Jhansi - Where a legend of a gallant queen was born
Jhansi, formerly called Balawantnagar, is a small town in Uttar Pradesh, India. It is close to Orchha, now in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the capital of the powerful Bundela kings.
Bundela King Raja Bir Sing Ju Deo built a massive fort on a small hill here in 1613 A.D.
The fort measures about 312m in length and 225m in width, & is perhaps the most heavily fortified fort of Uttar Pradesh,if not of whole of India.
The fort has ten gates ( Darwaza) including Khandero Gate, Datia gate, Unnao gate, Jharna Gate, Laxmi Gate, Sagar Gate, Orcha Gate, Sainyar Gate & Chand gate.
The fort was a major stronghold during the Sepoy uprising of 1857. The uprising against the British in Jhansi was led by the queen of Jhansi Lakshmi Bai, popularly called Jhansi ki Rani.
In June 1857, at the beginning of the uprising, men of the 12th native infantry seized the fort and killed the European officers of the garrison. The Rani put herself at the head of the soldiers fighting against the British. But internal quarrels & treachery by some members of the royal family caused the downfall of the uprising in Jhansi.In early 1858, the combined forces of Lieutenant Walker and General Huroze of the British army attacked Jhansi. Queen Lakshmi Bai gallantly fought with sword in hand on a horse-back, but ultimately was defeated. She died a hero's death, & entered into the history as a gallant & brave patriotic queen, never seen before or afterward in the history of India.
The British ceded the fort to the maharaja of Scindia in 1858, but later exchanged it for Gwalior in 1866.
Among places of interest within the main fort area are
the Karak Bijli Tope (cannon), Rani Jhansi Garden, two temples viz. a Shiva
temple and a Ganesha temple, & the Mazar of Ghulam Gaus Khan,the chief gunner who was in charge of a huge cannon known as the KARAK BIJLI TOPE; Moti Bai who was a woman gunner, and
Khuda Baksh, the head of the cavalry.The mazar is a fine example of patriotism over religion.
The fort stands as a mute witness to the valour of the Queen Rani Laxmi Bai.
Besides the fort, other places of tourist attraction of Jhansi are Rani Mahal & several museums.
Rani Mahal was the palace of Rani Lakshmi Bai embelished with multi colored art and painting on its walls and ceilings. The palace is a double storied structure with open courtyards. It has six halls, with parallel verandas.
The palace had witnessed one of the fierce battles of the freedom struggle in which 50 body guards of Rani were killed by the British Army.
Presently this palace is converted into a museum. It has a huge collection of Sculptures of the period between the 9th and 12th Centuries AD.
Apart from the Museum, Durbar Hall in the second floor is also worthy for a watch.
Jhansi, with its mute history of the freedom struggle of India, is a must for all patriotic Indians, & for anyone who loves history.