Saturday, July 21, 2018

Delhi Gate, Arcot, Vellore

Delhi Gate, Arcot, Vellore
Delhi Gate is part of the fortification of Arcot, a town which is located on the banks of Palar river in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu. The gate was part of a fort built by Mughal governor, Daud Khan Panni, in the first half of the 18th century. It was the site of a memorable defense made by Robert Clive during the Siege of Arcot.

Historically, the region had been the site of number of battles. This prompted the construction of the fortress around Arcot. The area was captured by a Mughal Nawab of Karnataka from the Marathas. Daud Khan Panni was made governor by Zulfikhar Ali Khan (Aurangzeb's general) in 1698. In the year 1710, Mohammed Sayyid was the last Mughal governor who was appointed as Nawab of Carnatic with the title Saadatullah Khan I and moved his capital from Gingee to Arcot.

The prolonged disputes between the different dynasties fighting for the control of Arcot led to the arrival of the British and the French. However, the battle between British and French forces was only for control of south India. 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 Walajah, 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. Walajah escaped to Trichy. Chanda Sahib along with the French force followed him and invaded Trichy. As Chanda Sahib did not made 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 ruled 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 Tippu 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.

The Fort
The Arcot Fort was part of the famous Battle of Arcot, which led to a British victory. One of the gates of the fort was renamed Delhi Gate to signify the beginning of the capture of Delhi. The entrance of the gate was constructed in the style of a Mughal arch. Over the gate is Robert Clive’s room. The old red brick town walls which were part of the original fortification of Arcot were destroyed by Tippu Sultan in 1783, but the foundations can be still seen. Today, the remains of the tombs of Saadatullah Khan I and Jama Masjid are the silent witnesses to that period.

The Fort is located at about 3 Kms from Arcot, 2 Kms from Arcot Bus Stand, 4 Kms from Ranipet, 6 Kms from Walajah, 10 Kms from Walajah Road Railway Junction, 19 Kms from Thiruvalam, 20 Kms from Kalavai, 26 Kms from Vellore, 29 Kms from Katpadi, 18 Kms from Kaveripakkam, 115 Kms from Chennai and 106 Kms from Chennai Airport.