Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reception to Lt.General Sir James Outram in Travancore at the court of Maharajah Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma in AD 1857

Maharajah Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma of Travancore (AD 1846-60)

In one of the earlier blogs I had written about the “Opening of a New Bridge at Travancore - The Rajah's State Procession “based on an article as appeared in The Illustrated London News of 5th August 1854. It was during the reign of His Highness Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the Maharajah of Travancore (1846-60) who had succeeded his elder brother Maharajah Swathi Thirunal . He was known for his progressive rule including the abolition of slavery. He was comfortable with the European sciences and was instrumental in starting the zoo at Trivandrum.

During his reign in 1857, immediately after the Indian mutiny, a reception was accorded to Lt. General James Outram and his staff in a grand durbar by the maharajah. Sir James Outram (1803-1863) was an English general, and one of the heroes of the Indian Mutiny.

Attached picture is from an original copy of the engraving of 1857 which depicts this reception. Original of this engraving is with the National portrait gallery of London and is done by an unknown artist. Maharajah Uthram Thirunal and General Outram are clearly seen in this along with many courtiers and dignitaries who attended the reception.

Durbar of the Maharajah of Travancore and the reception of LtGeneral James Outram and staff AD 1857
James Outram had joined the Indian army in 1819 and served in Poona and later in Khandesh where he tackled the robber tribes of the Bhils through his personal influence. Before the outbreak of the mutiny, in 1854 he was appointed resident at Lucknow, in which capacity two years later he carried out the annexation of Oudh and became the first chief commissioner of that province. He was appointed a lieutenant-general in 1857, and was asked to command an expedition against Persia in which he defeated the enemy with great slaughter at Khushab. From Persia he was summoned to India, with the brief explanation - "We want all our best men here." It was said of him at this time that "a fox is a fool and a lion a coward by the side of Sir J. Outram."

Sir James Outram, "The Bayard of India"

He arrived at Cawnpore from Calcutta with reinforcements, and supported General Havelock fully in relieving Lucknow. He commanded a cavalry and performed exploits of great chivalry that he was voted by the cavalry for the Victoria Cross but he refused it on the ground that he was ineligible as the general under whom they served. He held fort at Lucknow till Sir Colin Campbell arrived and later conducted the evacuation of the residency to deceive the enemy. In February 1858 he received the special recognition of both houses of parliament, and in the same year was made a baron.

He died in1863, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where an epitaph is engraved as "The Bayard of India" which was originally called by Sir Charles Napier.
Dubai, Eve of Indian Independence 2008.

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