Lakshmi Bai moved into this house after the death of her husband. Raja Gangadhar rao, and lived here quietly  until the standard of rebellion was raised at Jhansi. The old building now houses the Kotwali.

Fort of Kalpi- Kalpi, standing on a precipitous rock that rises from the Jumna, on the right bank of the river ,was the last stronghold of the rebels. It became the meeting place of their leaders including Rao Saheb,Tatya Tope,Rani of Jhansi and the Nawab of Banda .Kalpi was evacuated by them on 23rd may 1858 after their forces had suffered a number of military reverses.

Pahu Lal’s Temple- The Rani of Jhansi lived here during her brief sojourn at kalpi.

Tatya Tope- Ramchandra Panduranga tope,or Tatya tope , as he is popularly known , was one of the ablest commanders the English had to fight against in India. The sphere of his actiob in 1857-58 was wider than that of any other leader of the revoltand he won many victories. In spite of the reverses he suffered he did not lose confidence in himself and attacked his enemies again and again. His most spectacular achievement was his coup of Gwalior on 1st June 1858. His last battle it took the English commanders more than ten months of sustained pursuit before they could lay hands on him. He was finally betrayed by  a friend . This reproduction is from a pencil sketch drawn by Captain C.R.Baugh at Sipri just before Tatya’s execution there on 18th April 1858.

Autograph of Tatya Tope- Reproduction from his last statement made during his trial at Sipri.

Tatya Tope’s Soldiers- Tatya Tope’s army was ill-assorted; but he kept it in constant motion and successfully baffled the English commanders for many months.

Fort of Gwalior- The celebrated hill fortress of Gwalior was captured on 1st June 1858 by the forces led by Rao Saheb,Tatya Tope and Rani of Jhansi. This was an amazing feat on the part of the leaders who had suffered crushing defeats before evacuating Kalpi. Gwalior fell without a blow and Rao Saheb proclaimed the Peshwa’s rule there . The Englsih forces,however did not take log t reach Gwalior. Sir hugh Rose appeared before the city on 16th June and won the battle of Gwalior three days later. In the fighting on 17th June the valiant Rani died on the battle-field.

A view of Man Mandir from outside , fort of Gwalior

Chhattari of Rani Lakshmi Bai- This modest marks the hallowed spot where the Rani of Jhansi was cremated on 17th June 1858 . Her last rites were hurriedly performed by her followers so that her dead body might fall into the hands of the enemy.

The revolt of 1857 often known as First war of Indian independence though fought desperately by Indians at every theater but failed in achieving its objective. That was perhaps inevitable under the circumstances.But even in its failiure the struggle of 1857 forms significant chapter in the history of India. It was the first large-scale popular uprising against British rule and the first expression of India’s urge for freedom .It was undoubtedly the same urge which realized itself ninety years later. The unknown heroes of 1857 did not shed their blood in vain.


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1857 ki kranti, 1857 ka sipahi vidroh, 1857 rebellion, 1857 के क्रांतिकारी

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