Sunday, 17 January 2021

Col. Arthur Wellesley and his defeat in Malabar, Kerala against the Nair Army guided by Pazhassi Raja - early colonial rule

Arthur Wellesley (Duke Wellington). 

Many of us may not have come across an important historical fact related to  the early colonial era in the Malabar area of Kerala and, in particular. Waynad.  Surprisingly, this place has links with Arthur Wellesley, an Irish-born soldier of the British Army who  started his career at the age of 28 in Calcutta (Kolkata) by joining the 33rd regiment of the East India Company.  Two years later on  a war  mission to  Mysore, Southern India  to confront the sworn-enemy of the British, Tipu Sultan.  In the final Angelo-Mysore war, the regiment led by Wellesley  saw the down fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799.  Backed by vast experience in various phases of war and administration in India that stood him in good   he took on the mighty powerful ruler Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France  (June 1815) at Waterloo, Belgium  and emerged victorious. In the later years, he became the Prime Minister of Britain. 

Waynad, Kerala.

Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) served in Waynad as a military strategist.  How did he appear on the scene here- in the Malabar area?   If you turn the pages of the history of waynad that is situated in a mountainous area surrounded by thick jungles and aromatic spices for which the environmentally sensitive  Western Ghat mountains are quite famous, you are in for a surprise. 'Official Records' reveal that his string of victories got broken here. Wellesley leading the colonial forces of Malabar, South Canara and Mysore,  as a commander to suppress the growing aggression posed by Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan on one hand and Pazhassi Raja of Waynad on the other side. The Nair army adopted guerrilla war tactics against them and  Arthur Wellesley ran out of luck and faced defeat and indignation in the final years of  war duty in the subcontinent.    

Waynad,Kerala.  Tea plantation.

Kottayam district, Kerala state,
The reason why the EIC was interested in this fertile region endowed with nature is  this area was (and is)  popular for all kinds of spices, etc and the possession of land   became a contentious issue. The Raja of that area, hailing from the Kottayam Royal family, as the son of the native land had every reason to claim rights over it. But the East India Company in the midst of its land- grabbing  spree set their eyes on the fertile land that produced superior quality pepper, turmeric, cardamom, etc that would fetch a bundle on the international market. Besides, they could also get quality wood from the forest as well.  Obviously EIC rejected local ruler's  claim as it had special trade interest  and commercial exploitation of the rich land and the profits derived from the sale of spices,

According  to the Malabar Manuel, compiled  by William  Logan,  historian and colonial administrator of Malabar  under  the Madras Presidency that had jurisdiction on this land  "The military control of the province was placed under the Madras government, which appointed Colonel Arthur Wellesley as Commander of the forces in Malabar and Canara as well as in Mysore,"  The local hill tribes had been protesting over the EIC 's threats  to take over of their land under Pazhassi Raja, (reign 1774 to 1804) a highly respected and influential person in this area. 

Pazhassi Raja, Kerala.

Above image: Pazhassi Raja (3 January 1753 - 30 November 1805) born as Kerala Varma .was a warrior Hindu prince and de facto head of the kingdom of Kottayam ,also known as Cotiote. The kingdom cosisted of mostly rich hilly areas with tough geography.  He fought  wars of resistance against the Mysorian army from (1773–1782 and then  to 1793). led by Hyder Ali and later by Tipu Sultan.  He was young and  in the early 20s. His wife was Kunjani.  His consistent fight against the raiders  of Mysore got the support from his people because they were demanding heavy taxes and trying to take over the Hindu temples.  The EIC got the control of Kottayam  region and other places after the 3rd Angelo-Mysore war  that ended in a peace treaty.(Srirangapatna) and in the wake of it  after 1792 the Kottayam area became part of Madras Presidency.  This time the local ruler  took the cudgels against the English company and tried hard to uphold  the sovereignty of  his kingdom. By virtue of the peace treat with the Mysore ruler,  the EIC, unethicaaly, staked its claim over the land ruled by the ruler of Kottayam dynasty.  Till his last days of his life the English company's army  led by Col. Arthur Wellesley could not subdue the protests led by him. Puzhassi  Raja  died in 1804 and became a prominent freedom fighter in the South western peninsular India, frequently referred to as God's own county because of its rich flora, fauna, numerous rivers and fertile lands.  ............ 

To suppress the activities of the tribes, Wellesley took the extreme step of strengthening the British army and started laying roads in the wooded areas - a way to  displace the natives from their ancestral lands; thus Wellesley  earned their ire. To add fuel to the fire,  Wellesley wrote to the higher-up in Madras, his fellow army man, Lieut. Col. Kirkpatrick, (dated April 7, 1800,)  expressing his displeasure over the  vast  tough wooded terrain where military operation was a difficult one. as the whole area was densely forested, with  poor visibility for troop movement. As for the natives living there,  he mentioned  that they were resolute,  troublesome and would  cause turbulence.  The unfortunate fact is, as per records, he one step went ahead and described  the natives  as ''savage   and cruel''.

The Battle of Panamarathukotta (or Pancoorta Cottah) -Oct. 1802 was fought between the British Company and the Nairs  of  Wayanad.- Cotiote and after a long struggle they  defeated the British army. Not withstanding his serious efforts, Wellesley  made a futile attempt to round up Pazhassi Raja who hadto live in exile to get protestas against the Europeans going. The dragnet kept failing evry time the highly spirited British officer tried to catch the ruler. Both Wellesley and his brother holding the  highest post of  Gov. Gen. in Calcutta (Kolkata)  had to return to England before Raja was defeated by the  EIC.  Wellesley had to leave Waynad for his home country  quite disappointed over his failure to trap  Pazhassi  Raja as his military strategies did not work well  in this land   that had complex geography. Pazhassi  Raja died in 1805 and his end was a controversial one. Some historians say he was captured by the British and others mention that he committed suicide before being caught by the colonial army. 

Wellesley  was bestowed with the covetous peerage  of the Duke of Wellington in 1814 for his  distinguished services in the British army and administration. In 1815,  he became the ''Conqueror of the Conquer of the World''  after his war with Napoleon at Waterloo, Belgium.  As Wellesley had a flair for administration of  the government, being close to the King  George IV,  he entered  British politics on Tory ticket.   He ultimately became the Prime Minister in 1828 and was politically active till 1846.. He died in 1852 at Walmer Castle.


The Cotiote War

There had been continuous skirmishes and protests  by the Cotiote Kottayam king, Pazhassi Raja Kerala Varma, and his subjects against the  East India Company for a long time spanning  between 1793 and 1806. Perhaps, longest  struggle in India- longer than   Anglo-Mysore Wars (beween  Hyder Ali and Tipu  Sultan, Anglo-Maratha Wars, Anglo-Sikh Wars and Polygar Wars of Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.  Spear-headed by daring Pazhassi Raja who was keen to be free the land and people from the British yoke, his continuous struggle gave a big headache to the British  who were determined to annex areas under his rule. Being dishonest and deceitful as usual, the English company betrayed the Raja and the natives with persistent exhortations of his two patriot noblemen, Kaitheri Ambu and Kannavath Sankaran. Consequently, war broke out between Cotiote Nairs and the EIC army. 

The war lasted from 1800 to 1804 led by Arthur Wellesley after his fresh victory against Tipu Sultan who died in 1799. (The EIC's mission was supported by the ruling dynasty of Kottayam (a sort of temporary alliance). The EIC army when facing the war in Malabar against the Nairs, initially had  6,000 men; later  it increased  to 14,000 in 1804.  The Nair army had between 2000 to 6000 equipped with flintlock (uses flint striking mechanism for ignition). Later they ran out of musket and other weapons and they used bows and arrows swords.  They  inflicted heavy injuries on the European army men and soldiers - about 80%. suffered. The Nairs were quite familiar with the mountain terrain and well-versed in gorilla warfare and caused severe blow to the EIC army. On 18 March 1797,  a big army of 1000 plus  well-equipped soldiers led by Major Cameron  was ambushed  by Pazhassi's men. The lightning attack in the jungle was so brutal, the English army suffered heavy causality.  Literally, the army was driven to the wall.    The 10 year long  struggle ended in favor of Nairs. For Wellesley, it was a great defeat. (


Saturday, 16 January 2021

Duke Wellington' s victory at the "Battle of Waterloo'' - backed by his war experience in India and Mysorean rocket technique

Arthur Wellesley of the East India co, 

Britain in 2015  celebrated  the  200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo (June 1815), a big and decisive  one  fought by the French forces on one side led by none other than Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, a shrewd and experienced commander against  what is referred to as the Anglo-allied army or Wellington's army, commanded by  Sir Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington). The venue was on the reverse  slope of  Mont. Saint. Jean,  SE of Brussels,. As the power struggle had been going  on in Europe  between the French and the British, it happened to be a crucial war involving 170,000 soldiers. The outcome would decide the supremacy of  either of the two  who would dictate terms over other countries in Europe. The fate of Europe  literally hung on the victor for the next several decades. 

Having  returned  from Elba (Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy) well rejuvenated,  Napoleon  took on the English  and allied forces with brimming confidence. As for Arthur Wellesley, brother of former Gov. General of India and commander of  the  troop that first sneaked into the formidable fort of Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatna (now in the state of Karnataka. S. India) and saw the fall of Tipu, he was on the war front with rich experience he  had gained in the  Indian subcontinent. 

Arthur Wellesley of the East India co, 

 During the early colonial period under the East India company's rule, Wellesley  successfully tackled Tipu Sultan, a sworn enemy of the English, who had a military alliance with the French.  Col. Wellesley was the first one to be on the scene in the final war to check whether Tipu was dead on  4 May  1799. It was the 4th and final Angelo-Mysore war and the British successfully  captured the Mysore kingdom.  When facing  mighty Napoleon,  Commander Duke Wellington had an advantage over his French counter part. The British army was armed with Congreve rockets  that were made more efficient using the Mysorian rocketry  as a model. Both Tipu Sultan  and his father Hyder Ali used the rockets against the English army  and terrorized them. In the 18th century India used the earliest  systematized,  rockets with heat-resistant  iron cased cylinder weighing 2.2 to 5.5 kg  for  military purpose, unknown to the British army then. These rockets launched from special launching platforms could  travel between 1.5 to 2 km depending on the amount of gun powder being used in them. They would inflict  heavy damage on the enemy. and destroy the ammunition depot.  The British forces fighting in Mysore, India  encountered rockets used by the army of  Tipu.  For the foot soldiers it was a nightmare to see a hail of incendiary rockets descending on them  with  intense heat, speed, direction and destructive force. This made the British troops  run for their lives. In the second Angelo-Mysore war (1870 at Pollilur) diligent use of rockets by the Mysore army finally contributed to a British defeat.

Srirangapatna, Karnataka state,South  India

The field of rocketry  saw gradual evolution after the 13th century. World-wide many developments took place in the use of rockets in the war. Asia, Germany, England, etc were experimenting on them.  An English man Roger Bacon came up with better gun powder that increased the range of rockets. A French man by the name of Jean Froissart introduced a pipe system to propel the rockets with  controlled flight path  In Germany in the 16th century, two-stage rocket was introduced by a  fireworks maker Johann Schmidlap and this type of rocket could  reach   higher altitudes. Rocketry was well used by the Indians in the 14th century, but they were made from wood and bamboo. Hyder Ali, ruler of Mysore and father of Tipu, being innovative,  used heat resistant forged iron  to make  rockets for military purpose.  Though crude, they were far more powerful and destructive than others. because of  better gun powder in the canister and the pointed stuff  like  spears blades, sword, etc  were tied to them.  The pointed  weapons in flight made the  rockets very unstable towards the end of their flights making   the blades  spin around like flying scythes. Anything blocking  the flight path would face destruction. 

ruler Hyder Ali of Mysore, India

Tipu Sultan of Mysore.

The British  found  600 launchers, 700 serviceable rockets and 9,000 empty rockets in the Mysroean arsenal at Srirangapatna fort  after the fall of Tipu Sultan  in May 1799  and  they  gave inspiration to  rocket expert  Colonel William Congreve in England  as the British  armory included a new type of weaponry hitherto unknown to them  then.  An eye-witness told Congreve, “a single rocket had killed three men and badly wounded others. ” Sir William Congreve in 1806 developed 32 pounders (after initial success in 1804  with  better propellant mixture, rocket-motor. and  better heat-resistant iron cased   chamber.  By 1813 the rockets were available in three classes:

Sir William Congreve

Above image: The son of the first Sir William (a professional soldier who had done much to develop the Royal Artillery’s capabilities both in Woolwich and beyond), Congreve was a great scientist and inventor. In 1804, he began experimenting with rockets at the Royal Laboratory. William was inspired by the rockets he had seen in India in the Anglo-Mysore Wars (1767-1799). He used his own money to fund his experiments and develop his inventions. (

32-pounder Congreve rocket, 1813.

01. Heavy Siege Rockets with incendiary carcass weighing over 135kg and 7.6-8.2m sticks.

02. Medium Siege Rockets had a 24-42 pdr (10.9-19.1kg) warhead of shot or shell, a 4.5-6.1m stick and a range of about 3000m..

03. Light Rockets (6-18 pdr (2.7-8.2kg) of shot, case-shot or shell) had 2.4-4.3m stick and a range of about 1800mthe earliest  system

These  descendants  were used  in the 1814  Battle of Baltimore, and are mentioned in the Star Spangled Banner.

Congreve rocket,

Above image: ''This image could have imperfections as it’s either historical or reportage.
Congreve rocket, may be used by the English at the bombardment of Flushing, 1809 British fire-missile (title object).'' ( ................................

Tipu Sultan in the late 1700s had a manufacturing  unit in Taramandal pet, Bengaluru (now an important IT world center) assembling rockets of different sizes and ranges.  His separate rocketry  division  had about  5000 men trained to launch the rockets, covering various distances and ranges. At Waterloo the outcome  of the war surprised the historians and Napoleon  suffered his final defeat  because  of three reasons 01. Col. Wellesley  diligently made some military maneuvers  and checked on enemy's advancement by kept changing their positions. 02. Though initially hesitating, Wellesley carefully used lots of Congreve rockets of various sizes (modeled after Mysorian rockets) redesigned using Indian expertise. The five light 6-pdrs expended 560 rounds in support of the defense of La Haie Sainte. 03. Above all, the prince of Wales (later King George IV) whom Wellesley personally knew well, encouraged him to use rockets against the enemy line and, accordingly, instructed the army to allow Wellesley to use them in the war.  

Congreve Rockets  acted as  a trump card - a sort of bargaining chip  for the British military whose supremacy and prowess went a few scales up in the 1800s. These remodeled rockets of various ranges were introduced to frighten the French army that  was a major threat to British imperialistic ambition.

British Press had picked a nice scoop with the British

Congreve rocket launching

According to Wellesley's biographer, Rory Muir  when much of the time  his brother held the highest post as the   Governor-General,. Wellesley's (Duke wellington) eight years  in India  “were crucial years in which he developed his skills as a commander of men, a tactician, a strategic planner and a civil governor.  It was in India that the future victor of Waterloo and future prime minister of Great Britain  gained first hand experience in governance related to  war and peace and civil  administration. Muir further stated,  ''Colonel Wesley as “an unusually ambitious, intelligent and well-read officer who looked far beyond the horizons of his regiment . . . and who was already comfortable assembling his thoughts into coherent arguments . . ''.. Wellesley landed in Calcutta (Kolkata) on 28 Feb. 1797 to join the EIC's 33rd regiment; he was just 28 years old. 

Wellington in India, wrote biographer Elizabeth Longford, was “a great commander in embryo.” Before Waterloo, Wellington had brilliantly commanded armies on the Iberian Peninsular (1808–14), where they wore down and drained French forces, causing Napoleon to refer to it as “the Spanish ulcer.

Wellington’s generalship was decisive. His Horse Artillery commander Sir Alexander Frazer described Wellington as “[c]old and indifferent . . . in the beginning of battles, when the moment of difficulty comes intelligence flashes from the eyes of this wonderful man; and he rises superior to all that can be imagined.

''All the successful qualities he later exhibited on European battlefields were developed in India: decision, common sense, and attention to detail; care of his soldiers and their supplies; and good relations with the civilian population.''(Britanica com /biography/Arthur-Wellesley )

Emerging victorious at Waterloo by  defeating Napoleon, Duke Wellington  became the conqueror of the world’s conqueror

Friday, 15 January 2021

Pongal (harvest festival) and its different forms across India - a brief observation

Pongal greetings wikipedia 

pongal or sankaranti.

My Pongal greetings to all,   With the beginning of Thai, an auspicious Tamil month,  let us look forward  to a prosperous and productive  Covid-19 free year.  

India is basically an agricultural country and since the time of Indus valley Civilization and even prior to that period in some parts of South India, the people of the Indian subcontinent have known the various aspects of agriculture -  suitability of soil, crops, sources of water, etc. No doubt, India ranks second  world wide in farm output. Agriculture and allied fields like animal husbandry, fisheries,, etc make valuable contribution toward Indian economy  and they  account for  roughly 41.5%   India is one of the largest producers of wheat  and rice - our staple food.  When it comes to net cropped area, India ranks first in the world  followed by US and China. 

In Tamil Nadu, this year  Pongal - a four day celebration  lacked zeal and joy because of  Covid-19 pandemic that shows signs of slowing down. In this state  Pongal is a traditional annual  Hindu festival more popular in rural areas than in the urban space.  Part of the reason is it has close links with the  harvest season. Worship of the Sun god is an important part of the festival as it plays a major role in our life and the environment around us. The festival emphasizes the importance of starting a new period on a positive note from the birth of Thai month. The interesting fact is in the rural areas, people use the freshly harvested rice to make pongal along with jaggery, etc.  Mattu pongal celebration is  yet another important event (3rd day) and on this day cows and bulls  (latter are widely used in the rural areas) are well decorated and fed with special food. Their use to the humans is quite important and, particularly, in the old days bulls were used to plough the farms and carry the produce, etc from one place to another. On the last day Kaanu pongal  is celebrated and women play an active role and pray for the welfare of the family and their brothers and sisters.

India being a land of many festivities all through  the year, some festivals like Pongal are celebrated in a different way   across the land  under different names though they belong to the same religion.. The strong unbroken social fabric bound together by faith and devotion to god, and sustained cultural diversity make India unique. 

Sankaranti, Telengana and Andhra: 

Sankarati in Andhra and Telengana.

In Telegana and Andhra states pongal is referred to  as Sankaranti (pongal) - a four day festival. Marakara Sankarati, the main event, is held on the second day; first  day being Bogi, on which day people discard the old items by way of burning them in the open, symbolic of driving out dark forces.  In order to do away with evil spirits or negativity. they shower the children with beri or sweet and edible drupes (Jujubbi).or Regi Pandlu in Telugu. On the day of main festival, they eat different kinds of sweets. On each of the four days, they draw Rangoli or Mgudue. Last day celebration called kanum is just like ours.(Kannu Pongal). 

Lohri, Punjab

Lohril, Punjab, India, you tube.

In Punjab, the harvest festival goes by the name of  ‘Lohri’ in January. and is held on the coldest day. It marks the beginning of the harvest season mostly celebrated by the Sikh and Hindu communities. A bonfire is lit  and the fire is fed with  rice and sesame seeds, sugarcane, etc. The perform dance -''bhangra by going around the fire, singing Lohri folk songs invoking Sun god to bless  with  good harvest; here fire  symbolizes the passing of winter season.   .     

Hadaga’ Festival, Maharashtra:

Hadaga festival,

.Hadaga, kite-flying, Maharastra.

As part of the harvest festival in the state of Maharashtra, people sing songs invoking god Shiva, demigod India (rain god)  for good monsoon and better harvest. To invite god Indira, people draw the images of elephant, his vahana all over.  The festival of ‘Makar Sankranti’ is marked by kite-flying.  One can see lots of  of colorful kites of various sizes and shapes in the sky on a clear day.  In rural Maharashtra, there are feasts using freshly harvested food grains. 

Bihu, Assam

Mogh Bihu, Assam. /

Bihu   refers to  three important Assamese festivals celebrated on different stages of cultivation of paddy; rice is the staple food in this state. Rongali or Bohag Bihu  is observed in April, Kongali or Kati Bihu  is observed in October, and Bhogali or Magh Bihu  is observed in January. The Rongali Bihu is the most important of the three, celebrating spring festival. The Bhogali Bihu or the Magh Bihu is a harvest festival, with community feasts  The Rongali Bihu coincides the Assamese New year and as well as with other regions of Indian subcontinent,

On the day of Makar Sankranti, Assamese welcome the Sun moving into the northern hemisphere. In the morning Assamese Hindus  will light the traditional Meji (a structure made of  bamboo wood and tree leaves) and pray. They also symbolically offer the produce from the harvest to the fire god, Agni, to bid farewell to the  winter season. 

Mahar Sankaranti, Jharkhand:

In Jharkhnd and Bihar, it is two day festival. On the first day of  Makar Sankranti people prepare  various sweet delicacies. The special item is Tilgud, -small  balls consisting of sesame and jaggery. The second day  marks the preparation of khichdi, a dish made of dhal, rice, cauliflower, peas and potatoes.  

Mahasankaranti in Gujarat, kite-flying.

Sankranti or Uttarayan is a major festival for the Gujarati..Makar Sankranti is also known as Pongal, Bihu and Maghi in other parts of the country and is celebrated every year on January 14.  The Municipal Corporation, Bhopal,  Madhya Pradesh   organized Makar Sankranti Kite Festival. Residents gather in large numbers, enjoying sports  like street cricket, badminton, tug of war and kite flying.  Devotees in Bihar perform  rituals at Gandhi Ghat, Patna on the occasion. In West Bengal this festival is known as Ganga sagar and at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal Hindus take a dip (Snan/bath) and pray. They offer Khichdi (made from rice and dhal to the sun god, an expression of gratitude for  good harvest, etc.

Ellu bella, Karnataka.

In the state of Karnataka, the harvest festival  is held on the 14th January every year. Referred to f Ellu Bella festival (14th January) like Tanil Nadu  bulls and cows are decorated and  prayed and fed with food. Delicacies are made using  sugarcane, sesame seeds, jaggery and coconut.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

First Anglican St. Thomas Cathedral , Mumbai and its memorials - a brief note

First Anglican church (St. Thomas cathedral,

Fine metal work.St.Thomas cathedral, Mumbai.

Mumbai (Bombay). St.Thomas Cathedral, interior wikipedia.

St. Thomas Cathedral, c.1905 Bombay, India.

Controlled by the Cathedral and John Connon School,  the  300 year old  St. Thomas cathedral, now located near Flora Fountain in Mumbai (Bombay)  is the first Anglican church in this  western part of India. It was established  in a small place. by the 2nd Governor Gerald Aungier within the walls of fortified British settlement. The foundation for the proposed neo-Gothic styled church was laid in 1676 in a place called  Bombay Green but the consecration for the church services  was held only in 1718 after a lapse of some decades for various reasons, one being the unexpected death of Gov. Aungier. 

Between 1716 and 1718 Chaplain Richard Cobbe completed the construction work of the church and since then it has been functioning as an Anglican church. In 1816, however, it was  dedicated to the apostle St. Thomas by the Bishop of Calcutta Thomas Middleton. Only in July  1837, it became a cathedral with the concurrent appointment of Thomas Carr as the Bishop of Bombay. A UNESCO  (Asia-Pacific) recognized heritage site, it is a beautiful cathedral with well embellished interior containing  eye-catching  brass, glass work, plaster of Paris with arch shaped windows and 'cannon-ball-proof' terrace. The  colorful stained glass windows depict St. Thomas, portraying him and reminding visitors of his great contribution to Christianity. In 1838  the tall  tower and the clock at the western end of the church were added to the existing structure. The arrangement - the three vaulted roof "supported by two pillars and pilasters on each side," the decoration  at the east, with the semi-dome of the apse, and the communion table that ca be accessed by  3 steps  is similar to that of St Paul's in London; Despite long time since its inception the cathedral is in good shape and  'its congregation is now best characterized as "protestant cross denominational,"  Since 1970  it has been under the CNI - the Church of North India Other Protestant Churches"cme under its fold.

Tablet at the entrance Image: The Bombay ProjectCulture Trip

St.Thomas Cathedral Mumbai, Marble memorial stone.

A significant  feature  of this historical Cathedral that grew with Bombay from the earliest colonial time under the English company is its memorial, containing many carved stone memorials from the eras of East India Company rule in India and to  the British Raj (under the British Crown). The following important figures are worthy of mention. Inside are found dozens of  poignant eulogies engraved on the marble tablets  of the departed souls and the numerous  tombstones of military generals, clerks and young maids  in the cemetery who died here thousands of miles away from their country of birth and who were part of the British society centuries ago. 
 St. Thomas Cathedral Mumbai.

Above image: St. Thomas Cathedral Mumbai, India.  Beautiful  brass lectern, standing on tiny stone lions — the eagle being a symbol of St John, and the lions of St Mark. Note the tessellated pavement, dedicated to Archdeacon Fletcher (1802-1867), who had "spearheaded" the restoration project of the 1860s (see "History," and Tahseen's newspaper account).

St. Thomas Cathedral,

1833 Lithograph. St. Thomas cathedral, Mumbai

Above image:Coloured Lithograph of 1833, by Jose M. Gonsalves, Jose M. (fl. 1826-c.1842), courtesy of the British Library (Shelfmark: X840 (5), no. 8405).

01. Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland :

Capt. Frederick Lewis Maitland (1815)

Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland KCB (7 September 1777 – 30 November 1839) born at Rankeilour, Fife was an officer in the Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. His father Frederick Lewis Maitland (1730–1786), himself  was a distinguished naval officer. He had his education at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and later joined the Royal Navy. That he rose to the rank of rear admiral and held a number of commands proves his immense ability in naval command. leadership and tactical naval strategy. For this brave  naval officer the most famous event of his career was  when Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered to him on 15 July, 1815  aboard HMS Bellerophon, marking the final end of the Napoleonic Wars.

As for his Indian assignment, he  worked with the EIC army during its raid from Bombay towards Afghanistan in February 1839, and over saw the landing of troops and supplies. When he came to know  of disturbances at Bushehr, with the help of  Marines, he  evacuated the resident and his staff, leaving  the rioters unpunished. For this act, the Anglo-Indian press came down heavily on him for having failed to punish the trouble makers. 

While on board  the Wellesley at sea, Maitland died on 30 November 1839 off the coast of Bombay (aged 62). He was buried at Bombay and a  monument was built by subscription to his memory at. Thomas  cathedral. His wife, Lady Maitland, died in 1865 at Lindores, 

Captain George Nicholas Hardinge: 

Capt George Nicholas Hardinge.

Above image: Capt George Nicholas Hardinge, British Naval Officer.  Engraved by H.R. Cook, from an Original Miniature by Lethbridgeen.............

Captain George Nicholas Hardinge (11 April 1781 – 8 March 1808) was a distinguished  officer of the Royal Navy. As a naval officer, he served well during the most important events in world history -  the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. By  dint of hard work and his uncanny ability to adopt himself to various war-like situations, besides his personal aura and bravery, he won the admiration of his important senior officers and naval commanders. Obviously their admiration and recognition of his ability helped him rise  through the ranks. He successfully commanded HMS Terror, HMS Scorpion, HMS and St Fiorenz. However, he had his own ups and downs in his naval career and recognition and promotion  came to him a bit late. His skill to take right decision and strategy helped him a lot when in 1804 he led a daring cutting-out operation against two Dutch ships. In the East Indies he had to manage with an elderly frigate he had first served on as a midshipman much earlier in his career. Once he commanded  a ship  and fought against a superior French opponent. The battle lasted for three  grueling days and at last the  British emerged victorious and the French captain surrendered. As luck ran out of him, Hardinge did not live to see the moment of victory, because he was killed by grapeshot shortly before. On 8 March 1808 aboard HMS St Fiorenzo, off Ceylon (Sri Lanka). 

He was buried with full military honors and monuments to his memory were  built in St. Thomas Cathedral, Bombay and St Paul's Cathedral, London.

Bishop Thomas Carr:

Memorial, Bishop Thomas Carr. St.Thomas Cathedral,Mumbai

Thomas Carr M.A., D.D. (1788 - 5 September 1859) was the first  Bishop of Bombay and served between 1837 and 1851. His details are sketchy.  

Son of Thomas Carr and Catherine Wilkinson, he had his education at  St John's College, Cambridge. Initially,  Carr was Chaplain in the service of the East India Company in 1817 and was  appointed to the archdeaconry of Bombay in 1833. Consecrated  by the Bishop  at Lambeth Palace Chapel on 19  November 1837. Installed in Bombay on  25 February 1838. In St Thomas Cathedral, Mumbai  there is a nice monument to Carr -  a recumbent effigy of Thomas Carr designed by British sculptor Matthew Noble. Memorial,

Memorial to officers and crew of steam ship Cleopatra:

Cleopatra steam ship.

Cleopatra was a steam operated wooden paddle sloop launched in 1839 (weight 760 ton; its rated engine capacity 220hp.). Commanded by lieut. Young,  it sank off the Malabar coast on 15 April 1847 facing the powerful SW Monsoon.  The ship was transporting 100 convicts from Bombay to Singapore. with a crew of 15 including 9 officers. The plaque contains the names of  nine officers and mentions about the 142 other crew members, but there is no mention of the 100 odd convicts.

St. Thomas cathdral, memorial to

Above image. Memorial to the Hon. Jonathan Duncan, Governor of Bombay from 1795-1811, with the inscription below. A Hindu mourns and hangs his head by the urn, on which the female figure of Justice writes, "He was a good man and a just."

There is also a memorial  to one Lieut. Colonel John Campbell, who participated in the  Siege of Mangalore (now in Karnataka). He  acquitted himself heroically, but fate had it that he died in Bombay after falling sick.,_Mumbai

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Gov. Gerald Aungier who made Bombay (Mumbai) a major commercial hub in the 17th century

Governor Gerald Aungier, Bombay

growth of Bombay under Gov.Aungier 1700s

Not very much is known about  Gerald Angier's (1640 – 30 June 1677)  early childhood and education back in England.  Born in a religious family in 1640, the second son of Rev. Ambrose Aungier, Prebendary of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin and Grisel Bulkeley, daughter of the Archbishop of Dublin, Lancelot Bulkeley,  Aungier  was the grandson of Francis Aungier, 1st Baron Aungier of Longford. 

It is mentioned that in an early age he entered the service of East India Company operating in India and he  began  his  career at Surat  town  (now a sprawling city and an important diamond center in the world in the state of Gujarat)  as a Factor in 1661 and his rise was gradual. When he was promoted as a warehouse keeper in 1663, he got a  rare chance to accompany an important English royal family member - the Earl of Marlborough who subsequently  claimed the town and island of Bombay in 1662 on behalf of the King of Great Britain. Upon the death of  Sir George Oxenden on 14 July 1669, Aungier became the President of the Surat factory. This high-ranking post then carried with it the governorship of the port and island of Bombay. As a liberal, he emphasized local self-governance, religious tolerance, strong trade and commerce and establishment of court of law to contain civil and criminal offences. 

St Thomas cathedral, mumbai, India, 

Above image: Gov. Aungier established in Bombay, then a small town  the church.  :The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1676, on Bombay Green, at the present site of the St. Thomas' Cathedral, but it took over 40 years before the  construction could be completed. Richard Cobbe, the Chaplain, completed the construction of the building between 1715 and 1718; opened for divine service on Christmas Day 1718. Now a UNESCO recognized heritage site.,........... 

Being hard-working and a visionary  Aungier understood the strategic location of the town and  the islands, so  he focused on the town's development and growth and this culminated in the  support of the government  for encouraging commerce and trade activities. He without reservation roped in the powerful merchant community to open up  their business in Bombay . The establishment of mint (1676) in the fort area made more  traders to move in. Paying more attention to infra structure, etc, he encouraged other professions , artisans and other professionals  to move over to Bombay. He established the first Court of Law here and also the first Angelical Church in the Bombay castle ( now St. Thomas cathedral) to cater to the spiritual need of the growing European community. Later the church became an iconic structure, a landmark in the fort area and  on December 25, 1718.the first services began in earnest. St. Thomas cathedral is still functional (now a UNESCO recognized heritage site) and in the recent past celebrated its 300th Christmas.

Bombay castle where the first mint was set. .

EIC 's coins struck by the royal mint.

Above images; a new coinage emerged, which eventually funded the very foundations of the British Empire. To entice the eastern traders, there was a need for the EIC to use   bullion as a trading commodity grew from the lack of appropriate goods.The coins were readilt accptable on the market. Being traders in metals as well, the EIC  minted  its own trading currency as it grew to become one of the largest bullion traders of its time.  By 1677,the company became quite influential, so King Charles II granted it the right to mint its own currencies in the territory of Bombay. Later EIC operated 14 mints in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.By 1858 being a non-government entity, the EIC consolidated other existing mints and became the main issuer and controller of India's circulating money.  The credit goes to Gov. Aungier, it all began witha small mint  in a part of Bombay castle. ..............

In the wake of Portuguese princess' wedding with King Charles II of England, Bombay and other two islands were given as dowry by the Portuguese. The wedding took place on 31st May, 1661 in a far-off land in Europe. After the ratification of the marriage treaty on 28th August 1661, there was an inordinate delay in the transfer of the lands from the Portuguese to the British Crown. Certain prominent members in the Portuguese community holding power, deliberately delayed the process. However, Aungier,  with patience, deftly handed the delicate position. He also annexed the islands - Colaba and Old Woman islands, but this time his strategy was different. Th trasfer made the East India company the sole owner of the port and the islads and reaped lots of profits. Instead of hefty custom duties and taxes, they paid only an annual rent of 10 pounds. 

Portuguese Gate to access Bombay castle, Mumbai-

Bombay islands, 1764, Berlin map. Wikimedia commons org

It’ was on 23 September 1668  the British East India Company,  founded in 1600 to trade in the Indian Ocean, landed  on a few  islands including Bombay  leased out  to them  by the British Crown. They set the base officially in a  Portuguese manor with a  governor as the head. The political scenario of this area changed and under the British Crown a big transformation had taken place over a period. The EIC was the driving force behind the birth of  a mega polis called Bombay (now Mumbai) the most important commercial center in India, perhaps in Asia. The 2nd Gov. Aungier laid the foundation for its fast the 17th century...........

Since his landing in Bomaby as the president of Western Presidency, he had never slowed down his activities to the see the growth of  Bombay as a major  commercial center in the British empire. Naturally, his foresight pushed him in that direction. His desire of  shifting the Presidency did not occur during his time. He died on the 30th June 1677 at Surat where he was buried.

The transfer of Bombay from the Portuguese to the British Crown helped East India Co pay just £10 rent yearly!!

Colonial Bombay castle (fort)

Not  many of us know that the city of Mumbai (Bombay) and the surrounding areas were  either sized or acquired by the  East India Company that came to India as a  mercantile trading company in the 1600s. According to Samuel T Sheppard in his book ‘Bombay’ it was the declaration made by  King Charles roughly 352  years ago that made the company “the true and absolute Lords and Proprietors of the [Bombay] Port and Island.''  Do you know how much rent did they pay to the British Brown  for occupying  vast land? Just peanuts,  a yearly rent of  only ten pounds. The EIC's  successful trading activities in Bombay laid the foundation of  the city, now the most important city in India.   Previously owned by the Portuguese, there were frequent ’flare-ups between them and the company over the payment of port axes and custom  duty.

Bombay islands,

The EIC was lucky and the political scenario had changed from one of confrontation to cooperation because  of ’ royal dowry when the Portuguese princess married King Charles II of England. The Anglo-Portuguese marriage treaty was dated 23rd June, 1661 (ratified on 28th August) and  the city was given to the British on a silver platter  as a gift  of Catherine of Braganz who married the English king on 31st May, 1661 in a far-off land in Europe.

With the arrival of 2nd Governor, Gerald Aungier (1640 – 30 June 1677) in Bombay in 1661 the small town of Bombay saw  a drastic change in its growth. During Aungier's  administration  Bombay was converted into an active center  for commerce and mercantile activities  and great care was taken to bring in the best traders, artisans and other professions to settle there. Gov. Aungier was instrumental  in setting up the first court of law and the first Anglican mint in 1676 in Bombay castle.  This move made Bombay more prosperous as the presence of mint attracted the wealthy merchant community. Traveler Tavernier reported in 1678 that the currency (produced by the mint in Bombay) was circulated within the ''fort precincts and some two or three leagues in the country''.

1890 Colonial mint in Bombay (Mumbai)

 St. Thomas cathedral, first built  in colonial

Apart, knowing the growing need of the European community in the Bombay area, the Governor established ''the first Anglican Church in western India in two small rooms of the Bombay Castle'', according to Farrokh Jijina,  Mumbai historian and the former curator of the Maritime History Society.  St Thomas’ Cathedral  celebrated its 300th Christmas in December 2018 and has  a shared history with Mumbai from its earliest colonial days. It is in Mumbai’s Fort precinct; the  first service in this iconic church was held on December 25, 1718. As part of the tercentenary, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)  named a crossroad, St. Thomas’ Cathedral Chowk, after it. In 2004 the St. Thomas cathedral got the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage and Conservation  award 

Soon after receiving Bombay in the form of dowry  by the British Crown, the English administration had begun the process of claiming the land. But there was some delay, as some higher-ups like the Portuguese Viceroy Mello de Castro had qualms about  about handing  over their possession. The local Portuguese government, on purpose, made the  transition process a difficult one. One method of slowing down the transition  is to  make a declaration that  most of the lands of any value were being owned by the private individuals and hence could not be ceded to the crown or company. To solve this impasse, Gov. Aungier came up with an  amicable settlement on property titles by arranging residents to pay annual quit rents in lieu of better administration, an innovative move that won the admiration of all sections of the population, This strategy did not materialize  in the case of acquisition of Colaba and  Old Woman islands off the coast of Bombay and till 1674 they were not handed over to the British by the Portuguese. In 1675  Aungier took possession of both islands, thus successfully completing the transfer of power to the British.  

The first execution of an English soldier under the British law  was taken place on 21 October 1674 in Bombay. The British soldiers engaged in a mutiny and created serious trouble. With no choice, the Gov. ordered the execution and the corporal was shot dead.  

It was Gov. Aungier who  wanted the  Presidency of West India shifted to Bombay, now a fast growing city with a port  and other public services in colonial India. However it happened on 2 May 1687 many years later  after his death in Surat (now in Gujarat).  where, before moving over to Bombay (Mumbai)  he  was the president of the Surat factory run by the English company. Aungier died in Surat on 30 June 1677 and there lies his tomb.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Tipu Sultan's Pure gold-plated throne - looted by the English officials as trophies of war!!

Tipu sultan's gold-plated

Above image: Tipu Sulta's specially made gold plated throne with eight jeweled small tiger heads.  This historic image shows what Tipu's magnificent throne would have looked like before he was killed in the final war in 1799 against the English company at Srirangapatna, India.  On sale in the past auctions were the only surviving pieces of the magnificent throne, a decoratively carved tiger foot with a silver plaque celebrating the victory.

Silver plague honoring Tipu Sultan,

Above image: Medal of honor: The silver plaque atop the foot of the throne commemorates the victory over one of the greatest Sultans in history.........................

Tipu Sultan (20 November 1750–4 May 1799) of Mysore, as discussed in some my earlier posts, stood in the way when the British East India company wanted to take over certain unconquered southern parts of India to complete the total capture of the Indian subcontinent.  Because Tipu was  not only brave and  innovative but also a highly spirited warrior who was quite conversant with the various aspects of warfare. Naturally, unperturbed by the big army of the English company, he  firmly stood the ground against the hegemony of the English in this part of the land and despised their oppressive rule in the subcontinent.  Not to be intimidated  by their artillery power and military maneuvers,  Tipu fought three wars bravely against them and only in the fourth battle in April-May 1799 at his capital Srirngapatna (now part of Karnataka state close to Mysore city), the English company's army emerged victorious. In conspiracy with some people in the Mysore kingdom, the British finished him and his saga of courage and war exploits came to an end on the 4th of May 1799 at the age of 48. He earned the nick name ''The Tiger of Mysore''. For further reading about him, please refer to:

gem-encrusted tiger head from Tipu Sultan's throne

It is indeed a rare coincidence that just like the way every part of tiger is used for medicine particularly in China, every personal collection of Tipu such as fire arms, weapons, armors, cloths, jewelry boxes, etc., was collected by the British at the public  auction  held  by the Bonhams. The vast array of items with tiger-strips or representation of tiger displayed in the auction baffled the visitors to the auction. The inherent fact is the beneficiaries are  those  decedents (some may carry the title of Lord or Duke) and others of higher officials who served in the early colonial period under the highly corrupt East India Company. When they were hard-pressed for money and in a financial mess the uncared for bundle in the attic containing the spoils of wars  looted by their forefathers  in India  were of great help in getting over  their financial worries. The valuable, custom- made personal items of Tipu .made  some of them rich overnight relegating their financial nightmares to the backdrop. The rich Brits in the last two decades have developed an obsession for Tipu's personal items,  artifacts and jeweled items. 

Among the most valuable, innovative  and  personal items of Tipu Sultan, be they  jeweled sword handles, sheaths,  hand daggers,  hand guns, etc., it is  the gold-plated  throne that is believed to have been made  between 1787–93  is  the most fascinating one. ''The throne was the most spectacular object  which was therefore lost  and is known only through descriptions.''  It was not sent back to London as it was made from pure gold.  Instead it was destroyed and distributed among the company officers. 'The spoils of war were kept by them as war trophies '  

The  custom - made throne is said to have had  a  natural resin core  and is covered with gold sheets. The main features of the throne with  eight jeweled tiger heads (some historians believe it may be 10) are: the collar around the base  has  three bands of gems, that included polished, foiled cabochon rubies at the bottom; .above it, a band of polished cabochon emeralds with overlapping gem stones and small cusped claws extending onto the surface of the emeralds; and above, an another band of foiled, polished cabochon rubies.  The inspiring feature is  the stippled surface is highlighted as a result of its design - it is symmetrically set on either side of the center line with foiled table-cut diamonds, foiled cabochon rubies and foiled cabochon emeralds of varying sizes. The larger rubies are set on the eyes and the tongue, the teeth set with foiled table-cut diamonds and ears projecting above the head is decorated with engraved lines and punch work. The head mounted on a black marble pedestal with four gilt-metal claw and ball feet and a partial appliqué inscription in gilt metal the head 6.9 cm. high and 338 g.; total height with pedestal 17.5 cm.(  

Following the fall of Tipu, the fort at Sirangapatna came under the British control. The British soldiers in the hour of excitement and melee  became unruly and began to loot and grab whatever valuable things they could lay their hands on, though some of the most important items were reserved for the British Royal. They searched the palace and the entire fort, looking for gold  jewelry, gems  and treasures.  The famous golden throne, on which Tipu never sat, was broken up so that the elements could be shared among themselves, much to the disapproval  and dismay of  Col. Lord Wellington. whose troop made the siege successful. The throne was broken up so quickly and little is known about the fate of the remaining throne relics, including 5 jeweled tiger heads.

Tipu's gold throne was broken up at the order of the Prize Committee to the regret of the Governor-General. Arthur Wellesley wrote: "It would have given me great pleasure to send the whole throne entire to England, but the indiscreet zeal of the Prize Agents of the army had broken that proud moment of the Sultan's arrogance into fragments before I had been apprised even of the existence of such a trophy" (quoted in Buddle, Rohatgi and Brown, 1999, p. 25). Some years later in 1842, Surgeon-Major Pulteney Mein, an eye-witness, wrote in response to an article in a journal, which had reported the siege, that "this gorgeous throne was barbarously knocked to pieces with a sledge hammer", such was their eagerness (Moienuddin, 2000, p. 49) vide:

Among the three surviving tiger-heads,  large gold tiger head from the front of the throne is now at Windsor Castle along with yet another famous attraction — jeweled bird called Puma (Indian Eagle), a symbol of luck and bravery. Puma bird also called the bird of Paradise, was specially made for Tipu Sultan as wished by him. Back in London it was presented to Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III.  The other jeweled tiger head  acquired by the second Lady Clive in India, is at Powis Castle, a medieval castle/ fortress and grand country mansion near Welsh pool, in Powis, Wales. (vide:  

Tipu Sultan’s throne, India.

Above image: Tipu Sultan’s specially designed gold-sheeted throne with gem- crusted tiger-heads and and foot rests in the shape of tiger’s paw. Image revised and corrected by Prince Gholam Mohammed, Son of Tipu Sultan.  The throne, like a howdah upon a tiger- four foot above the ground (eight feet in length and five in width). It is set with tiger stripes and Arabic verses from the Koran. It is on the back of a  standing royal tiger;  this figure also was covered with plates of pure gold; and the eyes and teeth were of rock crystal. The tiger with wide open mouth gives the fearsome  posture of roaring, imparting fear. It is supported by a railing accentuated by a jeweled tiger- head above each support. It is supported by eight legs in the shape of a tiger legs. The access to the throne is a flight of silver-made small steps fastened with silver nails on both sides. The throne had a canopy and the total height of the throne is about 9 feet. Atop the canopy is set a gem - crusted gold bird called Puma meaning the bird of the paradise. was valued at 60,000 pagodas. A convincing picture of Tipu's certain personal collections like the jeweled tiger head, etc., and their history is denied to the researchers and historians  as a result of  wide dispersal of Tipu's treasury soon after the fall of his fort and palace. Hence the new discovery of Tipu's personal items is an important addition to the existing relics of the Tiger of Mysore's reign.
Tipu Sultan’s throne.

Above image: Tipu Sultan’s Throne — front view. drawn from memory by Cap. Thomas Marriott, aide-de-camp to the Commander-in-Chief of Madras.


The 4th Angelo-Mysore war of 1798-99, a brief note:

.4th Angelo-Mysore war (1798-99)

4thAngelo-ysore war (1798–99),

Death of Tipu Sultan-1799, Srirangapatna

Above image: Tipu Sultan's body was found buried beneath of those of his followers in his fort at Srirangapatna............

Col.Bailey's dungeon Tip's fort, India

In the decisive war, the East India company's army that had 60000 troops  had an edge over Tipu's army that had  just 35000 soldiers and was outnumbered (the army strength was 4:1).  Unlike Tipu Sultan, the English company had the backing of  the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas. The latter  launched an invasion from the north. Consequently, Tipu had to face two enemies  at the same time. Against the odds, he fought bravely, unmindful of the outcome. The British, at last,  won a decisive victory in  the Siege of Seringapatam (1799) when Tipu was shot dead by a soldier. Tipu was already wounded and was  taken in a palanquin by his soldiers. through  one of the recesses of the gate, Tipu, carrying his famous sword, wounded the British soldier when he tried to attack him near the gate. But the soldier shot Tipu with his musket on the left of his chest. The brave warrior fell dead on the soil of his fort.  In the aftermath of the fall of Tipu Sultan, much of the remaining Mysorean territory was annexed by the British, the Nizam and the Marathas. The remaining area, around Mysore and Seringapatam, was restored to the Indian prince belonging to the Wodeyar dynasty,  from whose forefathers Hyder Ali, father of Tipu Sultan  had illegally seized the kingdom  and became the de facto ruler.

Srirangapatna.Tipu Sultan's body found here,

The 4th of May, 1799 was an inauspicious day, though Tipu did oblation as advised by his Hindu astrologers but the fate had its own way and nothing will change the edit of God. . For the British, it was a big victory and  now it was an open range for them  up to the southern tip of Kanyakumari and there was no stopping of their land-grabbing spree. 
Tipu Sultan, Duke Wellington's first worthy enemy.

The Duke of Wellington's former home, London.

 Above image: The Duke of Wellington's former home Apsley House on Hyde Park Corner where he hosted grand events to commemorate the historic battle. For the Duke, the Tiger of Mysore  Tipu Sultan was his first worthy adversary on his way to Waterloo. Unfortunately against his wish  his troops plundered the city and palace, returning to Britain with the spoils of war. A collection of these items went on on sale at London auction house Bonhams..............

The British East India company was responsible for the establishment of British dominion after their victories at the Battles of Plassey (1757) and Buxar (1764) and later the Anglo-Mysore Wars (1766–1799), the Anglo–Maratha Wars (1775–1818), and finally the Anglo-Sikh Wars (1845–1849) helped the English company consolidate  the British claim over South Asia, resulting in the British Empire in India.  ( Patriotic Indians had to wait till August 1947 to breathe fresh air of freedom and  to see the departure of the British.

https://toshkhana.word(vide: )