July 22, 2017

Delhi Gate of Arcot

Why would a monument in Arcot town in South India be named as Delhi Gate? What is the connection between Arcot and Delhi? What is the significance of this monument? To know everything, read on...

In the 18th century CE, the Mughals were still in power in Delhi. However, their control over the entire country was shaky. The British East India Company and the French East India Company were competing with each other to dominate. The enmity between the British and the French governments added fuel to this quarrel in India.

Hyderabad Nizams were originally the governors under the Mughal empire. The Carnatic Nawabs who had Arcot as their capital city were under the control of the Nizams.

Chanda Sahib was the son-in-law of the Nawab of Carnatic, Dost Ali Khan (he was the Nawab till 1740 CE). Sahib also served as a Diwan under the latter. After few years, he conspired against the then Nawab of Carnatic, Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan. At the same time (in 1748 CE), the Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah I died. A civil war broke out between the heirs, Nasir Jung and Muzaffar Jung.

In 1751 CE, there was a dispute of succession between Mohamed Ali Khan Walaja, the son of Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan and Chanda Sahib. Dupleix of the French East India Company sided with Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung to bring them into the power in their respective regions. The British East India Company supported the rival teams. All these incidents led to the Second Carnatic War.

Chanda Sahib initially succeeded and became the Nawab. Wallajah escaped to Trichy. Chanda Sahib along with the French force followed him and invaded Trichy. As Chanda Sahib did not many any arrangement to protect Arcot, a small British army of about 200 soldiers, 300 Indian soldiers and 8 officers under the leadership of Robert Clive captured Arcot. They captured Arcot on 31st August 1751 CE. The objective was to drive away Chanda Sahib from Trichy.

Sahib sent a 10,000 strong army (as per few records, the number varies) under his son Raza Sahib to reclaim Arcot. He was defeated by the British in Arcot and later at Kaveripakkam. He was killed in the battle. Ultimately, Chanda Sahib escaped to Thanjavur. He was beheaded in a mutiny by the Thanjavur army.

Clive won the battle not due to his strength, but due to his strategies. He was serving as a clerk and did not have military experience. His eight officers too were not experienced in the battle. This plan of siege of Arcot was proposed by him to the Governor of Madras, Saunders. The remarkable battle fought by Robert Clive was a turning point in his own life as well as the history of India. The Siege of Arcot, between 23rd September and 14th November 1751 CE, made him to rise above and ultimately become the Governor General of India later. He laid the foundation of the British Empire in India (earlier it was only the East India Company). As the Governor General, he rule most parts of India.

Robert Clive camped in a room atop a gate which was part of the Arcot Fort. It was named as "Delhi Gate" to signify the beginning of the capture of Delhi by the British. The fort along with this gate was built by Daud Khan Panni, a Mughal Governor, in the first half of the 18th century CE. The fort was later destroyed by Tipu Sultan in 1783 CE. Today only the foundations can be seen. However, the Gate and the room atop the Gate are still intact. A plaque mentioning Clive's name is found on the wall of the Gate.

Happy travelling.





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