The 1857 Mutiny Tour - The gripping story of the Siege of Delhi
What this tour is about: The English called it The Sepoy Mutiny, but Mutiny is an inadequate word to describe the momentous events of 1857. For fourteen months from May ’57 to June ’58, the country burned as Indian troops (sepoys) in the service of the East India Company rebelled and tried to overthrow the Company. Fighting spread across the Gangetic plain and Central India as civilians rallied under local banners and joined the resistance.
In Delhi, the 82-year old Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II became the frail figurehead under which Indian forces rallied. Delhi was taken by Indian rebel troops in May ’57. From June to September ‘57, British troops (with reinforcements from the Sikh, Gorkha, Pathan and other regiments) laid siege to Delhi and in a series of attacks, finally won back the city. On September 20th, Bahadur Shah surrendered. The next day, Bahadur Shah’s sons and grandson were shot by Major Hodson, and the city was declared to be captured.
Brigadier John Nicholson, who played a leading role in the siege of Delhi, died of his wounds on September 22nd, one day after the taking of Delhi. Kipling immortalised the death in his book Kim, with this song sung by one of Nicholson’s Indian lancers:
   Ahee! Nikal Seyn is dead — he died before Delhi!
   Lances of the North, take vengeance for Nikal Seyn!
After the fall of Delhi, the Mutiny lost its leadership and broke up into disparate uprisings. It took the British nearly a year of fighting to subdue the uprisings and establish control. This was followed by a horrific program of purges that became known as the “Devil's Wind”. Thousands were executed without trial, including whole village populations, to ensure that the Mutiny would not be repeated. Finally in 1858, the East India Company was formally dissolved and its powers over India were transferred to the Crown.
What this tour will cover:
This tour that takes you to various places in Delhi that tell the story of the Siege of Delhi:
The Red Fort, where the Indian rebel troops gathered under Bahadur Shah, and where he was tried after his surrender. Several beautiful residential palaces were destroyed by British soldiers and converted to army barracks, but the Red Fort is still stunning.
Nicholson’s Cemetery, where John Nicholson is buried
The Telegraph Memorial, dedicated to Todd, Bendish and Pilkington, who sounded the alarm by reporting the Delhi mutiny on May 11th
Kashmere Gate, the entrance to the city that was breached during the Siege of Delhi
The Mutiny Memorial, a Gothic tower built by the British to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Mutiny
Duration: 4 hours.
Optional extension: With a gripping story and colourful characters, this tour can be quite fascinating. If you find yourself getting caught up in the story, and wanting to see more, you can extend this to a full-day tour (8 hours). We recommend a lunch break at the Oberoi Maidens, followed by a visit to these places:
Flag Staff Tower, where the British survivors of the rebellion gathered on May 11
Civil Lines, where the batteries were mounted, and much fighting took place
Humayun’s Tomb, where Bahadur Shah surrendered and where his sons were killed
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