Describe the nature and causes of the Great Revolt of 1857. Identify the main centres of revolt?
The greatest and the most widespread armed uprising which shook the foundations of British rule in India took place in 1857. The accumulating hatred against British rule which had resulted in numerous, though localised, outbreaks burst forth in a mighty rebellion in 1857. The dispossessed rulers of Indian states, the nobles and the zamindars who had been deprived of their lands, the Indian soldiers of Britain’s army in India, and the vast masses of peasants artisans and otehrs who had been ruined by British economic policies and had been rising up in revolt in their isolated pockets, were now united by the common aim of overthrowing British rule. The introduction of greased cartridges which showed the British rulers complete disregard of the religious beliefs of the Indian people provided the immediate cause of the revolt. In March 1857, Mangal Pandey was executed in Barrackpore for rebelling against their introduction. The uprising began in Meerut on 10 May 1857 when the Indian soldiers killed their British officers and marched to Delhi. They were joined by the soldiers stationed in Delhi and proclaimed the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II as the Emperor of India. The rebellion spread like wild fire and the British rule ceased to exist over a vast part of northern and central India for many months. The major centres of the revolt, besides Delhi, where some of the most fierce battles were fought were Kanpur, Lucknow, Braeilly, Bundelkhand and Arrah. Local revolts took place in many other parts of the country. Among the prominent leaders of uprising were Nana Sahib, Tantia Tope, Bakht Khan, Azimullah Khan, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Kunwar Singh, Maulvi Ahgamadullah, Bahadur Khan and Rao Tulla Ram.