Jhansi is a city located in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India and is of great historical importance which has found its way into textbooks and folklore alike. A fort that was built here on a rocky hilltop in 1610 gave birth to this city that is a witness to India’s independence struggle as well as the onslaught of Islamic invaders. The remnants of civilization here can be traced back to the 9th century when the ruler of Rajput Chandela dynasty of Khajuraho reigned over the city. The city saw the constant Islamic invasions in the 1700’s which resulted in a treaty between the Marathas and the local Bundela rulers. After thwarting the Mughal attacks, the city came under the British imperialist yoke in 1853.
The historical events that took place here have not only left behind monuments, forts and cenotaphs but also the names of people who struggled against injustice and fought for the freedom of their country. The district of Jhansi was ruled by Raja Gangadhar Rao in the 1830’s who married Rani Laxmibai but subsequently died without leaving an heir. The East India Company, under Governor-general, installed the Doctrine of Lapse and annexed Jhansi, leaving Rani Laxmibai penniless. When words and letters failed to persuade the East India Company to return the territory to Rani Laxmibai, she launched a brave albeit naïve attack against the East India Company. Her inevitable martyrdom took place near Jhansi near the city Gwalior after two days of battle on 18 June 1958.
Places of Interest
This fort is one of the most important edifices that laid the foundations of this city and was built in 1613. Located on the outskirts of Jhansi, it is built on a huge hilltop called Bangara and was the residence of Rani Laxmibai. The fort is unique in nature, in that it has several temples and ten gates along with a cannon that was used in the uprising of 1857. The Jhansi fort is located near the Rani Mahal which roughly translated means the “residence of the queen”, which is also worth a visit. The fort itself is sprawled over 15 acres and is a colossal structure about 300 meters in length and 200 meters in width.
The Rani Mahal was built in the late 1700’s by the Nawalkar family and became one of the residences of Rani Laxmibai. This two storeyed building has a fountain and a courtyard. The palace itself has numerous small rooms and is adorned with arches and the Durbar Hall is decorated with paintings of flora and fauna. Even though the arches are embellished with peacock and rosette patterns, most of the art and architecture was destroyed during the war for independence.
Deogarh is a small village located about 123 Km from Jhansi and has numerous Jain and Hindu temples. The monuments which are known as Gupta monuments are located in a fort on the banks of the Betwa River and have exquisite and intricate carvings of Hindu Gods and goddesses. Deogarh is located near the border of Gwalior and is famous for its Dashavatara temple which is adorned with numerous beautiful carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses. Many epic stories involving the various gods have been portrayed in these carvings and although much of the temple is in a dilapidated condition, the art is mesmerizing and striking.
The fort is a circular structure the west gate and the east gates are the most notable monuments that adorn the fort. There are three Ghats which approach the Betwa river and have immense archeological significance. Sculptural activity from the 6th century is present here in the form of Matrika statues which are considered to be an important archeological find. The eastern part of the fort has numerous Jain temples and according to the Archeological survey of India, there are 31 Jain temples of different sizes. However, many temples and carvings were destroyed by Islamic invaders and also fell prey to neglect and now lie in a dilapidated state. However, there are many carvings which are important archeological finds that makes this place unique in nature.
Orchha is a town that lies on the banks of the Betwa river and is only 15 Km from Jhansi. It is famous for its palace fort and cenotaphs or chattris. The fort is a structure made up of connected buildings which were built during various periods. The most notable are the Jahangir Mahal and the Rajmandir; the latter has projecting windows with domes along the summit and the former is said to be one of the most beautiful specimen of Hindu architecture.
Jhansi is a city that has been a mute witness to many struggles including imperialism, Islamic invasion, and famines. However the ability to overcome these hurdles has made the city a place of historical importance and archeological wonders. The fact that the famous Khajuraho temples are also located approx. 100 miles (which attract thousands of tourists every year) from this city makes Jhansi a must-visit destination in India.