Vellore and her unsung place in Indian history

[Apologies for the bout of silence. Unavoidable circumstances.Enough said]

Every once in a while you come across a town that you pass off as ordinary only to be surprised at the abundance of history that lies covered by layers of dust and rows of encroached shops. Vellore is one such place.

The vellore Fort

Krishnadevaraya built a fort around this strategic town; Within the fort he built a temple but before he his artisans could install the diety, Hyder Ali  came along.  He ousted Krishnadevaraya and finding no diety within the temple did not deem it necessary to destroy it. He built a mosque in the opposite corner instead.

Then along came the British spoiling the peace and quiet of this southern town.Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan fought valiantly but as history tells us luck favoured the British.

The fort temple

Enter Robert Clive. He was engaged to  Margaret Maskelyne in a small church with mahogany benches and stain glass windows built inside the fort. So the fort boasts of three places of worship all within its sturdy ramparts.

The church with mahogany benches and stain glass windows

Indian historians are divided when it comes to the Sepoy mutiny. The official records show the year of the mutiny as 1857. However in 1806 the sepoys in Vellore rebelled against the British. The irony of this rebellion is that no one knows how many Indian soldiers died in the mutiny, however the graves of all the British soldiers who fought against democracy have a tomb with a headstone in a grave yard that is a stone’s throw away from the grounds were the battle was fought.

Site of the Vellore Sepoy's mutiny

Today this ground which once was covered with the blood of the soldiers is the battle field for the local cricket clubs. At least no bloodshed! Thank god for small mercies.


4 thoughts on “Vellore and her unsung place in Indian history

  1. Pingback: 1857 – A Failed ‘Mutiny’? « 2ndlook

  2. The Vellore Mutiny interestingly, rarely mentioned, revolved around Tipu Sultan’s sons – who were kept in custody in the Vellore Fort. However, there was not enough organization – and it finally made little difference.

    But after that was another mutiny at Barrackpopre in 1824. Rani of Kitoor and Dodia Wagh continued the Mysore wars that the British thought had ended with the death of Tipu Sultan.

    The entire East India was aflame for more than 100 years from 1790-1920. The Bhils, Santhals, Sanyasins, fanned insurrections across Bihar, Bengal, Orissa.

    In fact the British had to give up their American colonies because their Indian Empire was risk. Battles in America needed some 5000-20,000 soldiers. Indian battles frequently had 100,000 or more soldiers. It also mattered that India was the largest manufacturer of gunpowder elements till WWI. France and China being very small alternate centres of gunpowder production outside India.

    In fact the American Revolution could not have happened without the French /Spanish sources of gunpowder.

    And the American colonies were considered worthless even by the French who retained Haiti and surrendered American holdings after the 7-years War ended in 1763.


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