The path to Indian Independence is paved with the efforts and endeavours of people from all across the country.
Explore the timeline below to find out the role that Varanasi played in the freedom struggle.
The forces of Raja Chait Singh of Banaras defeated the forces of Governor-General Warren Hastings by the steps of the Chait Singh Ghat.
An exorbitant amount had been demanded as revenue from Raja Chait Singh. This amount would have been used to expand the British Army, so it could control local kingdoms. The Raja had also been ordered to furnish a cavalry, to bulk up the East India Company’s forces, as they prepared to fight the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas.
When he refused, Warren Hastings sent his army to the Raja’s palace, where they clashed with, and were defeated by the Raja’s forces.
The Raja escaped capture and spent the next few years forming alliances with other rulers to subdue the British.
Although these efforts ultimately failed, they prevented the British from feeling fully secure about their position in Varanasi.
Varanasi is the birthplace of one of the leaders of the First War of Indian Independence - Rani Lakshmibai.
Born in a neighbourhood near the Assi Ghat of Varanasi, Rani Lakshmibai- or Manikarnika Tambe, as she was named - spent her childhood in Varanasi, until her marriage to the Raja of Jhansi in 1844.
In 1898, Annie Besant established the Central Hindu College in Varanasi, where Indian students could be educated on the values of Hindu civilization, and develop a sense of pride in being Indian.
In 1910, she proposed to set up a university, and while this did not happen, in 1911, in collaboration with Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, and others, the Central Hindu College became the nucleus for the Banaras Hindu University.
Founded in 1920 by Shiv Prasad Gupta, Aaj is a Hindi Language daily that is in circulation even today.
Aaj played a pivotal role during the decades of the freedom movement in India, documenting and reporting on events as they unfolded.
There were two main reasons behind the founding of this paper - first, to create quality journalism in Hindi that would help readers feel a sense of pride about their mother tongue, and second, to educate readers on the idea of swaraj or self-governance.
Established in 1921 by Shiv Prasad Gupta, Dr Bhagwan Dass and Mahatma Gandhi, the Kashi Vidyapeeth was the centre for the freedom struggle in the Eastern United Provinces. The University became a symbol of Indian self-reliance, as it was one of a handful of universities that were not governed by the British Indian Government, but by leaders of the Freedom Movement.
Teachers and students of the Kashi Vidyapeeth frequently visited villages in the Eastern United Provinces, to sensitise and mobilise villagers to participate in India’s struggle for freedom.
READ: A Rare Book published by Kashi Vidyapeeth
The Bharat Mata Mandir is perhaps among the most unique of Varanasi’s temples.
Dedicated not to a deity, but to Bharat Mata or Mother India, this temple was inaugurated in 1936 by Mahatma Gandhi.
The sacred objects in this temple are unusual. The inside of the temple is adorned with panels depicting different Indian scripts, and the central ‘shrine’ features a marble sculpture of an undivided map of the Indian subcontinent, which even today is adorned and anointed with marigold garlands.
This temple dedicated to India celebrates Independence Day and Republic Day with great fervour every year.