Sacred to the Memory…Cawnpore

Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, or the Mutiny of the Sepoy (or Sipahi or Soldiers), is so-called as the mutineers were almost entirely the soldiers of North India. Today, it is generally known as First War of Independence in India. However, it must be emphasized here that the Brits were totally taken by surprise and they were absolutely unprepared to face it. Without the effective intervention of the Gurkhas on their behalf, the dream of British Empire in India would most certainly have died a premature death in 1857. (For more information on the Mutiny, you want to read the Anglo-Gurkha Relations). After the defeat of the mutineers at Lucknow where they had invested their all, they lost their resolve to fight and the Sikhs who were waiting in the wings joined the British in mopping up exercise.

The inscription at the base of the Memorial explains in brief, the poignant account of the massacre of the innocent: Inscribed on the pedestal of the memorial at Cawnpore, now spelt as Kanpur, reads, “Sacred to the memory of a great company of Christian people, chiefly women and children, who near this spot, were cruelly massacred by the followers of the rebel Nana Dhoondopunt of Bithoor, and cast, the dying with the dead, into the well below, on the fifteenth day of July 1857.”

The monument is touchingly appropriate and beautiful; it is by the famous Italian sculptor Baron Carlo Marochetti, and walled in with a Gothic railing; the railing itself is capped by 197 small crosses, one each for the victims of the massacre. The statue is that of an angel leaning with drooping wings, her back against the all-sustaining Cross, her arms folded upon her breast, her hands holding the palm leaves emblematical of martyrdom and victory.

After gaining Independence in 1947, the memorial has been shifted to the grounds of nearby All Souls Memorial Church, Kanpur.

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