“No, impossible! I shall not surrender my Jhansi!”
On June 18th, 1858, a 29 year old widowed queen of Jhansi, with courage in her veins and valor in her blood, fought against the British and lay her life in the battle of Gwalior, trying to save her state from the British. The British (greatly outnumbering the army of Rani Laxmibai), surrounded the queen in a circle. With her son, Damodar Rao, strapped to her back, swords in both her hands, reins of horse in her mouth, she torpedoed the British formation and lived forever in our hearts even after leaving the mortal world for good.
चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, वह तलवार पुरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।
Three days later, the British occupied the strategic Gwalior fort, thinking that they had marred the spirits of many and killed the mutiny for good. Little did they know that the seeds of patriotism were already sown; the air was rebellious & the blood was boiling already for the nation was to rise like a Phoenix decades later!
The city of Gwalior: then and now!
The city of Gwalior holds a significant position on the map of India’s independence from the British rule. Along with other cities like Meerut and Jhansi, Gwalior was the center of the mutiny of 1857.
Rebellions and wars, however, were not new to Gwalior as the city was older than many. A local folklore suggests that a prince, by the name of Suraj Sen, constructed a fort on the hills of the city in the 8th century and named it Gwalior fort. The city around the fort grew in due course of time and was known as Gwalior.
Gwalior fort, known for its impregnable walls, attracted many invasions and captures – from Tomar’s to Mughals to Marathas and finally to Scindia’s (courtesy: British). They all wanted to seize Gwalior because seizing Gwalior would mean coming in possession of Gwalior fort – of tall walls, vast expanse and added security from the enemy.
Gwalior of 21st century is a modern city, home to the royal Scindia palace, famous Scindia school, several Engineering colleges, many big and small scale industries. All this development has also taken a toll of the health of the city which is probably why Gwalior was ranked the most polluted city of India, by WHO, in a report published in 2016.
For the history enthusiasts: the city of Gwalior!
Gwalior is nowhere close to the picturesque villages of Karnataka, the beautiful hill stations of Tamil Nadu, the fort cities of Rajasthan or the backwaters of Kerala. It’s also not as beautiful as the beaches of Goa or the mountain ranges of Himachal or the roads leading to Ladakh.
In contrast, Gwalior is a simple city of India that has existed long enough to tell tales of India’s rich culture and ancient heritage of art and culture.
Come to Gwalior for it is home to the Gibraltar of India.
Come to Gwalior for it offers the food that will surprise your taste palates.
Come to Gwalior for it tells the tales of valor.
Come to Gwalior for it is beautiful in its own central Indian way.
Come to Gwalior for it’s the place where the great, great queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai, breathed her last.