As India turns 70, it is a good time to reflect and look back at some of the places that were significant to the freedom struggle, not with poignancy but with pride. While we’re sure history buffs may have visited most of these landmarks, there is a surprise or two thrown in. How many have you been to?
An appropriate place to start would be at one of the sites of India’s first War for Independence – the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Although the mutiny was quelled, perhaps this event was what marked the beginning of the end of the British Raj. Now declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India, the crumbling buildings still bear cannon and bullet marks from 160 years ago. The on-site museum has a large collection of objects related to the uprising, and definitely warrants a visit.
Tue – Sun, 10 am – 5 pm; Rs5 per head
The Cellular Jail or Kala Paani as it was once known, in Port Blair, Andaman Islands, is not what you would plan your trip to the islands for. However, considering its monumental relevance to the freedom struggle, not visiting it if you’re there would almost be sacrilege. Although the jail was completed only in 1906, the British started sending mutineers and political prisoners to the Andamans immediately after the 1857 uprising. It is said that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose unfurled the tricolour to proclaim independence here in 1943, after the Japanese took over the islands.
The Sound and Light show here is particularly popular.
9 am – 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm; all days except national holidays; Rs30 per head; Sound and Light show – 6 pm, 7:15 pm; Rs50 per head
Although not much to look at, the erstwhile residence of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose bristles with significance. It was from here that Bose made his daring escape from house arrest on the 16th of January, 1941. His last days may remain shrouded in mystery, but his immense contribution to the freedom struggle is undisputed. Managed by the Netaji Research Bureau, the museum here is a fount of information on Netaji.
Tue – Sun, 11 am – 4:30 pm; Rs5 per person
Sultan Mohammad Shah Agakhan built the Agakhan Palace in 1892 to provide employment for the famine-struck villagers from surrounding areas. But it was Mahatma Gandhi’s incarceration, which propelled it to landmark status in Indian history. Soon after launching the Quit India movement, Gandhi was imprisoned here from 1942 to 1944 along with his wife Kasturba, Sarojini Naidu, and Mahadev Desai. Spread over 19 acres, it is must-visit for its architectural splendour alone.
9 am – 5:30 pm, all days; Rs5 per person (Indian citizens), Rs100 per person (Foreign nationals)
The historical significance of the Red Fort – the place where the tricolour was unfurled on 15 August 1947 by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru – is reminded to us every year when the current prime minister does the same. Though we are eminently familiar with the turrets, bastions and ramparts of its front façade, this pinnacle of Mughal architecture has numerous fascinating structures behind its sandstone walls. These include, among others, the Nahr-i-Bihisht, or stream of paradise, which ran through the various pavilions carrying fresh water drawn from the Yamuna, and the Baoli, or step-well, which is believed to pre-date the fort itself. Go with time on hand, and you’re sure to find it well worth the effort.
Tue –Sun, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm; Rs30 per person (Indian, or citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries) Rs500 per person (Foreign nationals)
Anjuman Deodhar quit medical school to pursue his passion for writing. A well-heeled traveller, intrepid birder and wildlife enthusiast, he is currently working on a memoir of the 15 years he spent with "the dog who didn't know better".