Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Who Build Vellore Fort

The Fort was built around 1566 by Chinna Bommi Nayak and Thimma Reddy Nayak, subordinate Chieftains under Sadasiva Raya of theVijayanagara Empire. The Vijayanagara kings called it "Raya Vellore" to differentiate it from "Uppu Vellore" in the Godavari region. The name Vellore is also spelt "Belur." The present day Chennai region and Tirupathi were under the domain of the Fort.
Under the Vijayanagara Empire (1566–1656)
Vellore Fort gained strategic prominence following the re-establishment of Vijayanagar rule after the Talikota battle in Chandragiri. The Aravidu Dynasty that held the title of Rayas in 17th century resided in this fort, using it as a base in the battle of Toppur in the 1620s. This major battle took place for the claiming of the Raya title between two faction of the Raya family. Each faction was by their respective subordinates; theNayaks of Tanjore, the Gingee and the Madurai taking sides to suit their interests.
The Rayas also had long-running battles with their long time rivals, the Bijapur Sultans, and with the Nayaks of Madurai and the Gingee over non-remittance of annual tributes. In the 1640s, during the reign of Sriranga Raya III, the Fort was briefly captured by the Bijapur army, but was eventually recaptured with the help of the Nayaks of Tanjore.
During Sriranga Raya's reign in 1614 a coup broke out within the royal family and the reigning Emperor Sriranga Raya and his royal family were murdered, with the younger son Rama Deva Raya of the Emperor smuggled out from the fort by several supporters. These events led to the Battle of Toppur in 1616, one of the largest South Indian wars of the century,[citation needed] with all other Nayak rulers of Tamil Country taking part. The war was won by the legal claimants with the minor Rama Deva Raya getting crowned as the Aravidu Vijayanagara Emperor in 1617.
In 1639, Francis Day of the East India Company obtained a small strip of land in the Coromandel Coast from the Chieftains of Vellore-Chandragiri regions to do trading, which is now in present day Chennai.
Capture by Bijapur (1656–1678)
In the 1650s, Sriranga allied with the Mysore and Tanjore Nayaks and marched south to attack Gingee and Madurai. His first stop was the capture of Gingee Fort, but Thirumalai Nayak of Madurai responded by requesting the Sultan of Bijapur to attack Vellore from the North to divert Sriranga's attention. The Bijapur Sultan promptly dispatched a large army and captured Vellore Fort. Subsequently, both the Madurai-Bijapur armies converged on Gingee, defeating the Vellore-Tanjore forces. After a melee, both the Forts ended up in the hands of the Sultan of Bijapur. The defeat also marked the end of the last direct line of Vijayanagara emperors. Within 20 years after this incident, the Marathas seized the fort from the Bijapur Sultans.
Capture by Marathas (1678–1707)
In 1676, the Marathas under Shivaji marched south to the Tanjore country, which had recently been attacked and captured by Chokkanatha Nayak of Madurai. That same year, Ekoji, the brother of Shivaji, took control of Tanjore, but was under threat from his immediate neighbours Madurai and Bijapur Sultans, based in Gingee and Vellore respectively. Shivaji's army first captured the Gingee Fort in 1677, but left the task of attacking Vellore to his assistant and rushed to Deccan as his territories were being attacked by Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. In 1688, after a prolonged fourteen-month siege, the Fort passed on to the Marathas. Shivaji's representative strengthened the fort's fortifications and ruled the area in relative peace.
Capture by Mughal Army (1707–1760)
In 1707, the year that Aurangazeb died, the Delhi Army under Daud Khan captured Vellore Fort after defeating the Marathas. The struggle for the Delhi throne empowered the Deccan Muslim governors to declare independence. In 1710 the recently established Nawab of Arcot under Sadat Ullah Khan followed suit. Dost Ali, the latter's successor in 1733, gifted the fort to one of his sons-in-law.
Under control of British (1760 –1947)
Following the decline of Madurai Nayaks and coinciding with the emergence of the British on the Madras coast, the Nawab and his sons-in-law broke out into a feud over the title of Nawab. The Nawab was supported by the British and the rival claimants by the French resulting in theCarnatic Wars. The British Nawab's victory in the 1760s in the Battle of Plassey finally sealed the fate of the French in India and launched Britain's dominance of the Indian subcontinent. In addition, the British took possession of Vellore fort with relative ease and used the Fort as a major garrison until the Indian independence.
In 1780, the Fort was attacked by Hyder Ali in his wars against the British, but an English garrison held out against Hyder Ali for over two years.

First Sepoy Mutiny (1806)
Main article: Vellore Mutiny
In 1806, Vellore fort was used by the British to station Infantry Military units of the Madras Regiment. The British Commander in chief of the Madras Army prescribed a new round hat for soldiers, which would replace turbans, and the removal of beards, caste markings and jewellery. The Sepoys considered this offensive, and the situation was worsened by rumours that the hat was made of the hides of cows and pigs.
On July 10, 1806, before sunrise, Indian Sepoys stationed in the fort attacked the European barracks there, and by late morning had killed about 15 Officers and 100 English soldiers and ransacked their houses. Some of the rebelling soldiers also instigated the sons of Tipu Sultan to lead the campaign. The news quickly reached the colonel commanding the Cavalry Cantonment in Arcot, who reached the Fort with heavy battalions. The rebelling Sepoys, numbering more than 800, were mercilessly hounded and killed, and by noon the rebellion was put down. The events lead to a Court inquiry by the British, who decided to shift the Tipu Sultan's family from Vellore to faraway Calcutta, in isolation.
The news of the Vellore Rebellion sent shockwaves to England. The Governor, William Bentinck, and Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army, Sir John Cradock both were recalled on this count. This was the first rebellion experienced in the fort by the British.

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