Throughout thousands of years of great civilisations, invasions, the birth of religions and countless cataclysms, India has proved itself to be, in the words of its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads’.
Here’s a list of famous monuments/buildings associated with the Indian freedom struggle.
Built in 1800, the Residency became the stage for the most dramatic events of the 1857 First War of Independence, the Siege of Lucknow, a 147-day siege that claimed the lives of thousands. The compound has been left as it was at the time of the final relief and the walls are still pockmarked from bullets and cannon balls.
Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar
Reached through a gatehouse on the road to the Golden Temple, this poignant park commemorates the 1500 Indians killed or wounded when a British officer ordered his soldiers to shoot on unarmed protesters in 1919. Some of the bullet holes are still visible in the walls, as is the well into which hundreds desperately leapt to avoid the bullets.
Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad:
About 5km north of the centre, in peaceful, shady grounds on the river’s west bank, this ashram was Gandhi’s headquarters from 1917 to 1930 during the long struggle for Indian independence. It’s said Gandhi chose this site because it lay between a jail and a cemetery, and any satyagrahi (nonviolent resister) was bound to end up in one or the other.
Cellular Jail National Memorial, Port Blair:
A former British prison that is now a shrine to the political dissidents it once jailed, Cellular Jail National Memorial is worth visiting to understand the important space the Andamans occupy in India’s national memory. Construction of the jail began in 1896 and it was completed in 1906 – the original seven wings (several of which were destroyed by the Japanese during WWII) contained 698 cells radiating from a central tower. Like many political prisons, Cellular Jail became something of a university for freedom fighters, who exchanged books, ideas and debates despite walls and wardens.
Aga Khan Palace, Pune:
Built in 1892 by Sultan Aga Khan III, this lofty building was where the Mahatma and other prominent nationalist leaders were interned by the British for about two years following Gandhi’s Quit India resolution in 1942. Both Kasturba Gandhi, the Mahatma’s wife, and Mahadeobhai Desai, his secretary for 35 years, died here in confinement.
Netaji Bhawan, Kolkata:
Celebrating the life and vision of controversial independence radical Subhas Chandra Bose, this house museum was Bose’s brother’s residence from which Subhas made his famous ‘Great Escape’ from British-imposed house arrest in January 1941. Some rooms retain a 1940s feel and the original getaway car is parked in the drive.
Gateway of India, Mumbai:
Incorporating Islamic styles of 16th-century Gujarat, the Gateway of India was built to commemorate the 1911 royal visit of King George V, but not completed until 1924. Ironically, the British builders of the gateway used it just 24 years later to parade the last British regiment as India marched towards Independence.
Red Fort, Delhi :
Converted to a barracks by the British, this massive fort is a sandstone carcass of its former self, but it still conjures up memories of the splendour of Mughal Delhi. This is where Pandit Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India, hoisted the Tricolour on Aug 15, 1947.
The article was published in 2014, and has been updated since.