I write a column for DNA Newspaper which is based out of Mumbai. Through these, I try to present a view of history not usually covered in school textbooks, hence the name #Alternate Histories. Short essays about little known facts spanning the length and breadth of both space and time.
Please follow these links for the original articles as they appear on the DNA website. Each article is 800 words long. Happy reading
1. Lachit Borphukan – Shivaji of the East —
Do you know that Assam also produced a very brave general by the name of Lachit Borphukan? He fought against the Mughals at the same time as Chhatrapati Shivaji!
Let’s learn a bit more about this forgotten warrior.
2. Bhor Ghat – Battlefield under a railway line (1779)
“This is all so exhilarating. And it happened right around here. I feel proud. Unfortunate that I have never heard of this great victory over the British”
3. Assam’s role in 1857
The old soldier, wearing a worn-out sepoy uniform, let out a puff of smoke. He wanted to talk about his inspiration – Maniram Dewan.
4. Chhatrapati Shivaji – Pratapgad
“This place is a turning point for India’s history” he remarked to his friend Rakesh.
5. An alternate view of history
But the way our current narrative is contructed, we tend to give undue importance to defeat and ignore victory — which is detrimental as a whole
6. How Chimaji Appa defeated the Portuguese
The victorious Vasai campaign led by the brother of Peshwa Bajirao against a formidable colonial force was a watershed
7. Defeat of the 8th century Arab invasion
For three centuries from 712 AD to 1001 AD, Indian kings kept Arab invaders at bay !
8. The Curious case of Jodhpur
How Sardar Patel tore up Jinnah’s “blank cheque” and averted Jodhpur’s possible merger with Pakistan
9. Rudra Singha – Plan to invade Bengal
The great Ahom king Rudra Singha had mobilised 4 lakh soldiers to invade Mughal-ruled Bengal, but his untimely death at Guwahati stalled the campaign
10. Sayajirao Gaekwad III – Maker of Modern Baroda
Sayajirao ushered in progressive reforms and modern amenities and towered over the other princes loyal to the British Raj.
11. The Forgotten King – Hemchandra Vikramaditya
Hemu, the last Hindu ruler of Delhi, has left behind a legacy of courage in the face of overwhelming odds
Chilarai or Sukhladhwaj was the Senapati of the kingdom of Koch Behar. He led his armies to many triumphs ; gave protection to Shankardeva , rebuilt Kamakhya temple.
The unknown warrior – king from Odisha , who thwarted multiple enemies to build an empire stretching from Ganges to Kaveri.
How did history (or Mohammed Ghori for that matter ) treat the infamous Jaichand ?
15.European Travellers in Medieval India
people from a host of European countries, including Italy, made their way to India in the middle ages.
Gingee fort & Chhatrapati Shivaji
This place is merely 80 km from Pondicherry but is as important to Maratha, nay the nation’s history, as the forts of Rajgad, Panhala or Raigad!
Let us see how tea began it’s journey in the jungles of Assam as a wild plant plucked by a tribe for it’s aroma , and grew into a cash crop involving plantations of hundreds of acres!
….. And thus ended the last battle linked to the American Revolution — halfway around the globe
Errata : Zorawar Singh was a Hindu Dogra.
And along with her had come a substantial dowry – a hefty sum of money and the ports of Tangiers in Morocco and Bombay in India, at the time consisting of seven separate islands all under Portuguese control.
There has always been a section of people who have tried to portray Chhatrapati Shivaji in a negative light by referring to his loot of Surat. An article to clear the air.
22. Pinnacles of Maratha attack
Just after the martyrdom of Chhatrapati Sambhaji , Santaji Ghorpade led a daring attack on Aurangzeb’s own camp !
23. The Peshwa’s private zoo !
For the entertainment of the young Peshwa, a menagerie — a collection of birds and animals — had been set up in the jungles near Parvati. It housed a large collection of fauna — tigers, lions, a lynx and even a rhino!
24. The Katraj Aquaduct
Dams were built on the Ambhil stream around 7 km south of Shaniwarwada at Katraj, creating two ponds — upper one for settling silt and the lower for water storage.
25. Durgadas Rathod – Embodiment of valour
The brave Rajput battled Aurangzeb against all odds.
26. Local histories and their unique charm
The history of your own town or city is an interesting and oft unexplored avenue !
27. A million histories
History syllabus should look beyond the political and peer into the histories of cities , sports , food , industry etc to make it more engaging.