Wednesday, 14 August 2019

The Gwalior Monument, Kolkata - a legacy of Angelo-Maratha war - early colonial rule


There are many memorials in India  to honor  the soldiers who lost their lives in the World War I and II. Mind you, India had nothing to do with WWI and II and was drawn into the war as it was under the colonial rule. India had a fine well-trained military officers and soldiers and they fought both wars for the British. Likewise, the British, when they ruled India, built war memorials to the officers and men who were killed while on duty. The Gwalior memorial in Kolkata  is an interesting one.

Gwalior Monument Kolkata google.com
Gwalior Monument along the Hoogley river,  Kolkata google.com

The Gwalior Monument, Kolkata - c1912-14,  an octagonal cenotaph about 60 feet high, crowned with a bronze dome cast from guns captured from the Marathas was erected in 1847 by Lord Ellenborough, the Governor-General of India.  It was a grand memorial to those men who died  during the Gwalior War in 1843. The memorial is also known as Ellenborough’s Folly, or The Pepperpot.
Gwalior Monument Kolkata en.wikipedia.org
Designed by Colonel H Goodwyn of the Bengal Engineers and constructed by Jessop and Company, the memorial was the brain-child of  Lord Ellenborough. The base is a single storied white marble structure with a spiral staircase leading to a marble cenotaph on the upper floor from the inside. The unique feature is
Gwalior Monument along the Hoogly riverfront, Kolkata en.wikipedia.org
the top  of the monument is built like a Mogul 'chhatri' or umbrella supported by 8 bronze pillars. The dome of the cenotaph is crowned with a bronze dome cast from guns captured from the Marathas.  From here,  one can see the Hoogly river, the Howrah Bridge and the Vidyasagar Setu. However, entry is restricted. The Kolkata Circular Railway  line goes alongside the memorial between the Eden Gardens and Prinsep Ghat railway stations, and provides a view of this monument.

Gwalior campaign was a strange one. Two battles were fought on the same day, and no fighting after that, but it resulted in the death of  eight hundred British soldiers and over three thousand Marathas.

Gwalior, just  two hundred miles south of Delhi, had been part of the powerful Maratha Empire, which  controlled the majority of India. However,  the British  victory in 1818  had changed the political scenario as the English company  had a strong hold over most of the sub-continent. Since 1818 the city had been  ruled by a British-approved maharajah, but in 1843 the ruler's death created a strange political situation  and the legal heir happened to be a minor boy. When the young rajah, Jayâjî Râo Sindhia, was deposed and an anti-British government established, diplomatic attempts to redeem the situation having failed  failed, Ellenborough recalled the British Resident, and sent in Gough.
Lord Ellenborough on 13 December 1843  wrote to the Maharani of Gwalior warning her that she should dismiss the regent and  reduce the size of her army. The bold Maharani never responded  to Ellenborough's  communication. This paved the way for the Gwalior Campaign.

Gen. Sir Hugh Gough, in violation of  the treaty of 1804 with Gwalior,  on 29 December 1843 raided the town  with 14000 men and  40 guns. The town was known for its beautiful palaces and riches,  The Gwalior War at Maharajpur  and the Marathas under Bhagerat Rao Scindia had 18,000 men and 100 guns. It was a pitched battle and finally the British emerged victorious. The British lost 787 men and the Marathas about 3000 men and 56 guns. On the same day at Punniar, 20 miles from Maharajpur, the left flank of Gough's troops under General Grey defeated a huge army of 12,000 Marathas and captured 40 guns.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwalior_Monument
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwalior_Campaign