Sitabuldi Fort, site of the Battle of Sitabuldi in 1817, is located atop a hillock in central Nagpur, Maharashtra, India. The fort was built by Mudhoji II Bhonsle, also known as Appa Sahib Bhosle, of the Kingdom of Nagpur, just before he fought against the British East India Company during the Third Anglo-Maratha War. The area surrounding the hillock, now known as Sitabuldi, is an important commercial hub for Nagpur. To the south is Nagpur Railway Station and behind it is Tekdi Ganapati, a temple of Ganesha. The fort is now home to the Indian Army's 118th infantry battalion.
Battle of Sitabuldi
Sitabuldi Fort, a major tourist attractions in Nagpur, is situated on two hillocks: "Badi Tekri", literally meaning "big hill", and "Choti Tekri", meaning "small hill" in Hindi. The Sitabuldi hills, though then barren and rocky, were not entirely unoccupied. Tradition holds that Sitabuldi got its name from two Yaduvanshi brothers – Shitlaprasad and Badriprasad Gawali, who ruled the area in the 17th century.
The place came to be known as "Shitlabadri", which during British rule became "Seetabuldee", and later assumed its current form, "Sitabardi" or "Sitabuldi". The Battle of Sitabuldi was fought in November 1817 on these hillocks between the forces of Appa Saheb Bhonsle of Nagpur and the British.
After the death of Shivaji on 3 April 1680, the Maratha Empire broke up into segments ruled by five families: the Peshwas of Satara, the Gaekwads of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore, the Scindias of Gwalior, and the Bhonsles of Nagpur. The Maratha confederacy, as the five families were known, was still a formidable force.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Marathas tried to overcome the gradual supremacy of the East India Company, while the British prepared to suppress the Marathas. At the beginning of the 19th century, during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, the victorious British annexed territories of the Marathas.
The high ground of Sitabuldi is rocky and devoid of trees, so it was not possible to dig any entrenchments on the two hills in the available time. Choti Tekri, the northernmost of the two hilocks, is lower in height, but was within musket range of Badi Tekri, so securing that ground was considered essential. The suburbs of the city came close to Choti Tekri.
During the British Raj
British soldiers who died in the battle of Sitabuldi were buried in graves in the fort. After their defeat in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Tipu Sultan's grandson, Nawab Kadar Ali, and eight of his associates were hanged on the ramparts of Sitabuldi fort. A mosque is maintained in the fort to mark the location of the hangings. The graves and mosque are maintained by the Indian Army as a mark of respect for the gallantry of all who died. A separate memorial has also been constructed to the soldiers who fell during the colonial period.
The fort is now home to the Indian Army's 118th infantry battalion (Territorial Army) Grenadiers. The fort is opened for public on three days of the year: 26 January, 1 May (Maharashtra Day), and 15 August.