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 Barphukan —
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.
“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”
The old soldier, wearing a worn-out sepoy uniform, let out a puff of smoke. He wanted to talk about his inspiration – Maniram Dewan.
“This place is a turning point for India’s history” he remarked to his friend Rakesh.
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
The victorious Vasai campaign led by the brother of Peshwa Bajirao against a formidable colonial force was a watershed
For three centuries from 712 AD to 1001 AD, Indian kings kept Arab invaders at bay !
How Sardar Patel tore up Jinnah’s “blank cheque” and averted Jodhpur’s possible merger with Pakistan
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
Sayajirao ushered in progressive reforms and modern amenities and towered over the other princes loyal to the British Raj.
Hemu, the last Hindu ruler of Delhi, has left behind a legacy of courage in the face of overwhelming odds
How did history (or Mohammed Ghori for that matter ) treat the infamous Jaichand ?
people from a host of European countries, including Italy, made their way to India in the middle ages.
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!
History syllabus should look beyond the political and peer into the histories of cities , sports , food , industry etc to make it more engaging.
The fact was that the British administration had over decades caused as many as 102 Indian shipping companies to shut down!
A traveller in India in the 1870s would have come across a strange problem. He couldn’t walk from the western parts of India to the east in the Terai region without encountering an enormous hedge made of babool, prickly pear, karanda and other shrubs!
Has there been a typo in the title? Isn’t Barrackpore associated with the year 1857 and not 1824? But there was indeed an uprising in the same Barrackpore cantonment thirty years prior to the events of 1857 !
he arguments over the duties and trade tariffs had brought the East India Company to the view that their salvation lay in building forts and fortified enclaves in India. It was the first germ of an idea aimed at controlling land in India. Around this time, there was an altercation among the Mughal and the British troops at Hughli, lighting the spark for war.
The HMS Minden was built at Mumbai , India. A quirk of fate would make it the ship on which the (future) National Anthem of the USA was composed !
Errata : 1. Bombay Docks have a history predating 1735.
2. The Wadias were employees , not working on contract.
3. Waterloo was in 1815, not 1814.
The errors are regretted . Also , heartfelt thanks to Comdr Mohan Narayan of the MHS , Mumbai for pointing out these errors.
Ramsej thus set a pattern for the Maratha-Mughal war. It is interesting to note, that between two forts, Ramsej near Nashik and Gingee in Tamil Nadu, a staggering fourteen years of the war had been used up. Six in finally getting hold of Ramsej and eight in that far away fort in the south.
Connectivity between the two cities has a long and interesting history. A history involving war, Wellesley, metalled roads, palanquins and stage coaches!
The Poona Kotwali was established in the year 1765. Balaji Narayan Ketkar was the first ‘Chief Kotwal’ (Commissioner of Police in modern language). He reported directly to the Peshwa..
Many of you must have read about the first train in India — the famous 1853 run from Boribunder to Thane. It heralded a new dawn for communications, industry and transport in India. An equally important event happened 30 years prior to that, in 1825 in Calcutta. The first trans-ocean steamship reached India: The SS Enterprise.
It seems quite amusing today to read about how journeys of over a thousand miles were still being done by people sitting in a box carried by four bearers — all this merely a hundred and fifty years ago!