While time and apathy have chipped away the relics from the history books, some places still bear the mark of India’s freedom struggle
Come August, and there is a palpable sense of patriotism in the country. Perhaps it is the fact that Independence Day falls in this month. After all, it is a small tribute we can pay to the people who ensured the freedom that we enjoy today. What better way to do this than visiting a few places that have been mute witnesses to the freedom struggle.
Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on April 13, 1919. It is considered one of the deadliest attacks in the world’s history and a turning point in India’s freedom struggle. According to the British government, the massacre left 379 people dead and over 1,200 wounded. However, the Indian National Congress estimated that more than 1,500 were injured and approximately 1,000 dead. This incident happened when Baisakhi pilgrims and non-violent protesters protesting against the confinement of freedom fighters Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, were shot at on the orders of British Army Commander Reginald Dyer.
Set amidst a public garden and near the Golden Temple, this place houses a well many people jumped inside to save their lives. Take a moment to check the memorial built in honour of the victims as well as the wall that has visible bullet marks. A sound-and-light show happens every evening too.
Cellular Jail, Port Blair
A colonial prison used by the British to exile Indian political prisoners, the Cellular Jail is also known as Kala Pani. Used after the first war of Independence in 1857 as a means to suppress revolt, this location was used to isolate freedom fighters and punish them. Today, of course, it is a museum with seven galleries including the Netaji gallery, art gallery and freedom fighter’s photo gallery, among others. A sound-and-light show that recollects the freedom struggle also takes place regularly.
Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh
The home of the valiant Rani Lakshmi Bai, Jhansi took centre stage in the Sepoy Mutiny. Known for her valiant nature (a Bollywood movie in the making), Rani Lakshmi Bai led her soldiers to fight the British during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and sacrificed her life in 1858 fighting for the freedom of India. While here, check out the Government Museum, Jhansi Museum, Gandhi Museum, Fort of Jhansi and the Rani Mahal.
Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad
The place where Mahatma Gandhi lived with his wife for 12 years, the Sabarmati Ashram is where he started the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. Also known as Dandi Salt March, this was one of the important events that led to the birth of the ideology of non-violence and tolerance. The ashram is, today, a museum that covers everything to do with the Mahatma. It also works tirelessly to conserve and protect all the items related to him.
Barrackpore, west bengal
Mangal Pandey may be a name that most people know, thanks to the many movies made on him. However, if you want to know about the place tied with his life, it is Barrackpore, which is the oldest cantonment in India. This is the site where Pandey declared war against his commanders and started the famous rebellion of 1857. There is also a park dedicated to the martyr here.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla
This research-based institute was home to Lord Dufferin, the then Viceroy of India. The beautiful Scottish architecture-inspired building has stunning teakwood interiors and has been the venue for several conferences, including the Shimla Conference and Agreement, between 1945 and 1947. Today, it is a centre of education and you can see the place with a guided tour of the area that will take you through the four rooms inside.
Aga Khan Palace, Pune
Aga Khan Palace is a pristine white monument where Mahatma Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi and Secretary Mahadevbhai Desai were confined during the Quit India Movement in 1945. As both the wife and secretary passed away here, their graves are a part of the campus. The palace is set amidst a lush landscape and is the site where the movie Gandhi was shot. The picture gallery and museum here trace the history of the freedom struggle as well as exhibit personal items used by Mahatma Gandhi during his stay here. You can also see some furniture (including the dining table) as well as letters written by the Mahatma here.
So, this August, take a patriotic trip and go down the nostalgia lane. It is an exciting journey to see your history books come alive.