Posted on: 6 January 2014

General view of Seetabaldee, or Nagpur, Central India - 1860

This view of Nagpur was taken in the 1860s by an unknown photographer. The modern city was established in the eighteenth century. However, the earlier history of the district is obscure with elements that can be dated as far back as the fifth century AD. Originally the area was populated by aboriginal Gond tribes who remained in power until the early eighteenth century, many of whom still live in the region. The British annexed the territory in 1853 following a lapse in the local succession. In 1861, Nagpur became the British capital of the Central Provinces and following the opening of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway in 1867 it also developed as an important centre for trade. The area is today famous as the orange-growing capital of India.

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Rama Kakar, Namrita tell yr mom about this one, Devyani Taneja and tell yr mom too:-)

Here is a more recent view of Seetabaldee fort, taken from the same direction -

Fort is still inaccessible. Army zone.

Dan, I love the photographs you post!

Hello, Thanks for posting this photo, which I find very interesting. I have been researching the battles around Nagpore for quite a while, and it is really interesting to see the area before it became developed. Here is a copy of one of the most immediate accounts of the battle on the Seetabuldee Hills. Seetabuldee SIR, -- Having done myself the honour to report for the information of his Excellency the Com in Chief, on the 26th instant, that the troops under my command, had left their cantonments the day before at the requisition of the Resident, they took post on the hill of Seetabuldee, which overlooks the residency and the city of Nagpore, at the same time taking possession, with the 1st batt. 24th reg. N.I. of a hill about 300 yards on the left of this position, and to retain which was of the utmost consequence to our retaining possession of Seetabuldee. Having made all the arrangements that I thought necessary during the 26th, at 6 P.M. of that day, when posting sentries, accompanied by Capt Bayley, on the face of the hill, and in front of the Arab village, at the foot of the hill, and into which we had, during the day, observed large bodies of Arabs, with five guns, to be sent to reinforce a party of the Rajah's infantry, who had been previously posted there; the Arabs in the village opened a fire on this small party, although previously informed that it was merely a matter of military precaution customary with us, and to which they had assented; and that it was not my intention to molest them. Seeing their determination to commence hostilities and the small party with me having shewn the utmost forbearance and until this time not having fired a shot I directed them to fire a volley and retreated to the top of the hill under the fire of all the troops posted in the village The action immediately commenced on both sides and continued incessantly until 12 o clock the following day when it ceased. Having in consequence of their great loss and fatigues found it necessary to withdraw the 1st batt 24th together with a party of the 1st batt 20th reg by whom they had been reinforced during the night at 5 AM of the 27th instant and confine the defence of the hill on our left which had been strengthened during the night by a breast work of bags of grain to the immediate possession of the top for which purpose I had detached Capt Lloyd with 100 men of the Resident's escort and 100 men of the 1st batt 20 reg NI under a European officer A body of Arabs gained possession of this post at 8 AM by the charge of an overwhelming force up the face of the hill after Capt Lloyd had displayed the utmost gallantry in endeavouring to keep his men to their duty and to maintain the post At this moment Capt Fitzgerald reinforced by a Native officer and 25 troopers of the Madras body guard charged an immense body of the enemy's best horse and having captured their guns which were immediately turned upon them he remained in possession of the plain covered in every direction with the flying enemy. Whilst waiting for spikes to send to Capt Fitzgerald to spike the enemy's guns it being my intention to recall him to support an attack of the infantry on the hill in the possession of the Arabs an explosion was observed to take place in the midst of them and the troops with one accord rushed forward to the attack it having been with the utmost difficulty they were prevailed on to wait the cavalry and I found my utmost exertions necessary to prevent the hill we were on being deserted. On the near approach of our troops the Arabs fled leaving two guns Capt Lloyd took possession of the hill supported by Captains Moxon and J M Donald Lieuts Watson W Macdonald and Campbell and Adjutant Grant 1st batt 24th NI who had been twice wounded during the night in the defence of the hill was here killed And I beg leave to offer my tribute of praise and to express my regret for the loss of a most gallant officer Shortly after the Arabs beginning to collect in considerable numbers in front of the hill and the cavalry having by this time returned with their captured guns to the residency a charge of a troop of cavalry led by Cornet Smith round the base of the hill in which he cut up numbers of them which seemed so totally to dispirit them that from this time their attacks in every quarter began to slacken and at 12 entirely ceased I can never sufficiently express my admiration of the conduct of the troops on this occasion and to Major Mackenzie second in command and to every officer and individual engaged I have to offer my thanks which are feebly expressed in my orders issued on the occasion and of which I inclose a copy as also copy of a letter from Mr Jenkins resident who was present during the whole of the action and whose animating conduct tended in a very considerable degree to excite the troops to their duty I have to deplore the death of Mr Sotheby his first assistant a gallant gentleman who had also been present from the first and exposing himself in every situation was severely wounded towards the close of the action and died in the course of the day I shall by toppaul forward regular returns of killed and wounded which I am sorry to say are considerable amounting to 14 officers and 333 killed and wounded of all other ranks. Signed HS SCOTT Col Commanding at Nagpore Camp Nagpore 30th November 1817 PS From the best information I can obtain and my observations the enemy opened upwards of 35 guns upon us The number of their cavalry is said to amount to 12,000 and their infantry to 8000 3500 of which are Arabs from whom we met our principal loss. Signed RICHARD TAYLOR Brigade Major From “The East India Military Calendar Containing the Services of General and Field Officers of the Indian Army John Philippart.

The photo may show the streets down which the EIC Troops attacked to drive the Arabs out of Nagpur. The battles at Nagpur are curious because while overtly the Rajah had a huge Indian Army with a Arab bodyguard, he was covertly negotiating with the EIC in an attempt to come over to the EIC side, but he was not able to do so with the British first destroying the Rajah's bodyguard, who he could not himself dismiss. After the defeat of the Arab led attacks on Sitabuldee, the Rajah sent his Indian troops south and east of the city and came into the EIC Residency which was on the reverse of the slopes in the far distance on the hills in the photo. The defeated Arabs and Hindoostanis, had retreated into the city, and were thought to number about 5000 fighters. The big lake is I believe a tank called in the British accounts of the time as the Jumma Talao. A series of advances on the 19th, 20th and 21st the EIC Sepoys fought there way across the suburbs around the tank that can be seen in the photo. On the 21st the advance was halted while negotiations were carried out with the Arabs. As these were unsuccessful the attack started again on the 22nd, and 24th. During the previous days the EIC had captured 5 guns from the Arabs, and these guns a an EIC Howitzer battery were used to batter in a tower and gate which probably stood at the end of these tall buildings. The attack under Lt. Col. Scott and Major Pitman, were trying to capture the Toolsee Baugh, and a gate. That attack and another on the Jumma Durwazza were repulsed and the British and Indian EIC soldiers lost over three hundred men in close quarters fighting. The Arabs then decided to try to negotiate a safe conduct to the coast, and discussions continued until the 29th of December, when it was agreed that the EIC would pay them 50,000 rupees, and escort them to Mulkapoor. They then went off to Kandesh. I would imagine that the fighting here must have made a lot of damage in this and the nearby streets, and that they must have been repaired after 1819. I hope that I have the locations correct, as I am only working from Google Earth and Valentine Blacker's 1820 account and maps. If it was possible to get pictures of locations closer to Sitabuldee without upsetting the military, who I understand from a source near Nagpur arrange open days for time to time, I would be very grateful to receive them.

Interesting account, Nick. The area surrounding the fort is very congested now. Mix of markets & old residential buildings. An old Ganesha temple on one side of the Sitabuldi fort hill, is open to public. Can share photos of the temple & some areas surrounding the fort with you on email, if it helps you. The lake is not far. Around it, is an old zoroastrian fire temple. The famous "Empress Mills" is around the corner. Was being demolished & turned into a Mall & Residential high-rise complex when I last visited it, 2 years back. The RSS ( Rashtriya Sewa Sangh) headquarters, with its own history museum housed inside it, is in a lane near the lake. Nagpur is the hub of 2 important national movements - RSS & Neo-Buddhist (Dalit/Ambedkar). Their iconography dominates the face of the city. The layers of Parsee textile industry, EIC & Colonial era history are buried below it. Nilesh Raut, is a young resident of Nagpur who I had a chance meeting with 2 years back & he was kind enough to show me around this part of the old city. Please connect with him on FB & he may be able to fill in the local details & fort photos for you. Nagpur museum is packed with treasures too but its a government run bureaucratic organization & doesn't allow photography inside. May be worth writing to them too. I recall a whole section on Sitabuldi fort in there.

I hope one day to visit Nagpur, it is on a long list of places, I would like to visit as so many interesting things seem to have happened there. I will pull out a few of the maps I have and try and complete my draft blog post that I have had underway for a couple of years.

Can't believe, I don't know exactly which part of Nagpur it is? I was there from 1999 to 2002... something look like old Kerala area only

Real House of Chatrapati Dhondu Pant and later his Nepalese Gorkha Son Jung Bahadur Dhondu Pant.