Etched in stone, saga of the bloody 1857 revolt

Pre-independence

The carousel of life oscillates between time and space, bringing back the stark memories of 1857 embedded in the City’s history.

Shrouded by trees in the middle of Lothian Road around Kashmere Gate lies the Telegraph Memorial in the northern side of the ‘British Magazine’, the place where the Britishers stored their arms and ammunitions. The two historic structures continue to tell the saga of the bloody mutiny even after the passage of 156 years. Easy to miss, this historical structure stands in the middle of a road divider on Lothian Road.

Picture this: In the sweltering heat of May, the Indian sepoys blitzkrieged inside the walled city of Shahjahanabad to strengthen Mughal power under Bahadur Shah Zafar and overthrow the dominance of Britishers. Roused by the incident of animal fat on cartridges, the sepoys marched to Delhi to topple and oust the British over the next four months. The British Magazine and Telegraph Memorial stand as the remnants of those times when the first war of Indian Independence broke out.

The Telegraph Memorial, as well as the remains of the British Magazine, also enshrine the saga of bravery of British officials. It is the site from where the revolt was signalled off to Ambala before the British officers on duty evacuated their cabin in fear. The Magazine next to it was blasted by the Britishers who feared losing their weapons and firepower to
the mutineers.

North of the Magazine is the Telegraph Memorial, a tall grey-pillared structure built on the site, from where telegraphic messages were sent by British officers to Ambala, informing about the mutineers in Delhi and Meerut. The Magazine structure is the ruin of a fortified building, which stored the ammunition of the British troops. The structure was blown up on May 11, 1857, during the first war of Indian Independence by the officer in-charge, Lieutenant Willoughby.

As a tank peeks out of the Magazine’s roof, it reminds the visitor of the powerful and illustrious days of the British empire. Interestingly, there are two plaques put up atop the Magazine. One which labels the mutineers as ‘rebels’ and the other below it, bestowing the honour of ‘patriots’ to the sepoys.  

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