The Indian Mutiny
The British Raj gets a wake-up call
This is an opportunity to see and walk the ground of one of the most critical periods of the history of India and of the British Empire – the rising of 1857. The Cultural Experience has obtained entry to sites that tourist rarely see, we shall inspect inspiring Moghul architecture with its palaces and gardens while examining the key aspects of the uprising. We shall stay in some of the best 5-star hotels in India: the colonial Oberoi Maidens Hotel in Delhi, the Oberoi Trident in Agra with its landscaped gardens and water fountains, the medieval Taj Usha Kiran Palace in Gwalior, the modern Landmark hotel in Kanpur and the Taj Gomti Nagar (the formerly Taj Residency) in Lucknow. To facilitate our travel around the edge of Delhi we stay at contemporary Radisson hotels and even the simple and ornate 3-star Amar Mahal in Orchha is a hidden gem. Comfort and style throughout. And of course we will sample delicious Indian food and experience the colour and the flavour of the multi-racial Indian culture, alternating between the magnificence of the Taj Mahal, a memorial to a Moghul Emperor’s love for his dead wife, and the stillness of the memorial to the British women and children murdered and thrown down the well in Cawnpore.
The tour is led by military historian, author and TV presenter Gordon Corrigan. He had a distinguished career as an officer in the Gurkhas. As such he served most of his career in the Far East and is an established expert on matters Indian and Nepalese.
In 1857 sixty two well-trained infantry battalions and eight cavalry regiments of the Bengal Army mutinied and turned on their British officers in a frenzy of religious fervour – sparked off by the fact that new cartridges issued to the troops (the ends of which they had to bite off to charge their weapons) were believed to be greased with fat from cows and pigs – forbidden to Hindu and Muslim soldiers. Soon the mutinous soldiers were joined by disaffected elements of the civilian population – retrospectively venerated as early nationalists. For a time British power in India – the jewel in the British Empire crown - hung by a thread. With so much at stake on both sides, it was a near run thing, with bravery and treachery in equal measure, and larger-than-life characters on each side - but in the end the rising was defeated, largely by loyal Indian and Gurkha troops and the leadership of their British Officers.
- With soldier and expert Major Gordon Corrigan MBE
- Wonderful scenery and accommodation
- Taj Mahal and Red Fort
- All the key 'Mutiny' sites
Day 1 - Depart London.
Day 2 – Delhi – Meerut
Arrive Delhi after midnight (local time) and check-in to the conveniently located Radisson hotel, to get a late night’s sleep. After a welcome lie-in and an orientation lecture ‘1857 The Background’, we set off late morning for Meerut arriving in time to orientate ourselves in this attractive former garrison and site of the British Cantonment where the mutiny first broke out. Check-in to our modern 5 star hotel for one night.
Day 3 – Meerut
We continue our exploration of Meerut by visiting the parade ground where the refusal to accept the cartridges sparked off the mutiny; St John’s Church, where evensong was in progress when violence broke out; the Commandant’s house, where British officers took shelter from the mutineers in the latrines; the cemetery, where some of the British victims are buried and the Memorial Park built after independence to glorify the mutineers – an interesting dichotomy which we will explore during the tour. Depart mid-afternoon for the drive down to Agra where we check-in to our luxurious hotel for two nights.
Day 4 – Agra
We spend a relaxing day in Agra, one of the great fortified palace complexes of Rajahstan, where we visit the unmissable Taj Mahal, one of the Seven of the Modern World. After lunch we pick up the story of the mutiny at Agra’s beautiful Red Fort with its marbled halls and formal gardens and which, in 1857, was a refuge for more than 5,000 Europeans and their Indian servants.
Day 5 – Gwalior
We travel on to Gwalior, seat of the Scindia Mahrattas and tour the stunning fortress, captured by the rebels in 1858, and visit the site of the skirmish at Kotah ke Serai where the Rani of Jhansi was eventually killed. Check-in to our palatial (literally) hotel for one night.
Day 6 – Jhansi
On to beautiful Jhansi to see its impressive fort and learn more about the extraordinary career of Lakshmibai, the 29 year old widowed Rani of Jhansi - whose Palace still survives – and who may or may not have been responsible for the infamous massacre of the British Garrison and their families. Check-in to our ornate hotel at the riverside just outside the city of Orchha.
Day 7 – Kanpur (Cawnpore)
Drive to Kanpur where we examine the siege of General Wheeler’s makeshift mud entrenchment and pay a melancholy visit to the memorial church with its mutiny memorials. We follow the poignant route of the Garrison’s survivors down the Sati Chaur Ghat and the Bibighar Well where the corpses of the butchered women and children were dumped. Check-in to our hotel for one night.
Day 8– Kanpur/Lucknow
Continue our exploration of fascinating Kanpur in the morning and then drive on to Lucknow, once the richest city in India, later that day. Check-in to our sumptuous hotel that evening for two nights.
Day 9 – Lucknow
Although slightly marred now by modern industrial development there is still ample evidence of Lucknow’s former Mogul splendour and of the Mutiny for us to explore, including the Kaisarbagh (or King’s Palace); the Secunderbagh Gardens where more than 2000 rebels perished when the British stormed it in 1857; and the famous British Residency compound where the besieged garrison held out until relieved in 1858 – an epic which became a symbol of British courage and endurance. The effects of the siege are still visible and the place has great atmosphere.
Day 10 – Delhi from the British Perspective
We take the morning flight to Delhi and after an early lunch we start our tour by discussing how the capital reacted to the outbreak of the Mutiny. We visit the powder magazine blown up by the guard rather than allow its capture; the telegraph office from whence news of the Mutiny was communicated to the Punjab; St James’s Church built by the colourful Colonel James Skinner (who founded Skinner’s Horse, the famous Indian Cavalry Regiment) and looted by the rebels; Delhi Ridge from where the British conducted the siege operation to recover the city from the mutineers, the Kashmir Gate, through which British and Gurkha troops stormed the city and the grave of that extraordinary Victorian, Brigadier General John Nicholson, killed in the storming of the City. Check-in to the magnificent colonial Oberoi Maidens hotel for our final two nights.
Day 11 – Delhi from the rebel perspective
This morning we complete the story by looking at the siege from the rebel’s perspective; we visit Delhi’s magnificent Red Fort, headquarters of the rebels during the Mutiny and the tomb of Humayan, the son of Babur and the second Moghul emperor, where Major William Hodson arrested the sons of Bahadur Shah, the figurehead of the rising. There will be an opportunity to view the magnificent Lutyens architecture of New Delhi and/or do some sightseeing later in the afternoon before a leisurely final meal together that evening.
Day 12 – Take the morning flight to London.
Recommended Reading List
4th - 15th November 2017 (12 Days)
Return flights from London, internal flights, 3, 4 & 5 star hotels, all entrance fees and expert guide throughout.
NB: This tour is offered on a FULL BOARD basis, including drinks with meals each evening.
ACTIVITY LEVEL: 2
Guide : Major Gordon Corrigan MBE
Tour price: £2995.00
Single supplement: £395.00
Price without flights: £2495.00
Last few places